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..
If you look closely, you can almost see a flowering lotus, or a reed of papyrus.
This was first brought to my attention by Sannion’s post.
The Nile being polluted was not something new to me. Its shores are coated in garbage, large kitchen appliances jut out from its waters like broken teeth. This latest event shouldn’t come as a surprise–in fact, some may call it an inevitability. However, as P. Sufenas Virius Lupus noted, to become numb to and ignorant of this and related disasters, we only end up perpetuating the problem further.
I wonder if there is some sort of significance to all these oil spills happening so close to one another–or rather, if the events such as the Gulf oil disaster serve to make us more aware of such environmental threats that occur more often than one may realize. Either thought should make us stop and think next time we gas up at the pump. Effectively coping with any environmental disaster involves getting the right information in order for one to effect the right change.
Those of us, as polytheists, who are grieved by this event, must also realize that we are like a diaspora. The Nile is not only the heart and soul of Egypt, but it is also carried within our hearts. Hapi will live on and prosper, and as polytheists we can continue to honor him by being proper, intelligent stewards and caretakers of our nurturing waterways. At least, until I hear more from this disaster out of Egypt, I will continue to support Hapi as sie lives in my land, as well as lend my prayers to the healing of the Nile. I am deeply saddened by this event, but I hope to transmute this emotion into right action.
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.
I’ve been reading a lot of posts lately about people’s relationships to their gods. I suppose I should write a little bit about mine, partly because I feel compelled to, and maybe it might give some folk a better idea of who I am and how I function a bit. I tend to be real private when it comes to my relationships to my gods and my magic. I think a big reason for this is that I’m rather bewildered by how open people in the pagan or occult communities tend to be. To some extent, this actually isn’t a bad thing. There are some who share their experiences to live by example, teach and guide. There are a few who come to mind when I type these words. Others, I wonder if they have any time for their gods or their magic, they always seem to be so busy thirsting for attention and talking about themselves, thrusting themselves into the limelight at some pagan gathering or bookstore or event.
But enough of that tangent.
I am a son of Wepwawet.
Some of you might be wondering what this means. No, I am not affiliated with any Kemetic house, group or organization. This revelation has come about after years of searching, struggling, falling on my face, failing, succeeding, hurting and loving. If you want to sum up a whole book’s worth of history in one sentence, then there you have it. Much like a large candle flame can light smaller ones, so have I come from him, his energy (Wepwawet-mose, as said in the name I use). I live a life of filial piety, and of love. My devotions to him include volunteer work and service to others, in whatever way I can give it. I’m by far not without flaw, and perhaps that is one reason why I do these things. That and empathy, a genuine need to want to help others, as much as I can.
That and, performing services on behalf of my gods is, in my opinion, so much more meaningful than burning incense, leaving offerings, and reciting pretty words. The sacrifices I make are sacrifices of time and energy. I want to be able to be a good representation of my Father as the Way-Opener. I don’t always succeed. But I try.
This doesn’t make me any better than anyone else, and I don’t think I’m special for this. Many people have similar relationships to their gods, and perform similar roles. I think, in learning from each other and the work we do, we can better learn so we can fine-tune our skills, and be the very best people we can possibly be, both for ourselves, and as representatives of the gods we serve and love.
My Wepwawet altar, dressed in the left corner (viewer’s right) with a pine cone, candles and Amanita muscaria mushroom representations for good luck in the new year, along with holiday cards. Soon those will be taken down and the altar re-ordered a bit for the coming year.
The hide on the altar is a real black-backed jackal (ideally it should be a golden jackal, but this is the best I could find). A ostrich feather is representative of Ma’at and my moral convictions. The knife in the center is what you would call my “ritual blade”. It is a live blade–a vintage AK-47 bayonet from the Middle East, which serves not only ritual but practical uses (home self-defense and wire-cutting when combined with the sheath), should the need arise. A dog and wolf skull flank his statue. This altar also serves as a reliquary for dog and wolf remnants I’ve collected over the years (bones, teeth, fossils, fur scraps or sheds, etc.) and serves a very practical as opposed to a display or ritual-only purpose. My tiny collection of Ancient Egyptian antiquities are stored there as well. The big bottle of African honey mead is a favorite offering of his, hence it’s display in the center, on top of the current offering plate.