Mol (mollyringle) wrote,
Mol
mollyringle

Ancient spells from Greek papyri; or "Dear, go next door and borrow the brains of a vulture."

One of the nerdy mythology books I have around is this one:



And one of its appendices includes translations of various writing found on bits of papyrus from ancient Greek times. The magical spells in particular interested me (these are part of the Greek Magical Papyri, if you're curious), because they are exactly as bizarre and specific as anything Willow ever whipped up on a Buffy episode, or any Herbology or Potions extra credit Hermione ever undertook. For example, check out the instructions for preparing the Spell To Make Aphrodite Attract One's Lover:

* * *

Offering to the star of Aphrodite: A white dove's blood and fat, untreated myrrh, and parched wormwood. Make this up together as pills and offer them to the star on pieces of vine wood or on coals. And also have the brains of a vulture for the compulsion, so that you may make the offering. And also have as a protective charm a tooth from the upper right jawbone of a female ass or of a tawny sacrificial heifer, tied to your left arm with Anubian thread.

* * *

Even in the age of Ebay, a person would be hard pressed to collect all that stuff. I, for one, am all out of Anubian thread and have no idea where to get more. Do you think dental floss would work?

But that spell is less scary than the All-Purpose Magical Prayer to Selene (who is identified with Hecate here). In that one, you're supposed to carve a three-faced Hecate on a lodestone, then dip it "in the blood of one who has died a violent death." Yikes. Is that just a polite way of saying "sacrifice someone for this spell"? Or are you expected to find a recently-violently-dead person lying around by chance?

"Honey? Do we know anyone who died a violent death today? I need it for a spell."
"Let me check the pantry. Nothing here...oh wait! I found one by the back door. That was lucky."
Tags: books, history, mythology, spookiness, weird
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