Egyptian Gods: Aker

Aker is one of the earliest Egyptian earth gods and is the deification of the horizon. He represents the horizon where the sun rises in the East and the sun sets in the West. He is believed to be protecting the sun god Ra, as he enters the netherworld during sunset and returns to the land of the living at sunrise. He is also believed to the guardian of the sun god against his enemy, the demon god Apep by imprisoning his coils to secure safe passage of Ra Only Aker can neutralize the bite of the snake demon god. His name may also be spelled as Akar which roughly translates into “he who bends”.

He was originally portrayed as a narrow strip of land with a lion or a human head at both ends facing away from each other (usually one faces the east and the other the west). Later, he is depicted as two lions facing opposite each other most commonly called Ruti (two lions). Lions were used because the summer solstice usually peaks at the time of the zodiac Leo. The Ruti carries on their back the hieroglyphic sign of the horizon with the sun with the sky above it. Later on, the lions were given names: Sef that means yesterday and Tuau that means today. The lions are often spotted like a leopard as representation of the now extinct Barbary lions. He also may be carrying the akhet – the symbol of the Egyptian sky. It is a solar disc supported between the two summits of the mountain djew. The western crest was called Manu, while the eastern summit was called Bakhu. These peaks cradled the sky as well. Sometimes, the heads of the lions may be that of men or women.

However, these lions were believed to be aggressive in nature when they are called Akeru (the plural form of Aker). The Pyramid Texts suggests that Akeru would not attack the king or the pharaoh but not necessarily the others. The texts further suggest that no one can escape the clutches of the two lions.

More than anything Aker is a protective deity. He was believed to be guardian and the gatekeeper of the underworld. He is thought of the entity that will annul the cause of death especially by extracting that of a scorpion sting or a snakebite poison. He also welcomes the pharaoh as he journeys into the underworld. His protective functions even extended to other places like tombs and palaces where his statue is often placed at the door to ward off evil spirits. This practice even continued until the time of Greek and Roman supremacy. The Greeks called this statue as sphinxes. Despite this, Aker had no particular temple dedicated to his honor because he represented a primeval concept of the earth god.