The Reflecting Pool
Anubis is the god of preparation and death, he who presides over the process of mummification and prepares the dead to journey into Duat and face their final judgment. He is the patron of undertakers, morticians and embalmers, and he represents the inevitability of death and the inevitable judgment that follows it, delivering the dead either to new life or to oblivion. His affinity for the jackal symbolizes this, as the jackal is known to dig corpses up from graveyards to see the light again or to devour those of them that prove unworthy. He is the god who sees all from below and above, and no transgression can be hidden from him when it comes time for the final reckoning.
Anubis and the Judgment of Ma’at
The Egyptians believed that when each person died, he must be properly preserved and mummified in order to embark on the perilous journey to the underworld. Once this was done, he would stand and be judged; Anubis would weigh his heart against the feather of Ma’at, goddess of justice and balance. If the sins of the heart weighed too heavily, the deceased had failed the test and would be fed to the terrible monster Ammit; if his heart was as light as the feather, Anubis would judge him worthy and permit him to pass on to a new life.
Anubis and Bata
It happened that Anubis’ younger brother, Bata, found that he had nowhere to live, and he came to Anubis and his wife, Anput, and begged that he be allowed to live in their house. Anubis agreed and allowed his brother to stay in exchange for herding and taking care of his cattle while he went about his duties. All went well for some time; Bata shepherded the cattle well and Anubis and Anput treated him like a son as much as their own daughter, Kebauet. One day, when it was time to plow the fields, Anubis and Bata were hard at work and discovered that they had run out of grain. Anubis sent Bata back to the house to fetch more, and while he was there Anput brushed her hair seductively and attempted to convince him to sleep with her. Angry and ashamed that she would consider such a thing, he struck her and told her never to touch him again; he returned to the fields with his grain, but told Anubis nothing for fear of his brother’s sorrow at this news. Anput, fearful that Bata would tell her husband, drank grease to make herself sick and laid herself on the floor, shivering and vomiting, clutching the bruise on her cheek; when Anubis returned home early and rushed to her side, she wept and claimed that Bata had attempted to force himself on her, and had beaten her when she refused. Furious that his brother would attack his wife, Anubis took up a spear and waited in the barn for Bata to return; the cows, however, saw him there and called out to Bata to run. Anubis pursued him across all the plains of earth and heaven until Bata begged Horus to intercede, which he did, placing a huge lake of crocodiles between the two brothers. Horus demanded that they both tell their sides of the tale, and it soon became clear what had happened. Bata, heartbroken that his brother would believe his wife’s lies over him, cut off his own genitals and died on the shore of the lake; in anguish, Anubis returned home and slew his beloved wife for her crimes.