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Egyptian Amulets From Past to Present
The Egyptian word for amulet is mk-t which means protection. It is also derived from the Arabic root meaning “to bear” or “to carry”. The substances used to make Egyptian Amulets were believed to possess magical powers that would be passed on to the wearer. Amulets offered protection of the living or the dead body, against all sorts of evil forces. The gemstone of which the amulet is made of, the images on the amulet, the shapes of the amulet; all of these were significant. In today’s modern society, amulets are small objects that a person wears, carries, or offers to a deity because he or she believes that it will magically bestow a particular power or form of protection.
The most powerful of these Egyptian Amulets were those that were inscribed with the names of Gods. The oldest of the Egyptian amulets dates to the Neolithic period. Some protected the wearer against specific dangers and others endowed him or her with special characteristics, such as strength or fierceness. They were often in the shape of animals, plants, sacred objects, or hieroglyphic symbols. The combination of shape, color and material were important to the effectiveness of the amulet. The objects could be either man made or natural items.
Influence of magic is a typical feature of any society that is guided and dominated by some specific religious beliefs. Egyptians believed in the healing and protective power of the amulet and they were worn by the children and adults alike. In order to give an amulet its power, it had to be made and dedicated in strict accordance with the instructions written in the Book of the Dead. Only then, would the appropriate god’s spirit live within and energize the amulet.
The Egyptians believed the heart was not only the seat of the power of life, but also the source of both good and evil thoughts; and it sometimes typified the conscience. It was guarded after death with special care, and was mummified separately, and then, with the lungs, was preserved in a jar which was placed under the protection of the god Tuamutef.
The main function of ancient Egyptian Amulets of the heart was to replace the organ when it was removed during mummification which was the process of preparing the body for the afterlife. As the actual organ was preserved in canopic jar this Egyptian amulet was used to replace it and transferred the protection of the Egyptian God Ra to the mummy. It was created out of lapis lazuli or carnelian and actually shaped like the canopic jar in which the heart is preserved.
Amulet of the Scarab Kheper (or khepper) was a scarab beetle, and was associated with creation or rebirth, because large quantities of these beetles seem to be born from nothing right out of the ground and from balls of dung. Words and names were often inscribed on metallic scarabs.
The Egyptian amulet of the Buckle, represents the buckle or the girdle of Isis, and is usually made of carnelian, red jasper, red glass, and of other substances of a red color; it is sometimes made of gold, and of substances covered with gold. The buckle was attached to the neck of the deceased, where the rubric ordered it to be placed, it had to be dipped in water in which nkham flowers had been steeped; and when the words of the Buckle had been recited over it, the amulet brought to the deceased the protection of the blood of Isis, and of her words of power. The wedjat eye of Horus, made of blue or green faience (tin-glazed pottery), was commonly used for mummies. It was carved as the eye of Horus, or a falcon’s eye. This amulet was believed to have regenerative and protective benefits. It was also sometimes used to represent food for the deceased.
The Ankh is a symbol of life. It was originally a sandal strap, the round part going around the ankle. The two words “sandal strap” and “life” sounded the same, so the sandal strap came to represent life, by what is known in linguistics as the “rebus principle.”
The Djed pillar or column represented stability and has been thought of as the backbone of the God Osiris. During specific festivals, a large Djed was a phallic symbol and raised during the festivals as a sign of the power and duration of the Pharaoh’s rule.
The cartouche (a loop or two of rope) is a popular piece of jewelry, usually containing a person’s name. In ancient times, only the king (or queen or sometimes high priest) had his name in a cartouche. Other people just had their names spelled out, with perhaps a sign to indicate that the name was that of a man or woman. The Tyet amulet was a symbol of the Goddess Isis and was associated with life and welfare. At times is has been called The Knot of Isis because it resembles the knot used to tie the clothing the Gods wore. It has been referred to as the Blood of Isis, and is thought by some to represent the menstrual flow of Isis and the magical properties it had. Amulets of the Pillow were found underneath the neck of the mummy, and thought to lift and protect the head of the deceased. They were usually made of hematite and inscribed with text from the 166th chapter of the Book of the Dead, a funerary text.
Many of these same ancient Egyptian amulets are still being made today though in some cases, the amulets meaning has changed somewhat. Many newer types of Egyptian amulets are also being made and can be found made of various stones and/or metals with a purpose available to cover almost any needs you might have.
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