An excerpt from TV tropes:

People are fairly familiar with the story of how Set murdered Osiris to get his throne only to be thwarted by Osiris' son Horus, but most people don't know how it was done. Set attempted to prove his worthiness before the other gods by anally raping Horus, but Horus reached between his legs and caught Set's semen, throwing it into the Nile. Horus proceeded to masturbate into a salad, which Set ate without knowing about the special sauce. When it came time for Set to prove his dominance over Horus, the gods commanded Set's semen to speak. When the voice came from the Nile, the gods then commanded Horus' semen to speak, and imagine Set's state of mind when his stomach started talking to him. That is how Horus avenged his father upon Set. The Egyptians were totally perverted. One version says that they had intercrural (thigh) sex and Set (or Seth) wanted Horus to catch the semen. He did and Horus' mom saw the mess, cut off her son's hands and threw them into the river. She then put her son's semen into Set's salad and the rest you know.

I never really understood this. It clearly feels like, that seminal fluid has some sort of a meaning/purpose behind it, that is there in many myths, what I never could grasp is the following:

Knowing that myth was shaped by the humans, thus it reflected some of their idea sets (Hubris, etc...), so:

What was their "scientific" understanding on matters regarding umm... human reproduction process and it's parts, that could have influenced their myths?

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    TVTropes sounds like it's for TV, not real mythology
    – bleh
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 0:06
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    Whenever I read stuff like that I have to admit that "Let there be light."is a very cheap and uncreative way to set up your mythology and get started.
    – Mario
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 6:04
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    @bleh TV tropes started out as just TV but has grown vastly since inception. It covers pretty much every storytelling medium in existence, and frequently covers real life as well. Mythology is one of the topics consistently covered as "Examples of this trope." It's completely valid. Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 13:00
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    Redacted, as a general comment: You have a solid question here, but you need to do some tidying. Your title covers all kinds of squick (sex, violence, nonconsensual acts) but your question as posted asks specifically about the symbolic uses of semen in myths. Can you: 1) edit your title to reflect that question specifically 2) Clean up a bit of the language to be less ranty and more straightforward? I hear you about how squicked you are, but your amusing commentary about your reactions to the myths don't add to the question. Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


At the risk of getting myself in trouble, I want to point out that this question doesn't go far enough. The Horus/Set conflict sounds a bit off, but the god Atum made his children Shu and Tefnut by masturbating, although since their names can mean "spit" and "breath" you have to wonder. (PDF version of the Hymn to Atum.)

And it doesn't stop with the Egyptians. After all, Aphrodite was born from Uranus' castrated penis. And in Japanese Shinto myth, the god Izanagi created the sun, moon and wind deities from his two eyes and nose.

And in Norse myth, the first being was the giant Ymir, who created another from between his sweaty feet, while two more crawled out from under his armpit.

My larger point is, gods and goddesses are powerful beings, whose bodily effluvia has power, even the power to created life. And to rat someone out.


This is a deep question. You say that "seminal fluid has some sort of a meaning/purpose behind it, that is there in many myths". This question of reproduction is also a topic in classic Alchemy, that have a paralel on this myths. There is a substance called by many names, in Alchemy, for instance: . the "Water that does not wet", "the holy semen", the sacred sperm, the quintessence of alchemy.

You can look for the answer in myths for Alchemy. The basis story is that there is this substance that is used as the matter of all transformations or mutations (that differs itself when came to the 3 kingdons - plants, animals, etc.), if you want: the holy sperm. I guess you can find the answer in this ancient myths. The Dr. C. Jung is a good reference too, look for symbols of growing, mutation or reproduction in his work. There is a lot of stuff in the work of Dr. Carl Jung, you just have to find the right archetype or symbol.

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