Sacred Fish Deities – Abtu and Anet

Abtu and Anet are the names of sacred fish deities who were worshiped for protecting the Sun God Ra. They were pilot fish, swimming on the sides of the front of the prow of the solar barge as Ra sailed through the dark waters of Nun to sunrise, protecting him and the barge from any dangers of the underworld.

Abtu, the golden fish was said to have, ‘a screaming voice… in the house of Neith…” While the “Gods and Goddesses say: ‘Look, look at the Abtu fish and at its birth. Turn your steps away from me, wicked one. Look, Ra is furious and raging because of it. He has commanded your execution to be carried out. Turn back, wicked one!” (The wicked one being the demon snake Apep)

Anet was said to be a red fish who would physically defend the boat with the gods accompanying Ra, after her brother Abtu loudly alerted them to the arrival and threat of Apep.

The tilapia fish was sacred to Ra and was one of his manifestations, its red color hinting at its solar association. The color red was also considered an aggressive protection against the dangers of traveling at night. Abtu was an edible species of fish (most likely a different type of tilipia) and it was a special ingredient in medical recipes and magical protection spells.

Abtu was also the Egyptian word for the West which was the place where the sun’s daily passage across the sky ended. For the Ancient Egyptians the West was where the sun died each day and passed into the dark underworld.

There was a hymn said to have been sung by the Ogdoad (eight primordial deities) to Ra making reference to both fish deities:

“…You navigate over your two heavens without an opponent,
your flaming breath has burned the evil one.
The red fish (Anet) are controlled by your boat,
the Abtu fish has announced to you the wenti-snake,
the Horus has fixed his spear in his body. …“

For January 3rd and 4th we honor Aptu and Anet, the sacred fish.

Glass Fish from Amarna circa 1800 BCE