30 Days of Sobek: Day 4 – Myths about Sobek

As far as I’m aware, there are no surviving myths about Sobek, save for the Roman period Book of the Faiyum, which centred around Sobek-Ra and His journey through the sky. It’s very much Sobek-as-Ra in the Faiyum, and it is a fascinating text, from the snippets I’ve read about it. The book is as much a map of the Faiyum as it is a religious text. It has to explain the sun differently because it sits to the west of the Nile, and the sun rises and falls over the lake, not the Nile. So there’s some fascinating concepts and imagery that I would love to explore more deeply, including Nit as a hippopotamus, protecting Sobek as a crocodile on Her back.

But this is a hard text to study, simply because hardly anyone publishes any research on it (in an accessible-to-me way), and a full translation in English is nowhere to be found. So most of what I know about this text comes from a 51 page article by Horst Beinlich, which seems to have been part of a larger book I can’t find anywhere, that breaks down the text and describes each of the sections and what they contain. What’s in that article from 2013 is literally all I know, and all my google-fu can turn up.

Other than that, there are only fleeting references in different versions of the Contendings. Sobek and Nit, as transcendent gods, are called on to advise during the judgement of Set and Heru’s fighting. In another version, I have half-a-memory of Sobek (or a crocodile at any rate) having its tongue cut out for eating parts of Wesir. His conflation with Heru-sa-Aset in the Faiyum is told in a hymn where Sobek is praised for gathering up the bones of His father, Wesir.

But really, that’s about it. If there were any other myths about Sobek, they have either been lost completely, or no one’s found them yet. It makes it hard to tell stories about Him, because there really aren’t many stories about Him left. So a lot of what I work on is necessarily new, though extrapolated from epithets or other associations.

So my version of the Contendings is entirely fictional. It’s based off the Contendings myths, but it’s not historical, purely because of the role I give Sobek. He is protector to Aset and Heru, and mentor to Heru as He grows up in exile. Sobek is the strength Aset needs to survive, in spite of the grief and the loss and the desert they’re living in. But that relationship is not historically attested. Not like that, anyway. The cloeset Sobek and Aset get are through Aset-Renenutet.

It is, perhaps, strange that I prefer this to the Sobek-as-Heru versions, but I think I’m too much of a polytheist to let Sobek be Heru and avenge the death of His father, Wesir. That interplay between ancient Sobek and young Heru is really interesting to think about. If I differ anywhere from the Faiyum mythos, that’s it.

One of the things I want to work on in my practice is actually making more myths about Sobek, particularly outside of the Wesir mythos. It’s not that I don’t want Him there, but I want more myths about Him, because so few survive, and I want some myths about Him that exist where He is the centre of the myths, not just a supporting character. But I’m still dreaming those stories up. So for now, scraps and my own headcanon is all I have.

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