Egyptian God Seth – Lord of Darkness
Son of Earth god Geb and Sky goddess Nut, the Egyptian god Seth, or Set, is the older brother of great Osiris. He is also the brother of Isis, and is married to his other sister Nephthys.
These four brothers and sisters form a large part of some of the most interesting and exciting of ancient Egyptian mythological legends.
They are members of the Great Ennead, and their relationship to each other beats any reality TV drama. You’d think deities were immune to family feuds, but it seems no one is…
At first, the Egyptian god Seth was not evil deity. He was one of the older gods and in fact a powerful and protective ally of the god Ra.
He was the one warding off enemies and guiding Ra’s solar boat. He also helped the dead in their journeys (like many other Egyptian gods).
He was worshipped for these qualities and deeds.
But, in spite of that, he did have a streak of violence.
This is what will unravel him later on in one of ancient Egypt’s most famous myths…
Sadly, jealousy and envy were the seeds that lead to his fall from grace.
Egyptian God Seth Murders Osiris
Osiris, Seth’s younger brother, was so successful in his domain. He had been appointed as the king of Egypt and he was loved and respected as such. He made a wonderful ruler and his kingdom was prosperous.
At the moment of his birth, it was exclaimed that “The Lord of All the World is Born!”
And this brought out the worst in Seth – and he then became God of Evil. And so he waited for the most opportune moment to get rid of his own brother…
After doing such a wonderful job with civilizing Egypt, Osiris decided to civilize the rest of the world of men. While away, Seth began to plot his murder.
He constructed a box in the shape and size of Osiris and then threw him a feast upon his return.
During the party, the trickster Seth brought out the beautiful box and told the guests that whoever could fit in it could have it. Of course, no one fit except Osiris, who got in and found himself locked up.
They sealed the box as tight as a coffin till Osiris suffocated inside. And then they threw the box into the Nile.
And this is how Seth murdered his brother.
Being a goddess, Isis, along with the help of Nephthys and other gods, managed to find Osiris and temporarily resurrect him. She breathed life into him long enough to conceive his child. Afterwards, they embalmed his body and hid it.
Isis then went into hiding in order to birth and raise her child safely away from the wrath of Seth. Her story during that time is a legend of its own.
Eventually, and accidentally, Seth found the body of Osiris and hacked it into fourteen pieces, throwing them away separately.
And this is how he got rid of his brother for good and took over the throne.
Funnily enough, one myth states that Osiris actually had an affair with Seth’s wife Nephthys that resulted in a son being born (Anubis). This was not, however, a cause for Seth’s hatred.
The Battle of Horus and Seth
Naturally, Horus grew up wanting to avenge his father’s murder. This was the beginning of one of the greatest battles in ancient Egyptian mythology.
Horus was now the Chosen One, he who shall deliver all from Evil, and put an end to the darkness!
And although you can guess the outcome, it wasn’t as simple or straightforward as that.
Even more so, there are two versions with similar events but very different tones – one is this epic Good vs Evil type scenario, with many close-calls and shows of courage, strength and heroism.
The other is a kind of parody, showing the battle more like a squabble between gods with silly vendettas and petty differences. But for the sake of brevity, let’s just go over the events quickly.
When Horus was still young, he looked for Seth everywhere in order to fight him. Time and time again the trickster Seth would somehow escape. By the time Horus had matured, Seth decided to face him in a one-on-one battle.
The Egyptian God Seth is still quite powerful, and very old. He knew his terrain. He would evoke storms against Horus. But finally they got down to it. During the fight, Seth managed to take out the left eye of Horus, who managed to get it back again.
Finally, after so long, Horus won, avenged his father, and took over the throne that was rightfully his.
Function and Worship of the Egyptian god Seth
Originally, the Egyptian god Seth was known as The Red God. This is because his earliest function was ruler of the desert and the storms that come with it.
If you’ve ever seen a red sand storm you’d understand why Seth was associated with evil and chaos. In the middle of one, it really does look like the end of the world!
Take a look at this unaltered photo of a desert storm sweeping over Cairo. We had to shut all the windows and put scarves over our noses and mouths in order to be able to breathe properly inside the house.
He was also linked with lots of different ancient Egyptian animals – although no one understands what his form represents.
He is usually depicted having a strange animal head, or as a Sha, the Seth Animal.
The Egyptian God Seth was first worshipped in Upper Egypt as a benevolent god. He was ferocious and extremely powerful, and this was not necessarily a bad thing when used for fighting enemies. In fact, there are Pharaohs named after him.
Then after a while, followers of Horus overpowered his cult and he was demoted to being the villain.
At another point, when the Hyksos invaded Egypt they reinstated him as a main God – which of course made him even more evil in the eyes of Egyptians. He didn’t stand a chance after that.
I guess every story has to have an antagonist for it to be effective.
The Egyptian God Seth has other spellings of his name by the way, like Set and Seti…
…and also Setan 🙂
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