Myths / Mythologies / Legends

archived 08-21-00
Archive file# m082100a
donated by L. Savage

Set and the Serpent

The legend of Set will be familiar to most Christians, containing as it does so many elements of the Christian Myth. Before we begin with the legend, it may be of interest to some readers to know that Set was portrayed the way he was for no other reason than the Egyptians believed that anything that evil must be ugly! He was usually portrayed as red in colour as this was the colour of evil and bad luck to the ancient Egyptians. Even red-haired people were shunned as servants of evil!

It is not the intention of this site to attempt to show the evolution of the Sethian legend, or which sections were likely to have been additions due to various foriegn influences. For example, originally Osiris drowned and was reborn, at the same time that Set was a benevolent God slaying the serpent of self-deceit. Originally worshipped by the people of the Eastern Nile Delta, Set was most frequently shown as human. This page will content itself with the best known and widely accepted version of the myth, that of Set's murder of Osiris and his epic battles with Horus.

According to legend, Set (also known as Seth, Typhon,or Sutekh) and his brother jointly ruled the lands that would become ancient Egypt, with their wives, Nepthys and Isis. Set, smitten with passion for his sister Isis, and jealous of Osiris' popularity, conspired with 72 others to trick Osiris into captivity at a banquet. After being tricked into getting into a custom-made sarcophogas, Osiris was thrown into the Nile (or sea) and was washed up in a sacred Tamarind tree. After events of no relevence to our story, Set cut Osiris' body into fourteen pieces, which he hid in different places around the world. After many years of searching, Isis recovered all of the pieces of her husband's/ brother's body, except for the penis, which was never found. Certain occult circles call the mummified phallus of Osiris "The Talisman of Set"

Aided by Set's wife/sister Nepthys, Isis reassembled Osiris, and with the use of her own occult abilities and the aid of the God of Magick, Thoth, she temporarily restored Osiris to life, so as to conceive her son Horus.

Upon Horus attaining his manhood, he set out to regain his rightful throne and inheritance from his uncle, Set.

After numerous battles, during which Horus allegedly used srategy and tactics, while Set used deceit and low cunning, Thoth declared Horus the victor and condemned Set to a period of punishment.As a result of all this trickery, Set became the personification of all that is evil to the ancient Egyptians. As the Egyptians did not believe in the Christian concept of eternal damnation, after the final judgement, Thoth merely banished Set to be bound in chains for 1000 years. At the end of this period, Set will be allowed to resume his rightful place in the scheme of things.All of this is so close to the legend of the fall of Lucifer.........

Set was worshipped by the Hyskos invaders, as well as well back into the pre-dynastic period. Pharaohs called themselves "beloved of Set" until as recently as the 16th dynasty, while Set once more became a popular deity during the Ptolemaic period. 

The centre of Set's cult was at Ombos in Upper Egypt, with numerous other major centers having a special reverence for the God Of Storms.

In modern times, the worship of Set is once more becoming popular in certain circles, while it has been long acknowledged in occult circles that Set is an alternative form of Saturn. Set is basically the inventor of the theory that "Might is Right", and should find many more worshippers over the next couple of years if the course of human history is any indicator.

Around the time of the 22nd dynasty, the deliberate destruction of statues and artifacts relating to Set began. As a result, the value of the few remaing pieces is considerably higher than other antiquities of a similar age and period. While examples from the Ptolemaic period are comparatively common, it is unusual to find images of Set much older than this. This is why I am so proud of my earlier bronze. I also saw a magnificent section of stele in an exhibition of the Liederbekke Museum in Holland that was pre-dynastic, and showed Set in human form slaying Apep, the serpent  of self-deceit.

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