The Gods Can Handle Our Anger

It’s okay to be angry or upset with the gods, and it’s okay for us to tell Them so as well. 

A very good friend of mine occasionally becomes profoundly angry with Set and/or the other Netjeru for not saving them from the horrific things they endured as a child. When this happens, they put away every religious icon they own. When they are especially upset, they might even smash these holy images in a fit of blind rage. Then they feel guilty and anxious afterwards, fearing the Netjeru will punish them for being so disrespectful.

(I will not go into details, but I do wish to be extra super double sure I’m making myself absolutely clear on this point: these behaviors are coming from a place of pain and fear, not from a place of pride or insolence. Any comments that assume otherwise will be removed. Thank you.)

When my friend confides in me about these occasions, I do what I always do. I gently remind them that no, they are not bad for feeling anger, and no, they are not bad for expressing their anger to the gods.

The ancient Egyptians got angry with the Netjeru all the time, even threatening to withhold offerings from Them if They failed to answer certain prayers in times of great need. Here, the god-and-worshiper relationship is symbiotic and reciprocal. We must give to the gods, but the gods must also give to us. If the gods give and we do not, They can condemn or abandon us; and if we give and the gods do not, we can condemn or abandon Them.

Mind you, the Netjeru are not mere genies who exist just to grant our wishes. It is unreasonable to condemn or abandon Them for not solving all of our problems for us. But it is at least reasonable for devotees to expect some kind of benefit from worshiping Them. We deserve to at least feel guided or supported by our gods somehow; and if a deity can’t even seem to deliver that much for whatever reason, it is only natural for a person to stop worshiping Them.

The idea that we are obligated to continue worshiping a particular god no matter what They do or don’t do for (or to) us is profoundly un-Setian. I would argue it is even un-Kemetic, since each of the Netjeru can potentially receive angry tirades or threats of abandonment from Their followers. Besides, even if you scream obscenities at a Netjer, you are still communicating with Them in a heartfelt manner. You are still engaging Them in a kind of prayer. You are just praying a prayer of grievance rather than gratitude, if you will.

So I tell my friend it’s absolutely okay for them to put away their religious icons whenever they feel upset with the gods. It’s even okay for them to smash said images when they are especially distressed (provided, of course, that they actually own the icons they smash, and no person or animal gets hurt in the process, including themselves).

Learning about the Netjeru turned out to be very helpful for my friend; yet they are still trying to reconcile their past with the idea that there are actually gods out there who care about them. If this is true, they ask me, why then did the gods allow them to be harmed as children?

There is very little anyone can say to answer such a question that is actually helpful (or even truthful, in my opinion at least). All I know is, if the gods are truly gods, They are big and tough enough to take our anger, especially if it’s coming from someone who is confused and hurting very deeply.

I also don’t believe for one second that the gods hold it against anyone for being traumatized and needing help. I think Set would actually prefer that my friend curse and smash His icons to having them traumatize any of the other people in their life. No matter what they might do to His icons, my friend can at least be sure they won’t hurt Set Himself; the same cannot be said for their loved ones.

There aren’t any easy answers for when bad things happen to good people. But if you happen to find yourself in a situation similar to that of my friend, I just want someone to have told you it’s okay. Set is not going to smite anyone just for being traumatized and crying out to Him for help—not even if the only way they are currently able to seek help is combative or confrontational. (He can always smite us for other reasons, of course; but Big Red is big enough to handle our feelings, even the really bad ones.) 

It’s Okay To Have Demons

Expecting people to be John Rambo—including Setians—is unrealistic.

It’s fucked up how the behaviors we develop to survive as kids can bite us in the ass when we are grownups.

As a kid, I was conditioned to believe that asserting myself is bad, wrong, mean, and selfish. I was taught that if I love someone, I should just keep my mouth shut whenever they do anything that disappoints me or hurts me. If I speak up about it, I am being an asshole and I don’t deserve to be loved.

How insidious it is that such conditioning can affect us even as adults. I recently lost a good friend who occasionally did things that disappointed me. I kept silent about my feelings for so long that when I finally tried to express myself, it destroyed the friendship. Then I started hating myself for even trying to talk with this person about my misgivings at all. “If I just hadn’t said anything, we would still be friends,” my brain keeps telling me. “I ruined this friendship, and it’s all my fault.”

This kind of childhood conditioning can even affect your professional life. If I land a better job and my current employer gets upset that I am leaving, I feel like a horrible person. I feel like I’m an ungrateful prick. I feel like I’m being mean and something bad is going to happen to me, as a “punishment.” Even when my logical mind knows I am doing something good for myself, even when I remember that other people hire into better jobs all the time; I still feel like I am bad.

Well the reality is that NONE of these things is true. The voice that whispers these awful things to me inside my brain is not my own voice, but the voice of my childhood trauma. When I blame myself for ruining that friendship, or when I hate on myself for doing something that’s good for my own professional development, it is not really me that’s speaking; it’s my male parental unit. It’s the man who bullied me and manipulated me when I was little; the man who was never impressed by anything I tried to do; the man who delighted in making me feel powerless, trapped, and afraid.

I resonate with Set because He refuses to control or be controlled. Like Him, I chafe at the thought of anyone telling me who or what I can or cannot be. And like Him, I absolutely detest the idea of trying to control anyone else’s life. When I came to Set at age 14, it drove my male progenitor nuts. Here was something he couldn’t take away from me, no matter how much he hit me or tried to shame me. He could burn all my books and break all my sacred objects, but he could never remove Set from my heart. And this gave me the resilience I needed to truly start defining myself apart from the toxicity in which I was raised.

But even though I started on this quest all those years ago, the journey is still in progress. I am still learning how things in my childhood are affecting my adult life. I am still learning how to not hate myself when I do things that are good for me. I am still learning how to love myself and not listen to that ugly voice in my mind that expects me to fail. I am still learning how to determine myself and to not let anyone else define me.

So take it from a Setian who has been walking with Big Red for over 24 years… Ain’t NONE of us here are “Nietzschean supermen.” It’s totally OK if you are still fighting demons from your childhood. Nobody, least of all Set, expects you to be John Rambo. (And even if Rambo were real, he’d be suffering from PTSD too, just like all the rest of us.) If you struggle with hating yourself because of traumatic things that happened to you, you are not alone by any stretch of the imagination. And it’s absolutely OK. Just try to remember that when you get to feeling that way, it’s your trauma talking; it is NOT reality. And try to remember too that talking about your feelings is a STRENGTH, not a weakness. Listening to others talk about their feelings, and helping them feel comfortable enough to share them, is a strength as well.

It’s Setian, Not “Satanic”

Christians and Satanists might hate each other’s deities, but Setians can honor Set and Osiris at the same time. 

One of the more annoying misconceptions against Setianism is this idea that Set is the “Egyptian devil” or “god of evil,” and that we His followers are all a bunch of raving psychopaths who thrive on chaos and violence. Another annoying assumption is the idea that if you ever attract Set’s attention to yourself, your house will burn down and your entire family will drop dead. (Or something like that.)

People who describe Set as “evil” have no business pontificating on Him (or any other Netjer or Egyptian deity, for that matter). He is really not comparable to the Christian devil at all. He is not a “fallen angel” who tries to drag people down into hell with him. He is a full-blown GOD in His own right. He is a SAVIOR who wards off the monsters of chaos.

Yes, Set has some drama with certain other members of the Egyptian pantheon; but this is not at all relatable to the “God versus Satan” dynamic of Christianity. The antagonism between Set and Osiris, for example, is not about some moral dichotomy of “good versus evil”; it is instead a theological metaphor for how ecosystems and agricultural cycles work. Christians and Satanists might hate each other’s deities, but it is not unusual for Kemetic polytheists to honor Set and Osiris together at the same shrine. This is because we know BOTH gods are really necessary and good, and that BOTH deserve to be loved and appreciated. That’s just how polytheism works.

And I have never met a single Setian who resembled a real-life Mad Max character, gleefully running from one explosion to the next. Every Setian I know is a regular everyday person who values consistency, security, and safety. We get PTSD when bad things happen to us, just like everyone else. Many of us also seem to work in fields relating to public health, helping other people achieve a better quality of life. I am actually super fucking impressed with the number of Setians I personally know who work as counselors, caregivers, educators, and other similar roles. I think this alone demonstrates that our God is neither as “chaotic” nor as “destructive” as certain people like to think.

As for the idea that reaching out to Set will cause a bunch of chaotic shit to happen in your life… Well I’ve been worshiping Him for more than 24 years now, and it has never caused my life to fall apart. In fact, my life has only become more *organized* and *secure* since I first met Him at age 14. Besides, chaotic things will happen to us no matter WHAT we do. They will happen whether we pray to Set or not. They will even happen if we pray to someone else, or if we pray to no one at all. Worshiping Set does not increase anyone’s chances of having chaotic things happen to them; it also doesn’t PREVENT such things from happening, either. But let me tell you, it sure does help to have the Red Lord in your corner during a crisis. Setians do not thrive on chaos; we thrive on SET, who helps us PERSEVERE against chaos. 

One other idea I find super annoying is this notion that Setians are supposed to be having intense paranormal experiences all the time, like on a near-daily basis or something. Ghosts, visions, and prophetic dreams are actually just as rare for me as they are for most other people. I suspect this is true of most other Setians, as well. 

You don’t have to be a psychic or a ghosthunter to be Setian. Hell, some people don’t even need rituals. Maybe you just don’t “feel right” going through the motions for whatever reason. Maybe you feel more comfortable just meditating, or trying something different. As long as you have Set in your heart, you’re Setian enough by my standards. If people can still be Christian without going to church every Sunday, you can still be Setian without keeping any shrines or casting any spells. We each get to walk with Big Red in our own way.