Demons and magic in ancient Egypt Demons lived at the edges of creation, both in the world of the living

and of the dead. In the Underworld, some demons were the followers of Osiris, while others harassed those who travelled through his realm. Even the boat of the sun-god was not safe, and was threatened every night by Apophis. Similarly, in the world of the living, demons known as the 'Messengers of Sekhmet' brought disease and misfortune, and the discontented dead and evil spirits could disturb the lives of ordinary people. The Egyptian word translated as 'magic' is heka. As a god, Heka appeared at creation as the creator's life-giving force. Heka could also be invoked in times of crisis. For humans, this could be a life threatening event such as illness, the bite or sting of a poisonous animal or childbirth. In ancient Egypt there was no distinction between 'medicine' and 'magic'. Treatments consisted of the diagnosis of the complaint, a prescription, and a formula to be recited. A variety of gods could be called upon to give their aid, especially Isis, who was called 'Great of Magic' and her son Horus. Amulets associated with these deities were also worn as protective and preventative measures.

Papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Ankhwahibre

From Egypt Late Period, around 500 BC Showing the main funerary amulets In the Late Period (661-332 BC), elaborate coffins and large numbers of amulets took over the functions of the decorated tomb and its grave goods. The Book of the Dead included spells which would activate these amulets, including drawings of them in case they were damaged or stolen. Spells 155 to 160 of the Book of the Dead give the incantations (magical spells) to be said over the most important amulets, all of which were placed at the neck of the mummy for protection. Each spell clearly indicates the material of which the amulet should be made, the type of cord on which it should be suspended, and any associated actions which should be performed. The colour and other properties of the materials symbolized concepts such as endurance, rebirth and regeneration. The papyrus column gave the protection of Thoth to keep the body whole. Its green colour indicated regeneration. The knotted cloth amulet identified the owner with Isis in her form of 'Mistress of Magic'. It also protected the body, activated by moistening it with juice from a specific fruit. The falcon headed collar and the vulture identified the deceased with Horus, son of Osiris and Isis. The djed pillar identified the wearer with Osiris. Length: 63 cm (frame) Width: 32 cm (frame)