An ambivalent God depicted in the netherworld literature as the foreparts of two lions or two sphinxes (human-headed lions) facing away from one another, or as a strip of earth with a human head at each end. He appears to represent the earth in the aspect of receptacle of the dead and nexus of new life. The two heads represent either the eastern and western entrances to the netherworld, or form the two mountains which traditionally frame the site of the sunset on the western horizon in Egyptian iconography.

Aker features prominently in the New Kingdom Book of Caverns and Book of the Earth, i.e., ‘of Aker’, a title suggested for it in the absence of a surviving title from antiquity. In the former, which treats of the passage of Re by night through a series of caverns to visit Osiris, Aker, who has here seven assistants depicted as catfish-headed men, protects or encloses the corpse of Osiris, transmitting to him the revitalizing energy of Re, which renders the corpse ithyphallic in anticipation of its resurrection. In the latter, which is broadly similar, we see the boat of Re traveling on Aker’s back, the boat’s orientation reversed as if implying a reversal of time. At another point in the same book we see Aker in anthropomorphic form as a man with a sceptre bending down over his ba (manifestation or soul), in the form of a human-headed bird, which prays to him. On either side is a burial mound containing a solar disk, out of which praying Goddesses emerge. In the Coffin Texts Aker is referred to in the plural as a class of Gods, ‘the Akeru’, earth Gods who threaten to seize the soul, but in the singular as the God whose name is given to the hull or the mast socket of the ferryboat which is needed to cross the Field of Rushes (spell 404, see also Book of the Dead spell 99). The Akeru are referred to in spell 474 as ‘fishermen’ who preceded Geb, the well-known earth God, and who threaten to net the soul (see, similarly, Book of the Dead spell 153). In spell 648 we learn that there are Akeru of the sky as well. In the Book of the Dead, spell 96, the spittle of Aker appears, along with the marrow-blood of Geb, as substances which appease Seth. Seth promises, however (spell 108, 111) to dispose of the Akeru for Re so that he may set in the evening, and the soul of the deceased undertakes to do the same in 149. In The Book of Overthrowing Apophis, however, Aker assists in restraining Apophis, the divine embodiment of entropy, for it is said that “Aker has taken away his strength,” (“The Bremner-Rhind Papyrus – III,” p. 173; 27, 10) and again that Apophis “is imprisoned in the arms of Aker,” (“The Bremner-Rhind Papyrus – IV,” p. 42; 29, 6).

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