Emerging from the sometimes literally psychedelic period of Greco – Egyptian syncretism, Hermanubis is a hybrid form of the Egyptian funerary god, Anubis, and the Greek messenger-trickster, Hermes. The combination of the two provides a psychopomp par excellence. He is depicted as having the body of Hermes and the head of Anubis. His most famous surviving statue is viewable in the Vatican Museum.
So 2018 is the Chinese year of the Dog (I can hear my neighbour’s husky barking about when i’m typing these letters). I don’t know a better timing to write and post this chapter from Gordon White’s excellent book, “The Chaos Protocols” about Dog-Headed Deities and Archetypes and HIGH STRANGENESS, then at this particular moment. Don’t shoot the messenger, but rather thank the deputy and give him some credit. (that would be me). After all we’re on the glorious live-hunt for those nasty and sneaky Archons. As you may probably already tell, I really, really enjoyed reading this book (read it twice now), and I KNOW it can change your world view on so many levels. It’s also a rich practical guide and it arms you with a vast range of spells and rituals for overcoming this “black iron prison” we find ourselves in. …But enough of my ramble. Locked and loaded, let’s get to the actual meat!
The revealer of mysteries of the lower world, not of hell or hades, but of our Earth (the lowest world in the chain of worlds), and also of the sexual mysteries. He was always represented with a cross in his hand, one of the earliest symbols of generation or procreation.
ynocephalic (dog-headed) Gods are supremely ancient and widespread. As for Hermanubis specifically, his origin is something of a moving feast. Plutarch, for instance, identifies Anubis with Hermes and with the star Sirius (the dog star). But the dog/messenger/Sirius connection is found at least as far back as the early New Kingdom where we see cynocephalic figures greeting the rising sun at the four doors of the eastern horizon on one of Ramses II’s obelisk. The rising of Sirius marked the beginning of at least two of Egypt’s simultaneous calendar systems. Firstly, the return of Sirius to the eastern skies in late summer after a seventy-day period (the same length of time as the mummification procedure) heralded the flooding of the Nile, the natural phenomenon responsible for Egypt’s bounteous agricultural harvest. Secondly, Egyptian sacred calendars ran on a much longer year, the Sothic year—named for the heliacal rising of Sirius/Sothis—lasting 1,461 solar years.
This calendric notion survives into the Egyptian concept of the decans—mighty spirits that hold sway over sections of the night sky. The sequence of decans begins with Hermanubis, and here we can see his role as psychopomp and opener of the ways. He appears from the underworld and travels across the sky at the head of the entire parade of star gods. From here, the whole notion of Sirius/dog/initiator and the late summer skies is absorbed into the mythology of the early European church. If you look at the calendar of saints from the end of July to the beginning of September, it is filled with dogs. Most famously is Saint Christopher, beloved of mad taxi drivers and mothers with large prams the world over, on July 25.
His hagiography states explicitly that he was a giant from the land of Chananeans/canines whose only form of communication was barking. In southern France you find Saint Roch, August 17, and Saint Guinefort, who was/is an actual dog, on August 22. Another direct continuation of Hermanubis is found via Saint Bartholomew on August 24. In Myths of the Dog Man by David Gordon White (no relation), we read:
“We find a version of the Coptic Acts of Bartholomew with a Latin codicil… The codicil reads: “These are the acts of Bartholomew, how upon leaving the land of Ichthyophages, went to Parthos with Andrew and Christianus, the cynocephalic man.” A similar codicil is found much earlier, in the approximately fifth-century Syriac version of the acts of Matthew and Mar Andrew: it says that the apostles converted the “City of Dogs, which is ‘Irqa,’” situated north of the Crimea.”
Given that there is a zero archeological evidence for any of these people and a growing academic theory suggesting that much of the Christian story is a retelling of star lore (twelve apostles, twelve zodiacal houses and so on), then “converting the City of Dogs” could represent the incorporation of the Sirian corner of the sky into the emerging religion. Saint Christopher’s feast day falls on the ancient ritual known as the kunophontis, the “massacre of the dogs,” a sacrifice performed to appease the restless dead ancestors of Apollo’s son, Linos, who was killed and eaten by dogs. It was quite common to see cynocephalic statues of Christopher at the gates to European cities right up until the Middle Ages.
Here we have the “way opener” meet the dog-headed crosser of boundaries and spiritual insight. Before our very eyes, Hermanubis has continued along with us in the march of western culture. Christopher is the only cynocephalic being in the post – Christian western world to be given a name, although there have been dog “races” and “people” for centuries. These peoples are from Libya, Egypt, northern India, andthe Horn of Africa, which most of the time was considered the same place. Thus cynocephaly was a visual shorthand for eastern spiritual influence. Interestingly, it currently appears that dogs were first domesticated in southeast Asia. Other direct continuities are found in Origen’s accounts of the beliefs of the heretical gnostics. He writes that the gnostics believe “men … [after death] assumed the shapes of these theriomorphic spirits and were called lions, bulls, dragons, eagles, bears and dogs.”46 Note that all these animals can be found in the constellations of the classical world, giving us a very poignant indicator of where the gnostics located their afterlife—among the stars. Returning to David Gordon White:
The cynocephalic Hermanubis and Erathoath (Hermes-Thoth) are products of the Greco- Egyptian astrological tradition, and we may further glimpse, in the Coptic commemoration of Bartholomew’s martyrdom on the first day of the month of Thot (August 29), an evocation of that animal-headed Egyptian deity whose symbolism was carried over into the Hellenistic world in the figure of Hermes Trismegistus. Second-century Alexandrian coins depict Hermes-Thoth together with cynocephalic apes and the caduceus, and another Ophite source, an “Abraxis” gemstone, depicts the cynocephalic Hermanubis holding a sceptre in each hand and standing between a half moon and a star, on the other side is the archon Michael. These Hellenistic traditions were the sources of Christian zoomorphic depictions of the four evangelists as well: these first spread from Asia Minor and the Coptic Christians of Egypt into Sicily, Visigoth Spain, Merovingian Southern France, and Celtic Ireland, with the cynocephalic Christopher hard on the trails.
Why dogs, death, and late summer? Why would this be my recommended route into magical dealings with the dead? This is a very, very old Indo-European association … possibly a dozen millennia old. In numerous Indo – European traditions, the dead are compared to a herd or flock, with a divine shepherd and his dog or dogs managing the herd. We see echoes of this tradition with Hekate—to whom dogs are sacred—hounding lost souls; we see it with Cerberus guarding the threshold to the underworld; we see it in the Roman tradition of household gods and spirits, Lares, often depicted wearing dog-skins. In book XXII of The Iliad, Homer describes Sirius as the hound of Orion. During the dog days, Orion’s hound “redoubled the fiery heat of the sun, bringing, in the afternoon, suffering to all living creatures
Suffering and illness are consistently associated with the dog days and their presiding spirits. The origins of this connection are likely functional. Even today, high summer is a time of mosquitoes, viral outbreaks and water-borne illnesses, the baking heat leading us to drink from smaller and more dubious water sources. Thus the threshold between the former year and the new year was fraught with sickness and danger. It was and for much of the world still is a dangerous, liminal time. Liminality gave both Hermes and Anubis some
of their many titles. In some places, Anubis held the title of Apherou, meaning “way-opener.” Hermes had many similar titles such as Psychopompos, meaning “conductor of souls.” You could not find a better hybrid to deepen your interactions with the dead. Following are several ways you can do that.
About the Author
Gordon White (London) runs one of he leading chaos magic blogs, Rune Soup. He has worked nationally and internationally for some of the world’s largest digital and social media companies, including BBC Worldwide, Discovery Channel, and Yelp. Gordon has presented at media events across Europe on social strategy and the changing behaviors and priorities of Generation Y. During this time, he has partied with princes, dined in castles, been mentored by a former director of a private spy agency, and even had a billionaire knight buy him bottles of champagne.