I’ve actually been off-and-on about posting this entry since I first had the idea some months back. I actually think I had the idea back when we were still around L or so, but I can’t really remember. I know that I’ve had this inkling for some time and so, that’s why I wanted to get it off of my chest. I’ve discussed my thoughts with other Kemetics out there, one in specific who is a jackal enthusiast and my number one go-to regarding UPG versus recon versus reality. So, it’s with the backing of some really totally bitchin’ people that I finally get past my initial worry about posting this and just get to it. Besides, when the hell have I ever held back before? Why start now?
I have to admit that I am not a follower or practitioner who worships either of these deities. What I’m seeing is just a general UPG feeling in regards to things. How can I possibly have UPG feelings on this? The thing is that I’ve done some research about both of these deities, off and on, over the months since I began thinking about what I wanted to write about. Y’see, I knew I wanted to write about Wepwawet in this entry, but I also knew that I didn’t want to do some encyclopedic boring piece of shit that people would ignore. I wanted to get to the meat of the matter and here’s the meat portion: I am honestly beginning to believe that a lot of Kemetic practitioners who claim a relationship with Anup are really working with Wepwawet. Crazy. What do I know, right? I’m talking about UPG here and I don’t even work with either of these deities? TOTES CRAY-CRAY, SAT. But, hear me out. First, let’s talk about each deity in a generalized sense.
We have Wepwawet first. I mention him first because he is older, in my eyes, than Anup. This is partially born out in archeological evidence from the mention of him on the Narmer Palette, dating back to the 31st century BCE. Archeological evidence speaks of this particular deity’s origins as in the Upper Egypt region, but his worship spread quickly enough. The name, Wepwawet, is commonly translated as “opener of the way.” In regards to “the way” that is being “opened” here, predominant belief would be in line with a warlike, king needing the way parted before them. In fact, this is specifically discussed in the Wepwawet entry from The Complete Gods and Goddess of Ancient Egypt by Richard H. Wilkinson. While I will admit that “opening the way” may not be a peaceful venture more often than not, I don’t think warlike is attested in specific. Yes, when Wepwawet is depicted, there are weapons about. However, that could just be a way to cut through the bullshit and to open the way. As I said, opening the way for someone doesn’t necessarily refer to it in a warlike manner but, really, in a more forceful manner.
Wepwawet appears to have been a very popular deity in ancient Egyptian times, as born out in how quickly the cult of Wepwawet spread across the nation. According to Geraldine Pinch in Egyptian Mythology, “Wepwawet’s role as a celestial guide dog made him a popular deity with ordinary people who faced dangerous journeys in life or death.” While I have a bit of a snarly comment about the “guide dog” aspect, this analogy appears to be wholly correct in regards to Wepwawet, the deity, as well as the cult status he attained. This particular deity was very much an “in this life” kind of deity. I suppose we could even attest the adage, “the first day of the rest of my life,” to him in a way. Wepwawet was very concerned with this realm of influence. I’m not saying that he held no part in the afterlife because he did. But, and UPG ALERT, I’ve always seen him very much as more human interacting than Anup. (More later, obviously.)
Now, Wepwawet’s aspects did also hold dominion over the land in the dead. The “opener of the way” epithet didn’t just reference battles and cutting through bullshit, but also did have to do with the afterlife, as well. Spells found in both the Pyramid Texts as well as the Coffin Texts attest to Wepwawet’s role in aiding the recently deceased on their way to heaven and “opening ‘a good path’ for them through the dangerous landscapes of the afterlife.” (Egyptian Mythology by Geraldine Pinch, page 213.) It is also attested that, in this particular role, Wepwawet gave aid to the murdered god, Wesir. It is also shown that he punished the enemies of Wesir.
As for Anup, he is still a very ancient deity in his own right. However, the first confirmed mention of this deity is in the Pyramid Texts, thus lending credence to my belief that Wepwawet is an older version. The early years of Anup’s mention in ancient Egypt appears intrinsically linked with the funerary process. It is his image that was often carved over the entrances to ward off grave robbers. It is in this distinction that we, most often, find Anup residing. According to Egyptian Mythology by Geraldine Pinch, “Anubis was incorporated into the Osiris myth as the god who invented mummification…” (p104). And it is in this light that too often, he is truly relegated. However, this jackal-headed deity had numerous other aspects not oft discussed in Kemetic spheres: he was a liminal god, a Master of Secrets, the one who weighed and accounted the hearts of the deceased, as a psychopomp, and as the premier embalmer of the funerary cult.
I feel that the differences between these two jackal deities is very clear, but I’ll be specific here. The two of them both work in an areas of opening ways for others, but only one is more inherently in this realm than the other. Wepwawet was shown, clearly, in ancient Egyptian iconography as being an “opener of the way.” While he functioned in this aspect in a funerary way, as well, it is in the aspect of a “cutter of bullshit” that we need to take into account. As I said earlier, I see this deity as the one who would manifest more intently with the living. He would be the one to show others the way in this realm. And too often, I see people instead attesting that it is Anup who “opens the way” for them, in whatever arena. And that, to me, just doesn’t seem right.
I know that a lot of people may be thinking that it appears that I am arguing semantics here. “They’re both jackal deities; does it matter?” And the answer to that is yes. They are two SEPARATE deities. Too often, we find Anup usurping qualities best left to Wepwawet. I realize that this is because the mythologies associated with Anup survived into the Roman Era, considering Anup’s integral role in the Osirian mythos. However, there was more than one jackal deity in ancient Egypt. In fact, there are more jackal deities than just the two I’m talking about here. But, the point remains that as a hard polytheist, I legitimately believe that, too often, followers of Anup are mixing the two up.
Now, if that’s the case, why is this happening? In part, I believe it is complete ignorance on behalf of the followers. As well known as Anup is, it is difficult and time consuming to find out any type of information about other jackal deities. (Just ask anyone in love with Sed or Khentymentu.) And as I’ve been coaching people interested in this religious path, this path is about reading, research, and taking the time to learn. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you can go to the Wiki pages and leave it at that. It means that the more ancient the sources we run into, the more likely we will have the proper information. And so, that would make it easier for the current followers to decide who it is they are actually working with.
But, you know, who wants to spend all their time with a nose in a book when this particular jackal deity looks good, so why not go with that one?
Wait a minute, though. Wouldn’t the deities in question stop the fuck up in its tracks?
I’ve thought about this and had a conversation or two with people. I think a large aspect to the problem is that soft polytheism is fairly rife in the Kemetic hemisphere. If I’m not mistaken, this is a big tenant to KO in general. In soft polytheistic beliefs, we have one general deity that is all the other deities. So, in regards to this, if you’re not listening, then why would they say one way or another? Another aspect to this is that I don’t think they particularly care. I do because I’m a stickler, but I’ve been informed that I’m not exactly normal in a lot of cases. (I mean, how many Kemetics are out there as Sekhmet kids? If that’s not a big indicator that I don’t follow the norm, then I don’t know what is.) I legitimately believe that both of these deities are so excited that people are paying attention to them again that they don’t really care so much about the “semantics.” But, there’s another theory here.
I’ve often thought about the fact that Anup and Hermes were mixed into one deity during the Greek er. We see this in the form of Hermanubis. While I’m not a huge fan of the mixing or Greekification of deities (there’s a reason I’m a Kemetic), I always wondered at the reason behind their being unified. Generally, it’s believed that because the two of them have workings with the souls of the dead that this is the main basis for their unification. However, I’ve run up against Hermes a time or two and he has got a serious trolling way about him. I often wondered if personalities had to do with any of the unification and if that’s the case, then I suppose I could conjecture (UPG, obviously) that Anup is something of a troll, too.
And let me ask you, what troll ever cared about anything other than getting the worshipers?