Egyptian Magic – Specific Magical Practices – Cultural Magic
We have looked at the Egyptian cultural structure upon which Egyptian magic rested. Now it is time to look with more detail at the actual magical concepts, actions, and functions of cultural magic, soul magic, and divination.
Cultural Magic – Things and Pictures
According to Budge, the Egyptians believed that “it was possible to transmit to any figure [representative image] of any man, or woman, or animal, or living creature, the soul of the being which it represented, and its qualities and attributes”. They believed that it was “possible to vivify by means of formulae and words of power any figure made in the form of a man or animal, and to make it work either on behalf or against his fellow man”. In reference to the pictures in his tomb, “the Egyptian hoped and believed that they were in reality representations of what he would do in the next world, and he trusted that the words of his prayers would turn pictures into realities, and drawings into substances”. (44)
We have a number of examples of the magic of representative things and pictures. Spence cites the spell and the charm filled Harris Papyrus when he tells us about a plot against Ramses 3. The conspirator procured a magical book from the royal library, made figures of wax, and smuggled them into the palace. The figures were to harm the king. He was caught and charged with “carrying out all the wickedness which his heart could imagine”, horrifying the gods, and making wax figures that could render a man paralyzed and helpless. (45)
Sauneron cites the placing of the names of enemies on vases and statues and breaking the items or “subjecting them to enchantments” in order to undo the enemy. (46)
Fazzini gives a number of instances of figure and picture magic. He cites the use of stone lions as guards, and he aquaints us with the “ushabits” figures (“ones who answer”) who were fashioned and placed in tombs to do work for the deceased when activated by spells. He mentions the inscriptions of the king fighting and repelling enemies placed on pylons and on the more public part of the temples. These reliefs served to magically defeat enemies and to ward off evil from the temples. He tells us about the moving after the old kingdom of tomb statuary to major public sacred places where the person represented by the statue could share in the offerings to the gods and benefit from the public reading the beneficial inscriptions on the statue, Finally, he mentions the ability of tomb statues and tomb iconography to be animated for the benefit of the deceased. (47)
Cultural Magic – Amulets
Before moving on to the magic of words, we should look at Egyptian amulets. Budge, Brodrick, and Morton list about 20 amulets. According to Budge, amulets are “a class of objects and ornaments, and articles of dress and wearing apparel, made of various substances which were employed by the Egyptians, and later by other nations, to protect the human body, either living or dead, from baleful influences, and from the attacks of visible and invisible foes”. Some are “inscribed with magical formulae”. Other objects, ornaments, rings, pendants, or any object could become an amulet by inscribing the picture, name, or emblem of a god on it.
The amulet would work as long as the substance of it and the inscription on it lasted. (48) Let’s look at the Egyptian amulets with the combined interpretations of Budge, Brodrick, and Morton.
ANKH – This is the symbol of life; every god carries one.
THET – The girdle buckle of Isis represents her blood which washes away sins and also gives the deceased access to all parts of the underworld.
DAD or TET – This amulet represents the reconstruction of the body of Osiris and helps the deceased to become a spirit.
USEKH – This collar of gold helps the deceased free himself from his bandages.
URS – This represents a headrest and protects the head.
AB – The amulet of the heart represents the heart and conscience. It protects the heart and helps one to have mastery over it.
UZAT – The eye of Horus protects against the evil eye, the bites of serpents, and angry words; and produces strength, vigor, and good health.
EYES of HORUS – These represent the sun and Moon.
NEFER – This represents a musical instrument and brings happiness.
SAM – This promotes union and animal pleasure.
AKH or KHU – This represents the rising sun.
SHEM – This represents the sun’s orbit and brings life to the deceased as long as the sun last.
UAZ – This lotus column or papyrus scepter gives eternal youth.
HEZ – This is the white crown of Upper Egypt.
TESHER – This is the red crown of Lower Egypt.
MENAT – This drives away care, and brings joy, divine protection, and sexual might.
NEH – This brings protection.
FROG – This represents teaming life and brings resurrection.
FINGERS – These two fingers of Horus helped his father Osiris into heaven.
STAIRS – This represents the throne of Osiris and the ideas of rising up to heaven.
USER – Brodrick and Morton call this the royal scepter, which gives power over heaven and earth.
PLUMMET – This secures justice and moderation.
MUT – This represents the protection of Isis.
Budge adds the following.
SCARAB – This figure replaces the heart in the mummy and secures protection of his heart.
SOUL – This causes the soul to unite with the body, khu, and spiritual body.
LADDER – This facilitates climbing into heaven.
SERPENT – This protects against snakes. (49)