Magical powers of ancient Egypt

Sep 21, 2010

Magical powers of ancient Egypt

While its efficiency in the hands of mortal practitioners was perhaps often less than had been hoped for, magic attracted people because it was practical and made sense. Everything had a reason, often hidden to the ordinary person, but revealed to the knowledgeable.


Magical spell written in Coptic
Picture source: Duke Papyrus Archive

    Magic explained the relationships between causes and effects using ideas people could relate to. Analogies and symbolisms were widely used, the sympathetic principle of like affecting like was invoked, associations, be they pure coincidence, were imbued with meaning, and historic occurrences became predictors for the future. There were even prescribed ways for explaining why expected results had not materialized.

the Egyptians, were not like other peoples who practiced ritual cannibalism, thought that spiritual powers resided in the body and could be acquired by ingestion. There is some evidence, though, that was not such a view was more than speculative and acted upon.

Most practitioners gained magical knowledge by studying ancient scriptures were the lector-priests, the only clerics who were fully professional since the beginning of recorded history. They were the keepers of the sacred books.

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