Set-beast investigation #1: Saiga Antelope

There are many theories about whether the Set-beast is based on a real animal, whether it is a compilation of creatures (like Ammit), or a completely mythological being.
While watching the ‘Grasslands’ episode of Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Planet Earth II’ I came face to face with an Ice Age relic: the Saiga Antelope. Just look at that nose! How can you not see a resemblance to the Egyptian God Set when you look at it?

By Vladimir Yu. Arkhipov, Arkhivov – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8955913

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Nature’s bounty: dried berries experiment

Our garden is filled with so many beautiful plants and trees, but my heart was captured this Autumn by our Hawthorns. They live at the very top, acting as a boundary between us and the field behind.
In folklore lone Hawthorns are said to be connected to Fairies. They have white flowers and red berries, and anything red and white was often linked to the Fair Folk. Animals like cattle and hounds with red and white markings were associated with them. Hawthorns were often used as field boundaries, like ours, and so can have a protective element. Because of the white summer blossom they are also referred to as Whitethorns. Ours do have thorns but not many. Perhaps they’re friendlier and don’t feel threatened.

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Review: ‘The Trial of Loki: A Study in Heathen Morality’ by Alan James

‘The Trial of Loki’ was originally published in the Australian Odinist journal ‘Renewal’ in serial form, and it tells. Although it has been revised and expanded it is still, essentially, an essay rather than a book. It looks purely at the format of Lokasenna, the author’s focus solely on this one ‘chapter’ of the Eddas, and his theory is that Lokasenna is in fact a trial.

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European polytheism: a personal look

Following recent discussions with other polytheists, which made obvious a divide in attitudes and perspectives between the two sides of the Atlantic, I’ve been considering the topic more extensively, taking into account the idiosyncrasies of the United States, western Europe in general and my country in particular. Things like History, politics, social dynamics and attitudes towards the State. And the more I thought about it, the more I kept going back to three points. So in order to clarify things, I wrote this post explaining where I stand as a European polytheist and in contrast with what comes across as a significant trend in US American polytheism.

This is a fantastic article by Helios on some of the (generalised) differences between the way polytheism is approached in Europe compared to the USA.
After feeling like I don’t recognise a lot of the mentality behind certain prominent blog posts by American authors the last week or so, reading this article made me sigh with relief. It does, however, make me realise just how important it is to read articles and books written from your own culture’s perspective, not just those that may be more readily available or more popular.

Amarna and Aten Lecture Report

Because I’m a serial procrastinator it has taken me this long to get around to typing up my notes. Finally, however, I’m trying to break the pattern.

Lecture Report – Amarna: A New Mythology? By Dr Garry J. Shaw
AEMES, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, UK. Saturday 14th March 2015
 
A new solar mythology started appearing in the Books of Am Duat, and in hymns and rituals in the 18th Dynasty. The sun’s power guaranteed the balance of the cosmos and, though distant, you could feel the sun god’s presence in his rays. Much became subsumed by the sun god, including Osiris, Ra and Amun, and the other gods lessened in importance.
 
During the late 18th Dynasty Amenhotep III passed on the throne to his son Amenhotep IV, who later changed his name to Akhenaten. However, the throne should have gone to an older son, one who died. Amenhotep IV showed a particular interest in a deity called Aten – ‘the disc’. Aten is referred to in the Middle Kingdom as the physical manifestation of Ra, and is closely affiliated with the king. Aten is the faceless sun disc with long rays ending in hands. It is asexual and androgynous, with no spouse. It is anthropomorphic and has no body, so there are no traditional offering scenes.
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Review: Images of Set: Changing Impressions of a Multi-faceted God by Joan Ann Lansberry

The author introduces us to Set from his earliest to latest depictions in Egyptian art, with each chapter exploring different periods of Egyptian history in chronological order. While, for the most part, this was useful in showing the evolution of Set over the years, it also led to a slightly disjointed narrative when exploring the themes associated with the God.

Chapter one explores the earliest images of Set, and it makes clear that even in the Naqada I era he was known as “the lord of the sedges”, establishing his importance as representative of Upper Egypt, alongside Horus as “lord of the papyrus country” (Lower Egypt). Set’s association was with the city of Naqada, his cult centre, where he became known as nbwty – “the golden one.” He is thus often referred to as “Lord of Nubt.”

Interestingly, in the Labels from King Scorpion’s tomb Set, though shown in his animal form, is not shown with the typical erect tail, yet on a detail from the same king’s mace head, he is. The author then goes on to comment on the canine-like appearance of Set in Djoser’s temples, and quotes Ken Moss’ theory that the Set animal may in fact be based on a breed of hunting dog called the Saluki. Their ears were often cropped, producing a squared tip, and when running these square-tipped ears and the tail stick up.
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