Geraldine Pinch,
Magic in Ancient Egypt
(University of Texas Press, 1995)

Geraldine Pinch explains one of the most misunderstood concepts in ancient Egypt -- magic. Western culture has relegated magic as something "below" religion, akin to coin tricks, or as something demonic and evil which relies on the help of ungodly forces to achieve. Magic is seen as something completely separate and distinct from religion.

However, in ancient Egypt, magic and religion are so entertwined that to try and separate the concepts leaves a large gap of understanding. Magicians and priests are one and the same. Pinch tries to explain the practical applications of magic in the Egyptian culture, and how magic ties in with ancient Egyptian beliefs of life, death, and religion.

She breaks down the different types of magic into categories, ranging from healing to heiroglyphs to funerary rites. She shows us how magic could be practical (helping to heal scorprion stings, preventing illness, love spells), to elaborate in religious ceremonies (for example, by providing the deceased with intricate spells to combat the dangers in the afterlife). And she provides the mythologies much of the magic is based upon.

Pinch also explains magic in such a straightforward matter that anyone interested in learning more about the concepts of magic in Egyptian life need not be an academic to understand. The reader should begin to understand that magic and religion cannot stand without the other in the ancient Egyptian culture.

[ by Jade Falcon ]

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