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Egyptian Picture Magic

“Here, then, we have an excellent example of the far-reaching effects of a picture accompanied by the proper words of power, and every picture in the Book of the Dead was equally efficacious in producing a certain result, that result being always connected with the welfare of the dead.

According to several passages and chapters the deceased was terrified lest he should lack both air and water, as well as food, in the underworld, and, to do away with all risk of such a calamity happening, pictures, in which he is represented holding a sail (the symbol of air and wind and breath) in his hands, and standing up to his ankles in water, (see the vignettes to Chapters LIV.-LX. of the Book of the Dead) were painted on his papyrus, and texts similar to the following were written below them.

“My mouth and my nostrils are opened in Tattu (Busiris), and I have my place of peace in Annu (Heliopolis) which is my house; it was built for me by the goddess Sesheta, and the god Khnemu set it upon its walls for me. . . .”

“Hail, thou god Tem, grant thou unto me the sweet breath which dwelleth in thy nostrils! I embrace the great throne which is in Khemennu (Hermopolis), and I keep watch over the Egg of the Great Cackler; I germinate as it germinateth; I live as it liveth; and my breath is its breath.” (See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 106).

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 109-10.

Fear of Oblivion

“On the insides of the wooden coffins of the XIIth dynasty, about B.C. 2500, are painted whole series of objects which, in still earlier times, were actually placed in the tombs with the mummy; but little by little men ceased to provide the numerous articles connected with the sepulture of the dead which the old ritual prescribed, and they trusted to the texts and formulæ which they painted on the coffin to turn pictures into substances, and besides the pillow they placed little else in the tomb.

About a thousand years later, when the religious texts which formed the Book of the Dead were written upon papyri instead of coffins, a large number of illustrations or vignettes were added to them; to many of these special importance was attached, and the following are worthy of note.

It will be remembered that the CXXVth Chapter of the Book of the Dead contains the so-called “Negative Confession” which is recited in the Hall of Maâti, and a number of names of gods and beings, the knowledge of which is most important for the welfare of the deceased.

At the end of the Chapter we find the following statement:—

“This chapter shall be said by the deceased after he hath been cleansed and purified, and when he is arrayed in apparel, and is shod with white leather sandals, and his eyes have been painted with antimony, and his body hath been anointed with ânti unguent, and when he hath made offerings of oxen, and birds, and incense, and cakes, and ale, and garden herbs.

And behold, thou shalt paint a picture of what shall happen in the Hall of Maâti upon a new tile moulded from earth, upon which neither a pig nor any other animal hath trodden. And if thou writest upon it this chapter the deceased shall flourish; and his children shall flourish; and his name shall never fall into oblivion; and bread, and cakes, and sweetmeats, and wine, and meat shall be given unto him at the altar of the great god; and he shall not be turned back at any door in the underworld; and he shall be brought in along with the Kings of the North and South; and he shall be in the following of Osiris always and for ever.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 108-9.

Budgeting for the Afterlife

“And in the CLXXXIXth Chapter he prays that he may not be obliged to drink filthy water or be defiled in any way by it. The rich man, even, was not certain that the appointed offerings of meat and drink could or would be made in his tomb in perpetuity: what then was the poor man to do to save his ka from the ignominy of eating filth and drinking dirty water?

To get out of this difficulty the model of an altar in stone was made, and models of cakes, vases of water, fruit, meat, etc., were placed upon it; in cases where this was not possible figures of the offerings were sculptured upon the stone itself; in others, where even the expense of an altar could not be borne by the relatives of the dead, an altar with offerings painted upon it was placed in the tomb, and as long as it existed through the prayers recited, the ka did not lack food.

Sometimes neither altar, nor model nor picture of an altar was placed in the tomb, and the prayer that sepulchral meals might be given to the deceased by the gods, which was inscribed upon some article of funeral furniture, was the only provision made for the wants of the ka; but every time any one who passed by the tomb recited that prayer, and coupled with it the name of the man who was buried in it, his ka was provided with a fresh supply of meat and drink offerings, for the models or pictures of them in the inscription straightway became veritable substances.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 106-7.

MAGICAL PICTURES AND FORMULÆ, SPELLS, ETC.

“FROM what has been said above it is clear that the Egyptian believed it possible to vivify by means of formulæ and words of power any figure made in the form of a man or animal, and to make it work either on behalf of or against his fellow man.

Besides this, he believed greatly in the efficacy of representations or pictures of the gods, and of divine beings and things, provided that words of power properly recited by properly appointed people were recited over them. If this fact be borne in mind a great many difficulties in understanding religious texts disappear, and many apparently childish facts are seen to have an important meaning.

If we look into the tombs of the early period we see painted on the walls numbers of scenes in which the deceased is represented making offerings to the gods and performing religious ceremonies, as well as numbers of others in which he is directing the work of his estate and ruling his household.

It was not altogether the result of pride that such pictures were painted on the walls of tombs, for at the bottom of his heart the Egyptian hoped and believed that they were in reality representations of what he would do in the next world, and he trusted that the words of his prayers would turn pictures into realities, and drawings into substances.

The wealthy Egyptian left behind him the means for making the offerings which his ka, or double, needed, and was able to provide for the maintenance of his tomb and of the ka chapel and of the priest or priests who ministered to it.

It was an article of faith among all classes that unless the ka was properly fed it would be driven to wander about and pick up filth and anything else of that nature which it found in its path, as we may see from the LIInd Chapter of the Book of the Dead, in which the deceased says, “That which is an abomination unto me, that which is an abomination unto me let me not eat. That which is an abomination unto me, that which is an abomination unto me is filth; let me not eat of it instead of the cakes [which are offered unto] the Doubles (kau). Let it not light upon my body; let me not be obliged to take it into my hands; and let me not be obliged to walk thereon in my sandals.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 104-6.

More on Wax Figurines in Magic

The art of making such figures King James I. attributes to the “Divell,” and says in describing the things which witches are able to “effectuate by the power of their master (the following words are put into the mouth of Epistemon in Dæmonologie, in Forme of one Dialogue, London, 1603, Second Booke, Chap. V. pp. 44, 45)”:—

“To some others at these times hee teacheth, how to make pictures of waxe or clay: That by the roasting thereof, the persons that they beare the name of, may be continually melted or dried away by continuall sicknesse. . . .

They can bewitch and take the life of men or women, by roasting of the pictures, as I spake of before, which likewise is verie possible to their Maister to performe, for although (as I said before) that instrument of waxe have no vertue in that turne doing, yet may hee not very well, even by the same measure that his conjured slaves, melts that waxe at the fire, may hee not, I say at these same times, subtily, as a sprite, so weaken and scatter the spirites of life of the patient, as may make him on the one part, for faintnesse, so sweate it out the humour of his bodie: And on the other parte, for the not concurrence of these spirites, which causes his digestion, so debilitate his stomacke, that this humour radicall continually sweating out on the one part, and no new good sucke being put in the place thereof, for lacke of digestion on the other, he at last shall vanish away, even as his picture will die at the fire?

And that knavish and cunning workeman, by troubling him, onely at sometimes, makes a proportion, so neere betwixt the working of the one and the other, that both shall end as it were at one time.”

Thus we have seen that the belief in the efficacy of wax figures is at least six thousand years old, and judging from passages in the works of modern writers its existence is not unknown in our own country at the present time.

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 100-2.

On the Black Arts

“From Egypt, by way of Greece and Rome, the use of wax figures passed into Western Europe and England, and in the Middle Ages it found great favour with those who interested themselves in the working of the “black art,” or who wished to do their neighbour or enemy an injury.

Many stories are current of how in Italy and England ignorant or wicked minded people made models of their enemies in wax and hung them up in the chimney, not too close to the fire, so that they might melt away slowly, and of how the people that were represented by such figures gradually lost the power over their limbs, and could not sleep, and slowly sickened and died.

If pins and needles were stuck into the wax figures at stated times the sufferings of the living were made more agonizing, and their death much more painful.

Sharpe relates (see C. K. Sharpe, Witchcraft in Scotland, London, 1884, p. 21) that about the end of the VIIth century king Duffus was so unpopular that “a company of hags roasted his image made of wax upon a wooden spit, reciting certain words of enchantment, and basting the figure with a poisonous liquor.

These women when apprehended declared that as the wax melted, the body of the king should decay, and the words of enchantment prevented him from the refreshment of sleep.”

The two following extracts from Thomas Middleton’s The Witch (London, 1778) illustrate the views held about wax figures in England in the time of this writer. (Born about 1570, died about 1626).

I.
Heccat. Is the heart of wax
Stuck full of magique needles?”
Stadlin. ‘Tis done Heccat.

Heccat. And is the Farmer’s picture, and his wives, Lay’d downe to th’ fire yet?
Stadlin. They are a roasting both too.
Heccat. Good:
Then their marrowes are a melting subtelly
And three monethes sicknes sucks up life in ’em.”
(Act i., scene 2.)

II.
Heccat. What death is’t you desire for Almachildes?
Duchesse. A sodaine and a subtle.
Heccat. Then I have fitted you.
Here lye the guifts of both; sodaine and subtle:
His picture made in wax, and gently molten
By a blew fire kindled with dead mens’ eyes
Will waste him by degrees.”
(Act v., scene 2)

Mr. Elworthy in his very interesting book The Evil Eye (London, 1895, pp. 53, 56) relates some striking examples of the burning of hearts stuck full of pins for magical purposes in recent years.

Thus an old woman at Mendip had a pig that fell ill, and she at once made up her mind that the animal had been “overlooked”; in her trouble she consulted a “white witch,” i.e. a “wise” man, and by his orders she acted thus.

She obtained a sheep’s heart, and having stuck it full of pins (in the Worth Riding of Yorkshire evil influences were averted by means of a living black cock which “was pierced with pins and roasted alive at dead of night, with every door, window, and cranny and crevice stuffed up” (see Blakeborough, Wit, Character, Folk-lore and Customs of the North Riding of Yorkshire, London, 1898, p. 205)) set it to roast before a fire, whilst her friends and neighbours sang:–

“It is not this heart I mean to burn.
But the person’s heart I wish to turn,
Wishing them neither rest nor peace
Till they are dead and gone.”

At intervals her son George sprinkled salt on the fire which added greatly to the weirdness of the scene, and at length, when the roasting had been continued until far into the night, a black cat jumped out from somewhere and was, of course, instantly declared to be the demon which had been exorcised.

Again, in October, 1882, a heart stuck full of pins was found in a recess of a chimney in an old house in the village of Ashbrittle; and in 1890 another was found nailed up inside the “clavel” in the chimney of an old house at Staplegrove.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 97-100.

On Nectanebus, the Last Native King of Egypt, BC 318

“But of all the Egyptians who were skilled in working magic, Nectanebus, the last native king of Egypt, about B.C. 318, was the chief, if we may believe Greek tradition.

According to Pseudo-Callisthenes, and the versions of his works which were translated into Pehlevi, Arabic, Syriac, and a score of other languages and dialects, this king was famous as a magician and a sage, and he was deeply learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.

He knew what was in the depths of the Nile and of heaven, he was skilled in reading the stars, in interpreting omens, in casting nativities, in telling fortunes, and in predicting the future of the unborn child, and in working magic of every kind, as we shall see; he was said to be the lord of the earth, and to rule all kings by means of his magical powers.

Whenever he was threatened with invasion by sea or by land he succeeded in destroying the power of his enemies, and in driving them from his coasts or frontiers; and this he did by the following means.

If the enemy came against him by sea, instead of sending out his sailors to fight them, he retired into a certain chamber, and having brought forth a bowl which he kept for the purpose, he filled it with water, and then, having made wax figures of the ships and men of the enemy, and also of his own men and ships, he set them upon the water in the bowl, his men on one side, and those of the enemy on the other.

He then came out, and having put on the cloak of an Egyptian prophet and taken an ebony rod in his hand, he returned into the chamber, and uttering words of power he invoked the gods who help men to work magic, and the winds, and the subterranean demons, which straightway came to his aid.

By their means the figures of the men in wax sprang into life and began to fight, and the ships of wax began to move about likewise; but the figures which represented his own men vanquished those which represented the enemy, and as the figures of the ships and men of the hostile fleet sank through the water to the bottom of the bowl, even so did the real ships and men sink through the waters to the bottom of the sea.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 91-2.

Egyptian Magic 101: Step-by-Step Instructions

“In another part of the work, after a series of curses which are ordered to be said over Âpep, the rubric directs that they shall be recited by a person who hath washed himself and is ceremonially clean, and when this has been done he is to write in green colour upon a piece of new papyrus the names of all the fiends who are in the train of Âpep, as well as those of their fathers, and mothers, and children.

He must then make figures of all these fiends in wax, and having inscribed their names upon them, must tie them up with black hair, and then cast them on the ground and kick them with the left foot, and pierce them with a stone spear; this done they are to be thrown into the fire.

More than once is it said, “It is good for a man to recite this book before the august god regularly,” for the doing of it was believed to give great power “to him, both upon earth and in the underworld.”

Finally, after the names of Âpep are enumerated, he who would benefit by the knowledge of them is bidden to “make the figure of a serpent with his tail in his mouth, and having stuck a knife in his back, cast him down upon the ground and say, “‘Âpep, Fiend, Betet.’”

Then, in order to destroy the fiends who are in the train of Âpep, other images or figures of them must be made with their hands tied behind them; these are to be called “Children of inactivity.”

The papyrus then continues, “Make another serpent with the face of a cat, and with a knife stuck in his back, and call it ‘Hemhem‘ (Roarer).

Make another with the face of a crocodile, and with a knife stuck in his back, and call it ‘Hauna-aru-her-hra.’

Make another with the face of a duck, and with a knife stuck in his back, and call it ‘Aluti.’

Make another with the face of a white cat, and with a knife stuck in his back, and tie it up and bind it tightly, and call it ‘Âpep the Enemy.’”

Such are the means which the Egyptians adopted when they wanted to keep away rain and storm, thunder and lightning, and mist and cloud, and to ensure a bright clear sky wherein the sun might run his course.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 82-4.

Magical Weather Control

“If thou wouldst destroy Âpep, thou shalt say this chapter over a figure of Âpep which hath been drawn in green colour upon a sheet of new papyrus, and over a wax figure (Theocritus has preserved for us a proof that the Greeks made use of wax figures at an early date. Thus in Pharmakeutria (1. 27 ff.) the lady spinning her wheel and addressing the Lynx says, “Even as I melt this wax, with the god to aid, so speedily may he by love be molten!” (Lang’s Translation, p. 12)) of Âpep upon which his name hath been cut and inlaid with green colour; and thou shalt lay them upon the fire so that it may consume the enemy of Râ.

And thou shalt put such a figure on the fire at dawn, and another at noon, and another at eventide when Râ setteth in the land of life, and another at midnight, and another at the eighth hour of the day, and another towards evening; [and if necessary] thou mayest do thus every hour during the day and the night, and on the days of the festivals and every day.

By means of this Âpep, the enemy of Râ, shall be overthrown in the shower, for Râ shall shine and Âpep shall indeed be overthrown.”

And the papyrus and the figure “having been burnt in a fire made of khesau grass, the remains thereof shall be mixed with excrement and thrown upon a fire; thou shalt do this at the sixth hour of the night, and at dawn on the fifteenth day [of the month].

And when the figure of Âpep is placed in the fire thou shalt spit upon him several times each hour during the day, until the shadow turneth round. Thou shalt do these things when tempests rage in the east of the sky as Râ setteth, in order to prevent the coming onward of the storms. Thou shalt do this and so prevent the coming of a shower or a rain-storm, and “thereby shall the sun be made to shine.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 80-2.

Vanquishing the Serpent Fiend Apep

“It will be remembered that the XXXIXth Chapter of the Book of the Dead is a composition which was written with the object of defeating a certain serpent, to which many names are given, and of delivering the deceased from his attacks.

In it we have a description of how the monster is vanquished, and the deceased says to him, “Râ maketh thee to turn back, O thou that art hateful to him; he looketh upon thee, get thee back.

He pierceth thy head, he cutteth through thy face, he divideth thy head at the two sides of the ways, and it is crushed in his land; thy bones are smashed in pieces, thy members are hacked from off thee, and the god Aker hath condemned thee, O Âpep, thou enemy of Râ.

Get thee back, Fiend, before the darts of his beams! Râ hath overthrown thy words, the gods have turned thy face backwards, the Lynx hath torn open thy breast, the Scorpion hath cast fetters upon thee, and Maât hath sent forth thy destruction.

The gods of the south, and of the north, of the west, and of the east, have fastened chains upon him, and they have fettered him with fetters; the god Rekes hath overthrown him, and the god Hertit hath put him in chains.” (See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 89).

The age of this composition is unknown, but it is found, with variants, in many of the copies of the Book of the Dead which were made in the XVIIIth dynasty. Later, however, the ideas in it were developed, the work itself was greatly enlarged, and at the time of the Ptolemies it had become a book called “The Book of Overthrowing Âpep,” which contained twelve chapters.

At the same time another work bearing the same title also existed; it was not divided into chapters, but it contained two versions of the history of the Creation, and a list of the evil names of Âpep, and a hymn to Râ. (I have given a hieroglyphic transcript of both works, with translations, in Archæologia, Vol. LII).

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 78-80.

Violent Love

“One of the earliest instances of the use of a magical figure is related in the Westcar Papyrus, (Ed. Erman, pp. 7 and 8) where we read that Prince Khâf-Râ told Khufu (Cheops) a story of an event which had happened in the time of Neb-ka or Neb-kau-Ed, a king of the IIIrd dynasty, who reigned about B.C. 3830.

It seems that this king once paid a visit to one of his high officials called Âba-aner, whose wife fell violently in love with one of the soldiers in the royal train.

This lady sent her tirewoman to him with the gift of a chest of clothes, and apparently she made known to him her mistress’s desire, for he returned with her to Âba-aner’s house. There he saw the wife and made an appointment to meet her in a little house which was situated on her husband’s estate, and she gave instructions to one of the stewards of Âba-aner to prepare it for the arrival of herself and her lover.

When all had been made ready she went to the house and stayed there the whole day drinking and making love with the man until sunset; and when the evening had come he rose up and went down to the river and the tirewoman bathed him in the water thereof.

But the steward, who had made ready the house, declared that he must make the matter known unto his master, and on the following morning as soon as it was light, he went to Âba-aner and related to him everything which had happened. The official made no answer to his servant’s report, but ordered him to bring him certain materials and his box made of ebony and precious metal.

Out of the box he took a quantity of wax, which was, no doubt, kept there for purposes similar to that to which a portion of it was now to be put, and made a model of a crocodile seven spans long, and then reciting certain magical words over it, he said, “When the man cometh down to bathe in my waters seize thou him.”

Then, turning to the steward, he gave the wax crocodile to him and said, “When the man, according to his daily wont, cometh down to wash in the water thou shalt cast the crocodile in after him”; and the steward having taken the wax crocodile from his master went his way.

And again the wife of Âba-aner ordered the steward who had charge of the estate to make ready the house which was in the garden, “for,” she said, “behold, I am coming to pass some time therein.”

So the house was made ready and provided with all good things, and she came with the man and passed some time with him there. Now when the evening was come the man went down to the water to wash according to his daily wont, and the steward went down after him and threw into the water the wax crocodile, which straightway turned into a living crocodile seven cubits (i.e., about twelve feet) in length, and seized upon the man and dragged him down in the water.

Meanwhile Âba-aner tarried with his king Neb-kau-Râ for seven days, and the man remained in the depths of the water and had no air to breathe. And on the seventh day Âba-aner the kher heb (i.e., the priestly official who performed the most important of the funeral ceremonies; he was always a man of great learning, and generally of high rank) went out with the king for a walk, and invited His Majesty to come and see for himself a wonderful thing which had happened to a man in his own days; so the king went with him.

When they had come to the water Âba-aner adjured the crocodile, saying, “Bring hither the man,” and the crocodile came out of the water bringing the man with him. And when the king remarked that the crocodile was a horrid looking monster, Âba-aner stooped down and took it up into his hand, when it straightway became a waxen crocodile as it was before.

After these things Âba-aner related to the king what had happened between his wife and the man whom the crocodile had brought up out of the water, whereupon the king said to the crocodile, “Take that which is thine and begone”; and immediately the crocodile seized the man and sprang into the water with him, and disappeared in its depths.

And by the royal command Âba-aner’s wife was seized, and having been led to the north side of the palace was burnt, and her ashes were cast into the stream. Here then we have already in the IIIrd dynasty the existence of a belief that a wax crocodile, over which certain words had been said, could change itself into a living reptile at pleasure, and that a man could be made by the same means to live at the bottom of a stream for seven days without air.

We may also notice that the great priestly official, the kher heb, was so much in the habit of performing such acts of magic that he kept in a room a box of materials and instruments always ready for the purpose; and, apparently, neither himself, nor his king, nor his servant, thought the working of magic inconsistent with his high religious office.

But at the time when Âba-aner was working magic by means of wax figures, probably to the harm and injury of his enemies, the priests were making provision for the happiness and well-being of the dead also by means of figures made of various substances.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 67-71.

On Magical Figures in Ancient Egyptian Magic

“IT has been said above that the name or the emblem or the picture of a god or demon could become an amulet with power to protect him that wore it, and that such power lasted as long as the substance of which it was made lasted, if the name, or emblem, or picture was not erased from it.

But the Egyptians went a step further than this, and they believed that it was possible to transmit to the figure of any man, or woman, or animal, or living creature, the soul of the being which it represented, and its qualities and attributes.

The statue of a god in a temple contained the spirit of the god which it represented, and from time immemorial the people of Egypt believed that every statue and every figure possessed an indwelling spirit.

When the Christianized Egyptians made their attacks on the “idols of the heathen” they proved that they possessed this belief, for they always endeavoured to throw down the statues of the gods of the Greeks and Romans, knowing that if they were once shattered the spirits which dwelt in them would have no place wherein to dwell, and would thereby be rendered homeless and powerless.

It will be remembered that it is stated in the Apocryphal Gospels that when the Virgin Mary and her Son arrived in Egypt there “was a movement and quaking throughout all the land, and all the idols fell down from their pedestals and were broken in pieces.”

Then all the priests and nobles went to a certain priest with whom “a devil used to speak from out of the idol,” and they asked him the meaning of these things; and when he had explained to them that the footstep of the son of the “secret and hidden god” had fallen upon the land of Egypt, they accepted his counsel and made a figure of this god.

The Egyptians acknowledged that the new god was greater than all their gods together, and they were quite prepared to set up a statue of him because they believed that in so doing they would compel at least a portion of the spirit of the “secret and hidden god” to come and dwell in it.

In the following pages we shall endeavour to describe the principal uses which the Egyptians made of the figures of gods, and men, and beasts, to which magical powers had been imparted by means of the performance of certain symbolic ceremonies and the recital of certain words of power; and how they could be employed to do both good and evil.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 65-7.

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