“Ancient Egyptian Magic is the first authoritative modern work on the occult practices that pervaded all aspects of life in ancient Egypt. Based on fascinating archaeological discoveries, it includes everything from how to write your name in hieroglyphs to the proper way to bury a king, as well as:
· Tools and training of magicians
· Interpreting dreams
· Ancient remedies for headaches, cataracts, and indigestion
· Wrapping a mummy
· Recipes for magic potions and beauty creams
· Explanations of amulets and pyramid power
· A spell to entice a lover
· A fortune-telling calendar
These subjects and many more will appeal to everyone interested in Egyptology, magic, parapsychology, and the occult; or ancient religions and mythology.” — back cover
“During the present century Egypt has become a centre of attraction for ever-growing numbers of people. The Nile valley and its monuments are visited by tens of thousands of tourists each year. The political and economic life of the Arab peoples evoke equal interest of a different kind. The country’s development is taking place in a rich historical context, which reaches back beyond classical antiquity and ancient Israel to the earliest advanced civilizations of the Orient. This growth of interest in Egypt has long since ceased to be the preserve of a few specialists, but finds expression in school curricula and influences the outlook of ordinary men and women. All this creates a need for books which can enable lovers of ancient Egypt to enter into the spirit of its great civilization.”
“Yet behind all aspects of life of those who dwelt on the Nile in ancient times—behind their art, political structure and cultural achievements— one may sense forces at work which are religious in origin. To penetrate into this alien but fascinating field of inquiry is the desire of many and a necessity for all who seek a clearer understanding of ancient Egypt.”
“Above all I have tried to see Egyptian religion as the faith of the Egyptian people. Political, economic and social events are, so dar as I am concerned, only ‘the conditions in which phenomena appear’, to use Goethe’s words. The focal point for these phenomena, in my opinion, is man’s relationship to God.”
“While engaged upon this work I realized that one has to have experienced oneself the meaning of religion and of God if one is to interpret from the sources the relationship between God and man in an age remote from our own. But one also realizes that the great, simple concerns of mankind are the same through all eternity, whatever variations are introduced by physical circumstances and differences of mental outlook. One further perceives that preoccupation with a particular religious creed may open up avenues for an understanding of religion as such, just as the student of a foreign language or culture will often thereby obtain profounder insight into his own language and culture. I have come to be convinced that Egyptian religion can fulfil the same purpose for those who immerse themselves in it.” — from the Foreword
“Like the Book of the Dead, the ancient Egyptian document that contained specific instructions and guides for the behavior of the disembodied spirit in the Land of the Gods, the present work is crucial for understanding hieroglyphic Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife. It comprises complete hieroglyphic renderings of the texts of two ‘books of the underworld’—the Book Ȧm-Ṭuat and the Book of Gates—which provided the dead with a guide their souls would need to make the journey from this world to the abode of the blessed.
In these books both the living and the dead could learn not only the names, but also the forms, of every god, spirit, soul, specter, demon and monster they were likely to meet along the way. For modern readers, these ancient texts throw considerable light on the development of material and spiritual elements in Egyptian religion and on numerous primitive gods unknown outside these books.
Originally published in three volumes, the books are reprinted here as one work and include English translations and descriptions of all the hieroglyphic texts. Of particular interest to students of Egyptology, these extraordinary documents will also be of value to archeologists and anyone interested in the religions of ancient civilizations.” — back cover
Assman is an Egyptologist by profession, but this book is a more general work of “mnemohistory,” in which he sets forth a history of the development of the “Mosaic distinction.” It is an example of the best and most responsible sort of historical deconstruction, with the aim of sleuthing out “religious antagonism and its overcoming,” which should be welcome to sagacious readers everywhere. It provides a serious, detailed treatment about the historical figure of Moses as it has been alternately opposed to and aligned with evolving appreciation for ancient Egyptian religion.
After some intellectual background, the first set of chapters begin by treating classical literary sources, and then work through an historical sequence beginning with English Hebraist John Spencer (1630-1693), and progressing through Renaissance Hermetists, Enlightenment freethinkers (at which point expressly Masonic contributions to the topic start to appear), Spinozists, Friedrich Schiller, and 19th Century “cosmotheism,” to Freud’s Moses and Monotheism.
That survey concluded, Assmann returns to ancient Egypt and shares some of the latest contemporary research on the Amarna religion (or anti-religion) of Akhenaten, long espoused as the possible point of origin for Western monotheism. That chapter should be of value to anyone interested in mysticism or esoteric traditions, as it treats an ancient approach to the divine as Light. [via]