Using of magic forces in ancient Egypt

Oct 24, 2010

Using of magic forces in ancient Egypt
A tomb scene (c.1450 BC) in which the owner and his wife worship a tree goddess who offers food and pours 
By one definition, magic is the apparent manipulation of supernatural forces to change the form of things or influence events.
The Egyptians believed that magic was the “key” that enabled them to attain wisdom, and there was no real distinction between magic and religion. Magic was regarded not as low-level sorcery but as a sacred science and creative force that had existed prior to the establishment of the universe.
The Egyptian word for magic heka, probably meant “to control powers.”

Magic existed at all levels and permeated most aspects of the society. State and private magic were not contradictory methods but were believed to influence two different areas.
Through the temples cosmic magic sought by means of the daily rituals to maintain the balance and order of the universe and to prevent the return of chaos. By offering to the gods the priests attempted to renew the process of creation, to ensure immortality, earthly fame, and success for the king, and to bring fertility and prosperity to the land. This great temple magic (designed to preserve the world order) was regarded as an exact science and was revealed only to the elite body of temple priests.

On the other hand, private magic executed by local magicians was practiced to protect individuals against their own fears, which included sickness, harmful animals, drowning, hunger, thirst, aggression, and asphyxiation.
Using simple spells, these magicians possessed secret techniques and probably some basic healing skills. One of their first duties would be to try to overcome these perils and afflictions,believed to be caused by negative energy, by blocking off the negative forces.

Within the temples magical forces were believed to be present in the architectural forms of the building (which re-created the“Island of Creation”), the representations of the rituals depicted on the temple walls (which were activated by the performance of the “Ceremony of Opening the Mouth”), and the god’s cult statue (which his spirit entered to receive the food offerings). The temple inscriptions placed on the temple walls or written in the great ritual books also provided a potent source of magic. By writing the sacred words or reciting the ritual spells the priests made the temple magic alive and effective.

In medical treatment magic played an important role alongside more objective methods. In cases where the cause of the illness or affliction was visible or evident scientific methods were usually employed based on observation of the patient’s symptoms, but where the cause was not apparent the malady might be attributed to vengeance of the dead, malevolence of enemies, or punishment of the gods and consequently treated by magical methods.

These involved the use of spells and rituals that could include dances, musical instruments to create a particular mental state, dolls or waxen images, and agents such as water, oil, wine, perfume, and incense.
Magic obviously also played an important role in funerary beliefs and customs; tomb wall scenes were magically activated, as were the tomb models, statues, and mummy, to provide the deceased with all the requirements for the next world. Special jewelry, particularly the sacred charms known as amulets, gave the owner magical protection as he journeyed to the next world.

For the living magic permeated almost every aspect of their beliefs. The colors and jewelry they wore were believed to influence their fortune, and magic even played a role in the law courts where oracles were used to obtain verdicts in some legal cases. To the Egyptians magic was the thread that linked everything, because all things were regarded as potentially animate if the correct magical procedures were performed.


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