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                               The God Set 
                               by Setnakt
 The best English study of Set is Te Velde's _Set, God of
 Confusion_ Brill 1977. If this particular text is unavailable through
 your library, I recommend a a short cheap and very reliable book by
 George Hart: _A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses_, Routledge &
 Kegan Paul, 1986. This very ambiguous god was alternately deified
 and demonized depending on the cultural/political currents running
 through Egypt. Allow me to present here a brief history of Set.
 Predynastically: Set was an important deity appearing in the art of the
 Hamitic peoples living in the Ombos and Naquada regions. Interestingly,
 his was the only god-figure not composed of parts from recognizable
 Earth animals.
 (The Hamitic speakers donated most of the terms to religious philosophy
 to the Egyptian langauge that seperate it from other Semitic languages
 including ba, ka, neter, etc. If somebody really wants to find the roots
 of the Egyptian religion, they should go up the Nile and do some serious
 anthropology among Hamitic speaking native cultures-- the roots of the
 Nile may hold keys to Egyptian thought that mute stones do not).
 Archaic Egypt: Set generally occupies a secondary role to his enemy
 Horus, champion of the people of the North (except in the 2nd dynasty
 when one pharaoh took a "Set" name rather than a Horus name.) Set is
 intimately connected with teaching astronomy,the methods of agriculture,
 medicine, and above all magic. He is said to have opened the mouth of
 the other gods, and is the patron of the sem ritual. His cult titles
 include "Great of Magic" and "Eternal". There is indeed evidence that
 Set is set apart from other gods to die (Bonnet's commentaries on the
 Pyramid texts).
 The astronomical cult, which placed the afterlife in the region of the
 Northern heavens -- particularly in and around the constellation of the
 Great Bear was replaced in the Fourth dynasty by a growing sun cult
 centering on Re and Horus. The great stellar monument that Imhotep
 designed were replaced by the solar pyramids of the Fourth and Fifth
 dynasty's.  (Notably Cheops took no chances in the great Pyramid's
 design -- although outwardly a solar monument he had a hole bored
 through the stones aligned with the position of Alpha Draconis (a star
 in the Great Bear called Thuban = "the Subtle One" a Set cult
 title?) just in case that was where his ka was heading. 
 During the next few dynasties (4 - 17), Set is generally
 ignored. His functions are absorbed into other gods. Thoth picks up the
 attributes of magic, Osiris picks up the attributes of Mysterious time
 _djet_ as opposed to exoteric time _neheh_. Set keeps his attributes a
 storm and stellar god, and gradually comes to be associated with all
 night fears -- nightmares, desert fiends, and bad animals such as the
 hippo and the jaguar of the South. He is mentioned in a famous 12th
 dynasty writing called _The Discourse of a man with his ba_ in which his
 solar aspect IAA is referred to. Bikka Reed has a great translations of
 this text.
 In the 18th dynasty a remarkable Pharoah Hatshepsut reintroduced the
 worship of Set by building a Temple dedicated to him and Horus the Elder
 at Ombos. This marked a strong interest in Set's eternal nature, for
 example in Hatshepsut is the prophecy (which she had placed in her tomb
 at Der el-Medina) that "She will not only enjoy the days of Horus, but
 the days of Set will be added to her span."
 She was also interested in the antinomian nature of the Set cult -- in
 fact she preformed one of the most scandalous acts available to a woman
 -- she acted as a man. This early feminist clearly found Set, a great
 archetype to Work with. Set was popular among her family until the
 Kingship of Akhenaton (may he be reborn forever drowning in the jaws of
 Sobek the crocodile god).
 The very militaristic pharaohs of the Nineteenth dynasty, who were
 probably descended form a family of Set priests at Tanis, delighted in
 Set both in his militaristic role and as God of Foreign places. Ramses
 II for example called himself the Son of Set. The Set cult too was very
 popular with foreigners coming to live in Egypt. His worship has always
 been connected with the outsider.
 The Twentieth Dynasty began by looking very favorably on this god, as is
 shown in the name of its founder Setnakt, "Set is Mighty." There is also
 considerable evidence that the set cult was favored among artisans of
 the time (see Romer's _Ancient Lives_, Henry Holt, 1984, and if you've
 got as copy of Stephen Quirk's _Ancient Egyptian Religion_ check out the
 beautiful Stella of Aapehty -- probably the most beautiful surviving
 example of Setian art).
 By the end of the Twentieth Dynasty, as the funerary cult of Osiris
 became the dominate force in popular Egyptian religion,more and more,
 Set as the murderer of Osiris became the Evil One. In fact by the Twenty
 Sixth dynasty it was a common practice to disfigure any representations
 of Set. He became --for all practical purposes the Christian devil. Some
 scholars have even derived the name Satan from Set-Hen, a cult title
 meaning the Majesty of Set, but I am dubious of this particular
 However Set was not down for the count. During the Ptolemaic period Set,
 merged with the Greek titan Typhon, became the figure for the _goes_ or
 sorcerer to use. After Hermes the most often invoked god in the Magical
 papyri is Set-Typhon. This entity was used to bring spirit helpers (
 bird would fly down and announce that the magician was now under the
 protection of a god -- a popular Typhonic practice outside of Egypt as
 well see Morton Smith's _Jesus the Magician_). Set was also the god to
 invoke to send dreams, perform healings on the head or spinal column,
 and to cause enmity between enemies.
 There seems to be a few common threads running through the Set cult: the
 quest for immortality, antinomianism, and the practice of magic. Perhaps
 this is why Michael Aquino's current Temple of Set finds this figure so
 appealing as an archetype for the Left Hand Path. Like Hatshepsut before
 Aquino has Opened the Mouth of this ancient god, and the articulation of
 the Principle of Isolate Intelligence is available to us today.

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