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The Seven Hathors

“The Seven Hathor goddesses also could predict the future of a human being, for in the well-known “Tale of Two Brothers” it is related that, when the god Khnemu, at the request of Râ-Harmachis, had created for Bata a wife “who was more beautiful in her person than any other woman in all the earth, for the essence of every god was contained in her,” they came to see her, and that they spake with one voice, saying, “Her death will be caused by the knife.”

And this came to pass, for, according to the story, when the king whose wife she became heard from her first husband that she had left him and had wrought evil against him, he entered into judgment with her in the presence of his chiefs and nobles, and “one carried out their decree,” i.e., they sentenced her to death and she was executed.

Similarly, in another story, the Seven Hathors came to see the son who had been born to a certain king in answer to his prayers to the gods, and when they had seen him they said, “He shall die by means of a crocodile, or a serpent, or a dog.”

The Seven Hathors The story goes on to say how he escaped from the crocodile and the serpent, and though the end is wanting, it is quite clear that he was wounded by an accidental bite of his dog and so died. (See Maspero, Contes Égyptiens, pp. 29-46).

The moral of all such stories is that there is no possibility of avoiding fate, and it is most probable that the modern Egyptian has only inherited his ancestors’ views as to its immutability. (The uneducated Muhammadan believes that man’s fate is written upon his skull, and that the sutures are the writing. No man, however, can read them. See the words of Zayn al-Mawasif in Burton’s Alf Laylah wa Laylah, vol. viii., p. 237).

A man’s life might, however, be happy or unhappy according as the hour of the day or the day itself was lucky or unlucky, and every day of the Egyptian year was divided into three parts, each of which was lucky or unlucky.

When Olympias was about to give birth to Alexander the Great, Nectanebus stood by her making observations of the heavenly bodies, and from time to time he besought her to restrain herself until the auspicious hour had arrived; and it was not until he saw a certain splendour in the sky and knew that all the heavenly bodies were in a favourable position that he permitted her to bring forth her child.

And when he had said, “O queen, now thou wilt give birth to a governor of the world,” the child fell upon the ground while the earth quaked, and the lightnings flashed, and the thunder roared. (See Pseudo-Callisthenes, I. 12). Thus it is quite evident that the future of a child depended even upon the hour in which he was born.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 223-4.

The Seven Hathors

“It is probable that Chapters CLXIL-CLXV were composed at a comparatively late date.

Yet another example of the magical pictures of the Book of the Dead must here be given. The vignette of Chapter CXLVIII. contains pictures of seven cows “and their bull,” and of four rudders; the seven cows have reference to the seven Hathor goddesses, the bull is, of course, a form of Râ, and the four rudders refer to the four quarters of the earth and to the four cardinal points.

The text of the Chapter contains the names of the cows and of the bull, and of the rudders, and certain prayers for sepulchral offerings. Now the deceased would be provided with “abundance of food regularly and continually for ever,” if the following things were done for him.

Figures of the cows and of their bull and of the rudders were to be painted in colours upon a board (?), and when Râ, the Sun-god, rose upon them the friends of the deceased were to place offerings before them; these offerings would be received mystically by the gods and goddesses whom the figures represented, and in return they would bestow upon the deceased all the offerings or gifts of meat and drink which he would require.

Moreover, “if this be done,” we are told, “Râ shall be a rudder for the deceased, and he shall be a strength protecting him, and he shall make an end of all his enemies for him in the underworld, and in heaven, and upon earth, and in every place wherever he may enter.”

We have seen above, in the description of the amulets which the Egyptians used, how both the substance of the amulet and the words which were inscribed upon it possessed magical powers, but we may learn from several instances given in the papyri that the written words alone were sufficient in some cases to produce remarkable effects.

This is, of course, a very natural development, and charms or words of power which needed nothing but to be written on papyrus or linen to produce a magical effect would be popular with all classes of men and women, and especially among the poor and the ignorant.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 123-4.

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