Posts Tagged ‘set’
From Bourghouts’ Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts, part of a conjuration against a demon:
. . . See, I have lots of words against you! From the big pitcher of Seth I have drunk them; from his jug I have drained them. Listen, samana-demon, listen! The voice of Seth is roaring … listen to his roaring! … Seth will lift you up with his hand. … he will throw you onto the solid stone … the deserts drink you up, you who are submerged! . . .
I took a bit of catfish from my partner’s dinner plate and squirreled it away with a piece of crabcake from my own meal, wrapping them both in a napkin and tucking it into my shirt pocket. When he didn’t bat an eye or remark on my seafood hoarding, I laughed. “It’s for Treading the Fishes,” I told him, and he made the ohhh of recognition. For a non-Kemetic, he’s pretty savvy.
Treading the Fishes is a multi-day festival that celebrates recurring fertility and kingship; lasting from III Shomu 19 (Monday) to III Shomu 23 (Friday), it involves the king treading on dried fish, hence the name. Stomping the fish is symbolic of conquering isfet (uncreation), but also ties into the cyclical fertility of the land, as the fish are buried to provide nutrients to the soil for the next growing season. The king would also re-dedicate herself to her nation of Kemet and offer the Heqa sceptor, a symbol of rulership, to Khnum, the Netjeru Who makes the each human on His potter’s wheel.
So I took my tiny bit of fishes out to our little garden-like section near the front door and dug a shallow pit, then tucked the food, now wrapped inside a folded paper, into the soil. I covered the packet with fresh dirt, watered it with pure water (to help the paper start decomposing), and gave it a good couple stomps; I am certainly no king or representative of one, but I am happy to participate in symbolically refertilizing the earth and helping ensure the next good growing season. The act of setting aside some bounty to fuel and welcome the next surge of abundance feels very important to me, not to mention useful and applicable in many different areas of life.
On the paper that held the now-dried fish, I had written a little heka:
As the land provides for me,
so I provide for the land in what ways I can;
as Netjer provides for me,
so I offer to Netjer in what ways I can.
I give back part of what I receive
to open the way for abundance.
Dua Wesir and Set, Who dance the cycle
of green growth and fallow rest,
both equal in the eyes of Ma’at!
Dua Geb, Who encompasses both crest and trough,
Who makes us mortals live with His gifts!
Today is Set’s birthday, the third of the epagomenal days, five days that fall between the end of the Kemetic year and Wep Ronpet, the Kemetic New Year on August 3rd.
Hail to the Progenitor of Chaos,
standing fearless at the sun’s prow
and forever slaying the Uncreated One.
May You bless this coming year
and guard it as You guard Ma’at
in brilliant, crackling, blazing fierceness.
Red as a firestorm behind dark smoke,
as powerful as the inexorable turning of the world,
Dua Set, Great of Strength!
In Set’s honor, a sigil for ferocity.
Set and Ma’ahes are brothers in the storm.
Grey clouds thick from horizon to horizon,
blotting out light like blood clots save an open wound from the kiss of cold air.
The fire-orange Eye of Ra is closed from the world,
and Ma’ahes becomes the bunching heat trapped beneath the ceiling of the sky,
no longer the distant, burning sun that sears and purifies.
Set is the storm, the fury, the wool-grey electricity of the thunderheads,
His laughter sharp and lighting the world with jagged spears.
The wind is caught, catching, drawing clouds together in great bursts of sound,
and They meet there, unlikely comrades, perfect friction,
imploding heat and crashing change.
I’m toying with the idea of posting photos every month of my shrine, just to see how it changes. Right now, it’s had a definite expansion: I oil-painted two small shelves to give me more surface area, which means more of the things inside the altar itself get to be placed in open air.
Here’s the shrine in total; you can see my corkboard up on the wall where I keep my religious/otherwise sacred jewelry when I’m not wearing it, including Sekhmet’s pendant and Serqet’s amulet:
To the left, I’ve added a red-painted shelf for Sekhmet alone, as I have the most icons of Her and I feel they deserve a special place:
To the right, I added a teal-and-purple shelf. I wasn’t sure Who it’d be for while I was painting it, but I knew I wanted a place to showcase my non-Sekhmet, non-RPD gods icons, so here we have Twtw and Renenutet:
I did a second painting recently for Hethert-Nut, which She requested; She liked the first one, but She prefers the iconography of Mehet-Weret, a golden cow with deep blue stars. I added the dark indigo background as tribute to the royal purple color I associate with Her. (Also, as most of my paintings, this one is metallic, so it takes poor photos. Also also, I did not use a reference for the cow shape, which is why She looks slightly deer-like.)
And lastly, I acquired a gorgeous statue of and for Ma’ahes, made by the ever-fabulous Nicolas of Shadow of the Sphinx. (He also made my little Sekhmet votive and both Twtw’s and Renenutet’s statues.) People, if you ever need any Egyptian statuary, go to this artisan first – there is no one better in terms of courtesy, skill, affordability, and receptivity to custom work.
Today I do senut, which I intend to make a regular practice as a full-fledged, formal ritual on the first weekend of every month. In it, I will offer my gods the following, and then ask each of Them for a message concerning the month ahead, via my divination tools (cards or coins, whichever They each prefer).
hetep-di-nisut, an offering which the King gives:
To Sekhmet, I offer Her the red shelf, a sacred place of Her own.
To Nebt-het, I offer a black bone ankh and a stormy grey-violet amethyst.
To Hethert-Nut, I offer Her the second painting, may it please Her, as well as night-sky-with-stars beads I found today.
To Ma’ahes, I offer the lion statue.
To Serqet, I offer a banana-milk smoothie. (Don’t look at me, She requested it.)
To Ma’at, I offer a white bird made of shell.
To Set, in thanks for His oracle assistance, I offer peppered jerky and two slim jims, as promised.
And to my akhu, I offer a painting of us; may I always think of my ancestors fondly. (I will finish it before senut today and post a picture of it later.)
As a genderfunky and pansexual individual myself, I have a special interest in mythological figures who are also queer in some fashion. To my pleasant surprise, we have several Egyptian gods, or Netjeru, Who have some queerness in Them. This post is meant to be a brief introductions to the ones I know.
Firstly, we have Nit, the Creatrix. Of the handful of primary creator deities in ancient Egypt, Nit was the only one said to be female, but all creator deities are to some extent genderfluid and/or genderless, being gods that have reproduced asexually through various means (masturbation, spit, intentional thought) to create the rest of the gods. Nit Herself, despite being hailed as a goddess, bears the epithet “The Mother and Father of All Things” and has been addressed as “Male Who made female; Female Who made male” at the temples of Esna. She is the God Who bore women and the Goddess Who bore men, and so within Herself contains all sexes, all genders. Nit is said to have created childbirth, and, when referred to as a creatrix, Her name is written with the hieroglyph of an ejaculating phallus. She has been referred to as the deity of the Nun (pronounced noon), the great primordial waters of creation, or as the Nun personified. Another snippet from the Esna inscription reads:
Wide water Who created eternity; water Who made everlastingness;
Who rose in Nun while earth was in darkness.
Living Ancestor, Who had Her origins in Nun, before the creation of Geb and the raising of Nut.
Genetrix, Cobra Who was at the beginning, Mother of time primordial, She Who created Her own birth…
(Geb is the god of the earth; Nut is the goddess of the sky.) For more about Nit, you can read the research I’ve compiled thus far.
Nit has also been identified with/as Nebt-het (Nephthys), Lady of Death. In ancient texts, Nebt-het has been described as being “an imitation woman with no vagina” because of Her barrenness, and She has no children with Her husband, Set, Lord of the Red Desert, which is a striking difference from most Kemetic triads of mother-father-child. Some modern Egyptologists have interpreted Nebt-het as being a lesbian; more to the point, She is sekhyt, a Kemetic word often translated as “eunuch” but more accurately indicates any person who doesn’t fit within the traditional gender roles of male or female, any person who is infertile, and/or a sexless/unsexed person.
That leads us to Nebt-het’s husband and consort, Set, God of Chaos. Set is a highly sexual god; He’s been lured off after Aset (Isis) in guise of a beautiful maiden before, and He’s also tried to seduce Heru-sa-Aset (Horus the Younger), both during the Contendings of Horus and Set, which is the tale of Who would become king after Wesir’s (Osiris’) death. Heru-sa-Aset, in turn, tricked Set into consuming some of His semen on lettuce, also as a part of the Contendings myth. Some Egyptologists suggest Set is strictly homosexual, but He would also be more suited to the term sekhyt, as He’s often considered sterile due to His association with the barren desert, over which He rules. Heru-sa-Aset may or may not be considered bisexual or sekhyt, depending on the source; He does go on to father the four Sons of Heru, showing that He is indeed fertile, but His actions with Set may suggest a bisexual inclination (or just an attempt to gain a political upper hand).
In addition, Hapi, god of the Nile, was a male deity associated with the fertility and life-giving powers of the Nile river; as a result, He was shown as a round-bellied man with full breasts. The breasts may have been symbolic, or He may have been considered a fully hermaphroditic deity, though He did still have a wife.
Fertility was a big deal in ancient Egypt and was the primary requisite for a person receiving the full privileges of womanhood or manhood, but even in the biggest myths, genderbending and alternate sexualities were represented; there’ve also been inscriptions in tombs indicating homosexual relations between men. (I don’t know of any between women; if you do, please share!) Set and Nebt-het, both important deities in Kemet, were sekhyt Netjeru, and all creator deities, especially Nit, held within Them both male and female qualities. If I’ve missed any queer Egyptian gods, please feel free to chime in, or add your opinions/experience with the gods mentioned here!
This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.
I couldn’t possibly do more honor to Set than my sister’s already done Him, so instead, I will point to the song she wrote for Him. Listen to it a thousand times over; it is beautiful.
Set wisdom of the day: Isfet is a terrible and grievous thing and must be extinguished, but people are not isfet. People do isfet; they themselves are merely lost.