Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pharaoh as Wizard in Ancient Egypt


Thanks hugely to Ben Morales-Correa for continuing to prop up this blog with his hard work. He has taken the time out to translate the Spanish article which I posted about yesterday - an extract from the book The Wizards of Ancient Egypt. Madrid, 2002, by Francisco J. Martin Valentine. Here is Ben's translation:

Magicians in Egypt were considered 'state officials'. They were called upon to exercise magic as priests, replacing the pharaoh himself, the magician par excellence throughout Egypt because he possessed the Two Crowns, the most powerful magical instruments. These practitioners of magic, so to speak, exercised their functions within a formal framework, as part of the system of order and organization of the cosmos and the Egyptian world, and belonged to a profession formed in the temples inside the Houses of Life.

According to Egyptian thought, magic was the power to hold 'Heka', or magical power.

Heka' was an attribute of the gods and, by extension, the king, and had the fundamental purpose of obtaining the knowledge of the nature of the universe and the sensorial world, to control them for the sake of humanity and creation.

Thus, the first and most important purpose of magic was to provide human collaboration to facilitate compliance with the divine plan, and its principal actor was the king.

The king, imbued on his own with Heka, had among his main obligations the maintenance of the creation of the first day, as a successor of the gods on earth, his magical power was mainly aimed at guaranteeing that the daily cycle of life in the land of Egypt was constantly assured by holding rituals in temples and by the force of his own power.

The king was officiant par excellence. He was the 'Lord of the Rites' and'

Lord of the Crowns'. These were the two specially magical attributes that reflected in the titularities or names of kings.

The condition of 'Lord of the Rites' was equivalent to owning and holding all magical proceedings. He had all the knowledge necessary to sustain life; night and day, the sun, stars, moon and planets.

He had the power to grow the Nile in its time. The pharaoh had knowledge of the magical proceedings to neutralize the 'Nine Arches', the nine nations that were traditional enemies of Egypt.

As' Lord of the Rites', the king ordered the heaven and earth, because he had been initiated and knew what was beyond the earthly life. The king controlled by magic the winds from the south and the north winds. They were his wet nurses. Breathing the north wind brought life-giving abundance.

He had the means to hold the four celestial winds that could not oppose his will. He had the virtue to fight the storms of heaven. He was able to disperse the clouds laden with rain and, according to the Pyramid Texts, mounted on a cloud he could reach the divine light.

With his power, the king was able to defeat the unbridled elements and become a cosmic traveler, in the hereafter.

All that was said was true because he had been conceived and put into the world begat by the primordial energy to govern all kingdoms. The texts follow as well: Look, O king! that you may govern the hills of Horus. May you govern the hills of Seth. May you govern the hills of Osiris!

This shows that the pharaoh of Egypt was the center of creative thinking for the world, was the means through which the universe was made visible and sensible in the eyes of the rest of the mortals.

Engendered by the earth and sky, Pharaoh was heir to the throne of the god Gueb, and the son of all divine powers enabling him to be, in turn, the sustaining father of all creation dependent on him.

As' Lord of the Crowns', the Red Crown and the White Crown, he was the owner of his magical power. They were his protectors. The king could order the Red Crown, terrible fire serpent, to hail him as pharaoh, as the crown itself was acclaimed.

The two crowns were mothers of the king; the Red Crown Cross nurtured him; the White Crown gave him possession of the land. When the king placed the White Crown on his head, it was like the very head of Ra. When he wore the Red Crown, the doors of the bright regions opened for him, for he had become the owner of Ureaus whose name is ' That Who is Great in Magic '.

This terrible fire serpent gave the king his magical powers. Nobody else could possess it because only he knew the magic words that appeased it.

With his possession the pharaoh could make everyone fear him as much as the crown itself was feared; produce terror, be acclaimed and loved as the crown was. It was the Crown that delivered the crook and the flail, Heka and Nehaha to the pharaoh, and the magical power and eternity to govern all living beings and all Aj, or luminous beings.

The White Crown, the mother goddess of Nejen, was also attributed similar powers. She was the Great protector of Horus, in the midst of the two Eneads. For her, the pharaoh was Ra himself.

Pharaoh appeared in glory before the gods bearing the divine light, and his radiant appearance under the Two Crowns, made him, as Ra Kheper, Lord of Upper and Lower Egypt. Fears arose in all hearts when the king, the magician par excellence, was seen in all his power and all glory.

From the book The Wizards of Ancient Egypt. Madrid, 2002
Author: Francisco J. Martin Valentine

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, neat article. I'll be looking for that book.