Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt
Isis conjured Ra to tell his Name—Evelyn Paul.
There is no exact evidence that magical force was supposed in Egypt to be drawn from a great central reservoir like the orenda of the North American Indians, the kramat of the Malays, or the mana of the Melanesians. But it is possible that an examination of the texts which had for its end the discovery of the belief in such a force would prove successful. Magic had its recognized representatives; these were the 'kheri-heb' priests, and in the period of the Old Kingdom the higher offices in this caste were filled by sons of the Pharaohs. Great importance was laid upon the manner in which the spell or magical formula was spoken. When a magician once found that a certain formula was effective at a certain time, he was careful to repeat it, when next he desired to say it, in an exactly similar tone and in similar circumstances. This was called 'right speaking,'
Amulets of Hathor—Photo W.A. Mansell & Co.
In no country was the amulet more in use than in ancient Egypt. It was worn both by the dead and the living, and, indeed, every member of the body was under the specific protection of some such talisman. A number of the amulets found upon mummies are inscribed with words of power, or magic formulæ, which would prove of use to them in the otherworld. Some of the more important amulets were those of the Heart, the Scarab, which protected the heart; the Pillow, which was placed under the neck of the mummy with the object of protecting its head; the Collar of Gold, which was intended to give the deceased power to free himself from his swathings; the amulet of the Eye of Horus,[Pg 264] the use of which was almost universal, and which brought strength, vigour, protection, and safety.