Anubis is an incredibly ancient god, and was the original god of the dead before Osiris “took over” the position. After that point, Anubis was changed to be one of the many sons of Osiris and the psychopomp (conductor of souls) of the underworld. His totem of the jackal is probably due to the fact that jackals would hunt at the edges of the desert, near the necropolis and cemeteries throughout Egypt.
Prayers to Anubis are found carved on the most ancient tombs in Egypt, and his duties apparently are many. He watches over the mummification process to ensure that all is done properly. He conducts the souls through the underworld, testing their knowledge of the gods and their faith. He places their heart on the Scales of Justice during the Judging of the Heart, and he feeds the souls of wicked people to Ammit.
In some stories, Anubis is the son of Ra and Nephthys, or Set and Nephthys (probably due to Set and Anubis having the same totem animal). Some have Heset as his mother, and still others say Bast. This apparent confusion is still another sign of Anubis’ origins in the most ancient of times. He also has a daughter, Kabechet, who helps him in the mummification.
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