Sunday, December 2, 2012
Egyptian Neters, commonly referred to as gods and goddesses,
are Symbolic representations of divine principles of Nature. They
are the means by which the Ancient Egyptians materially and
artistically expressed the mythological archetypes existing
within nature and the cosmos. In other words, the Neters are
the physical Symbolic expressions of the invisible Laws, aspects,
essences and principles concealed within Nature.
The depiction of a Neter is twofold: first, the aspect of Nature which
is being represented; and secondly, whether this aspect is either
masculine or feminine. A masculine Neter is depicted with a man's
body and a feminine Neter is depicted with a woman's body.
This article will evaluate two Egyptian Neters: Anubis and Upuaut
(aka: Wepwawet); two Neters which are often confused with one
another. Both are masculine aspects of Nature and are therefore
portrayed with the body of a man.
Anubis has the head of a dog and Upuaut has the head of a
jackal. Both heads are painted black which tells us that they
represent some form of transformation. Transformation is
synonymous with Sacrifice, Initiation Ceremonies and
Rites of Passage.
Anubis: Anubis is portrayed either as a black dog or as a man
with the head of a black dog. It is important to note that this
"dog" is a sleek and domesticated dog which is Symbolic of
loyalty, protectiveness and obedience to its master. It is the
type of dog which is the perfect guardian, companion and ally;
the kind of dog that is always proud and content to be near its
master and often sleeps at its master's feet.
As a dog's role is that of a guardian and protector, Anubis is
therefore called "Guardian of the Way" or "Protector of the Way".
We are probably most familiar with Anubis in his role in the
Ceremony of the Weighing of the Heart in which he gently
escorts the recently deceased Pharaoh (who is a Symbol for
every man and woman) into the Hall of Maat where his heart
is placed on the Scales of Justice and weighed against the
Feather of Maat.
In the painting of this scene the Pharaoh is Symbolic of the
Ancient Initiate who is participating in an Initiation Ceremony,
Rite of Passage or an Act of Sacrifice in order to obtain
entrance into a much higher realm. However, before the
Initiate, or aspirant, can be admitted into this higher realm
he, or she, must pass through a threshold or doorway. This
threshold is Symbolized by the Initiation Ceremony called the
Weighing of the Heart which takes place in the Hall of Maat.
And it is Anubis who is the guardian and protector of this
And although Anubis is gently guiding the Pharaoh into the secret
and sacred Hall of Maat in this scene, he is also assuring that the
Pharaoh will not proceed through the threshold which leads to the
higher realms of consciousness unless he, or she, is not only
worthy and well-qualified but also properly passes the necessary
Whether or not the Pharaoh passes the test is determined by the
weight of his, or her, heart in relation to the weight of the Feather
of Maat when both are weighed against each other on the Scale
of Justice. The heart, in this instance, is Symbolic of the
worthiness of the Initiate.
Once the Pharaoh successfully passes the required Test of
Initiation the Pharaoh leaves the dog-headed Anubis behind and
is then escorted by the falcon-headed Horus to the next threshold
where he is greeted by Osiris who is accompanied by Isis and
The Symbolism contained in this part of the scene is thus:
The dog (Anubis) occupies the realm of earth; and earth, in this
instance, is Symbolic of the lower aspects of our Incarnation.
The falcon (Horus) is Lord of the Skys and is Symbolic of the
higher aspects of our Incarnation. Osiris is the Neter of, and
therefore Symbolic of, re-Incarnation. The Pharaoh, again, is
Symbolic of every man and woman.
The Esoteric meaning contained in the Symbolism of this
scene is this:
Whenever we successfully pass a Test of Initiation we pass
through a threshold whereby we leave a lower aspect of
ourselves (the dog-headed Anubis) behind. We are then
introduced to, and experience, a higher aspect of ourselves
(the falcon-headed Horus) who ascends us to our next higher
Test of Initiation.
These next higher Tests of Initiation take place in our upcoming
and continuous processes of re-Incarnations (Osiris) where these
three archetypes repeat their designated responsibilities, but
in much higher realms.
Of course, should the Pharaoh (who is a Symbol of our self) fail
a Test of Initiation, Anubis would not permit the Pharaoh to be
introduced to Horus nor be greeted by Osiris. Anubis would then
exercisehis authority as protector and guardian of the threshold,
turn the Pharaoh away, and require the Pharaoh to repeat his, or
her, current Incarnation until he, or she, ultimately "gets everything
right" in order to pass the Test of Initiation.
Anubis' role in the Weighing of the Heart Ceremony is an ideal
depiction for his title of "Guardian of the Way" and "Protector
of the Way".
In this role Anubis is very similar to the Greek dog Cerberus
who stands guard at the entrance to underworld realm of Hades
which is a Symbol for the Great Subconscious.
And because Anubis both guides the Pharaoh and guards the
entrance to higher realms of spiritual existence, Anubis, as the
guardian of the threshold of transformation, is also associated with
the process of Becoming; for each time we obtain the required
Wisdom to cross a spiritual threshold we Become more spiritually
enlightened then we were before we crossed this threshold.
Anubis is often portrayed wearing a ribbon around his neck. The
ribbon is a Symbol of achievement and recognition. Ribbons, and
ribbons attached to medals, are presented to us for achievements
we experience throughout our life. Ribbons, shaped into bows,
also adorn the boxes of gifts we either give or receive. And it is
because gifts represent the appreciation or recognition one person
feels for another that they are wrapped up with not only a ribbon
but also with a bow made from a ribbon.
As Anubis is the Guardian of the Threshold and the guide who
escorts the worthy Initiate through the threshold he is often
portrayed wearing a ribbon. For the ribbon is Symbolic of the
recognition of the achievement obtained by the Initiate when he,
or she, successfully crosses the guarded threshold which leads
to the higher realms of spirituality and enlightenment.
Upuaut (aka: Wepwawet): Upuaut is depicted as a man with the
head of a black jackal. Very often, in today's mythology books, the
jackal-headed Upuaut is mistakenly identified as Anubis. And
although the jackal and the dog are both members of the canine
family, their differences are both subtle and distinct. For whereas
the dog-headed Anubis is the archetypal "Guardian of the Way",
the jackal-headed Upuaut is the archetypal "Opener of the Way"
Whereas Anubis (the dog) is domesticated, sleek and obedient,
Upuaut (the jackal) is wild, disheveled and wily.
The jackal is the Egyptian counterpart of the American coyote.
The jackal is a seldom seen animal that lives on the outskirts of
civilization. It is an animal that fends for itself. The jackal spends
its life becoming familiar with secret hiding places and concealed
passageways. It avoids contact with people and thrives by way
of its curiosity and wits.
These characteristics make the jackal synonymous with the
adventurer, explorer and mountain man. In addition, the jackal
is a Symbolic counterpart of the Wanderer, the Traveler, the
Seeker and the Lone Wolf.
The following two stories serve as metaphors which support the
archetypal aspect of the jackal, and thereby Upuaut, as the
"Opener of the Way".
Until around 1879 no hieroglyphic writing was ever discovered
in any of the pyramids and it was assumed that no such
inscriptions were to be found in any of the pyramids.
Then one day, at Saqqara, an Egyptian workman found himself
in eye-to-eye contact with a jackal standing next to a pyramid.
According to the workman, the jackal seemed to be trying to
get his attention so as to entice him to follow it.
The jackal then walked to the north face of the pyramid and
again made eye contact with the workman before disappearing
into the rubble at the base of the pyramid.
Curious, the workman crawled through a passageway in the
rubble into which the jackal disappeared and found himself
standing in the main chamber of the pyramid. Holding his light
to the walls the workman discovered that the walls were covered
with hieroglyphic writing. The first hieroglyphic inscriptions ever
discovered within a pyramid!
The pyramid in which he was standing was the pyramid of Unas
and the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the wall came to be what is
now referred to as the Pyramid Texts.
This well documented story serves as one example of how the
jackal is the "Opener of the Way".
Rudolf Gantenbrink is the inventor of a remote-controlled robot.
In 1993 Gantenbrink used his remote-controlled robot to explore
one of the shafts in the Queen's Chamber in the Great Pyramid
at Giza. And because this robot was used in an adventure of
curiosity and discovery he appropriately named his remote-
controlled explorer Upuaut!
See also: "The Egyptian Neter"; "The Ancient Initiate";
"Egyptian Weighing of the Heart"; "Statues, Images and Idols"
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© copyright Joseph Panek 2012