Saturday, May 21, 2016

Signposts Along the Road - Anubis

The other day I sold my newest version of an Anubis/jackal statue in Shadow of the Sphinx. The woman who purchased it wrote to me and asked if I had any advice on how to connect or work with Anubis as He had been appearing to her quite a bit lately. 

I did.  

I was a boy of 7 or 8 when King Tut's treasures first toured the US. The country was, as I recall, caught up in the mania of the story of the boy king. My father, living in NY city at the time, sent me a program from the exhibit. A strange gesture because, as far as I know, he had little interest in such things and I, as a young boy, had never even heard of ancient Egypt. 

I was completely taken by the treasures and the story of the tomb's adventurous and painstaking discovery and unearthing. I was in love with the idea of discovering steps beneathe the sand that led to such a marvel. I am sure I must have dug a dozen or more holes in the woods or back yard hoping, the way any young boy with no idea of the scope of the world might, to unearth just such a discovery myself.

 Of all the wonderful things" the tomb yielded, I was taken most by the life-sized jackal headed guardians that stood on either side of the door to King Tutankhamen's burial chamber. Beautiful depictions of Anubis, the "God of the Underworld"  Osiris an, then, the guide through it.

Ancient Egypt became a doorway for me. I devoured every book on it I could find and it led to discovering and reading about other ancient cultures as well. The Greek and Roman empires, The Druids and Celts, Phoenicians, Mesopotamia, The Mongols, The Turks, the Japanese Shoguns,. History became a deep love for me that would, and will,  inspire ma and last through the rest of my life. 

Still, when it cam to Anubis, I was more reverent than smitten. Anubis seemed to hold such power even though I could barely understand the concept of a "psychopomp" or an "underworld". That feeling sort of sat within me for a few years until the day when Anubis was one of the deities that, at age 11 or 12, I drew both on the tops of my feet and on my closet walls for protection (and likely as part of some imaginary scenario I was lost in playing at that time). 
Then, as most childhood obsessions do, in my teen years He and ancient Egypt sort of faded.
But never completely. 

In high school I attended a scholars program that included art and we explored man ancient forms f art. There, in the class books, was an oversized book of Egyptian artifacts. And when we moved here to the coast after leaving the city to take this run at being full time "makers-of-things", I discovered that exact same book, which I had not seen in about 20 years, in an old used book storein the town I moved to!

In the years between I always seemed to have an Anubis statue around or have one given to me when I didn't. An Anubis pendant was mysteriously left for me backstage after a multi media performance I did about 15 years ago. 

I had a Siberian Husky mix for 10 years, who was named Isis (she had the name when I got her!) and who, as many people remarked, was so physically similar to Anubis (including the large ears) and lay in a pose so close to the classic Anubis that it was more than a little eerie. Also, it would be appropriate to say that she chose ME as her provider (a long story but the first night I "found" her, she gingerly stepped over to my side and then lay on my chest in the classic Anubis pose. I recognized that in her immediately. And while she died almost ten years ago, I can say that it was her being in my life that sort of kept me in place and helped lead to what would become the creative life I lead now. So many pieces fell into place that would not of had I felt the freedom to just move or reinvent my life over without any consideration to how it might affect her. She kept me in place until the crossroads had fully appeared. 

But it was not until I began making statues and amulets 6 years ago (and Anubis was one of the first since I indeed had a statue to use as a 3-d model) that I rediscovered my love for reading about the deities of ancient Egypt and exploring their role in that society again. And, in those years that had passed, so much had been discovered and revealed about them. Things I never knew in those early years. 

Anubis, it seems, had a bigger, more expansive role than just the guide to the underworld. It's now known that Anubis could also be seen as a deity that would appear for guidance at any form of "crossroads" in the living world too. The term psychopomp originates from the Greek words Pompos (conductor or guide) and Psyche (life, breath, soul, or mind) and Anubis is just one of long list in mythology that includes Hermes, Persephone and the Valkyries. So to think of Anubis, after all these years as something the living could connect to, well, it made much more sense why Anubis has been a part of my world for so long. 

Crossroads. . . as a child, it's hard to look back and say how big of an influence that glossy King Tut exhibit program was. How big an impact those standing, anthropomorphic Anubis guardians were going to be. But it is absolutely true that, in my adult world, Anubis seemed to be a guide that came along, in one form or another, each time I needed him . . . if only to watch over me, keep me where i needed to be, or to inspire.

Today, I am always happy to make an Anubis statue or amulet and to send it out into the world for others to, hopefully, work with and find their way thru the crossroads of life.

Below is another version of that Anubis I spoke of at the beginning and a few new pieces from the Shadow of the Sphinx shop too. All of them are important to me in their own way. All have had their place in my life. But none more so than the guardian and navigator of crossroads, Anubis. . . 

Thank you for visiting!


My latest Shadow of the Sphinx version of Anubis

The "classic" pose.

I'm introducing a new series of busts for smaller altar spaces. This is the lioness, Sekhmet, with solar disc and cobra. 

And one of Wenut, the Hare or "The Swift One" 


  1. What a wonderful read Nicolas. Perhaps a bit of reincarnation is at play here... maybe you are a portal! Have you wondered about these things...? (I imagine so.) Sometimes we have to smile, about how particular things keep returning to us, even in later life. I used to tell myself to 'grow up' when I found myself still wanting to play with miniature things and create like a child. But then a new dimension opens. And you reach people this way, as you are. Love your posts.xx

    1. Louise, oh I have definitely wondered. . . still do. :) You sharing about the days of telling yourself to 'grow up' got me a bit choked up. . . I had done the same thing so many times earlier in life and left so much, all that you see in my work now, behind. These days I do feel extremely grateful to have found my way back again (with a little guidance from "friends" like Anubis.) and grateful that I can be certain that I will never lose another day to that adult world if I can help it.

      So happy you dropped by dear friend! Thank you!!

  2. A perfect post, yet i hate to say but i had never been drawn to anubis before. But your explanation of the idea of a guide at the crossroads is very appealing. I do believe what we need shows up when we need it and it is always so interesting to hear how things come up over and over in our lives. When we take the time to see, that is. I am afraid i wasn't paying enough attention to those kinds of signs for too much of my life.

    1. Andrea! Oh, I both loved and shunned Anubis because I was a bit creeped out that the God of the Underworld was following me around. lol :) But yes, the idea of the guardian of crossroads is when it all fell into place. . . even that young boy, when I look back, was at them too. Choices I made, in friends, in activities, in choosing to be alone instead of just being with others for company.

      When I go home to visit my mother now it is always a strange experience. There are the myriad of things I am drawn to that are the ghosts of my childhood. . . good and bad. . . and the things that I look forward to as touchstones each time. But also, the clear recognition that, if I had not gotten out as a young adult and ventured across the country and all over the world, I would never be who and what I am today. The place that once seemed so limitless and expansive now seems so small and stifling. And there was Anubis, at 8 or 9 years old, letting me know it's ok to choose a different path. And perhaps just a sign that I would need to.

      But it is strange to also look back and think how that one museum program. That one ancient discovery, could be such a transformative part of my world. The classic tiny pebble thrown into the pond that causes ripples out and beyond what we can see.

      And as for paying attention? Well, much of it is seen in hindsight for us all. But I think it is no less worth paying attention to even if it is 30 years or more later. The clarity may be more important now than anytime in our past. Or maybe all of it was put there so we WOULD see it now? We just have to take the time to dig around and excavate a bit. . .

    2. I agree, just taking the time to think about it makes such adifference. It is easy to just keep slogging forward without looking back. I do remember a few books that definitely were like tiny pebbles in my pond....

  3. What a wonderful post, Nicolas! I am very much enjoying your blog. I can understand how you connected with Egypt. It reflects in your work which is exquisite!

    I've always loved history and enjoy reading historical novels. Many years ago, I owned a set of books about Egyptians, Incas, Aztecs, Mayans, etc. and I would love reading them and seeing the pictures of ancient artefacts. I am interested in Celtic history since my ancestry is of Irish and Scottish origins and I was born in England.

    Enjoy your week. :)

    1. Thank you Serena! It is so lovely to have you drop by and comment! Yes, history has always been an inspiring well for me to dip into throughout my life. One of my favorite things to do as a child, and now, is/was to curl up with a book about ancient civilizations and get lost down the rabbit hole. I was fascinated by all those same civilizations you mentioned and the Celts, Druids and the ancient Norse folk too.

  4. Very interesting! Everything happens for a reason and if you really listen, and look, there are "signs" everywhere. Like how you were at such a young age, to get a program from the exhibit, from your father. The crossroads make sense! A very wonderful read Nicolas! As always, I love your creations!!

    1. Thank you Stacy! I think I've ingrained the habit of looking for them now. . . which could also be named as "following my heart". The heart always knows. . . :)

      So happy to have you come by as always!