How to use ancient Egypt magic Amulets part 2/7

May 11, 2011

How to use ancient Egypt magic Amulets part 2/7
Part of The Book of the Dead of Ankhwahibre, c.6th century BC. It shows the main amulets used on a mummy and the spells that went with them. Next to the mummy (far right) are the djed pillar and the tyet knot. Thoth (left) is opening the gates of the underworld to let in the four winds.
Most amulets were intended to transfer to the wearer a particular quality of the being or object portrayed.
Some pendants in the form of deities may have been worn by pious people who wished to express their devotion to a particular god or goddess, but amulets use the power of a divine image in a more specialized way.
The gods and goddesses who were popular as amulets were not necessarily those who dominated the cult temples.


The most benevolent divine forms were portrayed in temples, but for protective amulets more formidable manifestations might be desirable. The alarming composite form of Taweret is one of the earliest recognizable deities used as an amulet. She continued to be popular in amuletic jewellery right down to Roman times.
Amulets with mythical resonance are particularly characteristic of Egyptian culture. Many can be associated with creation myths.
A lotus pendant might evoke the image of the infant sun god, born from the primeval lotus, and thus symbolize the hope of rebirth.
The best known of all Egyptian amulets, the scarab beetle, was an image of Khepri, the regenerated sun at dawn . As god ofbecoming, Khepri embodied the continuous process of creation. Scarabs were produced in millions for use as beads and seals.
The Egyptian word for seal sometimes means 'amulet' and sealing was a standard magical technique
An amulet as common as the scarab might be expected to lose its significance, but Egypt was such a symbol-conscious culture that this does not seem to have happened. The scarab remained a powerful image in magical texts as late as the fourth century AD.

To the Egyptians, the archetypal amulet was the wedjat eye, from which one of the general words for amulet was derived. Rubrics often mention that a wedjateye should be drawn on linen or papyrus for use as a temporary amulet. Thousands of examples in more permanent materials survive
A whole complex of myths lies behind this symbol. A tiny gold pendant in the British Museum shows Thoth holding a wedjat eye
Thoth was held to be the general provider of amulets for the living and the dead
It was Thoth who restored the damaged lunar eye of Horus , making it into a symbol of wholeness and health. The eye of the sun, which was pacified and brought back from Nubia by Thoth , could also be shown as a wedjat eye.
The two eyes were often combined in Egyptian imagery, so a wedjat eys amulet might have the healing power of the 'sound eye' of Horus, and the protective power of the fearsome goddess who was the Eye of Ra.

The wedjat eye was ceremonially offered to the gods in major temples. Some other amulets are based on objects used during the daily cult or at religious festivals. These include the loop sistrum, a kind of sacred rattle, and the Osirian amulet known as the djed pillar
The mummy of Osiris was held to be the model for all human mummies, so this god was the original wearer of protective amulets. Several myths recorded in PapyrusJumilhac tell of attempts by Seth and his followers to steal the objects that gave magical protection to the body of Osiris.
In origin, the dyed may have been a corn sheath or some kind of temporary column raised in a harvest ceremony. By the era of The Coffin Texts, it was interpreted as the backbone of Osiris and symbolized stability or endurance. Rituals of raising the djed pillar are known from Memphis and Abydos.

Miniature forms of magical objects, such as cippi, also occur as amulets. These were for the protection of a particular individual rather than for group use. Cippus amulets show the main divine figures and may be inscribed with very simple versions of the elaborate spells found on the full-size objects. On a ctppus, both image and word are important for the magical effect, but the power of other amulets resided chiefly or entirely in their inscriptions.

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