I don’t claim to know what Gods really are. They could be sentient preternatural beings that intervene in human affairs; or They might just be powerful symbols that we use to hypnotize ourselves into coping with our fears. There are any number of possible positions one might take between these two poles, but I don’t think it really matters which interpretation of the Gods is “true.” Unlike the most fanatical believers, I don’t think Gods really care what we believe about Them; and unlike the most asinine skeptics, I don’t think faith is invalidated by Their elusiveness. I don’t know what Gods really are, but I know one thing: They’re real enough for my purposes, and there’s a powerful magic to be felt in treating Them as such. And while this magic may not be everyone’s medicine of choice, it certainly helps me live a happier and more fulfilling life.
Different Gods are tied to very different ways of channeling this magic, for each has His or Her own symbols, myths and rituals. It could be that at the very highest level of existence, all Gods really are the same God; but even if this is true, it’s impractical for us to treat Them as such. You don’t experience Jesus Christ by reading the Rig Veda or practicing yoga, and you don’t experience Shiva by reading the Bible and attending Sunday mass. After all, Chinese opera and British heavy metal both qualify as “music,” but they’re also very different. They’re composed differently, they require different instruments, they attract different listeners, and they come from different cultures. This isn’t to say that someone can’t enjoy both at the same time; but to claim that “All music is the same” is to disrespect these artforms and the people who support them. The same is true of Gods and the spiritualities They inspire; homogenizing Them only dilutes the magic.
A statue of Seth that I keep on my altar at home.
I’m drawn to a God who isn’t too popular in today’s world, but who is more important to me than Jesus or Shiva or any other Deity. His name is Seth, though He’s also known as Typhon, Sutekh or “Big Red.” He was first worshiped in Egypt five millennia ago (at least), and His following lasted until about the third century CE. This means Seth was worshiped for at least 3,500 years (and remember, Christianity has only existed for about 2,015). Big Red isn’t exactly “down for the count,” either, because He started attracting followers again during the 20th century. From Typhonian Thelemites to the Temple of Set to Kemetic Pagans who happen to worship Him, Seth has more people spreading His magic today than He’s had since Egypt fell to Alexander the Great.
Seth is a very complex God, and it’s impossible to explain everything about Him in just one paragraph. Here’s my very best attempt at giving you “the skinny”:
Seth is the God of storms, deserts, droughts, floods, earthquakes, eclipses, infertility, radical transformations, and the marginalized. His most important symbols are the sha animal – which resembles a dog with a forked tail and rectangular ears – and the Big Dipper. In His myths, Seth is a frightening misfit who almost tears the world apart. Yet He is later “tamed” by the other Gods, and He becomes the Creator’s personal bodyguard. Big Red is very rowdy and irreverent, and people who follow “brighter” Gods can have a rough time dealing with Him; but He’s really a force for good, and He treats His followers quite well. His rituals are about coping with traumatic events, defeating our own negativity, and transforming mundane things into magical things.
Since I love Seth more than any other God, I prefer to identify myself spiritually as a Typhonian.
Seth as the Savior of Ra (2013), by Yours Truly