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The Egyptian God of Deserts and Chaos: Seth

Updated on January 9, 2015

Seth

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Seth, also written as Set, Setesh, or Setekh, was the Egyptian god of the desert, storms, warfare and chaos. He is one of the oldest gods and commanded both veneration and hostility.

He was the brother of Osiris, the god of the Underworld, of whom he was quite jealous. He was also the brother of Isis and Nepthys.

Isis was the wife of Osiris, and Nephthys (pronounced nef-this) became the wife of Seth. This incest of the gods mirrored that of the royal blood line of the pharaohs.

Seth and Violence

Seth was known as a very violent god. He was even born violently, tearing himself from his mother Nut, the sky goddess.

But he was also a strong god. This is the reason the 19th Dynasty rulers went by the name Seti (for example: Seti I).

Seti means “of Set.” It was thought that the pharaohs of this Dynasty were imbued with the strength of Seth, and that he protected the king in battle while also destroying (violently) the enemies of Egypt.

Seth the Outcast

Seth was sort of the outcast of the gods. He was very strong, yet dark and rather strange. As a god of the desert, Seth was thought to have white skin and red hair.

People with red hair were said to be followers of Seth. Interestingly, the Pharaoh Ramesses II, the son of Seti I, had red hair. Both pharaohs ruled at a time when Seth was at his pinnacle.

Depiction of Seth

Like most of the Egyptian gods, Seth was often depicted anthropomorphically, but with the head of a strange animal.

The identity of this animal is a matter of debate among Egyptologists and archaeologists, but it looks quite a bit like an aardvark that has long erect ears with flat tips.

Some statues depict Seth as an animal with a head similar to the aardvark but with the horns of a ram.

Seth was also a very jealous god. He was envious of his brother Osiris because he was married to Isis. His own wife, Nephthys, was in love with Osiris which enraged Seth.

Nephthys wanted Osiris so much that she took the form of his wife Isis, and the result of their union was the god Anubis. Nephthys feared her husband Seth would become enraged so she left Anubis in the wilderness to die. Isis found the child and raised him as her own.

Seth and His Brother Osiris

Seth was so jealous of Osiris that he devised a plan to kill his brother. Seth created a beautiful sarcophagus specifically measured to fit only Osiris. At a banquet of the gods, the sarcophagus was offered to anyone who could fit inside of it.

When Osiris had his turn, Seth slammed the lid shut and covered the chest in molten lead. The sarcophagus was then thrown into the Nile to be carried out to the Mediterranean Sea. The flooding of the Nile was thought to be the drowning of Osiris.

Osiris, Anubis, & Horus

Osiris, Anubis, and Horus from a tomb wall painting.
Osiris, Anubis, and Horus from a tomb wall painting. | Source

Horus, the son of Osiris, set out on a quest to avenge his father’s death.

The ensuing battle between Seth and Horus resulted in Seth losing his testicles and Horus losing an eye which later came to be a protective amulet known as the Eye of Horus.

As the Egyptian Empire grew, the mythology of their gods changed drastically. Initially Seth was one of the chief gods, but as Osiris grew in popularity, Seth became all but forbidden. His violent nature and strength were feared. Eventually, Seth was cast out by Horus.

The Symbolism of Seth

Symbolism is embedded in all Egyptian gods and goddesses. The mythology of Seth and his inevitable demise says a lot about human nature. We fear that which we do not understand and because of this we tend to shun people and things we fear.

Seth represents ultimate chaos, the antithesis of Maat, or order. Most of us fear chaos and violence, and this fear became personified in Seth. He is a symbol of our dark side or our unconscious minds, and the unconscious mind tends to be very chaotic.

Working with Seth

Seth can be a powerful spirit to work with when doing ritual work. He can be invoked for added protection or power during a spell, or astral travel. When working with Seth, it’s important to keep in mind his violent streak. Like Sekhmet, Seth can be easily enraged.

Seth’s Correspondences are:

  • Candle Colors: red, black, purple, white, silver, and gold
  • Animals: antelope, ass, boar, bull, crocodile, donkey, fish, goat, hippopotamus, leopard, panther, pig, Seth animal
  • Offerings: gemstones such as black diamonds, herbs such as hemp, orris root, or thistle, liquids such as beer, or wine, any metals (iron was said to be the bones of Seth), perfumes with civet or musk
  • Spells: banishing, bewitching, binding, breakups, hexing, lust, overcoming obstacles, power, protection, revenge, sex

© Copyright 2012 - 2015 by Melissa Flagg Daughter of Maat ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thank you Cogerson! That's a very kind compliment! I'm glad you found it entertaining as well as informative. Sometimes writing about this stuff can be boring and I'm glad I kept it interesting. Sometimes I wonder lol. :D

      Thanks again!! You're too kind!

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      You have managed to write a hub that is both entertaining and informative....that is a pretty good accomplishment. Thanks for sharing all of this information on Seth....which was pretty much entirely new for me....voted up and useful.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @suzie, that was such a great episode! I looked at Seth in a whole new light after that one! In fact, while writing this article, I keep seeing the episode in my mind which made it difficult to focus on the real story.

    • Suzie ONeill profile image

      Suzie ONeill 5 years ago from Lost in La La Land

      Interesting hub!

      TToombso8-- As a fellow Stargate SG1 fan, I have the same problem! LOL Remember the episode with Seth?

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      I usually find that connection with the darker gods myself kitty! (Anubis is a good example lol) There is just something about them, and I have yet to really figure out what it is that draws me to them.

      I like your new profile pic btw! Thank you for stopping by!! I always love hearing from you!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

      Ahhhhh! I love it...so happy you decided to write about Set. I've always found him to be quite fascinating...the antagonist, of course, but fascinating nevertheless. But then again, I tend to look at many of the darker gods and find a connection. Blessings. Awesome hub, yet again!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      No I don't think it's weird because I'm only missing 2 seasons at the moment!! lol The whole SG series is a big thing for my hubby and I. When we didn't have any money to get cable, we'd watch, and rewatch all the seasons. We're working on getting the Atlantis seasons, we have #1 at the moment. We even named out daughter after Carter!! :D

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      OMG, it's my all time favorite, too! Would you think it's sad that I have ALLLLLL the SG epidsodes and movies. Yes, even Atlantis. I had the biggest crush on Jack. :)

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @Patty Thank you! I enjoy reading about mythology and legends as well. There are many lessons to be learned in ancient myths!

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Great Article!! I love reading about history, legends, and mythology!!

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

      Very true! There can be no light without darkness and vice versa :)

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @Beth, Me too. I've always found the dark gods and goddesses to be intriguing. Sekhmet was also a dark Lady. Despite Seth's association with chaos, he wasn't though of as evil until he was cast out by Horus. Prior to that the Egyptians didn't have a god or goddess that was purely evil. All of the gods had a dark side, it was part of the balance of the cosmos.

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      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @Mama Kim A lot of greek mythology incorporates the Egyptian pantheon actually. In fact, the greek god Hermes was merged with Anubis at one point to create the god HermAnubis. The statue of that greek god is actually quite odd looking lol.

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      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @TT I know what you mean. While I was writing this hub, all I could picture was the episode of SG-1 with Seth as the cult leader. The guy they got to play him was really handsome! It's surprising how well the writers stayed with the mythology of Egypt. SG-1 is one of my all time favorite shows!

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      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @Alastar I think he was the red-headed stepgod lol I'm intrigued by anything with the word forbidden in it... If I see a button that says "don't touch" it's just begging for me to push it. :D

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

      Great Hub on Seth! Although he's a dark god, I always found him intriguing.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      I adore mythology and this hub still taught me things about Seth I didn't know. I have to admit, I do lean more towards greek mythology though ^_^ I'll be checking out your other mythology hubs for sure!!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      DOM, I loved this, but I have to make a confession, after being addicted to Stargate SG-1, I only see the Egyptian gods as aliens. :) Great hub, tho, thoroughly enjoyed it. :) VUM!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Seth had some powerful kin-gods. Guess you could call him the angry red-headed wayward child of the Egyptian pantheon in a sense. Jealousy will lose you that eye every time you go up against Big Daddies son; and are you one Daughter that's intrigued by so-called "Forbidden Archaeology?"