Most people don’t know who Anupet is. Or if they do, they don’t know anything beyond either her being the consort of Anubis, or some sort of feminine “aspect” of him. I’ve always seen her as something more, of course. Then again, I’m a hard polytheist, so you know where my opinions lie in that department.
Anupet is an independent, living and powerful goddess. She has long remained hidden–no one knows much about her, her myths or her cultus. Everything I know about this goddess is strictly UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis). Or was. That veil is gradually being torn back. But before I thrust my head straight on through and disperse the mystery entirely, I should write down my experiences of her, what I know of her.
She first came to me a few years ago, in the form of a black dog or jackal (or some hybrid of the above–not an uncommon occurrence then or now). She had pendulous breasts, as if she had been nursing. That became my primary association with her. The archetypal nursing bitch. The Sacred Bitch. She had a definite motherly feel to her, but it was the sensation of the Feral Mother, ever watchful, sharp of tooth, cunning and quick to defend her pups. People stereotype mother goddesses often. But mothers come in all stripes, and so too do Mothers. She would nurse you one moment, and have your neck in her jaws the next, with full motherly intentions. Pure, primal, feral mother.
Earlier last year I received a pull from my Gods to take my work with animal remains one step further. I work with tooth, bone and claw and hide. But most of what I had seen were finished products, sanitized and ready for use. I had handled raw, dead animals before in previous jobs. I had aided in surgeries, as well as in euthanizations. I am familiar with death, and blood, and guts. But would I be able to dig right in, prepare a specimen myself? I would be put to the test. Around the same time I was put in contact with someone who had a coyote that had been shot due to predator control in the area. This was a rare, black coyote. Coyotes aren’t normally black. They don’t get black, except by the infusion of dog ancestry. It is from a specific gene mutation that domestic dogs carry, beta-defensin 3, which regulates melanism in dogs. Coyotes and wolves naturally do not have this mutation unless it had been introduced into their ancestral bloodline from dogs. The colors of Anupet and Anubis both–black, the color of the fertile Nile–though perhaps, could their color symbolism, and association with dogs, also have something to do with this? Or perhaps their temporal children mirror them somehow, the beta-defensin 3 a sort of divine genetic marker, painting various canids in the likeness of these Divine Dogs.
Anyway, so I get in contact with the guy, expressing interest in the raw skull for cleaning. I’ve never cleaned a skull before. It’s a female coyote. He mentions that the hide is in undesirable shape for taxidermy due to her having had mange. He shows me a photo, and I agree to take the hide and the skull (the hide would otherwise been thrown out or cut for pieces). I had the hide sent to a taxidermist, and I got the head. And I do mean the head. Meat, muscle, eyes, tongue, everything.
It was a very intimate process. I meditated hard on the photos of her corpse. This is a very similar process to the Buddhist corpse meditations that certain sects perform. When I was ready, I took out my buck knife, razor-sharp and ready to go. And I did it. I couldn’t believe myself, but I did. I sliced the muscle from her head and jaws. I reached inside her mouth and cut her tongue out. I gouged out her clouded, sightless eyes, I swizzled the brain from her foramen magnum. The whole time I prayed to Anupet with every slice. Somehow I thought the actions of the knife would be pleasing to her–the cutting, the intentional wielding. Every slice was an offering to the Sacred Bitch, and an offering to my Patron, and his Brother, her Husband. The smell of her blood was sharp and tangy on my nose. Then I had a pot prepared for boiling the remainder of the meat and gristle from her head. I sat at that pot for hours. When she was finally done, I collected her skull, two jawbones (which had come apart) and all her teeth, and placed them into a small cooler filled with peroxide. Weeks later, I removed her, and carefully glued each tooth back in. With the exception of one tiny premolar, I didn’t lose or break any teeth. Soon, her hide came back from the tannery, and putting them together, it was a sight to behold. My offering to Anupet was complete, and I even ended up naming the black coyote “Anupet” after the goddess.
When working with animal remains, especially from a Pagan and animist or shamanist (most especially this one) angle, it is absolutely imperative that you understand the importance and the reality of where your remains come from, and how they get to you. Like the modern food industry, most of the bones and other items people get are already processed, chemically treated and prepared beforehand. There is very little actual “work” involved. People claim to do a lot of “work” involving animal parts, but the real work is also in understanding and respecting that these parts once had a life, a face, blood and guts. It took me cutting directly into that face to really have that lesson hit home for me. Now I’m graduating to work onto other things, and I have Anupet really to thank for that. I can only hope she finds my offering a worthy one. In time, I hope to have the skin mounted in some way (I did not tackle handling the skin, as I do not know proper tanning techniques and would probably ruin the skin) and have the skull similarly adorned as a votive piece for her.
I hope to write more on this amazing Lady as time goes on, but right now I have a murderous headache, and must retire for now..
This sort of thing is hard for me to write, because topics involving veterans and the military hit too close to home with me, too often. I know way too many people affected. And sometimes, my varying degrees of closeness has caused me to become affected, too. I think that is one reason why I’ve avoided writing to the Warriors And Kin. There is so much I could say, but saying it is like pulling teeth without anesthetic.
There are two people I remember from childhood. One was a sometimes-playmate, sometimes-neighborhood bully (children form very odd, and not otherwise functional relationships sometimes). Another was a classmate of mine. Both were brothers, and lived across the street from me. I remember clubbing C. several on his head with a vocabulary book, of all things, for calling my younger brother a “fag” on the school playground. I remember romping with his brother K., scurrying around on the roofs of houses and popping open storm grates in the street to hunt for frogs. Flash-forward many years, into adulthood. I am standing at K.’s funeral. I see a side of his brother I’ve never seen before, far divorced from the boy I once knew. He stood there in his Marine dress blues, over the flag-draped coffin of his brother. They both joined the Marines. They both went to Iraq. K. was seriously wounded by an IED. His brother watched him die in the military hospital in Germany.
Flashing forward again, I witness my father’s first stirrings of PTSD after he returns from his first rotation in Afghanistan. Violent outbursts. Panic attacks. A religious man, he could not even enter a crowded church, when before such things weren’t a problem for him. He would run the vacuum for hours on end, going over the same location, over and over. One day I came to him to express a problem I had–only to be answered with a violent outburst, as he described a bad day he had in which there was blood. Too much blood, that he had to clean away. He described it in such a way that the image stayed in my head, and has ever since.
A close friend mourns the loss of his friends and comrades he saw die. I drive to work, and see a homeless Vietnam veteran on the side of the road on my way to a McDonalds. I didn’t know what to do, so I bought him a sandwich. Thank you for your service, here, have this cheap fucking sandwich. I wanted to do something good, but I drove down the road feeling empty, sad and angry. No one who has given of themselves like that (willingly or no) should be standing on the side of the road, hungry and cold with a cardboard sign.
It all doesn’t end there. There are other stories I could tell, from the volunteer work I have done. But I’m already stretched too thin, and I could not breach the privacy I’ve been entrusted. But the letters, sent from those APO addresses, tucked into my main altar, they tell stories. I cherish each and every one.
Today people take the time to say “thank you”. I don’t know what to say. Somehow it isn’t enough. It will never be enough. We as a country need to do more than just say “thank you”. I look now to my statue of Sekhmet, sitting serenely beside my laptop. Goddess of warriors and of healing. Oh, how do we need You right now.
Lately I’ve been going through some deep struggles of an inner sort. This has mainly come about as a result of a combination of medical ordeals, and the latest news with regards to hate and bullying, which has served to bring up quite a cocktail of repressed memories and thoughts with regards to my own unpleasant and severe experiences with bullying and abuse in childhood and adulthood. Migraines have been running rampant due to this sort of emotional stress, as well as physical stress from work, and financial concern.
It is during these periods that I tend to experience a profound degree of heightened Awareness. Everything tends to take on a surreal sort of air to it. The reality of the physical and the otherworldly bleeds over into itself. Part of it could easily be explained by the time of year, as October approaches into November, and the nonphysical folk of the otherworlds begin making their rounds. This is something else as well. Something that plays upon the chords of my sanity and my sense of reality and, by contagion, that of those closest to me, to an extent.
One morning I sit downstairs to watch television, early in the morning. I have a terrible migraine, and the auras I’m experiencing are already giving the landscape around me a surreal quality. I am deeply aware of presences that aren’t the other dwellers of the household, or the cats. Something else, bigger, breathing down my neck, engulfing me. I turn on the TV to watch a nature program, and see something that pierces into my mind. Lions killing a giraffe–immediately an image floods my mind of me, as a small child of the age of 7, drawing a picture of a pride of lions eating a giraffe, and presenting it to the teacher who is horrified. I remember this clearly due to the horror expressed by the teacher. But there it is, this time in flesh and blood, real life, on the screen. The large male giraffe kicks and fights, but it is inevitable. They take him down, they strangle him, tear him open, feast. Childhood memories flash through my mind. The scrawled lions on plain cardboard paper hover in my memory.
Then the show shifts to another segment. A coalition of male cheetahs (females are solitary, males are social), probably brothers. They come to rest under a tree. One standing, the other laying down. From the cover of a bush, a female lion bursts forth. The cheetah brother standing lunges back and screams in terror as his brother, frozen in fear under the tree, is seized, brutalized, strangled to death. I’ve never seen one so brutalized and killed before. My heart breaks at this–cheetahs hold a very sentimental as well as sacred position in my heart. I see myself as the cheetah sometimes (or, the leopard–although I realize they aren’t related, their symbolism overlaps in many ancient mythologies), but I also see the lioness as Sekhmet. The lioness killing the cheetah opens up floodgates in my mind. The little male dying at the hands of the large female. My gender struggles. My body warring against me. More childhood memories come pouring in.
The scene shifts again. A lioness is then eaten, overwhelmed by a pack of hyenas and devoured alive. It is a very brutal scene, you can see the agony plain on her face. Hyenas are in-between creatures, sacred to many who are transgendered, as hyenas are creatures of in-between gender. More symbolism floats into my head. The defined lioness taken down by the undefined hyena. Visions and dreams of solar eclipses and suns burning and plunging into the earth fill my mind.
I am still awaiting the dawn.
We are pleased to announce that the Cynocephali devotional, to be published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina, is now open for submissions. This anthology will focus on the cynocephalic deities of the Greco-Roman and Egyptian pantheons, such as Anubis (Yinepu), Wepwawet, and Hermanubis. Please spread the call for submissions far and wide.
Examples of acceptable submissions include:
Translations and interpretations of ancient texts
Prose and Poetry
Anubis and Wepwawet – The same deity, or divine twins?
The associations of extant canid species (e.g. wolves, jackals, coyotes, foxes, and dogs) with these deities
Comparisons and contrasts to cynocephalic and way-opening canid-deities in other traditions and mythologies, such as Celtic or Norse, or even Meso-American (e.g. Xolotl)
The cynocephalic deities in their various forms and roles, such as:
Canids (wolves, jackals, dogs, foxes, even coyotes!)
Readers are strongly encouraged to explore many aspects of these deities, as well as some of the more obscure and lesser-known or less-popularized myths and symbolism associated with these deities.
Any submitted artwork must be original, greyscaled and 300dpi at full print size. Color submissions for the front cover are encouraged. In the event of multiple cover submissions, the editors reserve the right to make the final selection.
Editors also reserve the right to make any minor changes in the case of spelling, punctuation, grammar, formatting and related. The editors reserve the right to reject any submission that they feel does not meet the above criteria. Editors may request that submissions be tweaked or modified as necessary.
As with all devotional anthologies at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, payment or contributor copies cannot be provided, since proceeds will be directed to charitable organizations and to help promote the Bibliotheca Alexandrina line. Any potential contributors are encouraged to read the BA policies: http://www.neosalexandria.org/publishing.htm In submitting to this anthology, the editors will assume that you have read and consented to these policies.
Please send submissions to cynocephalidevotional (at) gmail (dot) com. Submissions will be accepted starting July 25th, 2010, in consideration of that date being the reckoned rising of Sirius and the major feast-day of many cynocephalic deities, including the Graeco-Egyptian syncretic Hermanubis and his early Christian counterpart, St. Christopher. The deadline for submissions will be on May 22, 2011, the date Ovid’s Fasti gives for the rising of Sirius, interpreted as the celestial form of the Hound of Erigone in a myth of Dionysos. The editors will acknowledge all submissions, but this does not guarantee your submission will make it into the final edit of the anthology.
All submissions will remain the property of the individual author, and all rights pertaining thereunto will remain with the author. A permission to publish form will be sent out to authors upon acceptance of their final drafts for publication. It is expected that no plagiarism of any sort will be involved in any piece accepted for permission, and that all customs of academic responsibility and honesty will be observed in citing sources (whether formally in footnotes/references or informally within the text of a piece), where applicable/necessary.
The editors of this devotional are Shin “Solo” Cynikos and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus. Solo is a Greco-Egyptian polytheist, cynanthrope, female-to-male transguy, magician and sacred scavenger. When not at his government job or traveling out of country, Solo enjoys blogging about polytheism, animism, transgender rights and scavenging. You can find his writings at https://dimensionbomb.wordpress.com, and his crafty bits at http://hermeticdog.etsy.com. P. Sufenas Virius Lupus is an academic by day, and a founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou and contributing member of Neos Alexandria. Lupus’ poetry and essays have been published in various Bibliotheca Alexandrina devotional anthologies, with a whole book of poetry called The Phillupic Hymns (2008) among these, and also poems in the Scarlet Imprint anthology Datura: An Anthology of Esoteric Poesis (2010).
Today, in between my two work shifts and after a particularly lengthy (but successful) presentation at work, I ended up drifting off to sleep momentarily to catch a nap and recharge a bit before my next shift. The dream I found myself plunged into was very dark and meaningless on the outset, until Tango appeared. You can see him in the photo above. When he appeared in my dream, I struggled to gain control of the dream itself. Lucid dreaming is something I’ve been doing since I was a small child. Although I could control certain parts of the dream, Tango was clearly not something belched from my consciousness, moving and acting of his own accord. He crawled up into my lap, nuzzled me over and over, dipped his head low and butted me soundly. In the dream I spoke to him, and told him how much I loved him. This is, I suppose, what some would call a “Big Dream”, in that sense at least.
For those of you who are reading and are unaware, Tango was my best nonhuman animal companion, therapy critter, and “familiar” of thirteen years. An exceptional animal and miracle, he has survived three bouts with soft-cell carcinoma, a particularly deadly form of cancer in cats. It was his fourth encounter, this past year in September of ’09, which finally claimed him after a mere two month fight. I can be blessed in the fact that, despite how hard he fought (I had tried an alternate form of cancer-fighting treatment to aide in his fight–I refused to put him through the hell of chemotherapy), he lost his battle while I was away with my partner in Germany, passing peacefully in his sleep. Later he was honored in the Festival of Bast held by Sannion and Dver, who graciously gave me an opportunity to achieve some closure surrounding his death. In a way this seemed typical of Tango, always living–and in the end dying–by his own terms. It was a blessing that he never had to end his life at the veterinarian’s office. Seeing him in my dream reassured me. It let me know that, even though we were physically parted, we will always be together where it counts. It also led me to thinking about the blessings of Bast.
Quite a few Pagans, when talking of Bast, usually associate her fully in the spectrum of their pet cats, and things revolving around cats. They focus on what she is, but just as important is who she is. And some may think, “Well Solo, what are you getting at? You just talked about your dead cat in relation to Bast yourself.” I loved Tango, in the end, not because he was a cat, but because he was an amazing being. His fiery, solar personality and dominant presence was what truly made him a child of Bast )and also, in a way, a resemblance of Atum-Re as the Great Tom Cat. Solar, fiery, dominant, avenging, beautiful.)
He was comforting. He, like a seizure dog, could predict my oncoming migraines (migraines themselves, at least the type I get, is the “relative” or “kissing cousin” of seizures). He would herd me into my room, snapping at my heels with much urgency. When the pain came on strong, he would sit on my chest (taking care to avoid my stomach and restrict my breathing) and purr so loudly my torso would rumble, soothing my pain and distress. I have had some of the most vivid, meaningful and intense visionary experiences with Tango sitting directly on top of me. The last time he did this, prior to his death, I dreamed deeply and communed with my gods, him resting on my chest and cupping my cheek with his paw, a painfully human-like gesture.
He is fiercely protective, and not shy of delivering retribution to humans and animals many times his size. He had this habit of involving himself in every minor dispute with the other cats in the house (including a 30lb male Norwegian forest cat/Maine coon), lending out cuffs with his meaty, muscular arms and breaking up fights, even attacking humans who he feels are unduly bothering the other feline residents of the household. Many humans in the house would say that he doesn’t stalk or even walk, but “polices” and “patrols” the hallways of the house. A couple people within the house, myself included, carry permanent scars from the strong, rabbit-like kick of his back feet when angered (he had unusually huge back feet for a cat, especially one with such a long and fully-formed tail).
He was immensely sexual. Despite being neutered as a kitten, his favorite thing in the world was a small dog plushie, which he would carry around the house with him. Every day, but particularly around dinnertime, he would set it down onto the floor and mount it, howling in ecstasy all throughout the house. It would get to the point where others in the house would have to hide the offending stuffed dog (usually by picking it up using a rubber glove or paper towel–no one ever had the heart to throw away his personal possession) just so people could get some peace. He is also the only animal I have ever been accosted by; once while in the throes of catnip ecstasy, he wrapped his arms around my arm and attempted to use it as a substitute for his dog plushie. If nothing else, he loved the pleasures of life, and was happy to lose himself in the throes of ecstasy and sheer, unadulterated joy.
When reflecting in the habits of my cat, I see also Bast and the many blessings she can bestow. I also see some of her more violent aspects which, like certain acts of nature, are necessary to the processes of life and sometimes, warnings to be heeded. But, in seeing Tango in my dreams, I took it not only as an indicator of his continued love for me, stretched beyond the grave, but the continued blessings and presence of a goddess of many attributes, an exceptional celestial woman who is far more than meets the eye.