The History of Seth
Seth: God of the desert, storm, and chaos. Seth is a strong god whose angry power is part of kingship. Later legends stress his murder of his brother Osiris and his struggle with his nephew Horus over who should be king. The ancient Egyptians believed that both the forces of Law and Order, represented by Horus, and the power of chaos symbolized by Seth, were necessary for kingship. Another way of spelling the name of this god is Sutekh.
The Legend of Horus and Seth
Horus, the Avenger of Osiris, came before the Great Ennead. With His Mother beside Him, He spoke of the cruel murder of His Father at the hands of Seth. He spoke of the usurption of the Throne of Egypt. The Gods were impressed by the eloquence of the Falcon-Headed One, and They pitied Him.
Shu, Son of the Creator, was the first to speak: "Right should rule might. Mighty Seth hath force on His side, but Young Horus hath Justice. We shalt do Justice unto Horus by proclaiming, 'Yes! Ye shalt have the throne of Thy Father!'"
Thoth, Lord of Wisdom, spake unto the Ennead, "This is right a million times!"
Isis gave a great cry of Joy. She begged the North Wind to change direction Westward to whisper the news unto Osiris.
Lord Shu declared, "Giving the Throne unto Horus seems right to the whole of the Ennead! Thoth shalt give the Royal signet ring to Horus. We shall crown Him with the White Crown!"
And, to this, Seth proclaimed, "It is I who slay the Enemy of Re daily. It is I Who stand in the prow of the Bark of Millions of Years, and no other God can do it. It is I who should recieve the office of Osiris!"
The Gods knew the Terrors of the Serpents of Chaos. They muttered that Seth was right. Horus, Lord of Light, spake and said, "Shall one give office to the uncle when the bodily Son is there?"
Isis became furious at the Ennead for not speaking in favour of Her Son. She complained to Them until, for the sake of peace, They promised that Justice should be given unto Horus.
Mighty Seth was angered. "How dare Ye cowards break Thine Oath! I shalt fetch My Great Septre and strike one of You down with it each day! I swear that I will not argue My case in any Court where Isis is present!"
Re proclaimed, "We shall cross the river to the Island in the Midst, and try the case thereon. I shalt further order the ferryman not to ferry Isis across."
Cunning Isis, the Mistress of Magick, changed Herself into a bent old woman. She carryied a jar of flour and honey cakes. She offered a golden ring to the ferryman to give Her passage, and They were soon across. She slipped through the trees, and towards the camp of the Ennead.
The Gods were holding a feast, but Seth stood apart from the Divine Comapany. Isis had changed Her shape once more. She now appearing as a beautiful young woman, dressed as a widow. The Great Lady approached the Lord of Storm. "Who art Thou, my pretty?" asked Seth, "And why hast Thou come here?"
Isis hid her face and wept, "O Great Lord, I am looking for a champion. I was the wife of a herdsman, and I bore for him a son. Then, my dear husband died, and the boy began to tend his father's cattle. But, lo! a stranger came and ceased our byre, and told my son that he would take our cattle and turn us out. My son wished to protest, but the stranger threatened to beat him. Great Lord, help me! Be my son's champion!"
Seth heard Her words and dried Her tears. "Do not cry, my pretty. I shalt be your champion and destroy this villain! How dare a stranger take the father's property whilst the son is still alive!"
Great Isis shrieked with laughter. She became a kite. She flew into an acacia tree. "Cry thyself, Mighty Seth! Ye hath condemed thyself! Thou hast judged Thine own case!"
Seth was angered unto tears of rage. The Gods demanded to know what had transpired. He told Them of how He had been tricked by the cunning Lady Isis.
Re said unto the Dark God, "It is true, Seth. Thou hast judged Thyself."
Now the Ennead crossd over the river and camped in the Western Mountains. Plans were made for the coronation of Horus. Seth, still, would not admit His defeat. He exclaimed, "I challenge You, Horus! Let us turn Ourselves into hippopatami and fight deep within the river! Who-so-ever surfaces first shall admit defeat!"
Horus acccepted gladly, but Isis fell to the ground and wept, afraid that Seth would slay Her Son. The two Gods plunged into the depths of the river. The battle raged for many days. Vicotry inclined first to one side, and then to the other; and the heart of Isis suffered bitterly. She took yarn and copper; making them into a magickal harpoon. She threw the weapon into the white water. The copper point stabbed Horus in the flank; He surfaced and roared, "Mother! Thy spear hath pierced Me! Let me go!"
Isis caled to Her magick weapon to release Horus. It returned to Her hand. She threw it again, and this time it caught hold of Seth. With a bellow of pain Seth arose. "O My Sister, why must Thou always be My enemy? What have I done to Thee? I am Your Brother; Let Me go!" Great Isis' heart grew soft, and She released Her pleading Brother.
Horus was furious with His Mother for the release of His enemy. He leaped out of the river, His face like a leopard, and cut off the head of Isis with one stroke of His copper knife. He then strode away towards the Mountains of the West. Isis, Mistress of Magick, calmly turned Her body into a statue; She walked towards the tent of Re. The Gods were horrified, even Thoth Himself. The Great God of Words of Power transformed Isis' head amd set it again upon Her shoulders in the form of that of a cow. The Ennead went into the Mountains of the West in search of Horus.
The Young God had found an oasis. He was alseep in the shadow of a palm tree. Seth found Horus, seized hold of Him, threw Him down, removed His two Eyes from their sockets, and buried them on the mountain so as to illumine the earth. The two balls of His eyes became two bulbs which grew into lotuses. When He returned to the encampment, He told the Gods that He had found no trace of His nephew.
Hathor, Lady of the Southern Sycamore, finally came upon the blinded God. She pityed His agony. She caught a gazelle and milked it, and then knelt beside the Young God, saying gently, "Uncover Your face." She dripped the milk onto His wounds. At once the pain vanished. "Open Your eyes," commanded Hathor. He obeyed and found that the healing Magick of the Goddess had restored His eyes and He could see again.
Hathor returned to the Ennead and said, "Seth has been lying to you. He hath torn out the Eyes of Horus. I hath healed the Young God. He approacheth now!"
Re called the Two Contendors before Him. He passed Divine Jugdment upon Them for Their wrong-doings. He demanded that They cease their quarreling. Seth appeared to agree. He invited Horus to stay with Him in His palace.
One evening, as the two lay together resting, Seth inserted his penis between the thighs of Horus. Horus, however, unknown to the Dark Lord of Storm, had caught Seth's semen in His hand. With the help of His mother, Isis, He placed His own semen upon lettuce growing in a garden; lettuce that Seth was to eat.
Seth spake unto Horus, "Come, let us go, that I may contend with you in the Court." Within the Court, Seth declared, "Let the office of Ruler be given to Me, for as regards Horus who stands here, I have done a man's deed to Him."
Horus laughed and said, "What Seth has said is false. Let the semen of Seth be called, and let us see from where it will answer."
And so Thoth, the Self Created, called upon the semen of Seth. The answer came from a far-away marsh, where Isis had long since deposited it.
Horus said, "Let mind be called, and let us see from where it will answer."
Then Thoth laid His hand on the arm of Seth and said, "Come out, semen of Horus!" And it spake unto Him, "Where shall I come out?" Thoth said to it, "Come out of His ear." It replied to Him, "Should I come out of His ear, I who am Divine Seed?" Then it came out as a Golden Sun Disk upon the head of Seth. Seth became very angry, and He stretched forth His hand to seize the Golden Disk.
In desperation, Seth demanded one more contest with Horus. Before the whole Ennead he declared, "Let both of us build a ship of stone. We shall race them down the Nile. Who-so-ever wins the race shall wear the Crown of Osiris." Horus agreed to the contest at once.
Mighty Seth took up His club. He struck the top of a mountain. Then he built a huge ship of solid stone and dragged it to the river. Horus' ship was already afloat, for the Young God had secretly made a boat of pine and plastered it so as to appear as stone. Seth tried to launch His boat; it sank to the bottom of the Nile and the Ennead laughed. Seth leaped into the water. He turned Himself into a hippopotamus once more. He attacked the bark of Horus. The wooden boat splintered and sank. Horus grabbed His spear and thrust at Seth, but the Ennead shouted at Him to stop; He had to obey the command of the Great Gods of Annu.
Horus made His complaint against Seth: "It is now eighty years We are in the Court, but They do not know how to judge amoung Us. I have contended with Him in the Hall of the Way of Truth. I was found right against Him. I have contended with Him in the Hall of the Horned Horus. I was found right against Him. I have contended with Him in the Hall of the Field of Rushes. I was found right against Him. I have contended with Him in the Hall of the Field Pool. I was found right against Him."
In the Trial, Re-Atum asked this important question: "What shall We do about these two Gods, Who for eighty years now have been before the tribunal?"
Geb, Lord of the Gods, commanded the Nine Gods gather to Him. He judged between Horus and Seth; He ended Their great quarrel. He made Seth as king of Southern Egypt, up to the place in which He was born, which is Su. And Geb made Horus king of Egypt in the land of Northern Egypt, up to the place in which His Father was drowned, which is the Division of the Two Lands.
Thus Horus stood over one region, and Seth stood over one region. They made peace over the Two lands. That was the divsion of the Two Lands.
Geb's words to Seth, "Go to the place in which You were born." Seth: Southern Egypt. Geb's words to Horus, "Go to the place where Your Father was drowned." Horus: Northern Egypt. Geb's words to Horus and Seth, "I have seperated You."- Lower and Upper Egypt.
Then Horus spake and said, "It is not good to defraud Me before the Ennead and to take the office of my Father Osiris from Me!"
Shu and Thoth persuaded the Court to send a letter to Osiris. After a time, the messanger returned. He bore an angry letter from the King of the Dead. Osiris demanded to know why His son had been robbed of the throne. He demanded to know if the Gods had forgotten that it was He, Osiris, Who had given the world the precious gifts of barley and wheat.
Re was offended at Osiris' words. He returned a letter of arrogance. After many days, another weary messenger returned. He bore a second letter from the King of the Dead. Thoth read it aloud: "How good are the deeds of the Ennead? Justice has sunk into the underworld. Now, listen to Me; The land of the Dead is full of demons who fear no God or Goddess. If I send them out into the world of the living they will bring back the hearts of evil-doers to the place of punishment. Who amoung You is more powerful than I? Even the Gods must come, at last, to the Beautiful West." At these words even the Creator was afraid.
Then it seemed wrong to Geb that the portion of Horus was like the portion of Seth. So Geb gave to Horus His inheritance, for He is the Son of His Firstborn Son.
Geb's words to the Nine Gods: "I have appointed Horus, the Firstborn, Him alone, Horus, the inheritance. To the Son of My Son, Horus, the Jackal of Southern Egypt...the First-Born Horus, the Opener of the Ways."
Then Horus stood over the land. He is the uniter of this land, proclaimed in the Great Name Ta-tenen, South of His Wall, Lord of Eternity.
Then sprouted the two Great Magickians upon His head. He is Horus who arose as King of Upper and Lower Egypt, who united the Two Lands in the Nome of the Wall, the place in which the Two Lands were united.
Reed and papyrus were placed on the double door of the House of Ptah. That means Horus and Seth, pacified and united. They fraternized so as to cease quarrreling in whatever place They might be, being united in the House of Ptah, the Balance of the Two Lands in which Upper and Lower Egypt had been weighed.