Thursday, 23 June 2011

Calendar Entry #21: Anubis Ceremony & Corpus Christi

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays.
 Anubis Ceremony
Anubis supervising mummification - Sarcophagus circa 400BC
Photographer: Andre, Amsterdam

Anubis (Anpu, Inpew, Yinepu) was the god of the underworld in ancient Egypt.  His role was to protect and guide the spirits of the dead, guiding them in the afterlife towards Osiris.  Written in the Pyramid Texts, found in Unas, was, "Unas standeth with the Spirits, get thee onwards, Anubis, into Amenti, onwards, onwards to Osiris."
He is depicted as a jackal or jackal headed man, painted black.  This was said to be because black is the colour of fertility, which is linked to death and rebirth found in the afterlife.  It was also because Anubis is the god of embalming and some say that the black represented the tar from the embalming process.
When the cult of Osiris became popular and Osiris became more recognisable and 'powerful' he took over much of Anubis' role as protector and caretaker of the dead.  Anubis became 'He Who is Before the Divine Booth', the god of embalming who presided over funerary rites. 
There are a few ceremonies that Anubis is featured in, but the most well documented is the 'Opening of the Mouth' ceremony. 
Once the funerary rituals and mummification of the body had taken place, it was thought that Anubis would appear by the mummy and awaken its soul.  Upon arriving at the door of the tomb a priest wearing the mask of Anubis, embodying the god himself, removed the mummy from the sarcophagus and placed upright against a wall.  The 'Opening of the Mouth' ceremony was performed which consisted of rituals of purification, censing and anointing of the mummy, accompanied by incantations.  The mummy would be touched at various places by ritual objects to restore the senses.  The spirit would then be able to see, hear, speak and eat. 
Once completed the tomb would be sealed.  It was believed that Anubis would then lead the deceased to the afterlife, to the Halls of Ma'at.  This was where Anubis, in his role of 'He Who Counts the Hearts' would preside over the weighing of the heart and the judging of souls.  Anubis would pass judgment on the deceased and Thoth would record it.  
Corpus Christi
Holy Communion (Eucharist) Chicago, 1973
Corpus Christi is a feast on the Christian Calendar.  It is held on the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday, because of its association with Maundy Thursday.  Maundy Thursday focussed on the commencement of the Eucharist (body and blood of Christ) while Corpus Christi is about celebrating the actual presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine.  So while one celebrates the act, the other, Corpus Christi, celebrates what the act symbolises.  It is officially known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
First celebrated in the 13th Century, Corpus Christi did not gain worldwide acceptance until the 14th Century, due to the untimely deaths of the bishop's and pope's ordering its installation in the Christian calendar.  While it officially sits on a Thursday, some congregations will celebrate it on the following Sunday.

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