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Ancient Egypt: Charm for the protection of a child
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Charm for the protection of a child

Run out, thou who comest in darkness, who enterest in [stealth (?)], his nose behind him, his face turned backward, who loses that for which he came.
Run out, thou who comest in darkness, who enterest in [stealth (?)], her nose behind her, her face turned backward, who loses that for which she came.
Comest thou to kiss this child? I will not let thee kiss him.
Comest thou to soothe (him)? I will not let thee soothe him.
Comest thou to harm him? I will not let thee harm him.
Comest thou to take him away? I will not let thee take him away from me.
I have made his protection against thee out of
Efet-herb, it makes pain; out of onions, which harm thee; out of honey which is sweet to (living) men and bitter to those who are yonder (i.e. the dead); out of the evil parts of the Ebdu-fish; out of the jaw of the meret; out of the backbone of the perch.
- -in darkness: The dead who were not at rest were active above all in the dark.
-he: Magic spells are in some way akin to legal writings: they are effective only against those against whom they are specifically applied. Using only the male form in a curse would leave the child open to attacks from female demons.
-to kiss this child: One had to guard against any, even seemingly friendly, approaches of ghosts.
-onions: Onions were widely used in medicine to prevent and cure diseases (i.e. neutralize the influence of the demons causing them).
-honey: Honey was known to be a preserving agent, it was also widely used in medicine.
-evil parts of the Ebdu-fish: Fish, considered unclean by many followers of Amen, were widely eaten by the populace. The smell of rotting fish, which might well keep people away, was also hoped to keep evil at bay.

P. Berlin 3027, ca. 16th century BCE
J. H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, p.291

 


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