In the previous section we followed Anubis and the rise and fall of the Egyptian gods. Anubis, recognizing his own mortality was upon him, left Egypt at the beginning of the reign of Akhnaten, hoping to find that far and mysterious country where lay the original source of godhood.

The Olmec Civilization
The Olmecs have been one of the great mysteries in Central American studies. For long it was thought that the Mayan culture was the 'mother culture' of Central and South America. Only slowly was it accepted that this title rightly belongs to the Olmecs. Their culture seemed to spring fully formed from nowhere about 1200 BC, hundreds of years advanced over any other culture in the New World, eventually giving rise to writing, monumental artwork, pyramids, and an intricately developed religion based on wer-animals, most especially the wer-jaguar. Yet the key to their culture is the realization that the impetus for their flowering came from one being – Anubis, the soul of Egypt.

Map of the Olmec civilization
Map of the Olmec civilization

Anubis in Mexico
Anubis had set sail from Egypt on reed boats and let the Atlantic currents carry him where they would. He had no compass or destination, but he could read the stars and knew the direction and approximate distance he was traveling. Yet his arrival in Barbados and then Oaxaca, Mexico could not have been less mysterious to him than the voyage of the dead into the afterlife – a voyage that he had come to fear soon awaited him, and he dreaded it immensely. No one who has pretended to be a death god wants to meet the real one, and despite the hypocrisy he had lived, he believed in the reality of the image gods.

This landfall in Oaxaca is another of the great happenstances in the history of 'wer' – a confluence of coincidences that cries out for causality – for a hidden hand writing history to its own ends – the ocean currents, the Olmec, the jaguars, the vampire bat, blood and rabies; they all conspired to change the world.

It has been supposed by many inquisitive minds that the pyramids and other features of Mexican cultures had for their inspiration Egypt. In 1970 Thor Heyerdahl built a reed boat, named Ra II, and set sail from the Port of Safi, Morocco, some three hundred miles south of the Straits of Gibraltar. In fifty-seven days the oceanic currents had carried him nearly four thousand miles to the island of Barbados in the West Indies, an arc of islands which embraces the Caribbean Sea and points to the Yucatan of Mexico. Anubis made this voyage more than three thousand years earlier. It cannot be guessed how long he spent exploring the islands, and perhaps even the mainland, until he made landfall in Mexico, in the humid lowlands of Southern Veracruz and Tabasco. These shores are a natural terminus of the great mid-ocean rivers. But we know for certain that he arrived before 1200 BCE.

It is probable that this one-way voyage occurred many times, fueling the native American civilizations with the cultures of Africa. Perhaps fugitive slaves or enterprising merchants swept away by storms occasionally survived the journey. But never before, or since, had such a distillate of Egyptian culture appeared on the shores of the new world. From one view the very heart of old Egypt had transmigrated to Mexico.

There Anubis found a land completely unlike the land of Egypt, populated by a people unlike any to be found in the Old World – a people of short stature with alien faces. These people, the natives Anubis found, like all the American Indians of that time, were, by Egyptian standards, a primitive people. They had lived in the area for hundreds of years nearly unchanged – small villages of fishers and farmers of a primitive corn, for they were primarily an agriculture based society. Perhaps they'd progressed so far as pottery and jade carving.

Hedjet, the white crown in stone on a Pharaoh's head
Hedjet, the white crown in stone on a Pharaoh's head
The wolf-god precipitated a full-scale cultural revolution on these natives, the Olmecs, whom he chose for his new subjects for no other reason than that they inhabited the lands on whose shores the Atlantic currents had deposited him. Of course, to them he was a god, of infinite strength and knowledge, able to change from a wolf-headed form to a black, human-like form with strange facial features. At times, when he took human form, he wore the white crown hedjet, with its large elongated dome shape.

Here are the answers for mysteries that have haunted modern scholars of the Olmec culture. For anthropologists the first hint of the existence of the Olmecs came in 1862 when a colossal stone head was found in Veracruz, Mexico. As time passed, many such heads (from five to eleven feet tall) turned up, most of them made of basalt, and carved with the same features - flattened nose, wide lips, and wearing some kind of headpiece. The question that haunted anthropologists was why the Olmecs, thousands of miles away from Africa, would chisel African features into their stone heads. The answer -- these are simply the normal African features of Anubis in his human form, wearing his crown, hedjet, or other headpiece.

Olmec basalt head
Photo at right: Basalt head with African features – a mystery unexplained by overt history. It is an homage to Anubis's African skin and features. It is also possible that many of Anubis's entourage had African features. They would have been instant nobility and probably had a large collection of wives, perhaps infusing the Olmecs peoples with these same features to a noticeable degree.

Olmec jade head

In the photo on the left, the headpiece is midway between the full hedjet crown, and the elongated head that developed from it.

That elongated crown gave rise to the practice of cranial deformation of children – an attempt to turn their heads into living crowns. This convention cropped up again and again in the centuries to come. For the Maya, a later derivative culture, this would be a symbol of nobility. In many cases, the crown is reduced to a mere cap, but in others the origin of the headpiece is clearly hedjet.

Olmec Jade figurines
Right: A group of figurines showing the elongated heads, inspired by hedjet and realized by the cranial deformation of royal children by securing the head between two boards that were slowly tightened over the years.

Anubis quickly set about 'civilizing' his new subjects – not because he wanted to better their lives, but simply to make them more useful to him and to create a power base, for he intended to establish a priesthood to worship him and a pantheon of gods to give him a long, strong arm to search for his fountain of youth. Thus he gave them the embellishments of civilization – monumental carvings, the notion of pyramids, cities, conquest – Egyptian concepts re-cast in Veracruz style. Overnight the Olmecs leapt forward culturally beyond their neighbors by several hundred years. Anubis did not treat his new subjects cruelly, but they would never be 'his people' the way the Egyptians were, and Anubis was, by his standards, in a hurry – a hurry to find the original source before death caught up to him.

He did not directly teach the Olmecs anything he didn't need for his own ends, but simply in his daily living he served as a role model. His hieroglyphic writing inspired the Olmecs to undertake hieroglyphic writing of their own – quite different from Egyptian in detail, since Anubis did not instruct them in a subject he knew required many years of study and really only worked for the Egyptian language. His example inspired them to develop mathematics and a calendar. From him they also learned of pyramids and the wheel, but actual construction of major pyramids would not come until after Anubis had passed from knowledge, and the wheel had no use in Meso-America. Lagoons, swamps, estuaries, hills and chasms, not to mention the endless trees, made the wheel impractical. Pack animals and human slaves simply worked better and were abundant and cheap.

All Anubis's policies have to be judged against his goals – contemporary power and renewed life. All his deeds directly or indirectly aimed towards those ends. Anubis quickly began the subjugation of the neighboring peoples and sought out local animals, to be the totem-animal (called nahuales) for his servants. First he would create priests and from them – animal gods. The perfect medium was soon found – the jaguar. It had the right body mass to match with humans, and the power and temperament to be the most powerful predator of the rain forest and the Savannah.

Anubis took the jaguar form himself, which sent a thrill throughout the Olmec world.
He must have worried about his ability to create godlings, since he had not created any new ones for centuries in Egypt, but urgency drove him to try. In a sense he succeeded far beyond his expectations (creating wer-jaguars capable of the change), which gave him the false hope of having found ''the fountain of youth' – the original source of infection. This success stemmed from the Olmecs' lack of immune defenses to a disease unknown to them. Relative to their immune systems the disease was virulent, and the change did occur – vigorously, which it no longer would in the Egyptians, who'd built up immunity from millennia of exposure. It took Anubis's direct mental intervention – and several decades of training – to create a cadre of wer-jaguars capable of controlling the change, of mastering their wer-animal, but no students ever devoted themselves more completely to their studies.

Observe the 'Standing figure of a Wer-jaquar'. [Below left] Look for the godling, and look deeper – you will behold the very features of Egypt's most successful god.

Olmec wer jaguar
His priests – shamans in the New World – became his fanatics, and the wer-jaguars became gods. The image of this human/jaguar hybrid became the central theme of the Olmec religion and art. Their likeness appears in countless stone temples in every stage of the change from human to jaguar and every age from child to adult, and often with Anubis's African lips and nose.

From the first these wer-jaguars jubilated in blood-letting – no doubt this was due in large to the rabies frenzy, but at the same time, it cannot be doubted that there was a cultural substratum which was an unfortunately comfortable fit for the bloodthirst. The torture and sacrifice of humans, the flaying and wearing of their skin, the ripping out and eating of human hearts, the self-f-immolation and killing of one's own family – these factors common throughout the Meso/South American Indian cultures were the unhappy result of the marriage of Anubis' own blood-is-life-death-and-resurrection cult with underlying religious and cultural attitudes of the people's he found. Although Anubis was repulsed by this extremism, he had neither the time nor interest to try to correct matters. The wer-jaguar cult took off like wild-fire and it might be doubted that Anubis could have changed matters, even had he wished.

In keeping with Anubis's second-nature, the jaguar became an avatar of the dead. His godlings shivered in a dark, divine ecstacy at their own changing nature. Their tortured facial expressions, captured in stone, portray the universal shaman's rapture as they move between two bodies, two worlds, two realities, as the shamans had always done.

Such magic electrified the Olmecs, but it wasn't the answer to Anubis's quest – his search for immortality. The answer was there, at his doorstep, under his very nose, but he never realized it, for it wasn't the answer he sought – the original source of the rabies virus, the fountain of virulency that would renew his fading vitality. Anubis knew nothing of viruses. He thought only in terms of blood, so he didn't recognize his opportunity, even with a cosmic hint concerning blood.

Those ocean currents – the hand of some god far greater than Anubis – threw his ships onto the shores next to the modern state of Oaxaca, the home not only of the Olmec and the jaguar, but also the original homeland of the vampire bat. The vampire – the consummate symbol for, the innocent epitome of, Anubis's blood cult. It is this which cannot be mere happenstance.

Vampire bat walking
Vampire bat walking
The vampire bat, such a tiny little jewel of perfection. Only a few inches long, it seldom weighs more than an ounce, often less. Agile night stalkers, like other bats they have a marvelous sonar system that liberates them from the light. But unlike any other bat they can walk on their hind legs like a human. They can even leap and land standing. How apt, if enlarged, for becoming a human nightmare.

But, unlike any other animal, they can carry the rabies virus asymptomatically. They can have the virus without the disease. The virus, not harming their bodies, is allowed to live indefinitely in their systems. And this confers a prodigious gift.

Though Anubis never realized it, here was the answer to his prayers. Not the original infection, but something even better – a system that hosts the virus without provoking an immune response. This is a crucial fact. It is the immune response that ultimately destroys the virus, coincidentally terminating the host. Without an immune response the virus is never killed, but lives on and on symbiotically, and so the host lives on and on.

Clearly Anubis never tried to capture the bat form, although his priests tried repeatedly. The bat is much too small for easy success. When a human changes into an animal, all his mass is conserved in the new shape. Movie vampires give no hint of the massive majesty of real vampires. For a jaguar, or even a wolf, this is no problem. The sizes are similar enough that the structures are compatible with a human's mass. At worst the wolf is very large.

But an ounce-sized bat is another story. The bat blueprint cannot be merely scaled up. Bone strength depends on cross-section, while weight varies by volume. Cross-section scales slower than volume, so bones that are sufficient for a tiny animal are crushed by the weight of a large one, even though the bones have also increased. The wing design and lung system won't work properly either. (A large dinosaur is not just a scaled-up version of a smaller one – it has to have bones which are proportionally much more massive for its size than does a small dino.)

When the priests of Anubis tried the bat shape, the hapless acolyte perished in agony as his bones broke from his own weight, and he hemorrhaged internally. Or possibly the priests infected the vampire bat with the sacred blood, and the bat, not showing the usual rabies symptoms, was sacrificed or abandoned as useless.

Whatever the case, with one exception – Quetzalcoatl – the bat proved unusable, and Anubis missed his chance. Unique among the wer-animals, the bat form confers the very advantage he sought but overlooked – immortality. Yet Anubis still lived when the first vampire, the original batman, was born, but he had no reason to know it was immortal. It was obviously long-lived, but so are all wer. At this point the trail of Anubis disappears. There is no compelling hint in myth or archeology disclosing his ultimate fate. Later Aztec myths speak of Xolotl, called Lord of the Underworld, the dog-headed guide of the dead in the afterlife, who, intriguingly, was thought to be the twin of Quetzalcoatl. The parallel between Egyptian wolf-headed death god and Aztec dog-headed death god is a "happenstance" beyond the possibility of coincidence. No description could more clearly depict Anubis, but the Aztec myth does not tell us what ultimately happened to him. It only tells us that he was intimately connect with Quetzalcoatl, but secondary to him, as we might expect if Anubis's powers were in decline.

The last of his original werchildren, the jaguar pantheon, died soon after his disappearance from the record – within a few hundred years. But in diminished form, the disease persisted and spread, and wer-animals became part of the common South American culture. They appear in Incan, Mayan and Aztec art. Throughout history, especially recently, there have been recurrent claims of sightings of genuine wer-jaguars in a part-human part-jaguar state.

Next we will meet history's first vampire, who inspired the later Aztec god Quetzalcoatl.