Kinds of ancient Egypt written magic with online video part1/6

Apr 6, 2011

Kinds of ancient Egypt written magic with online video part1/6
Part of a papyrus from a temple library, c. 4th—3rd centuries BC:.The illustrations show the magical protection of the 'House of Life' at  Abydos (left), and the ritual destruction of the enemies of order, represented by the god Seth and foreign Prisoners 

According to Clement of Alexandria, the Egyptians had forty-two secret books of wisdom, written by Hermes (Thoth), which were kept in temples. These included collections of laws, hymns and rituals, books about the gods and the training of priests, and works on astrology, cosmology, geography and medicine. It is certainly true that, in the early first millennium AD, manuscripts which claimed to have been written by Thoth himself were circulating in Egypt


Later followers of the occult have insisted that the contents of such books were passed down through the centuries in coded form.
Were there really secret books of magic in ancient Egypt? What kind of written magic existed?
Egyptian spells survive in a great variety of contexts. They can be inscribed on tomb walls, coffins and various types of funerary object; on statues of deities, kings and men; on furniture, vessels and amulets; on scraps of papyrus, potsherds and flakes of stone, and on long rolls of leather or papyrus. Some, but only some, of this last category might be described as books of magic.
One of the stories about Setne Khaemwaset focuses on such a book. Setne breaks into an ancient tomb to recover a book of magic. He is confronted by the ghosts of the tomb owner, Prince Naneferkaptah, who may be based on Prince Hardjedef, and his wife Ahwere. She relates the history of the magic book, which contains two spells written by the hand of Thoth himself. Naneferkaptah had been told by a priest of Ptah that the book was hidden in a series of chests at the bottom of the river Nile near Koptos.





Naneferkaptah went to Koptos with his family and made a magic boat in which to reach the exact place. He had to overcome six miles of serpents and scorpions before he could retrieve the book from the innermost chest. Naneferkaptah shared the contents of the book with his wife. The first spell enabled them to enchant every part of the cosmos and all the creatures in it. The second spell enabled them to see the true forms of the gods and the secrets of the underworld.

In other words, the book gave that knowledge of the true nature of the cosmos that was the basis of magical power.


Thoth was angry at the theft of his magic. With Ra's permission, Thoth sent an emissary to kill Naneferkaptah's wife and child. After this,the unfortunate prince committed suicide and was buried with the Book of Thoth. This tale of woe fails to deter Setne from stealing the book. It is only after he suffers an unpleasant and embarrassing hallucination sent by Nancferkaptah, that Setne returns the forbidden book to its resting place in the tomb.
This story reflects an intellectual debate about the proper role of magic. On the one hand, magic was part of gnosis, the knowledge of higher things that was the path to salvation. On the other hand, ritual magic was probably being widely abused for commercial gain. 





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