Grave Moss & Stars

PBP Fridays: A is for Anhur

Anhur is an obscure Egyptian god, also known as Onuris to the Greeks. He originated near Abydos as a god of war and hunting, one of the few Egyptian hunting deities. His name means He Who Leads Back The Distant One; He plays the male lead in the myth of the Distant Goddess.

The myth, in short, tells the tale of the Eye of Ra becoming angry and leaving Kemet (Egypt) to go away, often to Nubia. The reason that the Eye goddess becomes angry can vary, but a frequent version of the myth tells how Ra sends his Eye to search for Shu and Tefnut, Who have gone off wandering in the world that is not yet done being created; when the Eye finds Them and returns Them to Ra, She finds that Ra has grown another Eye in Her absence. Angry with Her replacement, She storms off and wanders the desert, hostile and disconsolate.

In order to regain His protection under the Eye goddess, Ra sends a hunter-seeker to find Her and persuade Her to return. Depending on the version, the god Ra sends accomplishes this feat by a mixture of cajoling, praise, promises of riches and joys upon Her return, and reminders of the Eye’s duty to Her father. When the Eye comes back to civilized lands, She is met with rejoicing, offerings, and festivities by the people of Kemet.

Different gods can play the roles of the Eye and the seeker in this myth. Often, it’s Shu who is sent to bring His sister-consort Tefnut back; other times, it’s Djehuty in His baboon form that teases and flatters an Eye goddess like Hethert or Tefnut until She agrees to return. However, Anhur Himself is often the hunter who finds, and the Eye Who He brings back is Mekhit/Mehit or Menhit, the lioness Who then becomes His consort and wife. The meaning of Anhur’s name suggests the myth may have originated with Him, though Shu and Djehuty are more frequently cited in the retelling.

To make the myth deeper, Mekhit, The Completed One, could symbolize the full moon, and so Anhur bringing Her back could be interpreted as restoring the lost/wounded Eye of Heru to Heru-sa-Aset and restoring balance to the world.

As a war god, Anhur bore the title Slayer Of Enemies and was a patron of the Egyptian army and the archetype of the royal warrior. He was shown standing at the forefront of Ra’s barque to defend the sun god from enemies.

As associated with Shu, Anhur’s name could also mean Sky Bearer, and He was sometimes called Anhur-Shu. Anhur was also linked to Heru-wer as a saviour-through-war deity, earning Him the name of Ari-hes-nefer, Heru Of The Beautiful House. Other epithets include Bull of Thinis, Strong of Arm, High of Feather, The Good Warrior, and the Lord of Lances.

Anhur was depicted as a bearded man in a robe, wearing a four-feathered headdress similar to Shu’s, bearing a spear or lance; He was sometimes shown as lion-headed, as well. He usually holds a length of rope in His left hand, indicating His role in bringing back the leonine Eye of Ra.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.