|Inscriptional violence - smashing pots, striking spells|
Here are some of the most unsettling ancient Egyptian smiting texts I’ve come across while researching my series of ancient Egyptian investigative thrillers.
By 'smiting texts' I include execrations by the state as well as curses of the private kind, such as those threatening rather unpleasant repercussions for tomb intruders:
‘No sons shall succeed you and a donkey shall violate your wife.’
‘He shall die from hunger and thirst’
'As for anybody who shall enter this tomb in his impurity: I shall wring his neck as a bird'
‘Then the crocodile, hippopotamus, and lion will eat him’
‘He shall be cooked together with the condemned’
Some texts are frighteningly vague:
‘Then the god will be against you.”
In the first novel in my Anson Hunter series of adventure thrillers, I give the reader the flavour of threat formulae – this example is typical of inscriptional violence used by the state as an instrument of esoteric warfare:
'I overthrow all enemies from all their seats in every place where they are… every land, every ruler, every servant, every woman, every man, every child, every animal… all will be destroyed forever. They will not exist, nor will their bodies. They will not exist, nor will their souls. They will not exist, nor will their flesh. They will not exist, nor will their bones… they will not exist and the place where they are will not exist.'
(The ultimate, catch-all curse and pretty chilling - see Berlin and Brussels Texts)
Come to think of it, the God of Moses hurled down some execrations himself, with devastating effects:
… 'I shall make the land of Egypt desolate, and the country shall be destitute of that whereof it was full … I shall smite all them that dwell therein ... then shall they know that I am the LORD.'
As my renegade hero Anson remarks during an address to a US Homeland think tank:
“You think remote killing is no longer attempted today? It is, and it’s being used by dissidents in the Middle East. Smiting and execration might seem unthinkable in our desacralized Western society, so let’s move forward to the twenty-first century. Take a look. It’s a Palestinian text, discovered in the Dead Sea in 2002, by an Israeli Professor and it directed virulent thoughts against the leaders of Israel. Here’s a translation…
“Oh God almighty, I beg you God to destroy Ariel Sharon, son of Devorah, son of Eve… Destroy all his supporters, loyal aides and confidants, and all those who love him and whom he loves among the human beings and among devils and demons.”
“It came in a small, cloth-wrapped bundle, surrounded with lead, an interesting choice of metal since the ancient Egyptians also used lead for hostile symbolic and magical purposes, because of its heaviness and malleability. A modern day execration? Did this long-distance attack strike Sharon down? His doctors probably had a more prosaic explanation, like a stroke with massive bleeding in the brain, but it shows you what many still believe. And if you think that’s all a bit vague and low-tech, here’s something for the technocrats:
"Oh God, destroy all their security and policing apparatus, the computers, the electronic and listening equipment…”
There must have been a few technocrats in the room. It got a visible stir.
“The ancient Egyptians, who could engineer stone pyramids to optical precision, millennia before the real flowering of their empire, were not perversely stupid in one department of their lives, nor were they peculiarly occult. They were an intensely practical society. You don’t keep doing something for four thousand years if it doesn’t work. They believed that ritual execration and smiting – creative visualisation with potent maledictions thrown in – worked, and it protected their nation for thousands of years. A better investment perhaps than any Star Wars anti-missile system?”
A monk, Abuna Daniel tells in The Smiting Texts:
“Regrettably, yes, there exist Coptic magical texts inspired by the Old Religion, written on papyrus, parchment and pottery. What do you seek? An Isis love spell? Or do you seek a spell to make a woman pregnant? Or perhaps you hope to lift the curse of a mother against her son’s female companion... and at the same time give the old woman an ulcerous tumour? How about a spell written on a blade-shaped parchment that can separate a man and a woman?”