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The god Kek seated and holding a was scepter

Kek and Kauket, Deities of Darkness, Obscurity and Night

by Caroline Seawright

Updated: December 13, 2012

 

The Egyptians believed that before the earth was created, there was nothing but a dark, directionless, chaotic watery mass. In this chaos lived the Ogdoad of Khmunu (Hermopolis), the four frog gods and four snake goddesses of chaos. These beings were Nun and Naunet (water), Amen and Amaunet (invisibility), Heh and Hauhet (infinity) and Kek and Kauket (darkness). The chaos existed without the light, and thus Kek and Kauket came to represent this darkness. They also symbolised obscurity, the kind of obscurity that went with darkness, and night.

A statue of the god Kek as a frog The Ogdoad were the original great gods of Iunu (On, Heliopolis) where they were thought to have helped with creation, then died and retired to the land of the dead where they continued to make the Nile flow and the sun rise every day. Because of this aspect of the eight, Budge believe that Kek and Kauket were once deities linked to the Nile gods of Abu (Elephantine) - Khnum, Satet and Hapi - and to the crocodile god Sobek.

Kek

k kw

Kek (Kuk, Keku, Keki) means darkness. He was the god of the darkness of chaos, the darkness before time began. He was the god of obscurity, hidden in the darkness. The Egyptians saw the night-time, the time without the light of the sun, as reflecting this chaotic darkness. The four frog gods and four snake goddesses of the Ogdoad

Image © Olaf Tausch

The characteristics of the third pair of gods, Kek and Kauket, are easier to determine, and it is tolerable certain that these deities represent the male and female powers of the darkness which was supposed to cover over the primeval abyss of water; they have been compared by Dr. Brugsch with the Erebos of the Greeks. In some aspects they appear to represent both the night and the day, that is to say, Kek is called "the raiser up of the light," and Kauket the "raiser up of the night." It is not difficult to see how these deities obtained these names, for Kek represents that period of the night which immediately precedes the day, and Kauket is that period of the night which immediately follows the day.

-- Wallis Budge, E.A. 2003, The Gods of the Egyptians: Volume 1, pp. 285-286

As a god of the night, Kek was also related to the day - he was called the "bringer-in of the light". This seems to mean that he was responsible for the time of night that came just before sunrise. He was the god of the hours before dawn; the twilight which gave birth to the sun.

Kauket

k kwt egg determinative

The goddess Kauket seated and holding a was scepter The female counterpart of the god Kek, Kauket (Keket, Kekit) was a much more obscure goddess than her husband. She was a snake-headed woman who ruled over the darkness with her husband. Her name also meant darkness, as did her husband's name, but with a feminine ending.

Shu speaks: "O, you eight Heh (or Chaos-gods) who are in charge of the chambers of the sky, whom Shu made from the efflux of His limbs ... The bnbn (or phoenix) of Ra was that from which Atum came to be as Heh (chaos), Nun (the watery abyss), Kek (the darkness), Tenem (or Amen, meaning gloom). I am Shu, father of the gods. Atum used to send his Sole Eye seeking Me and My sister, Tefnut. I am the one who begot the Heh gods again, as Heh, Nun, Tenem, Kek. I am Shu who begot the gods.

-- Stephen Hagin (2008), Symbolic Connections in World Literature, p. 187

Kauket was the feminine to Kek's masculine, who represented duality as a supernatural being. She was more an abstract rather than an actual goddess, although she was occasionally depicted by the ancient Egyptians.

She was, though, also related to the day - she was the "bringer-in of the night". This seems to suggest that she was the goddess of the hours of night directly after sunset. The goddess of the evening, the time when night covered the land of Egypt, after the sun had sunk below the horizon. She was a goddess of the twilight hours which turned into the darkness of night.

Kek and Kauket were the primeval darkness that surrounded the primeval water of Nun. They were "the darkness beyond the horizon, before the creation and outside the created world" (P. Wilson 1991, A Lexicographical Study of the Ptolemaic Texts in the Temple of Edfu III, p. 1921). They were the dark of the night without illumination, and the gloom at the very limits of the world as the Egyptians knew it. One day, the ancients believed that the waters of chaos would once more cover the world forever, and that the eternal darkness of Kek and Kauket would descend once more.


Further Information about Kek and Kauket


Video of Kek

A video about Kek and Kauket (and other deities), by Egyptahotep:


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