You have come afterwards because I am Heka" Spell After creation, Heka sustained the world as the power which gave the gods their abilities. Even the gods feared him and, in the words of Egyptologist Richard H. Wilkinson, "he was viewed as a god of inestimable power" This power was evident in one's daily life: the world operated as it did because of the gods and the gods were able to perform their duties because of Heka.
The priests of the temple cults understood this but their function was to honor and care for their particular deity and ensure a reciprocity between that god and the people. The priests or priestesses, therefore, would not invoke Heka directly because he was already present in the power of the deity they served. Magic in religious practice took the form of establishing what was already known about the gods and how the world worked. In the words of Egyptologist Jan Assman, the rituals of the temple "predominantly aimed at maintenance and stability" 4.
Egyptologist Margaret Bunson clarifies:. The main function of priests appears to have remained constant; they kept the temple and sanctuary areas pure, conducted the cultic rituals and observances, and performed the great festival ceremonies for the public. In their role as defenders of the faith, they were also expected to be able to display the power of their god against those of any other nation. A famous example of this is given in the biblical book of Exodus when Moses and Aaron confront the Egyptian "wise men and sorcerors".
The priest was the intermediary between the gods and the people but, in daily life, individuals could commune with the gods through their own private practices. Whatever other duties the priest engaged in, as Assman points out, his primary importance was in imparting to people theological meaning through mythological narratives. They might offer counsel or advice or material goods but, in cases of sickness or injury or mental illness, another professional was consulted: the physician.
Heka was the god of medicine as well as magic and for good reason: the two were considered equally important by medical professionals. Doctors operated out of an institution known as the Per- Ankh "The House of Life" , a part of a temple where medical texts were written, copied, studied, and discussed. The medical texts of ancient Egypt contain spells as well as what one today would consider 'practical measures' in treating disease and injury.
Disease was considered supernatural in origin throughout Egypt's history even though the architect Imhotep c. The priest-physician-magician would carefully examine and question a patient to determine the nature of the problem and would then invoke whatever god seemed most appropriate to deal with it. Disease was a disruption of the natural order and so, unlike the role of the temple priest who maintained the people's belief in the gods through standard rituals, the physician was dealing with powerful and unpredictable forces which had to be summoned and controlled expertly.
Doctors, even in rural villages, were expensive and so people often sought medical assistance from someone who might have once worked with a doctor or had acquired some medical knowledge in some other way. These individuals seem to have regularly set broken bones or prescribed herbal remedies but would not have been thought authorized to invoke a spell for healing.
That would have been the official view on the subject, however; it seems a number of people who were not considered doctors still practiced medicine of a sort through magical means.
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Among these were the seers, wise women who could see the future and were also instrumental in healing. Egyptologist Rosalie David notes how, "it has been suggested that such seers may have been a regular aspect of practical religion in the New Kingdom and possibly even in earlier times" Seers could help women conceive, interpret dreams, and prescribed herbal remedies for diseases.
Although the majority of Egyptians were illiterate, it seems some people - like the seers - could memorize spells read to them for later use. Egyptians of every social class from the king to the peasant believed in and relied upon magic in their daily lives. Evidence for this practice comes from the number of amulets and charms found through excavations, inscriptions on obelisks, monuments, palaces, and temples, tomb engravings, personal and official correspondence, inscriptions, and grave goods.
Rosalie David explains that "magic had been given by the gods to mankind as a means of self-defense and this could be exercised by the king or by magicians who effectively took on the role of the gods" When a king, magician, or doctor was unavailable, however, everyday people performed their own rituals. Charms and spells were used to increase fertility, for luck in business, for improved health, and also to curse an enemy. One's name was considered one's identity but Egyptians believed that everyone also had a secret name the ren which only the individual and the gods knew.
To discover one's secret name was to gain power over them.
Even if one could not discover another person's ren they could still exercise control by slandering the person's name or even erasing that person's name from history. Just as magic was involved in one's birth and life, so was it present at one's departure to the next world. Mummification was practiced in order to preserve the body so that it could be recognized by the soul in the afterlife.
The last act of the priests at a funeral was the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony during which they would touch the mummified corpse with different objects at various places on the body in order to restore the use of ears, eyes, mouth, and nose. Through this magical ritual the departed would be able to see and hear, smell and taste, and speak in the afterlife.
Amulets were wrapped with the mummy for protection and grave goods were included in the tomb to help the departed soul in the next world. Many grave goods were practical items or favorite objects they had enjoyed in life but many others were magical charms or objects which could be called upon for assistance. The best known of these type were the shabti dolls.
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These were figures made of faience or wood or any other kind of material which sometimes looked like the deceased. Since the afterlife was considered a continuation of one's earthly life, the shabti could be called upon to work for one in The Field of Reeds. Spell of the Coffin Texts repeated later as Spell 6 of The Egyptian Book of the Dead is given to bring the Shabti to life when one needs to so one can continue to enjoy the afterlife without worrying about work. The Egyptian Book of the Dead exemplifies the belief in magic at work in the afterlife. The text contains spells to help the soul navigate the afterlife to reach the paradise of The Field of Reeds, an eternal paradise which perfectly reflected one's life on earth but without disappointment, disease or the fear of death and loss.
But, but, but — WHY does magic have to make sense? | Epiphany
Throughout The Egyptian Book of the Dead the soul is instructed which spells to use to pass across certain rooms, enter doors, transform one's self into different animals to escape dangers, and how to answer the questions of the gods and those of their realm. All of these spells would have seemed as natural to an ancient Egyptian as detailed directions on a map would be to anyone today - and just as reasonable. It may seem strange to a modern mind to equate magical solutions with reason but this is simply because, today, one has grown used to a completely different paradigm than the one which prevailed in ancient Egypt.
In the present, one believes that the model of the world and the universe collectively recognized as 'true' is the best model possible precisely because it is true. According to this understanding, beliefs which differ from one's truth must be wrong but this is not necessarily so.
The scholar C. Lewis is best known for his fantasy works about the land of Narnia but he wrote many other books and articles on literature , society, religion, and culture. In his book The Discarded Image , Lewis argues that societies do not dismiss the old paradigms because the new ones are found to be more true but because the old belief system no longer suits a society's needs. The prevailing beliefs of the modern world which people consider more advanced than those of the past are not necessarily more true but only more acceptable.
People in the present day accept these concepts as true because they fit their model of how the world works. This was precisely the same way in which the ancient Egyptians saw their world. The model of the world as they understood it contained magic as an essential element and this was completely reasonable to them. All of life had come from the gods and these gods were not distant beings but friends and neighbors who inhabited the temple in the city , the trees by the stream, the river which gave life, the fields one plowed.
Every civilization in any given era believes that it knows and operates on the basis of truth; if they did not, they would change. When the model of the world changed for ancient Egypt c. This does not mean that new understanding was correct or more 'true' than what they had believed in for millenia; merely that it was now more acceptable.
Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication. We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Become a Member. Liber is a book of qaballistic correspondences so the list of magick weapons included there are each ascribed to a Yetzirac attribution and from these correspondences most of the magick weapons can be shown to be an elemental symbol.
The weapons that are attributed to the Sephiroth are generally more conceptual and correspond to the planetary natures of the numbers so the Outer Robe, the dark, hooded robe of the Neophyte is attributed to Saturn because it symbolizes the temporal illusion of the physical body. Hidden within this is the Inner Robe which represents the eternal spiritual principal that resides within the illusory body and so it corresponds to the stars in Chokmah.
Beyond this, in the heights of Kether where the magick energy is still pure and undivided the weapon is the whirling force of the Rashith ha-Gilgalim itself symbolized in the Fylfot Cross of nineteen squares, the Swastika.
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Because Kether means a Crown, symbolizing the magician's dominion over all of his consciousness, this weapon is also attributed to the first Sephirah. The weapons of Chesed all reflect the authority of the state or the church that govern the temporal life and so the Sceptre and the Crook are attributed here.
The force the supports the authority of Chesed corresponds to Geburah and so all of the weapons that are attributed to this Sephirah are martial. The Sword, the Scourge, the Chains and the Spear all belong here. The central position of Tiphareth makes its weapons the central conceptual symbol of ceremonial magick, the Lamen or the Rosy Cross. This weapon symbolizes the harmony required between all of the weapons in order to perform a magickal act.
Thus the Lamen is a symbol of the Path and of the method of its' traversal at the same time. Below Tiphareth the elemental influence. Netzach which corresponds to both Venus and Fire has both the Girdle and the Lamp attributed to it. Hod, which corresponds to Mercury has the Names and Magick Words that are used in the ceremony.
Hod is also Watery and so the Apron, as is used in Freemasonry is intended to absorb the injuries of the Great Work, corresponds elementally to this Sephirah. The Perfumes or Incenses that are to be employed in the ceremony are attributed to Yesod because of the correspondence with Air while the Lunar attribution connects this Sephirah with the Altar and the sacrifice that is made upon it.
2. Magic Isn't Always the Answer
Perhaps the best well known and yet the most conceptual weapon of ceremonial magick is not even thought of as a weapon at all, the Magick Circle and its compliment the Magick Triangle. These constructions of magick art correspond to the Sphere of the Elements in Malkuth and create the environment wherein all of the other weapons and their symbolism find their complete expression. The Magick Circle is the microcosm symbolically spread out and arranged in a working space that allows the magician to access the different components of his consciousness and to change them in accordance with his will.