Author Topic: The Three Faces of Set  (Read 461 times)

Xepera maSet

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The Three Faces of Set
« on: April 11, 2017, 06:18:24 am »
        This, like many posts, is an early version of one of the chapters in my upcoming book. I’ve been studying the works of H. Te Velde, the ultimate academic source on the God Set, quite in depth recently. Te Velde gives three aspects of Set: that of a trickster god, a god of isolation/separation, and a god of intoxication. Let us look at these three aspects, the defense and evidence behind them, and how they can apply to modern day Setianism and esoteric occultism. For now this is not cited as it is kind of “stream-of-consciousness,” but expect a reference list in a near-future version. The vast majority of this information is from H. Te Velde himself.

Set the Trickster God

         A trickster God is one who seems to be above or opposed to the Natural Order of the universe, the order of the Gods in general. In many cases what they do may be seen as purely evil, yet in the end turns out to be something necessary and positive. It is also common that the trickster god is the only one capable of fighting monsters, often specifically serpents, precisely because the serpent in this context is of Chaos, and the trickster themselves, though bound to Order, is Chaotic Itself to some extent.

         These are all characteristics that well match the God Set. Set came into this universe unnaturally in several ways. One is that all previous births in the Ennead of Heliopolis had been pairs of brothers and sisters. Shu and Tefnut, Geb and Nut, then Osiris and Isis, but Set and Nephthys then were the second pair born to Geb and Nut. There are also two main tellings of how Set came into existence. The most common is that Set tore himself out of his mother’s womb, while the other is that Nut spit Set out because Set was already unnatural. Like other trickster gods, Set is clearly something that is at odds with the Natural Order.
Set also is seen to do seemingly evil things which, behind the scenes and with proper knowledge, turn out to be positive and necessary.

         The main example is obviously tricking Osiris and murdering him, then chopping up his body. Especially among civilians and later Egyptian times, Set was generally seen as an evil monster for this. Yet within the priesthoods, and now with the benefit of hindsight, it is known that Set was more of an initiator, without whom Osiris could never have become god of the Duat. We also know that is was Set himself, in the form of a bull, who carried Osiris on his back into the Duat. Osiris is a static god who never acts on his own accord, and Set’s disruption as a trickster god was needed for Osiris to become deified and Horus to rule.

           As for fighting monsters, it was only Set who could defend the boat of Ra from the serpent Apep. After being abandoned by his family, Set was adopted by Ra for Set’s ability to fend off the hypnotizing stare of Apep. The singular desire of Apep was to return all the Ordered cosmos back to a state of Chaos and Non-Existence. For some reason Set had a foundational relationship with this being, unlike the gods born of pure Order, and so was able to resist and fight off the serpent. In this case Set was almost a solar savior!

Set the God of Isolation and Separation

        The second role of Set was that of the Isolator and Separator. Set represented that which was separate from the gods and Natural Order. Whereas all Egyptians from peasant to king were expected to uphold Ma’at, a proper form of Order, Set was not bound to Ma’at, something which terrified the Egyptians. Set was also the god of foreigners, all those from outside Egypt, those who were separated from their culture.

         In the Pyramid Texts, Set is a psychopomp who leads the dead into the Imperishable Stars, putting them above the gods of the Natural Order, and allowing them eternal, isolate existence rather than a loss of self. In the Coffin Texts, a single symbol was often used to name Set that was neither the full name of Set nor the Set Animal (Sha Animal). This symbol directly translates to “Separator” or “Isolator.” This symbol was a sign quite similar to the “fishhead lance”, used to sever the umbilical which was associated with Apep. This was envisioned as Separating the newborn from the primordial Chaos within the womb. It was also symbolized in many ways by the tail of Set itself, split to represent this tool of Separation.

Set the God of Intoxication

   Set seems to be associated with intoxication mostly through a connection with the Goddess Hathor. Intoxication disrupts the Order of the mind, which could be one reason it was associated with Set. Behavior is inhibited, leading to improper social actions, sexual encounters, and all around mischief, each of with were attributes of Set throughout Egyptian history.

Modern Day Setianism

   In modern day Setianism, Set is understood of the Platonic Form of Isolate Consciousness. This relates to these three historical faces of Set in many ways. The trickster aspect of Set really brings to mind the “Satanic,” Western Left-Hand Path imagery tied deeply with Setianism in the modern day. The symbolism alone actively and often openly sets the individual apart from society, and can often cause disturbances in the proper context. While the WLHP is generally seen as evil, oppressive, and opposed to all things good, anyone who takes the slightest time to investigate openly will find this to be incorrect, much like the views of Set. One of the main goals of Setianism is to stave of Chaos and Non-Existence, much like Set battles Apep. The very respect and love for the Form of Individuality, along with the desire for continuity of consciousness after death, clearly show the opposition to non-existence in Setianism.

   Central to Setianism is the desire to Separate the individual Self from the mindless, mechanical flow of deterministic Nature. Set’s role as Separator and Isolator are perhaps the most important to modern day Setianism, as it best summarized the idea of self-directed self-evolution, the recognition and willful control of one’s Xeper.

   As for intoxication, as the god of one’s consciousness it makes sense that Set is associated with intoxication. Set can be seen as more of a balance to the intoxication of Hathor, as such intoxication leads to a loss of self-control and self-regulation. One should also have a developed mind capable of metacognition before they are allowed to choose whether or not the wish to intoxicate themselves. From a Setian perspective, to allow children to take intoxicants, or intoxicate children, animals or any other thing which cannot consent, is entirely unethical.

Working overtime to uncover
the mysteries of existence
(as described by Onyx)

I have come into being like Set,
the Separator who contends against Osiris for Eternity.