TWO ancient Egyptian papyrus magic spells in use in or near Antinoopolis have been deciphered by Italian archaeologists, who say the curious documents had a "fill-in-the-blanks" format for targeting people to bless ... or to curse.
They were written around 1,700 years ago and filed away at the famous library at the town of OXYRHYNCHUS (which Hadrian and Antinous visited) near Antinoopolis and have been translated for the first time.
The names of those targeted are left blank to be inserted.
We know that the priests of Antinous wrote a LOVE SPELL. Lambert notes that even to this day local villagers believe the place to be haunted.
Just last year, scholars in Australia translated a GRIMOIR disguised as a Coptic prayer book which magician-priests at Antinoopolis could have used to cast spells.
But the latest discovery of two spells goes much farther towards enlarging our knowledge of magical skills in the Antinoopolis area.
One text invokes the gods to "burn the heart" of a woman until she loves the caster, said Franco Maltomini of the University of Udine in Italy, who translated the two spells.
Another spell, targeted at a male, uses a series of magical words to "subject" him, forcing him to do whatever the caster wants.
The two spells were not targeted at a specific person. Rather, they were written in such a way that the person who cast the spell would only need to insert the name of the person being targeted.
The deciphered love spell invokes several gnostic gods. (Gnosticism was an ancient religion that incorporated elements of Christianity.)
It says that the spell caster should burn a series of offerings in the bathhouse (the names of the offerings didn't survive degradation) and write a spell on the bathhouse's walls, which Maltominitranslated as follows:
"I adjure you, earth and waters, by the demon who dwells on you and (I adjure) the fortune of this bath so that, as you blaze and burn and flame, so burn her (the woman targeted)whom (the mother of the woman targeted) bore, until she comes to me…"
Then, the spell names several gods and magical words. It goes on to say, "Holy names, inflame in this way and burn the heart of her…" until she falls in love with the person casting the spell.
The text of the other deciphered spell calls for the person casting it to engrave onto a small copper or lead plaque a series of LEAD CURSE magical words, including the phrase translated as "subject to me the (name of the) man, whom (the name of the man's mother) bore…" and then to stitch the plaque onto something the man wears, such as a sandal.
The spell, if successful, was supposed to force the man to do whatever the spell caster wanted,the ancient text says.
On the back of that papyrus is a list of recipes that use droppings from animals to treat a wide range of conditions, including headaches and leprosy. Some of the recipes simply say that they help "promote pleasure."
One recipe says that a combination of honey and droppings from a bittern bird, used in a way that isn't specified, will "promote pleasure," according to the ancient text.
- Read the full story at: LiveScience.