Evil Sleep of Seth
Egypt was already ancient when the Greeks were young, and their religious and magical traditions had a profound influence on Western civilization generally and its magical practices specifically. In addition to their theories of the soul and true names, the gods themselves and how we could control, compel, or force them to carry out our wishes in the world were fundamental to many magical practices both in and outside the Hermetic tradition. One of the most infamous of these gods was that of Seth or Set, a god of the wastes of the desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. Though he has some positive aspects, he is perhaps most famously known as the usurper and murderer of his brother Osiris. Given these and other associations, some rituals in the Greek and Demotic Magical Papyri call upon Seth as an antagonistic, anomistic, and chaotic force to carry out violent or lawless deeds, two of which are given below: a general one to invoke Seth generally for his aid and specific one to afflict someone with a harsh curse. These invocations were first mentioned in this 2012 post.
First, a warning. Seth has historically been considered a chaotic, malevolent deity, especially with his associations with the Hellenic Typhōn; these invocations call upon a god of destruction and desolate winds. Though prevalent in classical malefic works, this is not a god to be lightly considered, and the utmost caution must be taken when working with him or calling upon him. Further, I include this ritual here only as a matter of completion, and do not recommend its use due to the nature of the materials used and the purpose of the ritual. Should you perform this ritual, it is on your head.
In PGM III.1—164, which contains various works and conjurations, we find a brief litany of holy names to invoke Seth, some of which are found time and again throughout the PGM, most of which appear also in specifically Setian contexts but some of them not:
I call on you, Seth!
Perform the NN. thing!
Transcribed into Roman script:
I call on you, Seth!
Perform the NN. thing!
In this ritual, as in many others from the PGM and similar texts, the line “perform the NN. thing” is replaced by a specific request or supplication to Seth.
Simple as the above invocation to Seth is, it can be used easily in other invocations and rituals of a Typhonian or Setian nature. One example of this is comes from PGM XIV.16—27 (also known as PDM XIV.675—694), entitled “a spell to cause ‘evil sleep’ to fall”. In this instance “evil sleep” can be interpreted to mean a sort of seizure where the body locks up with muscular rigidity, but it may also mean coma or other malefic deathlike trance states. The ritual also specifies that, if slightly modified to take place over a longer time period, it can be used to outright kill someone.
For this ritual, anoint your right foot with yellow ocher and the left with red clay. Wear a thread of date palm fiber around your head, phallus or clitoris, right hand, and left hand. Sacrifice a donkey, sever its head, and collect its blood. Anoint the right hand and the corners of the mouth with blood of the sacrificed donkey. Cover your face with your right hand, and the back of the head with the left. The following prayer is to be said for four days to induce “evil sleep” or for seven days to induce death, twice a day at sunrise and at sunset; at sunrise, face the East with the donkey’s head put between the feet facing away from the sun; at sunset, face the West with the donkey’s head put between the feet facing away from the sun.
I call upon you who are in the empty air, you who are terrible, invisible, almighty, a god of gods, you who cause destruction and desolation, you who hate a stable household, you who were driven out of Egypt and have roamed foreign lands, you who shatter everything and are not defeated! I call upon you, Typhōn Sēth! I command your prophetic powers because I call upon your authoritative name to which you cannot refuse to listen:
ΙΩ ΝΕΒΟΥΤΟΣΟΥΑΛΗΘ ΑΚΤΙΩΦΙΣ ΕΡΕΣΧΙΓΑΛ ΝΕΒΟΥΤΟΣΟΥΑΛΗΘ ΑΒΕΡΑΜΕΝΘΩΟΥΛΕΡΘΕΞΑΝΑΞΕΘΡΕΛΥΟΩΘΝΕΜΑΡΕΒΑ ΑΕΜΙΝΑ!
Come forth, and strike down NN. with chills and fever, frost and fire!
NN. has wronged me, NN. has spilled the blood of Typhōn in his own home!
As in other rituals, “NN.” here is to be replaced with the name of the target of the curse. Note how the magician in the final line accuses the target of himself having injured Seth, which was a common technique used to further rile and enrage the gods against someone.
The section with the barbarous words and sacred names is transcribed into Roman script as:
IŌ NEBŪTOSŪALĒTH AKTIŌPHIS ERESKHIGAL NEBŪTOSŪALĒTH ABERAMENTHŌOYLERTHEKSANAKSETHRELYOŌTHNEMAREBA AEMINA