The lovely green sha who lives in my neighborhood
Ever since last autumn, this topiary sha beast – or at least, it looks like a sha to me – has been greeting me every day as I walk to my bus station from work. Each time I pass him, I salute him with the sign of the horns and utter a quick “Dua Sutekh!” (i.e., “Worship” or “Homage to Seth!” in ancient Egyptian), thanking Big Red for seeing me through yet another day. People probably notice me doing it and think I’m a weirdo, but I don’t much care. At least I’m not some annoying evangelical student who stops random people around campus, demanding to know if they’ve ever accepted Jesus or not.
For those of you who don’t already know, the sha is Seth-Typhon’s most sacred animal and symbol. No one knows what it really is, or if it ever truly existed; we only know that Egyptian scribes and artists always drew it as having those big cute ears and that long funny snout. Depending on my mood, I see it as being either some kind of desert-dwelling fox, a stylized donkey, or perhaps even a chimerical creature of some kind (like the griffin). Other people have seen it as a giraffe, a hyena, or even an elephantfish. The true identity of this “Typhonian Beast” will probably never be known, but whenever I see it – or anything that even remotely resembles it – the hairs on the back of my legs stand up and start receiving satellite signals.
The Holy Sha!
Yes, I know; it’s highly unlikely that the topiary artist who created this happy critter really intended for him to be a sha. More likely, it’s meant to be a deer or something like that. But even if that’s true, deer are members of the Artiodactyla family (which means they have cloven hooves), and many of Seth’s identifiable sacred animals are artiodactyls (including antelope, hippos, oryx, and pigs). So this thing gives me a strong Sethian vibe either way, but I’ll be greased and fried if it doesn’t look like the mighty sha to me!
Anyway, I enjoy the fact that Seth’s green avatar here is now blooming with pretty flowers and such. Yes, it’s a bit ironic when you consider His sterility, His aridity, and His partiality to oceanic storms and barren desert wastelands. But He is the Guy who prunes Osiris like a giant rose bush, making Him bloom again and again; so maybe it’s not so ironic after all.