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Tag: Wax Figures

The Names of Apep

“But among the beings whom the deceased wished to avoid in the underworld were the beings who “lay snares, and who work the nets, and who are fishers,” and who would draw him into their nets.

It seems as if it were absolutely necessary that he should fall in with these beings and their nets, for a whole chapter of the Book of the Dead was written with the view of enabling him to escape from them unharmed; the god their leader is called “the god whose face is behind him,” and “the god who hath gained the mastery over his heart.”

To escape from the net which was worked by “the fishers who lay snares with their nets and who go round about in the chambers of the waters,” the deceased had to know the names of the net, and of the ropes, and of the pole, and of the hooks, and of each and every part of it; without this knowledge nothing could save him from calamity.

We unfortunately understand very few of the allusions to mythological events which are contained in the names of the various parts of the machinery which work the net, but it is quite certain that they have reference to certain events in the lives of the gods who are mentioned, and that these were well known to the writers and readers of religious texts.

From the above descriptions of the means whereby the deceased made his way through the gates and the halls of the underworld and escaped from the fowler and his net, it will be readily understood that the knowledge of the name alone was, in some cases, sufficient to help him out of his difficulties; but in others it was necessary to have the name which was possessed of magical power inscribed upon some object, amulet or otherwise.

Moreover, some gods and devils were thought to have the power to assume different forms, and as each form carried with it its own name, to have absolute power over a god of many forms it was necessary to know all his names.

Thus in the “Book of Overthrowing Âpep” (Papyrus of Nesi-Amsu, col. xxiii. 1. 6. (Archæologia, vol. LII)) we are told not only to make a wax figure of the monster, but also to write his name upon it, so that when the figure is destroyed by being burnt in the fire his name also may be destroyed; this is a striking example of the belief that the name was an integral part of the economy of a living creature.

But Âpep possessed many forms and therefore many names, and unless he could be invoked by these names he still had the power to do evil; the above-mentioned book (ibid., col. xxxii. 1. 13 f) therefore supplies us with a list of his names, among which occur the following:—

“Tutu (i.e., “Doubly evil one”), Hau-hra (i.e., “Backward Face”), Hemhemti (i.e., “Roarer”), Qetu (i.e., “Evil-doer”), Âmam (i.e., “Devourer”), Saatet-ta (i.e., “Darkener of earth”), Iubani, Khermuti, Unti, Karauememti, Khesef-hra, Sekhem-hra, Khak-ab, Nâi, Uai, Beteshu, Kharebutu “the fourfold fiend,” etc.

All these names represent, as may be seen from the few of which translations are given, various aspects of Âpep, the devil of thunder, lightning, cloud, rain, mist, storm, and the like, and the anxiety to personify these so that the personifications might be attacked by means of magical ceremonies and words of power seems positively childish.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. P. 170-2.

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.

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.

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