Magick in Ancient Egypt
"O Isis great enchantress, free me, release me from all evil red things, from the fever of the god and the fever of the goddess. From death, and deathfrom pain, and the pain that comes over me; as though hast freed, as thou hast released thy son Horus, whilst I enter into the fire and go forth from the water."
Magick was an essential part of the lives of the people of ancient Egypt. It was recognized and practiced as far back as the fourth dynasty. Ancient Egyptians believed that magick emanated from the Gods. They believed that it was those supernatural beings they revered who were responsible for endowing them with magickal powers and wisdom.
Out of this belief they focused on trying to command their Gods to do their bidding and appear at desire. Egyptians attempted to make this a possibility by using talismans made of papyrus or stones with magickal words inscribed on them, which they carried, thus earning the reputation of being a ‘nation of magicians’.
The Egyptians’ faith in magick was so powerful, it was invoked in all questions of life, death, love, hatred, health and disease. Due to this it intermingled with both religion and medicine, whereby all priests and healers practiced it. The Egyptians believed that illness was caused by the possession of one’s body by an evil spirit, the cure of which was an exorcism. The priest or healer would diagnose the illness and find the matching name of the demon and then work on expelling it. Another method of healing was ‘incubation sleep’. A patient would sleep in a temple and wait for dreams believed to be induced by the Gods. Upon waking the dream is interpreted by the priest-magician and ‘messages’ in the dream should have fulfilled their purpose of healing.
Ancient Egyptians practiced their magick at any time, unless a spell specified otherwise. The one essential rule was that the practitioner must always face the east when in ritual. Perfume and incense were very important elements of any ritual. Perfumed oils were of utmost importance in embalment, as perfume was believed to possess the power of making members of the body perfect.
Images and figures were widely used in Egyptian magick. They would be charged with magickal power and then used in a spell. Charms and amulets were worn on the foot and the neck and the string used to suspend the amulets was tied with seven magickal knots. The Egyptians also believed that one can ‘transfer’ the essence of a person or animal into a wax or clay figure. In this process the subject’s soul and attributes are captured and placed in the figure for the working of the spell. This form of magick was practised form the fourth to the twentieth dynasty.
Amulets and talismans may be said to have had their home in ancient Egypt. Their use was very popular by the living and for the dead. One of the their most remarkable talismans is the magickal stone “Metternich stele” which was excavated at Alexandria in 1828 and dates from about the fourth century B.C. The stone is thought to have been used as a talisman for a building.
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