How to use ancient Egypt magic Amulets part 6/7

May 11, 2011

How to use ancient Egypt magic Amulets part 6/7
Necklace from a burial at Hu, c. 2000—1800 BC. Among the amethyst and carnelian beads are several amulets, including two small hippopotamus heads in
felspar and a carnelian snake's head pendant.
The amulet may be linked to menstrual blood and its place in the creation of human life. Spell mentions the power of the blood of Isis, but promises general protection for the deceased. The spell is to be said over a red jasper tyet amulet anointed with the sap of a particular herb, strung on a pith cord, and placed at the throat of the deceased. The magic of Isis will then protect his limbs and the ways through the underworld will be open to him. The text ends with a warning that the spell should be kept secret and a promise that it really works. Such endorsements are common in the magico-medical papyri.

Spell, for protecting the deceased in the bark of the sun god, claims to be a very secret text originally written by Thoth for Osiris.
This text, which may have been adapted from a temple ritual, was to be copied in ink made from myrrh and burned tamarisk onto a strip of the finest linen. This was to be placed as an amulet at the throat of the deceased. Written amulets have occasionally been discovered on mummies dating from the first millennium BC. A scrap of papyrus inscribed with a spell from The Book of the Dead was found at the throat of a High Priest of Amun buried at Thebes.

The use of divine decrees as amulets is peculiar to the late second/early first millennia BC. These decrees were issued in the name of deities who gave oracles
When a child was born, a god or goddess might be asked to declare its fate in life.
The result was recorded in writing. The papyrus was rolled up and placed in an amulet case or bag to be worn by the recipient. The children named in the decrees are more often female than male, which fits the general pattern of woman needing amulets more than men.
The surviving divine decrees are all similar in wording and uniformly favourable.
The child is promised long life, good health and ample possessions. Such things might be requested of a god in any religious text, but the amuletic decrees also portray the dark and dangerous aspects of the Egyptian pantheon. They promise to protect the child against harmful manifestations of deities such as Isis and Thoth, as well as against demons, foreign sorcerers and the Evil Eye.
Particularly dreaded were Sekhmet and her son Nefertem. The amuletic decrees claimed to be able help their owners to cheat fate. Any divine messengers coming to kill or injure the owner of the amulet would be persuaded or tricked into attacking a substitute.
Among the favours promised by the divine oracles is the provision of sa amulets. One decree for a boy from the Memphis area promises an amulet to protect his body on any kind of journey. Another decree, probably from Thebes, promises a girl sa amulets for her physical protection. Amulets could probably be bought from temple workshops and blessed by the gods to charge them with divine heka.

An Instruction Text of the late first millennium BC (Papyrus Insinger) avers that amulets and spells only work through the hidden power of god acting in the world.

Figures of deities, divine symbols and objects used in temple rituals dominate the amulets of the later first millennium BC
The bizarre composite deities illustrated in magical papyri also occur in the form of faience amulets. Some amulets, particularly those with feline elements, seem to have been given as New Year gifts.
Charming faience cats and kittens evoke Bastet as the bestower of fertility
The popularity of other feline amulets, such as figures of the lioness- headed goddess Sekhmet , was probably linked to an increasing fear of the 'Demon Days' and 'The Books of the End of the Year'

It is not always easy to deduce the specific use of an amulet in magic.
Lions have no connection in myth or reality with killing snakes, yet a first millennium BC spell to close the mouths of snakes is to be said over a faience lion threaded on red linen. This amulet was to be applied to a man's hand and served as a protection for his bedroom.
The strength and ferocity of the lion made it a general symbol of protective power which might be used in a variety of specific ways.
Amulets played an increasing role in funerary religion during the first millennium BC;. Decorated tombs were rare for much of this period, but elite burials had elaborate coffins and large numbers of specially-made amulets. These amulet sets carried out many of the functions of grave goods. 

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