In ancient Egypt, the people looked towards Anqet as the Goddess of Fertility and Anuke as a patron of war. In this article, you will also learn about the patron of evil and darkness, where a specialized ceremony was performed in order to keep him at bay.
Anqet (the Goddess of Fertility and the Nile at Aswan) is known by many different names. During the Old Kingdom, the goddess was referred to as Anket, Anuket, Anjet, and Anukis. Her name translates into ‘She Who Embraces’, which is thought to mean that she holds the Nile in her arms. Originally, Anqet gained notoriety as the daughter of the sun god, Ra, but in later times, she became known as the wife or the daughter of Khnum.
She was also seen as the goddess of the hunt, whose sacred animal was known as the gazelle. In depictions, Anqet is seen as a woman wearing a tall headdress made of reeds or ostrich feathers. In her hand, she holds a scepter and the ankh symbol. It is believed that her headdress has Nubian origins. Sometimes, she appears on occasion, in the form of a gazelle.
As the patron of war, Anuke appears as a woman in armor, who carries about a bow and arrows. She is remembered as a rather ancient goddess of war, who may have originally served as the consort of Anhur.
As the patron of evil and darkness, Apep is also referred to as Apophis or “the Destroyer.” Appearing as a striking serpent or crocodile, Apep is seen as the ancient spirit of evil and destruction who makes his home in eternal darkness. Each day, Apep would make an attempt to crush the Sun Boat of Ra, which made a daily trip to the heavens. Originally, it was Set, who was meant to battle Apep and keep him from destroying the boat. Sometimes, Apep would overcome this obstacle, while the world became blanketed with darkness. Some people believe this translated into a solar eclipse. Later, Set and his companion Mehen would cut a hole in the stomach of Apep, which allowed the Sun Boat to escape.
Apep was also in charge of an army consisting of demons that wreaked havoc on mankind. At that time, putting faith in the gods of light would allow humans to defeat the demons. Each year, priests of Ra would hold a ritual called the “Banishing of Apep,” which involved an effigy of the god placed in the center of the temple, where they would pray that all of the wickedness in Egypt would become absorbed into the effigy. Afterwards, they would trample the effigy, beating it with sticks and crushing it with their feet. Mud was then poured on top of the effigy and ultimately; they would burn the remains and completely destroy it. In this way, they believed the power connected to Apep would lessen for the coming year.