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Tag: Hostile Powers

Lucky and Unlucky Days

“In magical papyri we are often told not to perform certain magical ceremonies on such and such days, the idea being that on these days hostile powers will make them to be powerless, and that gods mightier than those to which the petitioner would appeal will be in the ascendant.

There have come down to us, fortunately, papyri containing copies of the Egyptian calendar, in which each third of every day for three hundred and sixty days of the year is marked lucky or unlucky, and we know from other papyri why certain days were lucky or unlucky, and why others were only partly so (see Brit. Mus. Papyrus, No. 10,474).

Taking the month Thoth, which was the first month of the Egyptian year, and began, according to the Gregorian Calendar, on August 29th, we find that the days are marked as follows:—

The Egyptian Month of Thoth.

The Egyptian Month of Thoth.

Now the sign Egyptian Sign for Lucky means “lucky,” and Egyptian Sign for Unlucky means “unlucky”; thus at a glance it could be seen which third of the day is lucky or unlucky, and the man who consulted the calendar would, of course, act accordingly.

It must be noted that the priests or magicians who drew up the calendar had good reasons for their classification of the days, as we may see from the following example. The 19th day of Thoth is, in the above list, marked wholly lucky, i.e., each third of it is lucky, and the papyrus Sallier IV (see Chabas, Le Calendrier, p. 24) also marks it wholly lucky, and adds the reason:—

“It is a day of festival in heaven and upon earth in the presence of Râ. It is the day when flame was hurled upon those who followed the boat containing the shrine of the gods; and on this day the gods gave praises being content,” etc.

But in both lists the 26th day is marked wholly unlucky, the reason being, “This was the day of the fight between Horus and Set.” They first fought in the form of men, then they took the form of bears, and in this state did battle with each other for three days and three nights.

Isis aided Set when he was getting the worst in the fight, and Horus thereupon cut off his mother’s head, which Thoth transformed by his words of power into that of a cow and put on her body. On this day offerings are to be made to Osiris and Thoth, but work of any kind is absolutely forbidden.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 224-6.

Getting to the Afterlife is No Cakewalk

“Without the knowledge of the names of the gods and devils of the underworld the dead Egyptian would have fared badly, for his personal liberty would have been fettered, the roads and paths would have been blocked to him, the gates of the mansions of the underworld would have been irrevocably shut in his face, and the hostile powers which dogged his footsteps would have made an end of him; these facts are best illustrated by the following examples:—

When the deceased comes to the Hall of Judgment, at the very beginning of his speech he says, “Homage to thee, O Great God, thou Lord of Maâti, I have come to thee, O my Lord, and I have brought myself hither that I may behold thy beauties.”

“I know thee, and I know thy name, and I know the names of the two and forty gods who exist with thee in this Hall of Maâti.” (See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 191).

But although the gods may be favourable to him, and he be found righteous in the judgment, he cannot make his way among the other gods of the underworld without a knowledge of the names of certain parts of the Hall of Maâti.

After the judgment he acquires the mystical name of “He who is equipped with the flowers and the dweller in his olive tree,” and it is only after he has uttered this name that the gods say “Pass onwards.”

Next the gods invite him to enter the Hall of Maâti, but he is not allowed to pass in until he has, in answer to questions asked by the bolts, lintels, threshold, fastenings, socket, door-leaves, and door-posts, told their names.

The floor of the Hall will not permit him to walk upon it unless he tells not only its name, but also the mystical names of his two legs and feet wherewith he is about to tread upon it.

When all this has been done the guardian of the Hall says to him, “I will not announce thy name [to the god] unless thou tellest me my name”; and the deceased replies, “‘Discerner of hearts and searcher of the reins’ is thy name.”

In reply to this the guardian says, “If I announce thy name thou must utter the name of the god who dwelleth in his hour,” and the deceased utters the name “Mâau-Taui.”

But still the guardian is not satisfied, and he says, “If I announce thy name thou must tell me who is he whose heaven is of fire, whose walls [are surmounted by] living uraei, and the floor of whose house is a stream of water.”

Who is he, I say? (i.e., what is his name?)” But the deceased has, of course, learnt the name of the Great God, and he replies, “Osiris.”

The guardian of the Hall is now content, and he says, “Advance, verily thy name shall be mentioned to him”; and he further promises that the cakes, and ale, and sepulchral meals which the deceased shall enjoy shall come from the “Eye of Râ.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. P. 163-5.

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