On the Nature of Anubis

On the Nature of Anubis
in Atu XVIII, The Moon

By Michael Osiris Snuffin (2000)

Atu XVIII, The Moon

In the Moon card of Aleister Crowley’s Thoth tarot deck we find the image of Anubis in dual form guarding a path passing between two towers. While the image of two canines guarding the path is found in the earliest occult versions of the Moon, the identification of these figures with Anubis has its origins in the Philosophus Ritual of the Golden Dawn:

Hierophant: …The Dogs are the jackals of the Egyptian ANUBIS, guarding the Gates of the East and of the West, shown by the two Towers between which lies the Path of all the heavenly bodies ever rising in the East and setting in the West.1

Thus, in order to understand the significance of the dual form of Anubis as he pertains to the Moon in the Thoth deck, we must examine the god in the context of the Golden Dawn.


The concept of dual forms of Anubis was probably gleaned by Golden Dawn founders Mathers and Westcott from the research of Egyptologist E. A. Wallis Budge. Budge was the Keeper of the Egyptian Antiquities of the British Museum and the principal source of information on the subject of Egyptology in his time. In Gods of the Egyptians, Budge writes of…

…the two jackal gods Anpu, or Anubis, and Ap-uat, who are only two forms of one and the same god. Strictly speaking, Anpu is the ‘opener of the roads of the South, the power of the two lands,’ and Apuat is the ‘opener of the roads to the North, the power of heaven.’ The two jackal gods are often depicted on stelae, where they symbolize the two halves of the year, and the night and the day sky, and the periods of waxing and waning of the powers of nature in summer and winter.2

Budge associates the dual forms with the North and South directions. As the guardians of the “Gates of the East and of the West,” that is, the path oriented on an East-West axis, we find them placed in their proper directional posts in the Trump.

Budge also presents the dual forms of Anubis as a pair of polarized opposites: earth and heaven, night and day, winter and summer. In essence, they are darkness and light, or as expressed in terms of the Tree of Life, severity and mercy.


Within the framework of the Golden Dawn, Anubis’ duality is most clearly defined in the Neophyte Ritual, where each of the Officers represents an Egyptian god-form. The dual role of Anubis is expressed in the commentary on the Neophyte Ritual, the Z-1 Document:

The Kerux is the principal form of Anubis, as the Sentinel is the subsidiary form.

Kerux is “Anubis of the East”

Sentinel is “Anubis of the West”

The Kerux is the Herald, the Guardian and Watcher within the Temple, as the Sentinel is the Watcher Without.3

The directions attributed to the dual forms have been reoriented to coincide with the position of these two officers within the temple. The Doorway to the temple is in the West wall, with the Sentinel posted West of the door (outside the temple) and the Kerux posted East of the door (inside). In the Neophyte Ritual, the dual forms of Anubis stand within the portal rather than on either side of it as pictured in the trump.

The duties of the Sentinel and Kerux are explained in the Opening of the Neophyte Ritual:

Hiereus: The Sentinel is without the Portal of the Hall and has a Sword in his hand to keep out intruders. It is his duty to prepare the Candidate.4

Kerux: My place is within the portal. My duties are to see that the furniture of the Hall is properly arranged at the Opening, to guard the inner side of the portal, to admit the Fratres and Sorores, and to watch over the reception of the candidate; to lead all Mystic Circumambulations carrying the Lamp of my Office, and to make all reports and announcements.5

The two Officers reflect the polarity of the dual forms of Anubis as expressed above by Budge. The Sentinel represents darkness, for he is posted outside the temple, and he bears the sword of severity. The Kerux bears the lamp and wand of light, and he is merciful in that he acts as a guide and advocate for the candidate (see below).

Note that both officers are charged with guarding the portal to the Neophyte temple. The role of Anubis as the guardian of the temple is reflected in the Golden Dawn’s interpretation of the 125th Chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which is depicted on the black pillar of the Neophyte temple.6 A sub-lecture on the pillars within the First Knowledge Lecture explains the significance of this scene:

The 125th Chapter is concerned with the entry of an initiate into the Hall of the Two Columns of Justice, and commenced with a most beautiful and symbolic description of Death, as a journey from the barren wilderness of Earth, to the Glorious Land which lies beyond.

This chapter describes the introduction of the initiate into the Hall of Truth by ANUBIS, who, having questioned the aspirant, receives from him an account of his initiation, and is satisfied by his right to enter. He states that he has been taken into the ante-chamber of the temple and then stripped and blindfolded, he had to grope for the entrance to the Hall, and having found it, he was reclothed and anointed in the presence of the Initiated. He is then asked for the Pass-words and demands that his Soul should be weighed in the Great Balance of the Hall of Truth, whereupon ANUBIS again interrogates him concerning the symbolism of the door of the Hall, and his answers being found correct, ANUBIS says: “Pass on, thou knowest.”7

Thus we see that the Golden Dawn not only associated Anubis with the Kerux and Sentinel, but also placed an emphasis on their roles as a guardian who prepares the candidate for admission to the temple.


In our examination of the dual form of Anubis, we have established the origin of the concept in the writings of Budge, its identification with the officers of Sentinel and Kerux of the Neophyte Ritual of the Golden Dawn, and the role of both the officers and Anubis as the guardian of the portal of the temple. With this analysis in mind, let us now examine Aleister Crowley’s commentary on the Moon from The Book of Thoth:

To what god shall we appeal for aid? It is Anubis, the watcher in the twilight, the god who stands upon the threshold, the jackal god of Khem, who stands in double form between the Ways. At his feet, on watch, wait the jackals themselves, to devour the carcasses of those who have not seen Him, or who have not known His Name.8

This interpretation contains many textual references that link it with the Neophyte Ritual. Here Anubis is referred to as the Watcher, just as the Sentinel is called the Watcher Without and the Kerux is called the Watcher Within. The Z-1 Document states that “Enterer of the Threshold” is the name of the 0=0 Grade of Neophyte, and here Anubis is “the god who stands upon the threshold.” Finally, it is the Sentinel and the Kerux that stand in the double forms of Anubis between the Ways, that is, the portal of the Neophyte temple.

Given the textual clues combined with the knowledge that Crowley was an initiate of the Golden Dawn, it follows that he included their initiated interpretation of Anubis in his version of the Moon. Crowley takes the symbolism one step further by placing actual images of the god-form in the card, even including the Ankh and the Phoenix Wand held by Anubis as a god-form in the Neophyte Ritual.9


There is another important role of Anubis in the Golden Dawn that is pertinent to our investigation of the Moon. It is Anubis who leads the deceased through the darkness of the underworld to the kingdom of Osiris, “a journey from the barren wilderness of Earth, to the Glorious Land which lies beyond.” His role as guide is reflected in the duties of the Kerux “to lead all Mystic Circumambulations” of the Officers and “to watch over the reception of the candidate.”

In the Neophyte Ritual, the Kerux leads the hoodwinked candidate as he circumambulates the temple, making sure that he is properly purified and consecrated and taking him to the ordeals of the West and of the East. After the climax of the Ritual, where the hoodwink is removed, the Hierophant reveals the secret nature of the Kerux to the candidate:

In all thy wandering in Darkness, the Lamp of the Kerux went before thee, though it was not seen by thine eyes. It is the Symbol of the Light of the Hidden Knowledge.10

In the subsequent grades of Zelator and Theoricus, the Kerux uses his “Hidden Knowledge” to further act as guide and advocate for the candidate, leading the aspirant through the ordeals and often speaking on his behalf in the temple. Crowley instructs us to appeal to Anubis for aid in our journey of the path of the Moon, and we can find the nature of that aid documented in the Theoricus Ritual:

Hierophant: …follow your Guide, Anubis the Guardian, who leads you from the material to the spiritual.

Kerux: Anubis the Guardian said to the Aspirant, “Let us enter the Presence of the Lord of Truth. Arise and follow me.”11

In light of the demonstrated link between the Thoth trump and the Golden Dawn initiations, we can confidently state that Anubis acts as both guardian and guide in the Moon. That Anubis leads the aspirant towards truth is important in context of the Moon, for it is a glyph of darkness and illusion. Without Anubis, the traveler of this path falls prey to the jackals, who “devour the carcasses of those who have not seen Him, or who have not known His Name.” But with the help of Anubis, the guardian and guide of the path, the aspirant may pass through the ordeal of the Moon and into the glorious dawn of the following trump, the Sun.


1 Regardie, Israel. The Golden Dawn. 6th ed. page 185.
2 Budge, E.A. Wallis. Gods of the Egyptians. Volume 1, pages 493-494.
3 Regardie, Israel, The Golden Dawn, page 341.
4 Regardie, Israel, The Golden Dawn, page 118.
5 Regardie, Israel, The Golden Dawn, page 119.
6 “The ceremony of the 0=0 symbolically occurs in the Hall of Judgement which is described in the 125th Chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead” Cicero, Chic and Sandra Tabitha Cicero Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn tradition, page 4.
7 Regardie, Israel, The Golden Dawn, page 58.
8 Crowley, Aleister. The Book of Thoth, page 112.
9 The god-form of Anubis is described in the Z-1 Document. See Regardie, The Golden Dawn, page 355.
10 Regardie, Israel, The Golden Dawn, page 126.
11 Regardie, Israel, The Golden Dawn, page 157.

Copyright © 2010 Michael Osiris Snuffin

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