The Two Powers Reconciled: Set and Horus

Joan Lansberry

I’ve found a lovely new resource which I’ve spent the good part of a night and part of a morning examining, APIS: Advanced Papyrological Information System. I searched the texts for ‘Seth’ and found many things of interest, some which further confirm what I’ve read in TeVelde’s Seth, God of Confusion.

In reading TeVelde, I find, “Weill 2) characterised the myth of Horus and Seth as ‘l’histoire de deux dieux primordialement égaux, rivaux et concurrents, complémentaires et nécessaires à l’équilibre du monde.'”
[(2) R. Weill, Notes sur l’histoire primitive des grandes religions égyptiennes, BIFAO 47 (1948), p. 112 –
via TeVelde, Seth, God of Confusion, page 78)]

My French along with some online translating help is good enough to read “the history of two Gods essentially equals, rivals and competitors, complementary and necessary to the balance of the world.” Horus and Seth are called ‘The Two Comrades’. In the Book of the Dead, the deceased becomes as all the gods, and becomes as Thoth, who:

“filled out (27)the Sound Eye after its crushing on that day when the Two Comrades fought. What does that mean? It means the day when Horus fought Seth, when he (28)injured the face of Horus and Horus snatched away Seth’s testicles.”
[chicago.apis.5425, Inventory Id P. OIM 9787
Book of the Dead, VIth – Ist century B.C.]

Why are these particular parts injured? Set is called ‘Great of Strength’, his realm is that of primal power. Horus is ‘True of Vision’. Think of the falcon flying high, needing precise vision. So these are aspects of the Gods, and also aspects of characteristics within ourselves which can be at odds with each other if not balanced.

Further on in that same book, there is similarily:

“Another spell. To be said (27)by Osiris N.: I am Thoth; (31)I judged between the Two Comrades. (33)I did away with their fighting; I put an end to their laments.”
[chicago.apis.5427, Inventory Id P. OIM 9787 (3)]

This Book of the Dead gives clues to the Two being ‘complementary and necessary’:

“(25)(If) Horus becomes pure, Seth becomes divine, and vice versa.”
[chicago.apis.5425, Inventory Id P. OIM 9787]

In a different version of the Book of the Dead, again we see:

“(if) Horus becomes pure, Seth becomes divine, and vice versa.”
[chicago.apis.253, Book of the Dead, IInd – Ist century B.C.
Inventory Id P. OIM 10486]

The Coffin texts are older than the Books (SCROLLS) of the Dead, as the texts were placed on the inside of the coffin so the mummy’s Ka and Ba could read them. They read and declare:

“My (132)spine is (155)the Twin Souls.”
[chicago.apis.5529, Coffin texts, XXIVth – XXIst century B.C. 2374 BCE – 2061 BCE
P. OIM 14063]

TeVelde explains the ‘twin souls’:

Fig. 10. Horus and Seth united as “he with the two faces”

“This union of Horus and Seth was depicted in the Am Duat and the Book of Gates by a figure with two heads.”

[SGoC, page 69]

“In the Shabaka text the uniting (sm3) and the reconciling (htp) of Horus and Seth are spoken of in the same breath. 4) In BD 17 5) the dead says:
“I am He with the two ba’s, who are in his two chicks.”

Most of the Egyptian commentators explain this compound figure as an amalgamation of Osiris and Re. 6) One commentator, however, does not explain this compound figure as Osiris and Re, but as Horus and Seth:

“Those are the ba of Horus and the ba of Seth, when he came to Letopolis. Finally they embraced one another and became He with the two ba’s.” 7)

Here too the uniting of two opposites into a totality seems to be meant. Kees 8) called the two-headed Horus-Seth figure the union of the forces of the two gods and De Buck 9) a kind of Janus figure. According to him it stems from the impulse to see totality as a unity of two inimical and yet collaborating opposites.”
[SGoC, page 70]

Ideally, the ‘two rivals’ are be in balance. I find this from that same Coffin text very interesting:

“My (98)eyes are (113)the God of Magic. My (99)ears are (114)the Great Hearer. My (100)eyebrows are (115)the Two Powers.”

Just who would that ‘God of Magic’ be? Could it be this united Seth-Horus? If one eye is the inward looking eye, that is of Set and one eye is the outward looking eye, that is of Horus, could thusly they united be this ‘God of Magic’ who thereby excels in both the inner and outer realms? Further hinting at this is the title for the eyebrows, ‘the Two Powers’. The names of the Pharoahs Peribsen and Khasekhemui explain this, also:

“The Horus name of a successor of Peribsen is Khasekhem (the power has appeared). It has been suggested that Khasekhem is identical with Khasekhemui (the two powers have appeared). If that is indeed the case, 2) then we should have a development reminiscent of Sekhemib taking the Seth name Peribsen. Over the serekh in which Khasekhemui is written, however, the Seth-animal does not appear alone, but in company with the Horus falcon. The name Khasekhemui is sometimes supplemented

(the two lords who are in him, are reconciled).

Thus both Peribsen’s Seth name and Khasekhemui’s Horus-Seth name proclaim the reconciliation of Horus and Seth.”

[SGoC, page 73]


Now I wonder who ‘the Great Hearer’ is? Know any Gods famous for big ears? (Big, tall, squared off ears, maybe?)

But each ‘Book of the Dead’ differs one to the other. I see familiar spells cropping up, familiar themes, but there are differences. And I don’t want to be the sort of person who is always only referring to ‘authority’. Besides, if one doesn’t like one ‘authority’, one can always quote another ‘authority’;)

As for ‘the spine’, I favor instead the Papyrus of Ani, via Budge (page 216):


My backbone is of Sut (aka Set).
Hieroglyphs for Set… (from SGoC)

Okay, I don’t know why the hieroglyph in the phrase has a unicorn horn on it, but another shown has a sort of horn. Meanwhile, it’s my opinion that this is more accurate. Set being ‘electrical’ in nature and the spine being ‘electrical’ in nature, this fits best.

Meanwhile, is it always true that “(if) Horus becomes pure, Seth becomes divine, and vice versa”? As I understand Set to represent rulership in the inner world and Horus to represent rulership in the outer world, I do think the two realms inform each other. Is it possible to become what appears to be a sovereign in the outer world, gaining the respect of others, but be hollow inside, not knowing one’s true voice and Will? People fake out others every day, giving the appearance of what they are not really.

But in that case, I would say ‘Horus’ has not ‘become pure’. That person does not know true sovereignity in this aspect. Now, for the reverse, can one have ruler ship in the inner world, knowing one’s true voice and Will, having pride in oneself and confident to face each day, but horribly muck it up in the outer world? Is this possible, to have no respect in the outer world, to have a long enemy list, to bungle every interaction in the outer world, and still be powerful inside? There are some who think the path of power is to go ‘spitting on Horus’, rejoicing in ‘putting out his eye’. These rebels without a clue are usually young, but some survive to old age that way. I would say such an individual is not operating from their Higher Self, but from Ego, and that can be a troublesome fellow. In that case, ‘Set’ has not ‘become pure’. So yes, the two realms inform each other when the person is working on truly evolving.


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