Thursday, 16 June 2016
A Funeral, a Broken Statue and Tales of Wolves
Her death – and its reminder that all of us will die sooner or later – has been weighing on my mind for the past days. I guess that was why, when I was in a charity shop, I was drawn to a little statue of Anubis, the Egyptian god who oversees funerary rites and the passage of souls into the afterlife.
The statue was in a bargain bucket – only £1. I could see that one of its long ears had been stuck back on – and when I picked it up its arm fractured into pieces. I bought it anyway, took it home, and stuck it back together. I didn’t do a particularly professional job and you can see the join. I don’t mind.
Mending that little broken statue felt kind of soothing, as though I was at least putting something back together. I don’t mind that the cracks show either. As we get older we all get a few scars, don’t we? They are just the outward signs of life’s journey – they don’t diminish us.
Anubis is black in colour – which the Egyptians associated with rebirth. He is often described as having the head of a jackal, but I recently learnt that genetic testing of animals found in temples to Anubis has shown that the god's sacred beasts were actually African golden wolves.
I like that. It reminds me of the first story in the famous book Women who Run with the Wolves, about a wild woman who collects bones, puts them together and sings over them to bring them back to life.
There is life after death. Maybe not the continuation of the consciousness of the person who died – I don’t know about that – but all the molecules and atoms and things that make up their body will live again as something else. Maybe a tree or a flower or wild creature or even another human being. And there is life after the funeral for those who mourn their lost friend or loved one. We put ourselves back together, continue our lives, and the remember the one who died in the stories we tell of them. As long as we remember, they are still with us.