Egyptian Magic Part 6
Cultural Magic – Funerary Magic.
Before going on to dream interpretation, divination, and soul magic, an example of a magical ceremony should be given and funerary magic should be discussed. Magical ceremony combines many of the concepts that we have looked at and funerary magic seems to integrate all that is Egyptian magic and focus it in one direction. As we look at funerary magic we will see mummies, priests, spells, figures, tombs, ceremonies, temple involvement, festivals, gods, myth, amulets, concepts about man, and concepts about the unseen.
We have already seen that spells and amulets were provided for the deceased, and that some of those spells animated the ushabti and inscriptions in his tomb. We also saw the “beautiful festival of the desert valley” and the placing of the mortuary statuary in temples for the benefit of the deceased. Finally we have already looked at the many immortal expressions of man and the belief in an unseen world in which to adventure after death and upon which much of the funerary practices rest.
It seems safe to say that Egyptian funerary magic existed to sustain the life of the deceased and to promote his well being and happiness. Even leafing through the Book of the Dead makes this clear. It was thought that the deceased with the proper attention would exist after mooring (death) on, above, and below the earth. He could revisit earth, adventure in the underworld, ride in the boat of the sun, and visit the stars and the fields of the blessed. (61) He could go anywhere he wanted in any form. He could enjoy the company of the gods and protect himself against the harm of demons. (62)
There were some changes in funerary methods over the years. In the Old Kingdom elaborate burial belonged to the Pharaoh. During the Middle Kingdom private individuals (nobles) received the special funerary benefits. Later even more could avail themselves of these rites. (63) Changes in offerings to the ka, which were absolutely necessary to keep the ka from wandering in search of food, evolved over time in an ingenious fashion. First, real food was left in the tomb and occasionally replenished. Later, a table with a relief of food offerings inscribed on it with proper spell replaced the food. Next, came paintings of offerings with spells. And finally, a spell without props produced everything. Many had such spells at their graves along with a request asking passers-by to say the spell and thus activate it. (64) Another change that evolved in funerary tradition was the shift of attention from the god, Re to the god, Osiris. The deceased became identified with Osiris to the point of being called Osiris followed by his own name. This identification is understandable since Osiris survived death in his famous myth. (65)
With this background, let’s move on to tombs, mummies, and funerary ceremonies and their officiants.
In general it seems obvious that the tomb was constructed to protect the deceased and his supplies. When we look at the magic that we have been surveying we get a more refined view. The tomb takes on the image of a magical machine functioning through spells to meet all the needs of the deceased. The Book of the Dead adds to this through its many “going forth by day” spells that the tomb was also the home base of the incredibly mobile deceased. (66)
Now it is time to turn our attention to the often referred to deceased, the famous Osiris N. Our Osiris N. after death is eviscerated and de-brained. His flesh is removed. He is soaked, stuffed, perfumed, oiled, loaded with amulets in and out, and he is wrapped carefully in bandages. (67) He is essentially stuffed and treated skin and bones. Spell 9 of Allen’s Book of the Dead calls him “swathed, blessed, and equipped”. (68) After he is properly prepared certain ceremonies are performed on him or on his ka statue. (69)
Budge gives us insight in to the “Eye of Horus” ceremony. The Eye of Horus gives vigor to the heart and leads the deceased to god. After purification with incense and water, the jaws of the deceased are opened and unlocked so that he can partake of the offerings. (In the “opening of the mouth ceremony” the mouth is opened to be able to take offerings and to be able to say spells.) At this point friends and relatives eat in order to “seal their mystic unity” with him. Next spells are repeated 4 times in honor of the gods of the cardinal points. This gives the deceased mobility in each quadrant. This is followed by sacrifices. Throughout the ceremony the deceased is purified, addressed, and offered various things. The kher heb priest recites prayers and the sem priest presents offerings. The deceased is told that his heart will keep beating and never leave him. He is given the use of his eyes and taste. He illumines the night, the praises of Ra go with him, the Eye leads him to the gods, he has mastery over his body, and the “shining beings” see him. The “two lands” stand in awe of him, the Eye becomes his god, it opens a path for him among the shining ones, and he is placed among them. (70)