mythology, Aker (also spelt
Akar) was one of the earliest gods worshipped,
and was the deification of the horizon.
There are strong indications that Aker
was worshipped before other known Egyptians
gods of the earth, such as Geb.
In particular, the Pyramid texts make
a sinister statement that the Akeru (plural
of Aker) will not seize the pharaoh, as
if this were something that might have
happened, and was something of which to
be afraid. Aker itself translates as (one
who) bends, and thus Akeru translates
as benders, though in what sense this
is meant, is not fully understood.
As the horizon, Aker was also seen as
symbolic of the borders between each day,
and so was originally depicted as a narrow
strip of land (i.e. a horizon), with heads
on either side, facing away from one another,
a symbol of borders. Since the sun reaches
its peak (its solstice) in the zodiac
of leo, these heads were usually those
Over time, the heads became full figures of
lions (still facing away from each other), one
representing the concept of yesterday (Sef in
Egyptian), and the other the concept of today
(Duau in Egyptian).
Consequently, Aker often became referred to
as 'Ruti, the Egyptian word meaning two lions.
Between them would often appear the hieroglyph
for horizon, which was the sun's disc placed
between two mountains. Sometimes the lions were
depicted as being covered with leopard-like
spots, leading some to think it a depiction
of the extinct Barbary lion, which, unlike African
species, had a spotted coat.
Since the horizon was where night became day,
Aker was said to guard the entrance and exit
to the underworld, opening them for the sun
to pass through during nights. As the guard,
it was said that the dead had to request Aker
to open the underworld's gates, so that they
might enter. Also, as all who had died had to
pass Aker, it was said that Aker annulled the
causes of death, such as extracting the poison
from any snakes that had bitten the deceased,
or from any scorpions that had stung them.
As the Egyptians believed that the gates of the
morning and evening were guarded by Aker, they
sometimes placed twin statues of lions at the
doors of their palaces and tombs. This was to
guard the households and tombs from evil spirits
and other malevolent beings. This practice was
adopted by the Greeks and Romans, and is still
unknowingly followed by some today. Unlike most
of the other Egyptian deities, the worship of
Aker remained popular well into the Greco-Roman
era. Aker had no temples of his own like the main
gods in the Egyptian religion, since he was more
connected to the primeval concepts of the very
old earth powers.
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