Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Scarab Beetle of Ancient Egypt, mystery and use in spells

For the ancient Egyptians the common scarab beetle, Scarabaeus sacer, was a daily reminder of KHEPRI, the manifestation of the sun god RE in the early morning. Khepri's job was to help the rising Sun journey across the sky each day, and he is often portrayed as a beetle rolling the Sun in front of him. The Egyptians noticed that the scarab beetles rolled balls of dung along the ground, and they saw this as an analogy for the Sun moving across the sky.

When they observed young beetles emerging from the ball of dung, it gave rise to the idea that the scarab reproduced without benefit of a mate. Actually, after fertilization the female deposited her eggs in a bit of dung and rolled it into a ball so that when they hatched, the newborns had food.
Since the emergence from the dung ball was the only part of this cycle that the Egyptians saw, they assumed the beetle was somewhat like the god ATUM, who begot children without a partner.

The Greeks were fascinated by the Egyptian culture and often wrote about their observations. The fifth-century Greek philosopher Horapollo from Alexandria gave an account of how the scarab beetle reproduces:
To denote an only begotten, or generation, or a generation, or a father, or a world or a man, they delineate Scarabaeus. And they symbolize by this an only begotten, because the Scarabaeus is a creature self-produced, being unconceived by a female; for the propagation of it is unique after this manner:— when the male is desirous of procreating he takes dung of an ox, and shapes it into a spherical form like the world; he then rolls it from the hinder parts from east to west, looking himself toward the east, that he may impart to it the figure of the world (for that is borne from east to west); then, having dug a hole, the Scarabaeus deposits this ball in the earth for the space of twenty-eight days (for in so many days the moon passes through twelve signs of the zodiac). By thus remaining under the moon, the race of scarabaei is imbued with life; and upon the ninth and twentieth day after having opened the ball, it casts it into the water, for it is aware that upon that day the conjunction of the moon and sun takes place, as well as the generation of the world. Horapollo, Book 1, X..
For thousands of years scarab AMULETS were carved in Egypt. It was believed that wearing a scarab amulet brought protection and a long life. It was actually a pun, for the word kheper in hieroglyphs means both "scarab" and "to exist." Egyptians wore scarabs as protection from harm and evil, they sometimes carved the name of a pharaoh because the pharaoh was under the protection of all the gods. A scarab with the name of Thutmose III was a favorite. One of the five names of the pharaoh (see KINGSHIP AND THE GODS), (Men-Kheper-Re), as Thutmose was also called, was so popular that scarabs with the name Men-Kheper-Re were being produced a thousand years after Thutmose's death.

Sometimes scarabs had popular inscriptions such as "Amun-Re is behind you, there is no fear," or "A mother is a truly good thing." There is even an inscription that reads "Have a good day." Whatever the message, it was meant to bring protection to the wearer. Not all scarab amulets were protective. Royal commemorative scarabs were issued to celebrate events and to send messages about the power of the pharaoh. Usually large, sometimes nine inches long, they were carved on the bottom with details of the event. These scarabs were sent like proclamations to rulers of foreign countries and to high Egyptian court officials. The most famous commemorative scarabs are those of Amenhotep III (1479–1425 B.C.). These scarabs celebrated five major events: a wild bull hunt; a lion hunt; the arrival of one of his minor wives, a princess from the land of Mitanni; the construction of a pleasure lake for Queen Tiye; and the marriage of Amenhotep III and Tiye. The scarab was also crucial in Egyptian funerary rites.

An ancient scarab amulet

Starting in the Middle Kingdom and continuing into the Ptolemaic period, scarabs were used to protect the heart of the mummy. When the deceased entered the Netherworld, he or she was judged and his or her heart was weighed against the feather of truth. Heart scarabs, usually carved in stone and about four inches long, were inscribed with a magical spell on the bottom designed to keep the heart quiet during judgment. It was feared that the heart might speak out against its owner and testify against him or her! This is why part of the spell reads:
O heart of my mother, O heart of my mother. Do not stand against me as a witness. Do not outweigh me before the keeper of the balance. Book of the Dead, spell 30B
The heart scarab of the Middle Kingdom mummy of Wah was solid silver. On the top, Wah's name and titles were inlaid with gold. On the bottom was an ankh sign with a few other hieroglyphs. Before the heart scarab was buried with Wah, the eyes and mouth of the scarab were destroyed so that if the scarab magically came to life, it could not harm its owner.

Scarab beetles were an essential ingredient in various magical potions. One spell in the Leiden-London magical PAPYRUS includes a complex set of instructions to make a woman fall in love with the magician. In part the instructions read: When the Sun rises, the magician dressed in a magic cape, with palm fibers masking his face, catches a "fish-face" scarab, and as the Sun rose in the sky, he recited the following magical spell seven times:
Thou are this scarab of real lapis-lazuli, I have taken thee out of the door of my temple thou carriest [?] ... of bronze to thy nose [?], that can eat [?] the herbage that is trampled [?], the field-plants [?] that are injured for the great images of the men of Egypt. I dispatch thee to N. born of N. to strike her from her heart to her belly, to her entrails, to her womb; for she it is hath wept [?] before the Sun in the morning, she saying to the Sun, 'Come not forth,' to the Moon, 'Rise not,' to the water, 'Come not to the men of Egypt,' to the fields, 'Grow not green,' and to the great trees of the men of Egypt, 'Flourish not,' I dispatch thee to N. born of N. to injure her from her heart unto her belly, unto her entrails, unto her womb, and she shall put herself on the road [?] after N. born of N. at every time [?] 
The scarab beetle then was drowned in the milk of a black cow and left until evening, when more spells were chanted. This was followed by several complicated rituals that ended when the resulting potion containing the dead scarab was dropped into a beaker of wine and given to the person whom the magician hoped would fall in love. Sometimes scarab beetles were mummified, so it is almost certain that they were sacred to the Egyptians. Their magical powers can be assumed from several of their uses: parts of the body and the wings were used to make an ointment for stiff joints; the wing cases were used in an unguent to facilitate childbirth; and evil spells were undone when a large beetle was beheaded, its wings removed, and body burned.

Cartouche or "Khartoush" is the royal stamp resemble the king name 
at the back of scarab shaped amulets.
some of these scarabs found inside the tombs were rumored of having the spell 
of "guards" protecting the king's mummy.

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