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Coptic Magical Texts


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Coptic Magical Texts

  1. 1. Helmut Satzinger Coptic Magical Texts 1. Amulets 2. Incantations 3. Handbooks International Summer School in Coptic Papyrology 23rd July - 30th of July 2006, Austrian National Library, Vienna
  2. 2. Magic: A technique of making use of supranatural powers Various aimes: protection, defense, healing; power, sexual disposability; cognition and revelation. Nevertheless, the forms are more or less the same, whatever the scope.
  3. 3. 1. Amulets Various contents, e.g. a magical design, usually in combination with magical names, an allusion to the danger from which the amulet should protect (e.g., snake bites), etc., or religious texts, in particular psalms, or portions thereof.
  4. 4. 2. Incantations Addressed to one or several particular powers, or spirits, for the benefit or the harm of one or several particular persons.
  5. 5. <sops ayv <parakalei motn npoyèai enetnran mn net(n)qom èekas etetnebi pitkas mn évne nim etéoop (n)anastaàhy tée nkiraàhy aio aio taxh I beg and implore you for the sake of the integrity of your names and your powers that you take away the pain and any disease that there is for Anastahēu, the daughter of Kirahēu – come, come, quickly ! BKU III 387, 36-41
  6. 6. Stereotyped introduction: <sops(P) ayv “I beg and I implore you” <parakalei Mmok / MmvtN The invoked dÊnamiw / dunãmeiw may be named before, or after. It may be called God Almighty, seemingly in a thoroughly orthodox Christian form. But note that the very same wording may also have Gnostic character. pèoeis p(e)nnoyte ppantokratvr Le Muséon 101, 51 The Trinity may be invoked: pçvt péhre pe(p)neyma (e)toyaab BKU III 389.1
  7. 7. We can identify pagan gods, mainly Egyptian: Isis, Horus, etc. and Gnostic figures, but the vast majority of beings that figure in the magic papyri are Christian, in accordance with the religion of the country and of the authors of the texts. GOD ANGELS DEMONS SAINTS Nevertheless - there is great influence of apocryphic literature (mostly lost and hence unknown to us)
  8. 8. W. Vycichl, Copt. Encycl.: Names and Magical Words A name is not only a simple means of identification but a part of personality. He who knows the name, the “true name,” of a god or a demon has a better chance of coming in contact with him. Some of these names are secret. Thus, Jesus Christ possesses a written name that nobody knows except himself. A spell speaks of the “great, true name of the Father,” another of the “great name,” and there are also his “true name” and his “hidden names.”
  9. 9. A frequent palindrome is Ablanathanalba [ablanauanalba], probably of Semitic origin, often misspelled, a sign that its palindromic character was not always apparent to the Coptic scribe. Agramma Chamari [agramma xamari] is often used with a preceding name as well as with Iaō Sabaōt [iav sabavt, Hebr. Yåhū, “God”; ‚|£bå’ôt, “armies”]. It is used frequently and has been explained as the name of an angel.
  10. 10. Some variations: akramaxamari Le Muséon 101, 56 ll. 68, 77-8, 83 apaaxamaxamari BKU III, 387.3-16 RAMaxAMARIVSAbAVU Kropp I, 50.7 Abraxas [abrajas] is not only the Gnostic name of the highest god but occurs also in the combinations Iaō Sabaōt Abraxas and Jesus Abraxas. abrasaj Kropp I, 50.8; iav sabbavu atvnai elvei elemas mikjanuhr abrasakj ib. 16.38-9
  11. 11. The name of the Phoenician sun-god, Baalsemes (literally “the Lord of the Sun,” Hebrew ba‘al shemesh), appears among other sun-gods, and once in a list of angelic aeons. Bainchōōch [bainxvvx], with graphic variants, once written with seven omegas, is Egyptian [bA n qqw] and means “Spirit of Darkness.” Marmaraōth [marmaravu] (Syriac, “Lord of Lords”) designates in the Coptic Magical Papyrus of Paris the sun-god Iaō. A similar form, Barbaraōth [barbaravu], the name of the highest god in the same papyrus, remains unexplained.
  12. 12. Some attested variants: marmariv marmariovu marmarivu mamarivu marmaroi marmaroy marmaroyax (Hebr. rûåH “spirit”) marmaroyhl Semesilam is from semes, “sun” (Hebrew shemesh); the second part of the name has been compared with Hebrew ‘ōlam, “world.” Maskelli Maskellō is a strange formation, once used to designate the goddess of fate. The name Zagourē is once written over the design of Typhon or Seth. zakoyraj Kropp I, 50.7
  13. 13. Four bodiless creatures with four faces and six wings in the book of Revelation are called Alpha, Leōn, Phōnē, Anēr. Alpha is the bull; Leōn, the lion; Anēr, the man; and Phōnē, the eagle. They represent the four evangelists.
  14. 14. The seven archangels are called Michaēl, Gabriēl, Raphaēl [àrafahl], Suriēl, Zetekiēl (Zedekiēl), Salathiēl, and Anaēl. The three men of the burning furnace (Dan. 3:19–23) occur in many texts: Shadrach, Meshnach, and Abednego [Heb. Šadrak, Mēšak, ‘Abed negō]. The twenty-four elders of Revelation 4:4 have names beginning with the twenty-four letters of the Greek alphabet and ending in -ēl (Hebrew for “God”): Achaēl, Banaēl, Ganaēl, Dathiēl, and so on.
  15. 15. Coptic magical spells [seem to be] full of senseless names and deformations. Bēth, apparently the name of a spirit and not the Semitic word for “house,” is followed in a spell by Bēthai, Bētha, Bēthari and then by Larouēl, Marmarouēl, Metetiēl, Sriēl, Ermiēl, and others ...
  16. 16. In Coptic spells and amulets the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet are widely used, either singly (as in aehioyv) or written seven times (aaaaaaa, eeeeeee, etc.). They are said to have a magical power and some relation to the seven planets... In another text – St. Mary’s Prayer Ad Bartos – she prays: Be greeted, diadem which is on his head – be greeted, seven names who are hidden in it, and which are a e h i o u v ! (Kropp III, 41)
  17. 17. The seven vowels may also be noted in a diminishing number, from 7 for a to one for v. This yields the form of a wing: aaaaaaa eeeeee hhhhh iiii ooo uu v
  18. 18. The same game is played with the seven letters of abrasaj, though sometimes with some inconsequences:
  19. 19. apaaxamaxamari apaaxamaxamar apaaxamaxama Also other names or apaaxamaxam apaaxamaxa elements are spelled apaaxamax in this triangular apaaxama form, e.g.: apaaxam apaaxa apaax apaa apa ap a
  20. 20. The Sator Arepo Square In the Coptic tradition, the famous palindrome has ARETO, rather than AREPO. s a t v r a r e t v t e n e t v t e r a r v t a s
  21. 21. The magical texts seem to be full of mistakes, of misspellings of the magical names. Nevertheless, there is at least one case where the extant version of the spelling makes sense in an impressive way. BKU III 387 is a parchment fragment addressing IS XS for the protection of a woman; after various magical elements, the invocation turn to three groups of three entities:
  22. 22. manij fareu fvranay péomet nàoyrit etroeis epivt ppantvkratvr You three guardias who watch over the Father the Almighty abiot agariabio àragoyhl péomet nàoyrit etroeis epéhre mpivt ppantvkratvr ... who watch over the Son of the Father the Almighty bhu bhua bhuaei péomet nàoyrit etroeis epePNA etoyaab ... who watch over the Holy Spirit
  23. 23. These three groups of three names can each also be found in other documents, although each time with slight variations of the form and the spelling. In our case, however, it can be shown that the spelling chosen is deliberate, and is chosen on account of an elaborate calculation. We have to do with a remarkable example of isopsephia, or gematriyah.
  24. 24. m 12 40 E.g.: a 1 1 n 13 50 i 9 10 j 14 60 49 161 The Minor Count: The Major Count: a= 1 a=1 (= = 6) l = 11 i = 10 (w = 90) f = 21 r = 100 v = 24 v = 800
  25. 25. manij fareu fvranay Associated with God Father abiot agariabio àragoyhl Associated with Jesus Christ bhu bhua bhuaei Associated with the Spirit
  26. 26. The main elements of invocations: • The “prayer”: I beg and implore you... • The names of the dunãmeiw invoked, the magical names, the seven letters... • Magical letters and pictures
  27. 27. The magical letters: IS XS bhu bhua bhua iav sabavu advnai elvei mixahl GABRIHL rafahl soyrihl asoyhl àragoyhl sara- fyhl [Instruction:] Troglitis myrtle (smÊrnhw). smhrnhs troklçths Draw two pictures (z–dion), grace svtion snay one for the pot, one for your neck. 3 bricks oya etqalaàt oya under the pot without handle (‘ear’) : abstinence ! Put epekmote tvbe : g king’s salt around you. àa tqalaàt natmaaèe : aknça : ka àmoy prro Mpekkvte//
  28. 28. Text on top: u(ysia) karbvn Née Nèoeit éoyrh namàat neàmh efanos : libanos àooyt mastix(h) Nàooyt koyrkoBIN : sthrj apokalaMVN pqvrq Ntqalaàt : morshne z bht qb tafn z . . àaqiè Nèhqe àaqin neqooqe éopéop z bht Nrooyne z : ée nabraàam z klom narteme- sias eèN tqalaàt Offering: charcoal of olive wood censer of white clay, real lamp oil : male incense male mastix cucumber : styrax, calamus juice the contents of the pot : myrtle 7 palm-leaf, bay-leaf 7.. purple mint baked (?) mint ... 7 virgin palm- leaf 7 : Abraham’s wood 7 wreath of wormwood (artemisia) upon the pot
  29. 29. Magical texts: In respect to their contents, they are of literary character. In respect to their language standards, they are comparable with documentary texts. Magic: In the Pharaonic civilization, magic was an aspect of the religion. From the standpoint of modern religions, like Christianity and Islam, magic is strictly deprecated: it is in blatant antinomy with their doctrines. What is the position of Coptic magic of the period in question ?