How to use ancient Egypt magic Amulets part 5/7

May 11, 2011

How to use ancient Egypt magic Amulets part 5/7
Amuletic bangle in gold and silver, c. 2000-1800 BC. The protective symbols include wedjat eyes, djed pillars and ankh signs. Also shown are a turtle, snakes, baboons, falcons, hares and the horned mask of the goddess Bat.
The first half of the second millennium BC saw a great expansion of amulet types. Much amuletic jewellery of fine quality survives from this period. Cylindrical cases just large enough to hold a folded scrap of papyrus were made in precious materials These may have contained written amulets to be hung at the throat to perpetuate a spell.
Solid 'dummy' cases are also known. The shape alone was presumably enough to evoke the power of written magic.

Texts of this era begin to describe the use of specific amulets. Some of the passages in The Coffin Texts which mention amulets seem to be adapted from everyday magic. A papyrus now in Berlin describes how to make an amulet (wedja) for a baby. The spell is to be said over gold and garnet beads and a seal with the image of a hand and a crocodile.
Such seals do survive. The hand and the crocodile will slay, or drive off, any hostile spirits who approach the baby. The seal and the beads are to be strung on linen thread and hung at the baby's throat.
Many of the strings of beads and seals found in children's graves had probably been used in a spell of this sort, but with tragic lack of success.
A concern for the safety of pregnant women and young children is also apparent in the jewellery of royal and court ladies of this era.
Gold reef-knot bangles and gold and amethyst 'cowrie shell' girdles were precious versions of the fertility charms of ordinary women.
The difference in status between a princess and peasant was unimportant compared with the shared joys and dangers of producing children.
Some amuletic jewellery of this era shows the same range of creatures and symbols as the apotropaic wands.
A gold and silver ornament, perhaps designed to be placed around a child's neck, is decorated with baboons, hares, hawks, snakes, a turtle, two finger amulets, the symbol of the goddess Bat, wedjat eyes and ankh and djed signs
Its purpose was probably to place the wearer within a protective circle.
From the late eighteenth to the early sixteenth centuries BC, Egypt underwent another period of political disunity.
The north of the country came under foreign rule. A few foreign motifs find their way onto the bases of scarabs and seals of this date, but jumbled hieroglyphs are more characteristic.
These seals were probably worn on cords around the neck when not in use. Animals, particularly lions, leopards and cats, are very prominent in the amuletic jewellery of this period.
By 1500 BC, Egypt was united again and had acquired an empire in the Near East. During the prosperous two hundred years that followed, most jewellery seems less amuletic than before. Taweret was as popular as ever, and Bes amulets might show him dancing and playing musical instruments. Amuletic rings in cheap materials were produced on a large scale.
A gold ring of the fourteenth century BC has a bezel in the form of a frog
This probably represents Heqet, a goddess of birth.
The scorpion incised on the base may be to protect a child against real scorpions, or may represent the scorpion goddess Serqet who helps the Divine Mother and her child in magical texts.
From the twelfth century BC onwards, Egypt faced difficulties abroad and ordinary people were probably less prosperous.
Evidence for every-day magic increases at this period Amulets of gods in human or semi-human form become more common. Protective headrests and cippus amulets suggest that people felt insecure even in their own homes.
A spell of this period for dispelling night-terrors is to be recited over a drawing of various deities made on linen.
This linen amulet was to be applied to the sleeper's throat until it calmed him.
Some of the finest illustrated copies of The Book of the Dead date between the thirteenth and eleventh centuries BC
The passages in The Book of the Dead which deal with the use of amulets are rather different in character from most of the text.
They are similar to spells from everyday magic which concern the application of amulets against diseases or as night protection.
The amulets mentioned in The Book ofthe Dead consist of objects in particular materials, or of drawings or writings on linen or papyrus. Spell  is for a tyet amulet
This type of amulet is associated with Isis. Its shape and colour are both relevant to its meaning.
The shape has been interpreted as a girdle tie or as a sanitary towel. It is normally made in a red stone such as carnelian or jasper. 


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