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Ancient Egyptian book of spells deciphered


Posted on Saturday, 22 November, 2014 | Comment icon 14 comments

Candles are often used in spells and rituals. Image Credit: sxc.hu
Researchers have succeeded in interpreting a 1,300-year-old handbook full of invocations and spells.
The 'Handbook of Ritual Power', which is written in an Egyptian language known as Coptic, is an ancient codex consisting of several pages of bound parchment. Obtained in 1981 by Vienna antiquities dealer Michael Fackelmann, the book's origins before he acquired it remain something of a mystery.

Its timeworn pages contain invocations intended for a variety of situations and include love spells, exorcisms and methods for treating conditions such as the bacterial infection 'black jaundice'.

The book dates back to the 7th or 8th century at a time when many Egyptians were Christian. While some of the invocations reference Jesus, others are associated with a group known as the 'Sethians' who held Adam and Eve's third son Seth in high regard.

One of the spells details how to subjugate someone by uttering a magical formula over two nails and then "driving them into his doorpost, one on the right side (and) one on the left."

The codex can currently be found at the Museum of Ancient Cultures in Sydney.

Source: Live Science | Comments (14)

Tags: Egypt, Spells

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by questionmark on 22 November, 2014, 9:56
I'm pretty sure they didn't. Ancient spells can be pretty funky and are powered by a lifetime of belief in the deity and powers. All cultural context is lost, so calling on Baktiotha. These have a lot in common (it seems) with some of the medieval magical spells that I've seen from the time of Roger Bacon. Naturally they do, the guild of quacks has not changed its recipe since Sumeria until von Daniken.
Comment icon #6 Posted by GreenmansGod on 22 November, 2014, 14:50
A book of spells usually only works for the practitioner that makes the book. But it is historically a really cool find.
Comment icon #7 Posted by kartikg on 22 November, 2014, 18:41
A book of spells usually only works for the practitioner that makes the book. But it is historically a really cool find. What did you mean by that? Was that sarcasm? Or something myth related to book of spells.
Comment icon #8 Posted by pallidin on 22 November, 2014, 19:24
Interesting find to be sure.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Zero Fox FK on 22 November, 2014, 22:11
"Kanda… Es-trada.. Montos… Ea-grets… Gat… Nos-feratos… Kanda… Amantos… Kanda." Time to chop off my hand and replace it with a Chainsaw.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Lumpino on 23 November, 2014, 18:21
Ancient Egyptian? Text in the picture looks like from Greece.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Lumpino on 23 November, 2014, 18:23
Ancient Egyptian? Text in the picture looks like from Greece.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Sir Wearer of Hats on 23 November, 2014, 21:28
It's all Greek to me ...
Comment icon #13 Posted by Erowin on 24 November, 2014, 5:18
Why was it so hard to read? I thought Coptic was a language known to scholars?
Comment icon #14 Posted by jaylemurph on 24 November, 2014, 7:28
I wonder if the translators tried using any of the spells. You know, whip up a love spell for "academic purpose" after the kids are in bed. *cough cough* I may have tried to summon up the devil once or twice using Renaissance texts. Old Nick never showed up, but it did summon up Them of the Drooly Excresences. Or maybe they were just walking by and heard me execrating the name of the Lord.* --Jaylemurph *Doctor Faustus joke


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