Magical Pictures and Formule, Spells, Etc.
From what has been said above it is clear that the Egyptian believed it possible to vivify by means of formul 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 be 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,
The goddess Hathor giving the scribe Ani meat and drink from out of a sycamore tree which grows by the side of a stream.
(From the Papyrus of Ani, plate 16.)
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 ail 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." 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. 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 formul 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 Mati, 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 nti 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 Mati 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." 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,1 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."1 But yet another "exceeding great mystery" had to be performed if the deceased was to be enabled to enter into heaven by its four doors at will, and to enjoy the air which came through each. The north wind belonged to Osiris, the south wind to R, the west wind to Isis, and the east wind to Nephthys; and for the deceased to obtain power over each and all of these it was necessary for him to be master of the doors through which they blew. This power could only be obtained by causing pictures of the four doors to be painted on the coffin with a figure of Thoth opening each. Some special importance was attached to these, for the rubric says, "Let none who is outside know this chapter, for it is a great mystery, and those who dwell in the swamps (i.e., the ignorant) know it not. Thou shalt not do this in the presence of any person except thy father, or thy son, or thyself alone; for it is indeed an exceedingly great mystery which no man whatever knoweth."2
One of the delights coveted by the deceased was to sail over heaven in the boat of R, in company with the gods of the funeral cycle of Osiris; this happiness could be secured for him by painting certain pictures, and by saying over them certain words of power. On a piece of clean papyrus a boat is to be drawn with ink made of green but mixed with nti water, and in it are to be figures of Isis, Thoth, Shu, and Khepera, and the deceased; when this has been done the papyrus must be fastened to the breast of the deceased, care being taken that it does not actually touch his body. Then shall his spirit enter into the boat of R each day, and the god Thoth shall take heed to him, and he shall sail about with R into any place that he wisheth.1 Elsewhere it is ordered that the boat of R be painted "in a pure place," and in the bows is to be painted a figure of the deceased; but R was supposed to travel in one boat (called "tet ") until noon, and another (called "Sektet") until sunset, and provision had to be made for the deceased in both boats. How was this to be done? On one side of the picture of the boat a figure of the morning boat of R was to be drawn, and on the other a figure of the afternoon boat; thus the one picture was capable of becoming two boats. And, provided the proper offerings were made for the deceased on the birthday of Osiris, his soul would live for ever, and be would not die a second time.2 According to the rubric to the chapter3 in which these directions are given, the text of it is as old, at least, as the time of Hesepti, the fifth king of the Ist dynasty, who reigned about B.C. 4350, and the custom of painting the boat upon papyrus is probably contemporaneous. The two following rubrics from Chapters CXXXIII. and CXXXIV., respectively, will explain still further the importance of such pictures:--
1. "This chapter shall be recited over a boat four cubits in length, and made of green porcelain [on which have been painted] the divine sovereign chiefs of the cities; and a figure of heaven with its stars shall be made also, and this thou shalt have made ceremonially pure by means of natron and incense. And behold, thou shalt make an image of R in yellow colour upon a new plaque and set it at the bows of the boat. And behold, thou shalt make an image of the spirit which thou dost wish to make perfect [and place it] in this boat, and thou shalt make it to travel about in the boat [which. shall be made in the form of the boat] of R; and he shall see the form of the god R himself therein. Let not the eye of any man whatsoever look upon it, with the exception of thine own self, or thy father, or thy son, and guard [this] with great care. Then shall the spirit be perfect in the heart of R, and it shall give unto him power with the company of the gods; and the gods shall look upon him as a divine being like unto themselves; and mankind and the dead shall fall down upon their faces, and he shall be seen in the underworld in the form of the radiance of R."
2. "This chapter shall be recited over a hawk standing and having the white crown upon his head, [and over figures of] the gods Tem, Shu, Tefnut, Seb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Suti, and Nephthys, painted in yellow colour upon a new plaque, which shall be placed in [a model of] the boat [of R], along with a figure of the spirit whom thou wouldst make perfect, These thou shalt anoint with cedar oil, and incense shall he offered up to them on the fire, and feathered fowl,
The soul of the scribe Ani visiting his mummified body as it lies on its bier in the tomb.
(From the Papyrus of Ani, plate 17.)
shall be roasted. It is an act of praise to R as he journeyeth, and it shall cause a man to have his being along with R day by day, whithersoever the god voyageth; and it shall destroy the enemies of R in very truth regularly and continually." Many of the pictures or vignettes carry their own interpretations with them, e.g., the picture of the soul hovering over the dead body which lies beneath it on the bier at once suggests the reunion of the soul with the body; the picture of the deceased walking away from a "block of slaughter" and a knife dripping with blood suggests escape from a cruel death; the picture of a soul and spirit standing before an open door suggests that the soul has freedom to wander about at will; and the picture of the soul and the shadow in the act of passing out through the door of the tomb indicates clearly that these parts of man's economy are
Anubis holding the mummy of the scribe Ani; by the door of the tomb stand the soul and spirit of the deceased in the form of a human-headed hawk and bennu bird respectively.
(From the Papyrus of Ani, plate 16.)
not shut up in the tomb for all eternity. But the ideas which prompted the painting of other vignettes are not so clear, e.g., those which accompany Chapters CLXII.-CLXV. in the late or Site Recension of the Book of the Dead, although, fortunately, the rubrics to these chapters make their object clear. Thus the picture which stands above Chapter CLXII. is that of a cow having upon her head horns, a disk, and two plumes, and from the rubric we learn that a figure of it was to be made in gold and fastened to the neck of the deceased, and that another, drawn upon new papyrus, was to be placed under his head. If this be done "then shall abundant warmth be in him throughout, even like that which was in him when he was upon earth. And he shall become like a god in the underworld,
The scribe Ani passing through the door of the tomb. outside are his shadow and his soul in the form of a human-headed bird.
(From the Papyrus of Ani, plate 18.)
and he shall never be turned back at any of the gates thereof." The words of the chapter have great protective power (i.e., are a charm of the greatest importance) we are told, "for it was made by the cow for her son R when he was setting, and when his habitation was surrounded by a company of beings of fire." Now the cow is, of course, Isis-Hathor, and both the words and the picture refer to some event in the life of R, or Horus. It is quite evident that the words of power, or charm, uttered by Isis-Hathor delivered the god out of some trouble, and the idea is that as it delivered the god, and was of benefit to him, even so will it deliver the deceased and be of benefit to him. The words of power read:--"O Amen, O Amen, who art in heaven, turn thy face upon the dead body of thy son, and make him sound and strong in the underworld." And again we are warned that the words are "a great mystery" and that "the eye of no man whatsoever must see it, for it is a thing of abomination for [every man] to know it. Hide it, therefore; the Book of the lady of the hidden temple is its name."
An examination of mummies of the late period shews that the Egyptians did actually draw a figure of the cow upon papyrus and lay it under the head of the deceased, and that the cow is only one figure among a number of others which were drawn on the same papyrus. With the figures magical texts were inscribed and in course of time, when the papyrus had been mounted upon linen, it superseded the gold figure of the cow which was fastened to the neck of the deceased, and became, strictly speaking an amulet, though its usual name among archaeologists is "hypocephalus." The figure on the opposite page well illustrates the object. It will be noticed that the
Hypocephalus or object placed under the head of the deceased Shai-enen to keep warmth in the body.
hypocephalus is round; this is due to the fact that it represents the pupil of the Eye of Horus, which from time immemorial in Egypt was regarded as the source of all generative power, and of reproduction and life. The first group of gods are:--Nehebka offering to Horus his Eye, a goddess with the Eye of Horus for a head, the cow of Isis-Hathor described above, the four children of Horus, two lions, a member of the human body, the pylon of heads of Khnemu the god of reproduction, and Horus-R. In the second are the boat of the Sun being poled along by Horus, and the boat of the Moon, with Harpocrates in the bow. In the other scenes we have the god Khepera in his boat, Horus in his boat, and Horus-Sept in his boat. The god with two faces represents the double aspect of the sun in setting and rising, and the god with the rams' heads, who is being adored by apes, is a mystical form of Khnemu, one of the great gods of reproduction, who in still later times became the being whose name under the form of Khnumis or Khnoubis occupied such an important position among the magical names which were in use among the Gnostics. The two following prayers from the hypocephalus will illustrate the words of power addressed to Amen, i.e., the Hidden One, quoted above:--1. "I am the Hidden One in the hidden place. I am a perfect spirit among the companions of R, and I have gone in and come forth among the perfect souls. I am the mighty Soul of
saffron-coloured form. I have come forth from the underworld at pleasure. I have come. I have come forth from the Eye of Horus. I have come forth from the underworld with R from the House of the Great Aged One in Heliopolis. I am one of the spirits who come forth from the underworld: grant thou unto me the things which my body needeth, and heaven for my soul, and a hidden place for my mummy." 2. "May the god, who himself is hidden, and whose face is concealed, who shineth upon the world in his forms of existence, and in the underworld, grant that my soul may live for ever! May the great god in his disk give his rays in the underworld of Heliopolis! Grant thou unto me an entrance and an exit in the underworld without let or hindrance."
Chapter CLXIII. of the Book of the Dead was written to prevent the body of a man mouldering away in the underworld, and to deliver him from the souls which were so unfortunate as to be shut in the various places thereof, but in order to make it thoroughly efficacious it was ordered to be recited over three pictures: (1) a serpent with legs, having a disk and two horns upon its head; (2) an utchat,l or Eye of Horus, "in the pupil of which shall be a figure of the God of the lifted hand with the face of a divine soul, and having plumes and a back like a hawk"; (3) an utchat, or Eye of Horus, "in the pupil of which there shall be a figure of the God of the lifted hand with the face of the goddess Neith, and having plumes and a back like a hawk." If these things be done for the deceased "he shall not be turned back at any gate of the underworld, he shall eat, and drink, and perform the natural functions of his body as he did when he was upon earth; and none shall rise up to cry out against him; and he shall be protected from the hands of the enemy for ever and ever."1
The words of power which form the CLXIVth Chapter to be effectual had to be recited over a figure of the goddess Mut which was to have three heads. The first head was like that of the goddess Pekhat and had plumes; the second was like that of a man and had upon it the crowns of the South and North; the third was like that of a vulture and had upon it plumes; the figure had a pair of wings, and the claws of a lion. This figure was painted in black, green, and yellow colours upon a piece of anes linen; in front of it and behind it was painted a dwarf who wore plumes upon his head. One hand and arm of each dwarf were raised, and each had two faces, one being that of a hawk and the other that of a man; the body of each was fat. These figures having been made, we are told that the deceased shall be "like unto a god with the gods of the underworld; he shall never, never be turned back; his flesh and his bones shall be like those of one who hath never been dead; he shall drink water at the source of the stream; a homestead shall be given unto him in Sekhet-Aaru; he shall become a star of heaven; he shall set out to do battle with the serpent fiend Nekau and with Tar, who are in the underworld; he shall not be shut in along with the souls which are fettered; he shall have power to deliver himself wherever he may be; and worms shall not devour him."1
Again, the words of power which form the CLXVth Chapter to be effectual were ordered by the rubric to "be recited over a figure of the God of the lifted hand, which shall have plumes upon its head; the legs thereof shall be wide apart, and the middle portion of it shall be in the form of a beetle, and it shall be painted blue with a paint made of lapis-lazuli mixed with qamai water. And it shall be recited over a figure with a head like unto that of a man, and the hands and the arms thereof shall be stretched away from his body; above its right shoulder shall there be the head of a ram, and above its left shoulder shall there be the head of a ram. And thou shalt paint the figure of the God of the lifted hand upon a piece of linen immediately over the heart of the deceased, and thou shalt paint the other over his breast; but let not the god Sukati who is in the underworld know it." If these things be done, "the deceased shall drink water from the source of the stream, and he shall shine like the stars in the heavens above." 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 R, 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 R, 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, "R 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. The written word has been regarded in the East with reverence from time immemorial, and a copy of a sacred writing or text is worn or carried about to this day with much the same ideas and beliefs about its power to protect as in the earliest times. In ancient Egypt the whole Book of the Dead, as well as the various sections of it which are usually copied on papyri, consisted of a series of "words of power," and the modern Egyptian looks upon the Koran in the same light as his ancestor looked upon the older work. A curious passage in the text inscribed on the inside of the pyramid of Unas reads (1. 583), "The bone and flesh which possess no writing are wretched, but, behold, the writing of Unas is under the great seal, and behold, it is not under the little seal." It is difficult to explain the passage fully, but there is no doubt that we have here an allusion to the custom of placing writings believed to be possessed of magical powers with the dead. Certain passages or sections of the religious books of ancient nations have always been held to be of more importance than others, and considering the great length of such compositions this is not to be wondered at. Among the Egyptians two forms of the LXIVth Chapter of the Book of the Dead were in use, and there is no doubt whatever that the shorter form, as far back as the Ist dynasty, about B.C. 4300, was intended to be a summary of the whole work, and that the recital of it was held to be as efficacious as the recital of all the rest of it.1 It is a remarkable fact that this form is called "The Chapter of knowing the 'Chapters of Coming Forth by Day' in a single Chapter," and that it is declared to date from the time of Hesepti, a king of the Ist dynasty, about B.C. 4300, whilst the "finding" of the longer form is attributed to the reign of Men-kau-R (Mycerinus), a king of the IVth dynasty, about B.C. 3600. It is interesting to note how persistently certain chapters and formul occur in funeral papyri of different periods, and the explanation seems to be that a popular selection was made at an early date, and that this selection was copied with such additions or omissions as the means of the friends of the deceased allowed or made necessary. One thing is quite certain: every man in Egypt died in the firm belief that in the course of his journey into the next world he would be provided with words of power which would enable him to make his way thither unhindered, and give him abundance of meat and drink. We may see this view which was held concerning words of power from the following passages:--"May Thoth, who is filled and furnished with words of power, come and loose the bandages, even the bandages of Set which fetter my mouth. . . . Now as concerning the words of power and all the words which may be spoken against me, may the gods resist them, and may each and every one of the company of the gods withstand them."1 "Behold, I gather together the word of power from wherever it is, and from any person with whom it is, swifter than greyhounds and quicker than light."2 To the crocodile which cometh to carry off from the deceased his words of power he says, "Get thee back, return, get thee back, thou crocodile fiend Sui! Thou shalt not advance to me, for I live by reason of the words of power which I have with me. . . . Heaven hath power over its seasons, and the words of power have dominion over that which they possess; my mouth therefore shall have power over the words of power which are therein."1 "I am clothed (?) and am wholly provided with thy magical words, O R, the which are in the heaven above me, and in the earth beneath Me."2 To the two Sister-Mert goddesses the deceased says, "My message to you is my words of power. I shine from the Sektet boat, I am Horus the son of Isis, and I have come to see my father Osiris."3 "I have become a spirit in my forms, I have gained the mastery over my words of power, and it is decreed for me to be a spirit."4 "Hail, thou that cuttest off heads, and slittest brows, thou who puttest away the memory of evil things from the mouth of the spirits by means of the words of power which they have within them, . . . let not my mouth be shut fast by reason of the words of power which thou hast within thee. . . . Get thee back, and depart before the words which the goddess Isis uttered when thou didst come to cast the recollection of evil things into the mouth of Osiris."5 On the amulet of the Buckle we have inscribed the words, "May the blood of Isis, and the powers of Isis, and the words of power of Isis be mighty to protect this mighty one," etc., and in the address which Thoth makes to Osiris he says, "I am Thoth, the favoured one of R, the lord of might, who bringeth to a prosperous end that which he doeth, the mighty one of words of power, who is in the boat of millions of years, the lord of laws, the subduer of the two lands," etc.'
From the above passages we not only learn how great was the confidence which the deceased placed in his words of power, but also that the sources from which they sprang were the gods Thoth and Isis. It will be remembered that Thoth is called the "scribe of the gods," the "lord of writing," the "master of papyrus," the maker of the palette and the ink-jar," the "lord of divine words," i.e., the holy writings or scriptures, and as he was the lord of books and master of the power of speech, he was considered to be the possessor of all knowledge both human and divine. At the creation of the world it was he who reduced to words the will of the unseen and unknown creative Power, and who uttered them in such wise that the universe came into being, and it was he who proved himself by the exercise of his knowledge to be the protector and friend of Osiris, and of Isis, and of their son Horus. From the evidence of the texts we know that it was not by physical might that Thoth helped these three gods, but by giving them words of power and instructing them how to use them. We know that Osiris vanquished his foes, and that he reconstituted his body, and became the king of the underworld and god of the dead, but he was only able to do these things by means of the words of power which Thoth had given to him, and which he had taught him to pronounce properly and in a proper tone of voice. It is this belief which makes the deceased cry out, "Hail, Thoth, who madest Osiris victorious over his enemies, make thou Ani to be victorious over his enemies in the presence of the great and sovereign princes who are in Tattu," or in any other place. Without the words of power given to him by Thoth, Osiris would have been powerless under the attacks of his foes, and similarly the dead man, who was always identified with Osiris, would have passed out of existence at his death but for the words of power provided by the writings that were buried with him. In the Judgment Scene it is Thoth who reports to the gods the result of the weighing of the heart in the balance, and who has supplied its owner with the words which he has uttered in his supplications, and whatever can be said in favour of the deceased he says to the gods, and whatever can be done for him he does. But apart from being the protector and friend of Osiris, Thoth was the refuge to which Isis fled in her trouble. The words of a hymn declare that she knew "how to turn aside evil hap," and that she was "strong of tongue, and uttered the words of power which she knew with correct pronunciation, and halted not in her speech, and was perfect both in giving the command and in saying the word,"1 but this description only proves that she had been instructed by Thoth in the art of uttering words of power with effect, and to him, indeed, she owed more than this. When she found the dead body of her husband Osiris, she hovered about over it in the form of a bird, making air by the beating of her wings, and sending forth light from the sheen of her feathers, and at length she roused the dead to life by her words of power; as the result of the embrace which followed this meeting Horus was born, and his mother suckled him and tended him in her hiding-place in the papyrus swamps. After a time she was persecuted by Set, her husband's murderer, who, it seems, shut her and her son Horus up in a house as prisoners. Owing, however, to the help which Thoth gave her, she came forth by night and was accompanied on her journey by seven scorpions,1 called respectively Tefen, Befen, Mestet, Mestetef, Petet, Thetet, and Matet, the last three of which pointed out the way. The guide of the way brought her to the swamps of Per-sui,2 and to the town of the two goddesses of the sandals where the swampy country of Athu begins. Journeying on they came to Teb,3 where the chief of the district had a house for his ladies; now the mistress of the house would not admit Isis on account of the scorpions that were with her, for she had looked out of her door and watched Isis coming. On this the scorpions took counsel together and wished to sting her by means of the scorpion Tefen, but at this moment a poor woman who lived in the marshes opened the door of her cottage to Isis, and the goddess took shelter therein. Meanwhile the scorpion had crept under the door into the house of the governor, and stung the son of the lady of the house, and also set the place on fire; no water could quench the fire, and there was no rain to do it, for it was not then the rainy season. Now these things happened to the woman who had done no active harm to Isis, and the poor creature wandered about the streets of the city uttering loud cries of grief and distress because she knew not whether her boy would live or die.
When Isis saw this she was sorry for the child who had been stung, and as he was blameless in the matter of the door of his mother's house being shut in the face of the goddess, she determined to save him. Thereupon she cried out to the distraught mother, saying, "Come to me, come to me! For my word is a talisman which beareth life. I am a daughter well known in thy city also, and I will do away the evil by means of the word of my mouth which my father hath taught me, for I am the daughter of his own body." Then Isis laid her hands upon the body of the boy, and in order to bring back the spirit into his body said--
"Come Tefen, appear upon the ground, depart hence, come not nigh!
"Come poison of Befen, appear upon the ground. I am Isis, the goddess, the lady of words of power, who doeth deeds of magic, the words of whose voice are charms.
"Obey me, O every reptile that stingeth, and fall down headlong!
"O poison of [Mestet and] Mestetef, mount not upwards!
"O poison of Petet and Thetet, draw not nigh! O Matet, fall down headlong!"
The goddess Isis then uttered certain words of the charm which had been given to her by the god Seb in order to keep poison away from her, and said, "Turn away, get away, retreat, O poison," adding the words "Mer-R" in the morning and "The Egg of the Goose appeareth from out of the sycamore" in the evening, as she turned to the scorpions. Both these sentences were talismans. After this Isis lamented that she was more lonely and wretched than all the people of Egypt, and that she had become like an old man who hath ceased to look upon and to visit fair women in their houses; and she ordered the scorpions to turn away their looks from her and to show her the way to the marshes and to the secret place which is in the city of Khebt. Then the words of the cry, "The boy liveth, the poison dieth! As the sun liveth, so the poison dieth," were uttered, and the fire in the house of the woman was extinguished, and heaven rejoiced at the words of Isis. When Isis had said that the "son of the woman had been stung because his mother had shut the door of her house in her face, and had done nothing for her," the words of the cry, "The boy liveth and the poison dieth," were again uttered, and the son of the woman recovered.
Isis then continues her narrative thus:--"I Isis conceived a child, and was great with child of Horus. I, a goddess, gave birth to Horus, the son of Isis, upon an island (or nest) in Athu the region of swamps; and I rejoiced greatly because of this, for I regarded Horus as a gift which would repay me for the loss of his father. I hid him most carefully and concealed him in my anxiety, and indeed he was well hidden, and then I went away to the city of Am. When I had saluted the inhabitants thereof I turned back to seek the child, so that I might give him suck and take him in my arms again. But I found my sucking-child Horus the fair golden one, well nigh dead! He had bedewed the ground with the water from his eye and with the foam from his lips, his body was stiff, his heart was still, and no muscle in any of his limbs moved.1 Then I uttered a bitter cry of grief, and the dwellers in the papyrus swamps ran to me straightway from out of their houses, and they bewailed the greatness of my calamity; but none of them opened his mouth to speak, for every one was in deep sorrow for me, and no man knew how to bring back life into Horus. Then there came to me a certain woman who was well known in her city, for she belonged to a noble family, and she tried to rekindle the life in Horus, but although her heart was full of her knowledge my son remained motionless." Meanwhile the folk remarked that the son of the divine mother Isis had been protected against his brother Set, that the plants among which he had been hidden could not be penetrated by any hostile being, that the words of power of Temu, the father of the gods, "who is in heaven," should have preserved the life of Horus, that Set his brother could not possibly have had access to where the child was, who, in any case, had been protected against his wickedness; and at length it was discovered that Horus had been stung by a scorpion, and that the reptile "which destroyeth the heart" had wounded him, and had probably killed him.
At this juncture Nephthys arrived, and went round about among the papyrus swamps weeping bitterly because of the affliction of her sister Isis; with her also was Serqet, the goddess of scorpions, who asked continually, "What hath happened to the child Horus?" Then Nephthys said to Isis, "Cry out in prayer unto heaven, and let the mariners in the boat of R cease to row, and let not the boat of R move further on its course for the sake of the child Horus"; and forthwith Isis sent forth her cry up to heaven, and made her request come unto the "Boat of millions of years," and the Sun stood still and his boat moved not from its place by reason of the goddess's petition. Out from the boat came the god Thoth provided with magical powers, and bearing with him the great power to command in such wise that the words of his mouth must be fulfilled straightway; and he spake to Isis, saying "O thou goddess Isis, whose mouth knoweth how to utter charms (or talismans), no suffering shall come upon thy child Horus, for his health and safety depend upon the boat of R. I have come this day in the divine boat of the Disk (Aten) to the place where it was yesterday. When darkness (or night) ruleth, the light shall vanquish it for the health (or safety) of Horus for the sake of his mother Isis and similarly shall it happen unto every one who possesseth what is [here] written(?)." What took place next is, of course, evident. The child Horus was restored to life, to the great joy of his mother Isis, who was more indebted than ever to the god Thoth for coming to deliver her out of her trouble on the death of her son, just as he had done on the death of her husband. Now because Isis had revivified both her husband and her son by the words of power and talismans which she possessed, mortal man thought it was absolutely necessary for him to secure her favour and protection at any cost, for eternal life and death were in her hands. As time went on the Egyptians revered her more and more, and as she was the lady of the gods and of heaven, power equal to that possessed by R himself was ascribed to her. Indeed, according to a legend which has come down to us, and which written upon papyrus or linen formed a magical formula against the poison of reptiles of all kinds, she made a bold attempt to wrest the power of R from him and to make herself mistress of the universe. The way in which she did this is told in a hieratic papyrus preserved at Turin,1 from which the following rendering has been made; the merit of first discovering the correct meaning of the text belongs to M. Lefbure.
THE LEGEND OF R AND ISIS.
"The Chapter of the divine god, the self-created being) who made the heavens and the earth, and the winds [which give] life, and the fire, and the gods, and men, and beasts, and cattle, and reptiles, and the fowl of the air and the fish of the sea; he is the king of men and of gods, he hath one period of life (?) and with him periods of one hundred and twenty years each are but as years; his names are manifold and unknown, the gods even know them not.
"Now Isis was a woman who possessed words of power; her heart was wearied with the millions of men, therefore she chose the millions of the gods, but she esteemed more highly the millions of the spirits (khu). And she meditated in her heart, saying, 'Cannot I by means of the sacred name of God make myself mistress of the earth and become a goddess like unto R in heaven and upon earth?' Now behold, each day R entered at the head of his holy mariners and established himself upon the throne of the two horizons. Now the divine one (i.e., R) had grown old, he dribbled at the mouth, his spittle fell upon the earth, and his slobbering dropped upon the ground. And Isis kneaded it with earth in her hand, and formed thereof a sacred serpent in the form of a dart; she did not set it upright before her face, but let it lie upon the ground in the path whereby the great god went forth, according to his hearts desire, into his double kingdom. Now the holy god arose, and the gods who followed him as though he were Pharaoh went with him; and he came forth according to his daily wont; and the sacred serpent bit him. The flame of life departed from him, and he who dwelt among the cedars (?) was overcome. The holy god opened his mouth, and the cry of his majesty reached unto heaven; his company of gods said, 'What hath happened?' and his gods exclaimed, 'What is it?' But R could not answer, for his jaws trembled and all his members quaked; the poison spread swiftly through his flesh just as the Nile rusheth through all his land. When the great god had stablished his heart, he cried unto those who were in his train, saying, 'Come unto me, O ye who have come into being from my body, ye gods who have come forth from me, make ye known unto Khepera that a dire calamity hath fallen upon me. My heart perceiveth it, but my eyes see it not; my hand hath not caused it, nor do I know who hath done this unto me. Never have I felt such pain, neither can sickness cause more woe than this. I am a prince, the son of a prince, the sacred essence which hath proceeded from God. I am the great one, the son of the great one, and my father planned my name; I have multitudes of names and multitudes of forms, and my being is in every god. I have been proclaimed by the heralds Temu and Horus, and my father and my mother uttered my name; but it hath been hidden within me by him that begat me, who would not that the words of power of any seer should have dominion over me. I came forth to look upon that which I had made, I was passing through the world which I had created, when lo! something stung me, but what I know not. Is it fire? Is it water? My heart is on fire, my flesh quaketh, and trembling hath seized all my limbs. Let there be brought unto me my children, the gods, who possess the words of power and magical speech, and mouths which know how to utter them, and also powers which reach even unto the heavens. Then the children of every god came unto him uttering cries of grief. And Isis also came, bringing with herher words of magical power, and her mouth was full of the breath of life; for her talismans vanquish the pains of sickness, and her words make to live again the throats of those who are dead. And she spake, saying, 'What hath come to pass, O holy Father? What hath happened? Is it that a serpent hath bitten thee, and that a thing which thou hast created hath lifted up his head against thee? Verily it shall be cast down by my effective words of power, and I will drive it away from before the sight of thy sunbeams.' The holy god opened his mouth and said, I was passing along my path, and I was going through the two regions of my lands according to my hearts desire, to see that which I had created, when lo! I was bitten by a serpent which I saw not. Is it fire? Is it water? I am colder than water, I am hotter than fire. All my flesh sweateth, I quake, my eye hath no strength, I cannot see the sky, and the sweat rusheth to my face even as in the time of summer.' Then said Isis unto R, 'O tell me thy name, holy Father, for whosoever shall be delivered by thy name shall live.' And R said, 'I have made the heavens and the earth, I have knit together the mountains, I have created all that is above them, I have made the water, I have made to come into being the goddess Meht-urt, and I have made the Bull of his mother, from whom spring the delights of love. I have made the heavens, I have stretched out the two horizons like a curtain, and I have placed the soul of the gods within them. I am he who, if he openeth his eyes, doth make the light, and, if he closeth them, darkness cometh into being. At his command the Nile riseth, and the gods know not his name. I have made the hours, I have created the days, I bring forward the festivals of the year, I create the Nile-flood. I make the fire of life, and I provide food in the houses. I am Khepera in the morning, I am R at noon, and I am Temu at even.' Meanwhile the poison was not taken away from his body, but it pierced deeper, and the great god could no longer walk.
"Then said Isis unto R, 'What thou hast said is not thy name. O tell it unto me, and the poison shall depart; for he shall live whose name shall be revealed! Now the poison burned like fire, and it was fiercer than the flame and the furnace, and the majesty of the great god said, 'I consent that Isis shall search into me, and that my name shall pass from me into her.' Then the god hid himself from the gods, and his place in the Boat of Millions of Years was empty. And when the time had arrived for the heart of R to come forth, Isis spake unto her son Horus, saying, 'The god hath bound himself by oath to deliver up his two eyes (i.e., the sun and moon).' Thus was the name of the great god taken from him, and Isis, the lady of words of magical power, said, 'Depart, poison, go forth from Ea. O Eye of Horus, go forth from the god, and shine outside his mouth. It is I who work, it is I who make to fall down upon the earth the vanquished poison, for the name of the great god hath been taken away from him. Let R live, and let the poison die! Let the poison die, and let R live!' These are the words of Isis, the mighty lady, the mistress of the gods, who knew R by his own name."
Now from a few words of text which follow the above narrative we learn that the object of writing it was not so much to instruct the reader as to make a magic formula, for we are told that it was to be recited over figures of Temu and Horus, and Isis and Horus, that is to say, over figures of Temu the evening sun, Horus the Elder, Horus the son of Isis, and Isis herself. Temu apparently takes the place of R, for he represents the sun as an old man, i.e., R, at the close of his daily life when he has lost his strength and power. The text is a charm or magical formula against snake bites, and it was thought that the written letters, which represented the words of Isis, would save the life of any one who was snake-bitten, just as they saved the life of R. If the full directions as to the use of the figures of Temu, Isis, and the two Horus gods, were known unto us we should probably find that they were to be made to act in dumb show the scenes which took place between R, and Isis when the goddess succeeded in taking from him his name. Thus we have ample evidence that Isis possessed marvellous magical powers, and this being so, the issues of life and death, as far as the deceased was concerned, we know from the texts to have been in her hands. Her words of power, too, were a priceless possession, for she obtained them from Thoth, who was the personification of the mind and intelligence of the Creator, and thus their origin was divine, and from this point of view were inspired.
From a papyrus of the Ptolemaic period we obtain some interesting facts about the great skill in working magic and about the knowledge of magical formul which were possessed by a prince called Setnau Kh-em-Uast. He knew how to use the powers of amulets and talismans, and how to compose magical formul, and he was master both of religious literature and of that of the "double house of life," or library of magical books. One day as he was talking of such things one of the king's wise men laughed at his remarks, and in answer Setnau said, "If thou wouldst read a book possessed of magical powers come with me. and I will show it to thee, the book was written by Thoth himself, and in it there are two formul. The recital of the first will enchant (or bewitch) heaven, earth, hell, sea, and mountains, and by it thou shalt see all the birds, reptiles, and fish, for its power will bring the fish to the top of the water. The recital of the second will enable a man if he be in the tomb to take the form which he had upon earth," etc. When questioned as to where the book was, Setnau said that it was in the tomb of Ptah-nefer-ka at Memphis. A little later Setnau went there with his brother and passed three days and three nights in seeking for the tomb of Ptah-nefer-ka, and on the third day they found it; Setnau recited some words over it, and the earth opened and they went down to the place where the book was. When the two brothers came into the tomb they found it to be brilliantly lit up by the light which came forth from the book; and when they looked they saw not only Ptah-nefer-ka, but his wife Ahura, and Merhu their son. Now Ahura and Merhu were buried at Coptos but their doubles had come to live with Ptah-nefer-ka by means of the magical power of Thoth. Setnau told them that he had come to take away the book, but Ahura begged him not to do so, and related to him the misfortunes which had already followed the possession of it. She was, it seems, the sister of Ptah-nefer-ka whom she married, and after the birth of her son Merhu, her husband seemed to devote himself exclusively to the study of magical books, and one day a priest of Ptah promised to tell him where the magical book described above might be found if he would give him a hundred pieces of silver, and provide him with two handsome coffins. When the money and the coffins had been given to him, the priest of Ptah told Ptah-nefer-ka that the book was in an iron box in the middle of the river at Coptos. "The iron box is in a bronze box, the bronze box is in a box of palm-tree wood, the palm tree wood box is in a box of ebony and ivory, the ebony and ivory box is in a silver box, the silver box is in a gold box, and in the gold (sic) box lies the book. The box wherein is the book is surrounded by swarms of serpents and scorpions and reptiles of all kinds, and round it is coiled a serpent which cannot die." Ptah-nefer-ka told his wife and the king what he had heard, and at length set out for Coptos with Ahura and Merhu in the royal barge; having arrived at Coptos he went to the temple of Isis and Harpocrates and offered up a sacrifice and poured out a libation to these gods. Five days later the high priest of Coptos made for him the model of a floating stage and figures of workmen provided with tools; he then recited words of power over them and they became living, breathing men, and the search for the box began. Having worked for three days and three nights they came to the place where the box was. Ptah-nefer-ka dispersed the serpents and scorpions which were round about the nest of boxes by his words of power, and twice succeeded in killing the serpent coiled round the box, but it came to life again; the third time he cut it into two pieces, and laid sand between them, and this time it did not take its old form again. He then opened the boxes one after the other, and taking out the gold box with the book inside it carried it to the royal barge. He next read one of the two formula-, in it and so enchanted or bewitched the heavens and the earth that he learned all their secrets; he read the second and he saw the sun rising in the heavens with his company of the gods, etc. His wife Ahura then read the book and saw all that her husband had seen. Ptah-nefer-ka then copied the writings on a piece of new papyrus, and having covered the papyrus with incense dissolved it in water and drank it; thus he acquired the knowledge which was in the magical book. Meanwhile these acts had stirred the god Thoth to wrath, and he told R what Ptah-nefer-ka had done. As a result the decree went forth that Ptah-nefer-ka and his wife and child should never return to Memphis, and on the way back to Coptos Ahura and Merhu fell into the river and were drowned; and while returning to Memphis with the book Ptah-nefer-ka himself was drowned also. Setnau, however, refused to be diverted from his purpose, and he insisted on having the book which he saw in the possession of Ptah-nefer-ka; the latter then proposed to play a game of draughts and to let the winner have the book. The game was for fifty-two points, and although Ptah-nefer-ka tried to cheat Setnau, he lost the game. At this juncture Setnau sent his brother Anhaherurau up to the earth to bring him his talismans of Ptah and his other magical writings, and when he returned he laid them upon Setnau, who straightway flew up to heaven grasping the wonderful book in his hand. As he went up from the tomb light went before him, and the darkness closed in behind him; but Ptah-nefer-ka said to his wife, "I will make him bring back this book soon, with a knife and a rod in his hand and a vessel of fire upon his head." Of the bewitchment of Setnau by a beautiful woman called Tabubu and of his troubles in consequence thereof we need make no mention here: it is sufficient to say that the king ordered him to take the book back to its place, and that the prophecy of Ptah-nefer-ka was fulfilled.1
1n connexion with the subject of the magical powers of Isis must be briefly mentioned the curious small stel, with rounded tops, on the front of which are inscribed figures of the god Horus standing upon crocodiles: they are usually known as "cippi of Horus." The largest and finest example of this remarkable class of object is the famous "Metternichstele," which was found in the year 1828 during the building of a cistern in a Franciscan monastery in Alexandria, and was presented by Muhammad Ali Pasha to Prince Metternich. We are fortunately enabled to date the stele, for the name of Nectanebus I., the last but one of the native kings of Egypt, who reigned from B.C. 378 to B.C. 360, occurs on it, and we know from many sources that such a monument could have been produced only about this period. From the two illustrations of it here given we see that it is both sculptured and engraved with figures of many of the gods of ancient Egypt, gods well known from the monuments of the earlier dynasties, and also with figures of a series of demons and monsters and animals which have both mythological and magical importance. Many of these are accompanied by texts containing magical formul, magical names, and mythological allusions. In the principal scene we see Horus, or Harpocrates, standing upon two crocodiles; on his brow is the uraeus, and he wears on the right side of his head the lock of hair emblematic of youth. In his hands he grasps serpents, a lion, and an antelope, and it is clear by the look on his face that he is in no wise afraid of them. Above his head is a bearded head, which is usually said to represent that of Bes. On his right are:--(1) an utchat,1 with human hands and arms; (2) Horus-R, hawk-headed, and wearing the sun's disk and uraeus, and standing on a serpent coiled up; (3) Osiris, in the form of a hawk standing upon a sceptre, and wearing the atef crown; (4) The goddess Isis standing upon a serpent coiled up; (5) The goddess Nekhebet, in the form of a vulture, standing upon a papyrus sceptre. On his left are:--(1) An utchat with human hands and arms; (2) a papyrus standard with plumes and menats2; (3) the god Thoth standing upon a serpent coiled up; (4) the goddess Uatchet, in the form of a serpent, standing upon a papyrus sceptre. Now Horus typifies youth and strength and the rising sun, and the head above him. is probably intended to represent that of R (or Bes) as an old man; the allusion here is clearly to the god who "is old at eventide and who becomes young again." The utchats and the figures of the gods symbolize the solar powers and the deities
Clippus of Horus. (See Metternichstele, ed. Golnischeff, plate 1.)
who are masters of the words of power, both in the South and in the North, by which the young god Horus vanquishes all hostile animals, reptiles, and creeping things which live in water and on land. Above and about this scene are several rows of figures of gods and sketches of mythological scenes; many of which are evidently taken from the vignettes of the Book of the Dead, and the object of all of the latter is to prove that light overcomes darkness, that good vanquishes evil, and that renewed life comes after death. The texts which fill all the spaces not occupied by figures describe certain incidents of the eternal combat which Horus wages against his brother Set, and tell the story of the wanderings of Isis with her son Horus and of her sufferings in the country of the papyrus Swamps, a sketch of which we have given above (see pp. 130-136); besides these, prayers to certain gods are introduced. The whole monument is nothing but a talisman, or a gigantic amulet engraved with magical figures and words of power, and it was, undoubtedly, placed in some conspicuous place in a courtyard or in a house to protect the building and its inmates from the attacks of hostile beings, visible and invisible, and its power was believed to be invincible. There is not a god of any importance whose figure is not on it, and there is not a demon, or evil animal or reptile, who is not depicted upon it in a vanquished state; the knowledge of the ancient Egyptian mythology and the skill shewn by the designer of this talisman are very remarkable. The small cippi of Horus contain nothing but extracts from the scenes and texts which we find on the "Metternichstele," and it, or similar objects, undoubtedly formed the source from which so many of the figures of the strange gods which are found on Gnostic gems were derived. Certain of the figures of the gods on the cippi were cast in bronze in the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, or hewn in stone, and were buried in tombs and under the foundations of houses to drive away any of the fiends who might come to do harm either to the living or the dead.
The Arab historian Mas'd has preserved1 a curious legend of the talismans which were employed by Alexander the Great to protect the city of Alexandria whilst it was being built, and as the legend is of Egyptian origin, and dates from a period not greatly removed from that in which the Metternich stele was made, it is worthy of mention. When the foundations of the city had been laid, and the walls had begun to rise up, certain savage animals came up each night from the sea, and threw down everything which had been built during the day; watchmen were appointed to drive them away, but in spite of this each morning saw the work done during the previous day destroyed. After much thought Alexander devised a plan whereby he might thwart the sea monsters, and he proceeded to carry it into effect. He made a box ten cubits long and five cubits wide with sides made of sheets of glass fastened into frames by means of pitch, resin, etc. In this box Alexander placed himself, together with two skilful draughtsmen, and having been closed it was towed out to sea by two vessels; and when weights of iron, lead, and stone had been attached to the under part of it, it began to sink, being guided to the place which Alexander wished it to reach by means of cords which were worked from the ships. When the box touched the bottom of the sea, thanks to the clearness of the glass sides and the water of the sea, Alexander and his two companions were able to watch the various marine monsters which passed by, and he saw that although they had human bodies they had the heads of beasts; some had axes, some had saws, and some had hammers, and they all closely resembled workmen. As they passed in front of the box Alexander and his two draughtsmen copied their forms upon paper with great exactness, and depicted their hideous countenances, and stature, and shape; this done, a signal was made, and the box was drawn up to the surface. As soon as Alexander reached the land he ordered his stone and metal workers to make reproductions of the sea monsters according to the drawings which he and his friends had made, and when they were finished he caused them to be set up on pedestals along the sea-shore, and continued his work of building the city. When the night came, the sea monsters appeared as usual, but as soon as they saw that figures of themselves had been put up on the shore they returned at once to the water and did not shew themselves again. When, however, the city had been built and was inhabited, the sea monsters made their appearance again, and each morning a considerable number of people were found to be missing; to prevent this Alexander placed talismans upon the pillars which, according to Mas'd, were there in his day. Each pillar was in the shape of an arrow and was eigh
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