You are probably aware from reading my blog that there exists a tendency within the occult world to cast Satan as a god among the Egyptians through fallaciously tying him to actual Egyptian gods, thus establishing Satan not as the Evil Incarnate of Christian lore but as one of the great gods of pre-Christian polytheism. Proponents of this idea usually employ the Set-Sat-Saton-Satan etymological fallacy, in order to establish the link between Satan and the Egyptian god Set, a storm god (not unlike the Canaanite god Ba’al) and lord of the desert who became demonized as a god of chaos and evil after the Hyksos, who were patrons of his, were expelled from Egypt, and such a connection is certainly favored by those in the Temple of Set. But there is another idea I have come across – that Satan, or more specifically his connection to Lucifer, is connected to the Egyptian serpent deity Sata. According to Malcolm Godwin in Angels: An Endangered Species, the mythical (and also not actually canonical) fall of Lucifer into the Abyss reminds us that the Jews were in Egypt and that there was an Egyptian serpent deity named Sata who “is father of lightning and who likewise fell to earth”. The spurious connect between the motif of the light-bringer and lightning aside (surely gods like Zeus, Thor, Ukko or Marduk are now also Lucifers, aren’t they?), what is the actual truth of this connection? This is the subject of our Mythological Spotlight today.
So just who is Sata, you may wonder? In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, there is a spell apparently intended to transform the speaker into a snake, and this spell invokes a serpentine being named Sata. Here we get a description of Sata that goes as follows:
I am the serpent, long in years, sleeping and born every day
I am the serpent who is in the ends of the earth
As I sleep, I am born, I am renewed, I am rejuvenated every day
I am the Sata-snake, long of years, who sleeps and is reborn each day. I am the Sata-snake, dwelling in the limits of the earth. I sleep and am reborn, renewed and rejuvenated each day.
The Sata-snake appears to be described as a symbol of renewal and cyclical transformation, very similar at least in thematic to the Ouroboros symbol that is more commonly recognized. Sata never dies for he is constantly reborn and renewed with each sleep he takes, thus approaching a motif similar to death and rebirth despite it not actually being suggested that he dies, that is unless “sleep” here is taken to mean death. He also seems to dwell in the deepest realms of the earth or underground, suggesting rather blatantly that Sata is some sort of chthonic deity. However we have no mention of mastery over lightning or falling from the heavens here, so where exactly did Godwin get that from? I’m not sure.
According to The Secret History of Lucifer by Lynn Picknett, the aforementioned spell was supposed to be a magical means by which practitioners of the Egyptian religious/magical system, or perhaps more specifically the Pharaohs, to become immortal and embody the traits of the serpent long in years, and that the Pharoahs like Sata would descend to the earth before ascending to the heavens as the resurrected Osiris. The book does little to establish the connection to the myth of the fall from Heaven, and given the connection to the Pharaohs it seems more likely that the descent is tied not to the fall of a serpent from Heaven but rather to the idea of descent into the underworld upon death, which is the necessary precursor for resurrection in the afterlife. And the book mentions Sata being a “father of lightning” but there is no indication of this in any source material, so yet again we’re left clueless.
And the more I look the more I find how little information there is about Sata. If he was a god within the Egyptian pantheon, he certainly seems to have been a very minor deity, nowhere near as important as many of the other gods of the pantheon, and every source I can find of him all seems to trace back to a single spell within the Egyptian Book of the Dead that doesn’t really establish most of the attributes that are assigned to him which supposedly tie him to Lucifer and Satan. There is no source available for Sata’s mastery over lightning, and certainly no source available for his “fall from Heaven”, but various books talk about Sata having those attributes anyway, with seemingly no justification for it, in order to make the case that Sata was the basis (or simply a basis) for Satan thus allowing the case to be made that Satan was originally a polytheistic god, rather than the adversarial angel in God’s court that his original lore establishes. Some books even claim that Sata was actually just another name for Set, and if you know anything about Egyptian mythology you’d know that Set was never depicted as a snake anywhere in Egyptian mythology even after he became recast as an evil deity.
But of course, no attempt to connect Satan with the Egyptian pantheon would be complete without bullshit etymology, and that’s where classic internet nonsense comes in. According to a guy on Steemit calling himself sandalphon, for instance, the ancient Egyptian lexicon provides proof of an etymological connection between the names Sata and Satan. His proof of this connection is an image showing a series of hieroglyphs that supposedly show Sata, Sat An and then Satan. Exactly how this connection is supposed to work is in no way explained, the article makes no build up to the subject within itself, and indeed that weird image is the only mention of Sata anywhere in the article, we’re just given the image and supposed to take its claims at face value. We have no reason to believe there is any connection between any of these hieroglyphics and the Hebraic name Satan unless we plan to do the Peter Joseph thing where “son of God” actually just means “the Sun” because the two sound similar. There may as well be no etymological connection to speak of.
Given all of this, it seems extremely unlikely that the Jews based their idea of Satan on Sata, not least considering Sata was a minor deity in the Egyptian pantheon. Now, to be fair, Yahweh was also originally a minor deity within the Canaanite pantheon, but at least he went somewhere and became the central deity of the Bible while the Egyptian deity Sata never really went beyond one spell of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Not to mention, the idea that the Jews got their idea of Satan from the serpent Sata would require us to assume that the serpent in the Garden of Eden was actually Satan, and the Jews never established any such connection between Satan and snakes – that was a later Christian idea.
Pretty much every account you read of Sata being the origin of Satan or Lucifer, or about him being the master of lightning who fell from Heaven, is very likely to be bullshit. There is no extant source for these attributions, and the people who peddle it most likely have a larger agenda concerning the supposed pre-Christian roots of the Satan archetype; not from a Satanist perspective, of course, and likely not for some neopagan project, but more probably for some pablum about how there is a universal religion that’s been practiced since the beginning of time, and presumably distorted over the years. Sata himself is mildly interesting as a chthonic emblem of renewal, but there are many other mythical figures that fit not only this role but countless others, so given his status as a minor deity who only seems to have appeared in one spell I fail to see how he got taken up as a pro-expy for Satan.