The sexual organs of in ancient Egypt

May 3, 2011

The sexual organs of in ancient Egypt
Footboard of the coffin of a Theban priest, c. 200 BC. Bound enemy figures are painted on the soles of the deceased's sandals to be eternally trampled underfoot
A display of the sexual organs is used in many cultures to express contempt or to expel evil spirits. The noise of cymbals, rattles or castanets was also thought to scare off hostile forces. These instruments were often played by dancers
Lively protective dances to banish dangerous spirits were a common feature of Egyptian culture. Such dances involved much clapping and stamping to drive away evil.
Stamping or trampling on an enemy was a standard gesture in magical rites. The earliest known statue of an Egyptian king shows enemies sprawled across its base under the king's feet. Figures of the traditional enemies of Egypt were represented on the king's footstool and on the sole of his sandals, so that he was constantly trampling on them. 'My enemy is under the soles of my feet' is the boast of a magician in a spell to protect against the dangers of New Year. The same idea is found in funerary magic. As late as the Roman Period, the deceased had traditional enemies painted on the footboard of his coffin to triumph over them in the afterlife
Spells from the Graeco-Egyptian papyri use this technique in everyday magic. 


The names of a person's enemies are to be engraved on a thin sheet of metal and worn between his foot and his sandal.
The royal objects might be regarded as an extension of symbolic language in which metaphors were acted out. This is sometimes known as 'performative magic'.
Scholars disagree about how far the participants in 'performative magic' expected it to have effects in the real world. An example of performative magic which illustrates many of the techniques mentioned in this chapter is the Bremner-Rhind Papyrus in the
British Museum
Painted wooden figure of Bes from Thebes, c. 1500 BC. He is shown dancing and holding a tambourine.
This papyrus, which dates to the late fourth century BC, includes the scripts and rubrics for several important rituals performed at Karnak and other temples. The most striking are those in The Book of Overthrowing Apep This primeval being was associated with frightening natural phenomena such as darkness, storms and earthquakes.
Apep could also act as a symbol for the rebellious and chaotic forces within mankind. In the official view, this meant anyone, foreign or Egyptian, who opposed king and state. The ritual deals with both the eternal enemies of order in the cosmic struggle and temporary combatants on earth. Egyptian kings and priests represent the divine order.
Foreign rulers and political traitors stand for disorder. The exact names could be filled in differently each time that the rite was performed.
The papyrus includes several rituals against Apep, all with similar components. Repetition was important in itself. Many things in the rite were to be said or done four times. The officiant is described as Pharaoh, but in practice would have been a priest, probably a Chief Lector Priest.
He invoked a great array of powerful deities. They were summoned in their most formidable aspects, or with special attributes, to join in the struggle against Apep. The officiant called on the heka of Thoth and of Isis, on the Eye of Ra and the Eye of Horus (the solar and lunar eyes), and on the spear of Seth.

Knowledge of the true names and forms of Apep was vital to the success of the rite. These were listed in order that every part of Apep's being could be destroyed. The rites were directed at Apep's body, his ba, his ka, his secret name, his shadow, his heka, his bones and his sperm.
The names and forms of Apep were written in fresh ink on virgin papyrus and then burned.
In another part of the rite, the names and forms were copied onto papyrus before being sealed in a box and buried. This method of control seems to be a forerunner of the Islamic tradition of sealing a djinn in a bottle. The original idea may have to bury Apep and his followers alive, a fate mentioned with horror in Egyptian texts. The modern superstition that you can harm or even kill someone by writing their name on a slip of paper and shutting it in a drawer is in the same tradition.
Wax figures were made of Apep and of the enemies of Egypt who were held to be his associates. The human's figurines had their hands tied behind their backs with red or black thread. The wax models were spat on, trampled, stabbed with an iron weapon and burned. A similar fate is shown for models of Seth and his followers in another magical papyrus in the British Museum
Any remains were pounded in pots of urine, which was both polluting and destructively acidic. After all this effort, the victory was a symbolic one, lasting no more than a few hours.
The enemies of order were renewed each day with the sun god and the battle began again.
A more permanent result was hoped for in rites performed for private individuals. A late second millennium BC spell to counter the poisonous efflux of a demon or ghost also uses a whole range of magical techniques.9 It evokes the protection of Mafdet, a ferocious feline goddess, and alludes to a myth in which Horus evaded the sexual advances of Seth. The names of the supernatural enemy and his parents are to be uttered, if known, in order to bring them under control. The rubric is obscure, but it seems that the spell is to be said over a phallus-shaped loaf inscribed with the names of the enemy. This loaf is to be wrapped in fatty meat and given to a cat. As the cat devours the loaf so, on the supernatural plane, the goddess Mafdet will destroy the enemy.
In this spell, the magician deals with a threat by his knowledge of secret names, by raising the conflict to a cosmic plane, by invoking the appropriate defenders, and by the destruction of a model of the enemy.
The technique of transference is also implied. Any poison that might be affecting the client would be transferred into the model and consumed by the cat.
Even more elaborate combinations of words, actions and ingredients are found in some spells in the Graeco-Egyptian papyri.
Part of the Bremner-Rhind Papyrus, 4th century BC. This scroll contains the script and instructions for various temple rituals, including The Book of Overthrowing Apep.
A spell in the London-Leiden Demotic Papyrus to make a woman love a man begins with an invocation to the formidable goddesses associated with the solar eye. The magician asks the Eye Goddess to send down the power that Ra has given her into the scented oil he wishes to use as an aphrodisiac.
The rubric describes how the magician is to put a particular sort of black Nile fish into the rose-scented oil. The fish is to be hung up for some days and then placed in a glass vessel with some kind of plant that was linked with Isis. The pounded flesh is mixed with the oil and an incantation is to be said seven times over the mixture at dawn for seven days running. The magician was to anoint his head with the oil when he wanted to sleep with the woman he desired.
The remains of the fish were to be embalmed with myrrh and natron and buried in the magician's house, or in any secret place. Burial of magical objects or ingredients was a common method of perpetuating the power of a spell in a particular place.
An alternative was to bury the magical objects or ingredients among tombs, or near a sacred place, so that the heka of the supernatural beings who dwelled there could continue to reinforce the spell.
This love spell was performed in secret, but others were carried out in the presence of the client. There was always an element of showmanship in Egyptian magic, but this element seems to have increased in the Roman Period. Much of it was to do with building up the right atmosphere.

In the case of the orgy — divination through dreams or manifestations of deities — the elaborate preparations seem designed to put the magician's assistant into a trance.
In one such spell in the London-Leiden Papyrus, the magician is to take a bronze bowl engraved with a figure of Anubis, fill it with water and cover the water with a film of oil. The child medium is to be made to lie on four bricks with a cloth over his head. The magician lights a lamp on one side of the child and a censer on the other.
He is then to burn exotic incense and chant an invocation to Anubis over and over again. It is hardly surprising that a child who was susceptible to influence would begin to see pictures in the oil.
This was a private rite, of a type disapproved of by the Roman government. In earlier times, when magic was more socially acceptable, large groups of people might come together to achieve a visionary frenzy through music, dance and song.
The elaborate nature of some spells, particularly those in the Graeco-Egyptian papyri, would have made them difficult, time-consuming and expensive to carry out.
These factors presumably added to the prestige of the magic, since people have a tendency to disbelieve that something cheap and easy can be effective. It may also have been convenient for the magician to be able to blame some minor technical error if his spell failed to produce the desired result. For example, it must have been difficult to be sure that you had obtained the fat of a black, male, first-born and first-reared lamb, as required for an invocation to Harpocrates (Horus the child).
The responsibility for failure could then be diverted from the magician's personal powers to factors beyond his control.

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