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Magic in the ancient world?

Many of us have heard a little about Celtic teachings, and its base in modern day Wicca. Thats a good starting point, but I’d like to learn more about the various ways people related to the supernatural throughout history independent of organized religion. What were some of the magic practices (witchcraft, shamanism, herb-lore it could have been many different things to different people) in the ancient world, say the bronze age. What do we know about Egypt, Greece or Babylon and their spells for instance?
P.S sorry if this is worded a little awkwardly!


  1. The study of magic in the Greco-Roman world is a branch of the disciplines of classics, ancient history and religious studies. In the ancient psycholinguistic world of the Greeks and Romans (the Greco-Roman world), the public and private rituals associated with religion are accepted by historians and archaeologists to have been a part of everyday life. Examples of this phenomenon are found in the various state and cult Temples, Jewish Synagogues and in the early Christian cathedrals and churches. These were important hubs for the ancient peoples of the Greco-Roman world that were representative of a connection between the heavenly realms (the divine) and the earthly planes (the dwelling place of humanity). This context of magic has become an academic study especially in the last twenty years.[1] Magic is generally seen as “any attempt to control the environment or the self by means that are either untested or untestable, such as charms or spells. There are plenty of books for sell, that have a better perspective of things.

  2. In Ancient Egypt (Kemet) Heka was the divine manifestation of Magick.
    “Heka literally means activating the Ka, the aspect of the soul which embodied personality. Egyptians thought activating the power of the soul was how magic worked. “Heka” also implied great power and influence, particularly in the case of drawing upon the Ka of the gods. Heka acted together with Hu, the principle of divine utterance, and Sia, the concept of divine omniscience, to create the basis of creative power both in the mortal world and the world of the gods.” Wikipedia
    “Egyptians believed that with the help of heka, they could influence the world of the gods and gain protection, healing and support.” (Wikipedia)
    The only concept of evil/illegal magic was magic used against the Pharaoh

  3. The Graeco-Roman world was most known for its curses inscribed on tablets (called “katadesmoi”).
    Also, the Greek Magical Papyri are a very important magical text of the ancient world.
    Greece was always big into all sorts of Magic. Divination (oracles anyone?), curses, love, bindings. Name it and they did it!
    Egypt was also very into Magic. There are countless texts and frescos depicting magical methods. The most well known book is the Book of the Dead (or as it is actually called “The Book of Coming Forth by Day”) which has all kinds of magical methods they used mainly for the aid of the dead (since the afterlife was of great importance to them).
    Also, Egyptian Magic was bound to the clergy meaning all other “users” were outlawed so that neither the clergy’s power would be opposed nor the Pharaoh’s life threatened.


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