Set (aka Seth or Suetekh) is the Kemetic (Egyptian) god of storms, foreigners, and the desert. He is brother to Osiris, Isis, Horus the Elder, and his consort, Nephthys. Set defends Ra on his nightly voyage to ensure the sunrise. He slays the serpent Apep, a threat to the cosmic order, every night. Consequently, Set was identified as a protector god. During the New Kingdom, however, Set’s image was transformed with the myth that he had murdered Osiris. Set was associated with foreign oppressors during the Hyksos period, when he was invoked by the Hyksos invaders, and again with Egypt’s Persian conquest.
Set is associated with destruction, storms, chaos, and the desert.
My Journey to Set & Theological Meanderings
I am not entirely sure why I became attracted to Set recently, but in my general pagan research, I would encounter his devotees and wonder “why him?” As with most “evil” gods, there is usually a more complex story than the one presented in pop culture, so I sought to research him. It did not take me long to discover information about why Set was demonized, but it was also difficult me to find information about his positive qualities and what he truly represents as a holy power.
He is typically identified as a god of chaos, but I am not sure that this is an accurate label, despite his association with storms and the desert. How could a god who defends against a chaotic force like Apep be inherently chaotic himself? One could note self-interest and Set’s purported arrogance in his defensive role. However, the symbolic action of preventing cosmic disorder seems too important to overlook. For many devotees, he seems to be a force for self-improvement; he encourages the follower to beat back the metaphorical Apep and to pursue one’s goals. He is only chaotic in that he advocates the radical promotion of the self in spite of the needs of others, and this is a lesson that is not necessarily without merit in an increasingly challenging world.
Butler, Edward P. “Seth.” Henadology. WordPress, 18 Apr. 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
“Flirting With Destruction.” The Twisted Rope. WordPress, 02 Sept. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
Mark, Joshua J. “Set (Egyptian God).” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 7 Mar. 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
image © Sophia Kelly Shultz