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Egypt Magic - Magical Names


Magical Names

 

The Egyptians, like most Oriental nations, attached very great importance to the knowledge of names, and the knowledge of how to use and to make mention of names which possessed magical powers was a necessity both for the living and the dead. It was believed that if a man knew the name of a god or a devil, and addressed him by it, he was bound to answer him and to do whatever he wished; and the possession of the knowledge of the name of a man enabled his neighbour to do him good or evil. The name that was the object of a curse brought down evil upon its owner, and similarly the name that was the object of a blessing or prayer for benefits secured for its master many good things. To the Egyptian the name was as much a part of a man's being as his soul, or his double (KA), or his body, and it is quite certain that this view was held by him in the earliest times. Thus in the text which is inscribed on the walls inside1 the pyramid of Pepi L, king of Egypt about B.C. 3200, we read, "Pepi hath been purified. He hath taken in his hand the mh staff, he hath provided himself with his throne, and he hath taken his seat in the boat of the great and little companies of the gods. Ed maketh Pepi to sail to the West, he stablisheth his seat above those of the lords of doubles, and he writeth down Pepi at the head of those who live. The doors of Pekh-ka which are in the abyss open themselves to Pepi, the doors of the iron which is the ceiling of the sky open themselves to Pepi, and he passeth through them; he hath his panther skin upon him, and the staff and whip are in his hand. Pepi goeth forward with his flesh, Pepi is happy with his name, and he liveth with his ka (double)." Curiously enough only the body and name and double of the king are mentioned, just as if these three constituted his whole economy; and it is noteworthy what importance is attached to the name in this passage. In the text from the pyramid of another king1 we have a prayer concerning the preservation of the name, which is of such interest that a rendering of it in full is here given: it reads, "O Great Company of the gods who dwell in Annu (Heliopolis), grant that Pepi Nefer-ka-R may flourish (literally 'germinate'), and that his pyramid, his ever lasting building, may flourish, even as the name of Temu, the chief of the nine gods, doth flourish. If the name of Shu, the lord of the upper shrine in Annu, flourisheth, then Pepi shall flourish, and his pyramid, his everlasting building, shall flourish! If the name of Tefnut, the lady of the lower shrine in Annu, flourisheth, the name of Pepi shall be established, and this his pyramid shall be established to all eternity! If the name of Seb flourisheth at the 'homage of the earth,' then the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this his pyramid shall flourish, and this his building shall flourish unto all eternity! If the name of Nut in the House of Shenth in Annu flourisheth, the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this his pyramid shall flourish, and this his building shall flourish unto all eternity! If the name of Osiris flourisheth in the nome of Abydos, then the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this his pyramid shall flourish, and this his building shall flourish unto all eternity! If the name of Osiris Khent-Amentet flourisheth, then the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this his pyramid shall flourish, and this his building shall flourish unto all eternity! If the name of Set, the dweller in Nubt (Ombos) flourisheth, then the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this his pyramid shall flourish, and this his building shall flourish unto all eternity! If the name of Horus flourisheth, then the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this his pyramid shall flourish, and this his building shall flourish unto all eternity! If the name of R flourisheth in the horizon, then the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this his pyramid shall flourish, and this his building shall flourish unto all eternity! If the name of Khent-merti flourisheth in Sekhem (Letopolis), then the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this his pyramid shall flourish, and this his building shall flourish unto all eternity! If the name of Uatchet in Tep flourisheth, then the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this his pyramid shall flourish, and this his building shall flourish unto all eternity!" The above prayer or formula was the origin of most of the prayers and texts which had for their object the "making the name to germinate or flourish," and which were copied so frequently in the Sate, Ptolemaic, and Roman periods. All these compositions show that from the earliest to the latest times the belief as to the importance of the preservation of the name never changed in Egypt, and the son who assisted in keeping green his father's name, and in consequence his memory, performed a most meritorious duty. But in the present chapter we are not so much concerned with the ordinary as with the extraordinary uses to which a name might be put, and the above facts have only been mentioned to prove that a man's name was regarded as an essential part of himself, and that the blotting out of the name of an individual was synonymous with his destruction. Without a name no man could be identified in the judgment, and as a man only came into being upon this earth when his name had been pronounced, so the future life could only be attained after the gods of the world beyond the grave had become acquainted with it and had uttered it.


 

According to the story of the Creation which is related in the Papyrus of Nesi-Amsu,l before the world and all that therein is came into being, only the great god Neb-er-tcher existed, for even the gods were not born. Now when the time had come for the god to create all things be says, "I brought (i.e., fashioned) my mouth, and I uttered my own name as a word of power, and thus I evolved myself under the evolutions of the god Khepera, and I developed myself out of the primeval matter which had evolved multitudes of evolutions from the beginning of time. Nothing existed on this earth [before me], I made all things. There was none other who worked with me at that time. Elsewhere, that is to say, in the other version of the story, the god Khepera says, I developed ct myself from the primeval matter which I made, I developed myself out of the primeval matter. My name is' Osiris,' the germ of primeval matter." Here, then, we have a proof that the Egyptians regarded the creation as the result of the utterance of the name of the god Neb-er-tcher or Khepera by himself. Again, in the story of R and Isis, given in the preceding chapter, we have seen that although Isis was able to make a serpent and to cause it to bite R, and to make him very ill, she was powerless to do as she wished in heaven and upon earth until she had persuaded the god to reveal to her his name by which he ruled the universe. In yielding up his name to the goddess he placed himself in her power, and in this example we have a striking instance of the belief that the knowledge of the name of god, or devil, or human being, implied dominion over that being. We have seen elsewhere that R, the type and symbol of God, is described as the god of "many names," and in that wonderful composition the XVIIth Chapter of the Book of the Dead,1 we have the following statement:--"I am the great god Nu, who gave birth unto himself, and who made his name to become the company of the gods." Then the question, "What does this mean?" or "Who is this?" is asked. And this is the answer: "It is R, the creator of the name[s] of his limbs, which came into being in the form of the gods who are in the following of R." From this we see that all the "gods" of Egypt were merely personifications of the NAMES Of R, and that each god was one of his members, and that a name of a god was the god himself. Without the knowledge of the names of the gods and devils of the underworld the dead Egyptian would have fared badly, for his personal liberty would have been fettered, the roads and paths would have been blocked to him, the gates of the mansions of the underworld would have been irrevocably shut in his face, and the hostile powers which dogged his footsteps would have made an end of him; these facts are best illustrated by the following examples:--

 

When the deceased comes to the Hall of Judgment, at the very beginning of his speech he says, "Homage to thee, O Great God, thou Lord of Mati, I have come to thee, O my Lord, and I have brought myself hither that 1 may behold thy beauties. I know thee, and I know thy name, and I know the names of the two and forty gods who exist with thee in this Hall of Mati."1 But although the gods may be favourable to him, and he be found righteous in the judgment, he cannot make his way among the other gods of the underworld without a knowledge of the names of certain parts of the Hall of Mati. After the judgment he acquires the mystical name of "He who is equipped with the flowers and the dweller in his olive tree," and it is only after he has uttered this name that the gods say "Pass onwards." Next the gods invite him to enter the Hall of Mati, but he is not allowed to pass in until he has, in answer to questions asked by the bolts, lintels, threshold, fastenings, socket, door-leaves, and door-posts, told their names. The floor of the Hall will not permit him to walk upon it unless he tells not only its name, but also the mystical names of his two legs and feet wherewith he is about to tread upon it. When all this has been done the guardian of the Hall says to him, "I will not announce thy name [to the god] unless thou tellest me my name"; and the deceased replies, "'Discerner of hearts and searcher of the reins' is thy name." In reply to this the guardian says, "If I announce thy name thou must utter the name of the god who dwelleth in his hour," and the deceased utters the name "Mau-Taui." But still the guardian is not satisfied, and he says, "If I announce thy name thou must tell me who is he whose heaven is of fire, whose walls [are surmounted by] living uraei, and the floor of whose house is a stream of water. Who is he, I say? (i.e., what is his name?)" But the deceased has, of course, learnt the name of the Great God, and he replies, "Osiris." The guardian of the Hall is now content, and he says, "Advance, verily thy name shall be mentioned to him"; and he further promises that the cakes, and ale, and sepulchral meals which the deceased shall enjoy shall come from the "Eye of R,"

 

In another Chapter1 the deceased addresses seven gods, and says, "Hail, ye seven beings who make decrees, who support the Balance on the night of the judgment of the Utchat, who cut off heads, who hack necks in pieces, who take possession of hearts by violence and rend the places where hearts are fixed, who make slaughterings in the Lake of Fire, I know you, and I know your names; therefore know ye me, even as I know your names." The deceased, having declared that the seven gods know his name and he their names, has no further apprehension that evil will befall him.

 

 

In one portion of the kingdom of Osiris there existed seven halls or mansions through which the deceased was anxious to pass, but each of the gates was guarded by a doorkeeper, a watcher, and a herald, and it required special provision on the part of the deceased to satisfy these beings that he had a right to pass them. In the first place, figures of the seven gates had to be made in some substance (or painted upon papyrus), as well as a figure of the deceased: the latter was made to approach each of the gates and to stand before it and to recite an address which had been specially prepared for the purpose. Meanwhile the thigh, the head, the heart, and the hoof of a red bull were offered at each gate, as well as a very large number of miscellaneous offerings which need not be described in detail. But all these ceremonies would not help the deceased to pass through the gates, unless be knew the names of the seven doorkeepers, and the seven watchers, and the seven heralds who guarded them. The gods of the first gate were:--Sekhet-hra-sht-aru, Semetu, and Hukheru; those of the second, Tun-ht, Seqet-hra, and Sabes; of the third, Am-huat-ent-pehfi, Res-hra, and Uau; of the fourth, Khesef-hra-sht-kheru, Res-ab, and Neteka-hra-khesef-atu; of the fifth, nkh-em-fentu, Ashebu, and Tebherkehaat; of the sixth, Akentauk-ha-kheru, An-hra, and Metes-hra-ari-she; of the seventh, Metes-sen, a-kheru, and Khesef-hra-khemiu. And the text, which the deceased recites to the Halls collectively, begins, "Hail, ye Halls! Hail, ye who made the Halls for Osiris! Hail, ye who watch your Halls! Hail, ye who herald the affairs of the two lands for the god Osiris each day, the deceased knoweth you, and he knoweth your names."1 The names having been uttered, and the addresses duly recited, the deceased went wherever he pleased in the seven Halls of Osiris.

 

 

But beside the seven halls the deceased had to pass through the twenty-one hidden pylons of the house of Osiris in the Elysian Fields, and in order to do so he had to declare the names of the pylon and the doorkeeper of each, and to make a short address besides. Thus to the first pylon he says, "I have made my way, I know thee and I know thy name, and I know the name of the god who guardeth thee. Thy name is 'Lady of tremblings, with lofty walls, the sovereign lady, the mistress of destruction, who setteth in order the words which drive back the whirlwind and the storm, who delivereth from destruction him that travelleth along the way'; and the name of thy doorkeeper is Neri." At the second pylon he says, "I have made [my] way, I know thee, and I know thy name, and I know the name of the god who guardeth thee. Thy name is 'Lady of heaven, the mistress of the world, who devoureth with fire, the lady of mortals, who knoweth mankind.' The name of thy doorkeeper is Mes-Ptah," and so on at each of the pylons. In the later and longer version of the chapter which was written to supply the deceased with this knowledge he informs the god of each pylon what purification he has undergone; thus to the god of the first pylon he says, "I have anointed myself with hti "unguent [made from] the cedar, I have arrayed myself in apparel of menkh (linen), and I have with me my sceptre made of heti wood." After the speech the god of the pylon says, "Pass on, then, thou art pure."

 

 

When we remember that one of the oldest beliefs as to the future life made it appear that it would be lived by man in the Sekhet-Aaru, or Field of Reeds, a region which, as we know from the drawings of it which have come down to us, was intersected by canals and streams, it is at once clear that in order to pass from one part of it to another the deceased would need a boat. Even assuming that he was fortunate enough to have made his own way into this region, it was not possible for him to take a boat with him. To meet, this difficulty a boat and all its various parts were drawn upon the papyrus, upon which the selection of Chapters from the Book of the Dead had been inscribed for him, and a knowledge of the text of the chapter which belonged to it made the drawing to become an actual boat. But before he could enter it, the post to which it was tied up, and every part of the boat itself, demanded that he should tell them their names, thus:--

 

 

Post at which to tie up. "Tell me my name." D. "Lord of the two lands, dweller in the shrine," is thy name.

 

 

Rudder. "Tell me my name." D. "Leg of Hpiu" is thy name.

 

Rope. "Tell me my name." D. "Hairs with which Anpu finisheth the work of my embalmment" is thy name.

 

 

Oar-ruts. "Tell us our name." D. "Pillars of the underworld" is your name.

 

 

Hold. "Tell me my name." D. "Akau" is thy name.

 

 

Mast. "Tell me my name." D. "Bringer back of the lady after her departure" is thy name.

 

 

Lower deck. "Tell me my name." D. "Standard of Ap-uat" is thy name.

 

 

Upper Post. "Tell me my name." D. "Throat of Mestha" is thy name.

 

 

Sail. "Tell me my name." D. "Nut" is thy name.

 

 

Leather Straps. "Tell us our name." D. "Those who are made from the hide of the Mnevis Bull, which was burned by Suti," is your name.

 

 

Paddles. "Tell us our name." D. "Fingers of Horus the firstborn" is your name.

 

 

Pump (?). "Tell me my name." D. "The hand of Isis which wipeth away the blood of the Eye of Horus," is thy name.

 

 

Planks. "Tell us our names." D. "Mestha, Hpi, Tuamutef, Qebhsennuf, Haqau, Thet-em-ua, Maa-an-tef, Ari-nef-tchesef," are your names.

 

 

Rows. "Tell us our name." D. "He who is at the head of his nomes" is your name.

 

 

Hull. "Tell me my name." D. "Mert" is thy name.

 

 

Rudder. "Tell me my name." D. "qa" is thy name; Shiner in the water, hidden beam," is thy name.

 

 

Keel. "Tell me my name." D. "Thigh of Isis, which R cut off with the knife to bring blood into the Sektet boat," is thy name.

 

 

Sailor. "Tell me my name." D. "Traveller" is thy name.

 

 

Wind. "Tell me my name." D. "The North Wind, which cometh from Tem to the nostrils of Osiris," is thy name.

 

 

And when the deceased had declared to these their names, before he could set out on his journey he was obliged to tell the river, and the river-banks, and the ground their mystical names. This done, the boat admitted him as a passenger, and he was able to sail about to any part of the Elysian Fields at will.

 

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 pep"1 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 pep 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 2 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), mam (i.e., Devourer), Saatet-ta (i.e., Darkener of earth), Iubani, Khermuti, Unti, Karauememti, Khesef-hra, Sekhem-hra, Khak-ab, Ni, 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 pep, 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.

 

 

Passing now to certain chapters of the Book of the Dead which are rich in names of magical power,1 we notice that the god Amen, whose name meant the "hidden one," possessed numerous names, upon the knowledge of which the deceased relied for protection. Thus he says, "O Amen,2 Amen; O Re-Iukasa; O God, Prince of the gods of the east, thy name is Na-ari-k, or (as others say) Ka-ari-ka, Kasaika is thy name. Arethikasathika is thy name. Amen-na-an-ka-entek-share, or (as others say) Thek-share-Amen-kerethi, is thy name. O Amen, let me make supplication unto thee, for I, even I, know thy name. Amen is thy name. Ireqai is thy name. Marqathai is thy name. Rerei is thy name. Nasaqbubu is thy name. Thanasa-Thanasa is thy name. Shareshatha-katha is thy name. O Amen, O Amen, O God, O God, O Amen, I adore thy name." In another place3 the deceased addresses Sekhet-Bast-R, saying, "Thou art the fire-goddess Ami-seshet, whose opportunity escapeth her not; thy name is Kaharesapusaremkakaremet, Thou art like unto the mighty flame of Saqenaqat which is in the bow of the boat of thy father Harepukakashareshabaiu, for behold, thus is [the name uttered] in the speech of the Negroes, and of the Anti, and of the people of Nubia. Sefiperemhesihrahaputchetef is thy name; Atareamtcherqemturennuparsheta is the name of one of thy divine sons, and Panemma that of the other." And in yet another chapter1 the deceased addressing the god Par says, "Thou art the mighty one of names among the gods, the mighty runner whose strides are might thou art the god the mighty one who comest and rescuest the needy one and the afflicted from him that oppresseth him; give heed to my cry. I am the Cow, and thy divine name is in my mouth, and I will utter it; Haqabakaher is thy name; urauaaqersaanqrebathi is thy name; Kherserau is thy name; Kharsatha is thy name. I praise thy name . . . . O be gracious unto the deceased, and cause thou heat to exist under his head, for, indeed, he is the soul of the great divine Body which resteth in Annu (Heliopolis), whose names are Khukheperuru and Barekathatchara."

 

 

The examples of the use of names possessing magical powers described above illustrate the semi-religious views on the subject of names which the Egyptians held, and we have now to consider briefly the manner in which the knowledge of a name was employed in uses less important than those which had for their object the attainment of life and happiness in the world to come. In the famous magical papyrus1 which Chabas published2 we find a series of interesting charms and magical formul which were written to preserve its possessor from the attacks of sea and river monsters of every kind, of which the following is an example. "Hail, lord of the gods! Drive away from me the lions of the country of Meru (Mero?), and the crocodiles which come forth from the river, and the bite of all poisonous reptiles which crawl forth from their holes. Get thee back, O crocodile Mk, thou son of Set! Move not by means of thy tail! Work not thy legs and feet! Open not thy mouth! Let the water which is before thee turn into a consuming fire, O thou whom the thirty-seven gods did make, and whom the serpent of R did put in chains, O thou who wast fettered with links of iron before the boat of R! Get thee back, O crocodile Mk, thou son of Set!" These words were to be said over a figure of the god Amen painted on clay; the rod was to have four rams' heads upon one neck, under his feet was to be a figure of the crocodile Mk, and to the right and left of him were to be the dog headed apes, i.e., the transformed spirits of the dawn, who sang hymns of praise to R when he rose daily.1 Again, let us suppose that some water monster wished to attack a man in a boat. To avoid this the man stood before the cabin of the boat and, taking a hard egg in his hand, he said, "O egg of the water which hath been spread over the earth, essence of the divine apes, the great one in the heaven above and in the earth beneath, who dost dwell in the nests which are in the waters, I have come forth with thee from the water, I have been with thee in thy nest, I am Amsu of Coptos, I am Amsu, lord of Kebu." When he had said these words he would appear to the animal in the water in the form of the god Amsu, with whom he had identified himself, and it would be afraid and flee. At the end of the papyrus in which the above extracts occur we find a series of magical names which may be read thus:--Atir-Atisa, Atirkaha-Atisa, Samumatnatmu-Atisa, Samuanemui-Atisa, Samutekaari-Atisa, Samutekabaiu-Atisa, Samutchakaretcha-Atisa, Tuuarehasa, Qina, Hama, Senentuta-Batetsataiu, Anrehakatha-sataiu, Haubailra-Haari. From these and similar magical names it is quite certain that the Gnostics and other sects which held views akin to theirs obtained the names which they were so fond of inscribing upon their amulets and upon the so-called magical papyri. The last class of documents undoubtedly contains a very large proportion of the magical ideas, beliefs, formul, etc., which were current in Egypt from the time of the Ptolemies to the end of the Roman Period, but from about B.C. 150 to A.D. 200 the papyri exhibit traces of the influence of Greek, Hebrew, and Syrian philosophers and magicians, and from a passage like the following1 we may get a proof of this:--"I call thee, the headless one, that didst create earth and heaven, that didst create night and day, thee the creator of light and darkness. Thou art Osoronnophris, whom no man hath seen at any time; thou art Iabas, thou art Iaps, thou hast distinguished the just and the unjust, thou didst make female and male, thou didst produce seeds and fruits, thou didst make men to love one another and to bate one another. I am Moses thy prophet, to whom thou didst commit thy mysteries, the ceremonies of Israel; thou didst produce the moist and the dry and all manner of food. Listen to me: I am an angel of Phapro Osoronnophris; this is thy true name, handed down to the prophets of Israel. Listen to me.2 . . ." In this passage the name Osoronnophris is clearly a corruption of the old Egyptian names of the great god of the dead "Ausar Unnefer," and Phapro seems to represent the Egyptian Per-a (literally, "great house") or "Pharaoh," with the article pa "the" prefixed. It is interesting to note that Moses is mentioned, a fact which seems to indicate Jewish influence.

 

 

In another magical formula we read,1 "I call upon thee that didst create the earth and bones, and all flesh and all spirit, that didst establish the sea and that shakest the heavens, that didst divide the light from the darkness, the great regulative mind, that disposest everything, eye of the world, spirit of spirits, god of gods, the lord of spirits, the immoveable Aeon, IAOOUI, hear my voice. I call upon thee, the ruler of the gods, high-thundering Zeus, Zeus, king, Adonai, lord, Iaooue. I am he that invokes thee in the Syrian tongue, the great god, Zaalar, Iphphou, do thou not disregard the Hebrew appellation Ablanathanalb, Abrasila. For I am Silthakhoukh, Lailam, Blasalth, Ia, Ie, Nebouth, Sabiothar, Bth, Arbathia, Iaoth, Sabath, Patoure, Zagour, Baroukh Adonai, Elai, Iabraam, Barbarau, Nau, Siph," etc. The spell ends with the statement that it "loosens chains, blinds, brings dreams, creates favour; it may be used in common for whatever purpose you will." In the above we notice at once the use of the seven vowels which form "a name wherein be contained all Names, and all Lights, and all Powers."1 The seven vowels have, of course, reference to the three vowels "Ia"2 which were intended to represent one of the Hebrew names for Almighty God, "Jh." The names "Adonai, Elai," are also derived through the Hebrew from the Bible, and Sabath is another well-known Hebrew word meaning "hosts"; some of the remaining names could be explained, if space permitted, by Hebrew and Syriac words. On papyri and amulets the vowels are written in magical combinations in such a manner as to form triangles and other shapes; with them are often found the names of the seven archangels of God; the following are examples:--

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In combination with a number of signs which owe their origin to the Gnostics the seven vowels were sometimes engraved upon plaques, or written upon papyri, with the view of giving the possessor power over gods or demons or his fellow creatures. The example printed below is found on a papyrus in the British Museum and accompanies a spell written for the-purpose of overcoming the malice of enemies, and for giving security against alarms and nocturnal visions.1

 

 

 

 

 

Amulet inscribed with signs and letters of magical power for overcoming the malice of enemies.
(From Brit. Mus., Greek Papyrus, Nu. CXXIV.--4th or 5th century.)

 

 

 

But of all the names found upon Gnostic gems two, i.e., Khnoubis (or Khnoumis), and Abrasax (or Abraxas), are of the most frequent occurrence. The first is usually represented as a huge serpent having the head of a lion surrounded by seven or twelve rays. Over the seven rays, one on the point of each, are the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, which some suppose to refer to the seven heavens; and on the back of the amulet, on which the figure of Khnoumis occurs, is usually found the sign , or the triple S and bar.

 

 

Khnoumis is, of course, a form of the ancient Egyptian god Khnemu, or "Fashioner" of man and beast, the god to whom many of the attributes of the Creator of the universe were ascribed. Khnemu is, however, often depicted with the head of a ram, and in the later times, as the "beautiful ram of R," he has four heads; in the Egyptian monuments he has at times the head of a hawk, but never that of a lion. The god Abrasax is represented in a form which has a human body, the bead of a hawk or cock, and legs terminating in serpents; in one hand he holds a knife or dagger, and in the other a shield upon which is inscribed the great name IAW, or JH. Considerable difference of opinion exists as to the meaning and derivation of the name Abrasax, but there is no doubt that the god who bore it was a form of the Sun-god, and that he was intended to represent some aspect of the Creator of the world. The name was believed to possess magical powers of the highest class, and Basileides,1 who gave it currency in the second century, seems to have regarded it as an invincible name. It is probable, however, that its exact meaning was lost at an early date, and that it soon degenerated into a mere magical symbol, for it is often found inscribed on amulets side by side with scenes and figures with which, seemingly, it cannot have any connexion whatever. Judging from certain Gnostic gems in the British Museum, Abrasax is to be identified with the polytheistic figure that stands in the upper part of the Metternich stele depicted on p. 153. This figure has two bodies, one being that of a man, and the other that of a bird; from these extend four wings, and from each of his knees projects a serpent. He has two pairs of hands and arms; one pair is extended along the wings, each hand holding the symbols of "life," "stability," and "power," and two knives and two serpents; the other pair is pendent, the right hand grasping the sign of life, and the other a sceptre. His face is grotesque, and probably represents that of Bes, or the sun as an old man; on his head is a pylon-shaped object with figures of various animals, and above it a pair of horns which support eight knives and the figure of a god with raised hands and arms, which typifies "millions of years." The god stands upon an oval wherein are depicted figures of various "typhonic" animals, and from each side of his crown proceed several symbols of fire. Whether in the Gnostic system Abraxas absorbed all the names and attributes of this god of many forms cannot be said with certainty.

 

 

Magical Pictures and Formule, Spells, Etc. Home Magical Ceremonies

 

 

 

Footnotes

 

 

157:1 Line 169.

 

 

158:1 Pepi II. (ed. Maspero, 1. 669, ff. Recueil, tom. xii. 1892, p. 146).

 

 

161:1 See my paper in Archologia, Vol. LII., London, 1891.

 

 

162:1 See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 49.

 

 

162:1 See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 191.

 

 

164:1 See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 128.

 

 

166:1 See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 211.

 

 

168:1

 

 

168:1 D. = the deceased.

 

 

171:1 Papyrus of Nesi-Amsu, col. xxiii. 1. 6. (Archologia, vol. LII.)

 

 

171:2 Ibid., col. xxxii. 1. 13 f.

 

 

172:1 Chapters CLXII., CLXIII., CLXIV., CLXV.

 

 

172:2 See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 295.

 

 

172:3 Ibid., p. 293.

 

 

173:1 See Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, p. 289.

 

 

174:1 British Museum, No. 10,042.

 

 

174:2 Le Papyrus Magique Harris, Chalon-sur-Sane, 1860.

 

 

175:1 See the scene in the rounded portion of the

illustrated on p. 149.

 

 

176:1 See Goodwin, Fragment of a Grco-Egyptian Work upon Magic, p. 7.

 

 

176:2 Here follow a number of names of which Reibet, Athelebersthe, Blatha, Abeu, Ebenphi, are examples.

 

 

177:1 Goodwin, op. cit., p. 21.

 

 

178:1 See Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum, London, 1893, p. 63.

 

 

178:2 For Iaooui we should probably read Ia oui.

 

 

178:3 British Museum, Gnostic gem, No. G. 33.

 

 

178:4 Kenyon, Greek Papyri, p. 123.

 

 

178:5 Ibid., p. 123. These names read Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Souriel, Zaziel, Badakiel, and Suliel.

 

 

179:1 Kenyon, op. cit., P. 121.

 

 

180:1 He of Alexandria, who lived about A.D. 120. He was a disciple of Menander, and declared that he had received the esoteric doctrine of Saint Peter from Glaucias, a disciple of the Apostle.

 

 


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