Introduction to Ancient Hellenic Magick

Today, in Hellas there are no books on that subject and definately it is a forbidden subject for any hellenic university. The visitor of any hellenic museum will not find clues of ancient Withcraft, not even the Goddess of Witchcraft. The ancient tools, regalia and items of Witchcraft are not exhibits in any hellenic museum. The texts that are written by archaelogists in ancient archaeological sites do not write anything about magick. Did magick ever existed in Hellas? And if no, why all the words that are used in european languages about Witchcraft and its fields are hellenic? Well, magick was born in ancient Hellas and its foundations were the ancient hellenic mysteries, which could be found all over ancient Hellas, till today, where the ruins of the ancient temples stay and expand their energy spheres to the auric fields of the visitors. Mysteries, folk magick, professional witches, professional oracles, necromancy, war oracles, charms, spells, defixiones, talismans, basically any type of divination and magick was practiced all over ancient Hellas.

Why then, some scientists refuse to write what happened? Magick and science have strong connections, with magick being the oldest. So? A, the older brother sometimes gets angry... Anyway, let's follow Aeschines and speak the truth, not that it makes us feel good. For Witches magick is good and makes us better persons, but for people who cannot understand the basics of magick, like what is magick, then, for them, magick has a bad reputation, this reputation that they have given to this ancient noble art of the wise.

Some words that have been associated with Witchcraft, had changed their meaning in modern hellenic. One of these words is magganon, which meant in ancient times a potion or a charm, but nowadays it means something that is a faud. It simply doesn't work. The same word also ment something that helps bending in mechanics. Witchcraft is also the art of bending the fate. The wisdom of hellenic language is clearly understood. This change of the meaning occured in the middle of the Byzantine Empire. Christianity degrated Witchcraft in a way, since the Old Ways were an obstacle for the spiritual kingdom of the new religion. Let's return to the meaning of bending. As Aleister Crowley said, you can overcome the rules if you know them very well. Ancient Hellenes writers describe the Witch as a wise man and this continues to the Roman Period from Dion and Porphyri who write that Witches are priests of Gods closely connected with them. Strabo writes that in Parthia (Asia) Witches consisted one of the two parliaments that proposed laws. The kings of Parthis were elected from those 2 parliaments. Again in his work, Strabo writes that Garmanes had Witches who also were philosophers and necromancers. Those opinions are the same as mr. Gerald Gardner and his students had spread when they started to speak about Wicca. Magick gave birth to philosophy and philosophy. One of the sections of philosophy was the natural philosophy, the one which is called today, science. Pythagoras is a great example to follow, a scientist and a witch at the same time.

Goes and Pharmakeus

Since we saw the meaning of magganon and the act of magganeia, let's see some types of ancient Witches. Goos means great psychological pain. The word goes is the man who has this feeling. Goetia is the type of magick that goos is practicing. Maybe because a goes was practicing necromancy, a method that makes the person being unhappy and passive. Goes or goetes also practiced healing methods and he was teaching magick and ethics, along with spells. Pharmakeus is the Witch who uses herbs. He grows, collects, dries and make recipies, infusions, oils, essential oils, powders, poppets etc. Pharmakeia as a practice was a healing and also a poisoning method. Hekate was the Goddess who taught the art of pharmakeia to Witches. As in egyptian magick so to the hellenic magick, pharmakeia had a medicinal approach to cure people from illness.

Vaskanos

Reading the ancient texts you will discover that sometimes low magick was used for malefic purposes. Though theurgy was always oriented to the Gods and Goddesses, folk magick was used to help improvement of life and sometimes for taking revenge, obtaining things, changing opinions, bringing illnesses, punishment or even death. Ancient philosophers abominated negative uses of magick (arai=curses and lead tablets) to people, plants and animals. Plato in fact, is proposing immediate death sentence for them. The same punishment was a law in other civilizations. This was normal because ancient people knew that magick is very real and it works inevitably.

The motivation of many dark magickal practices that are binding in nature is phthonos (envy). When some persons admire one person, eventually they will feel that negative poisous emotion, phthonos. This motivates them to use negative techniques of low magick to hurt him. It is clearly not a characteristic of great magickians, but of common citizens. Sometimes this person develops an absolute behaviour, like the Atheneans did to their allies, by increasing taxes and then destroy the cities that didn't paid them. Binding magick was a weapon of poor people and of citizens who felt the lack of justice, that's why numerous curse tablets have been found and much more are buried in ancient graves. This motivation power caused by envy is called vaskaneia. The world can be found in Aristoteles, Plato and others. The source of vaskaneia are ypochthonic evil powers who give birth to those thoughforms to a weak person. Some symptoms of vaskaneia is to stop speaking fluently in public or to eat a lot different times a day or to have difficulties in choosing between things or have a sudden illness, a headache, bad luck etc. The person who is practicing vaskaneia is called vaskanos. Vaskanos wants to eliminate hope, good luck, success of its victim. He cannot stand them, because he hasn't got those goods.

Ancient Hellenes used to protect themselves from vaskaneia by wearing phylacteria (talismans). Phylacteria against vaskaneia were called avaskanta or provaskania meaning that they form obstacles for vaskaneia. A bracelet have been found with the phrase ΕΞΩ ΒΑΣΚΑΝΕ (go away vaskane) a ring have been found with the engraving ΠΥΓΙΣΩ ΣΕ (I will put you on a stick), referring to phthonos. Other talismans show a stick in an eye, the eye of vaskanos. A more powerful representation is a dagger ready to stab the pupil of an eye while two arrows are next to it ready to nail it too. An errected penus in front of an eye with snakes around it ready to attack is another talisman against vaskaneia. It seems weird for us today, but the errected penus of satyrs or Pan was a popular protection symbol against evil eye. In Leptis Magna there is a stone image with a scorpios sitting over an eye and a legged phallus ejaculating into it. Of course this is the eye of vaskanos. A mosaic from Antioxeia shows an evil eye with a bird, a scorpio, a dog ready to bite, a trident nailing it and an errected phallus before it. Phallus was used as a talisman too. Another aportopaic symbol is the bat of Hercules and the conic hats of Dioskouroi.

Photo from the museum of Kerameikos, Athens ancient agora In the left we see a part of a katadesmos full of binding magick and in the right a poppet (omoioma) from lead as a magganeia (part) of a curse spell. In the katadesmos the victim is bound in his/her tongue, soul, mind, actions, prudence, desires.

PGM

The most famous source of ancient hellenic magick are the PGM (Papyri Graecae Magicae). This abbrevation has been given by scientists who found papyri in Hellas and Egypt from 2nd century b.C. to 5th century a.C. They are written in hellenic, and latin. The PGM that we have today in our hands from the publication of Hans Dieter Betz, from publications of the university of Chicago in 1973, are just a small sample of ancient magick, because many papyri had been destroyed by christians, fire and other destructions. During the roman period, in Ephesus many books on Magick were burnt and according to Souetonius, 2000 magickal cylinders were burnt too. More papyri had been found till then and they are stored in national museums of England, France, etc. Allow me to note that the PGM have nott been translated in modern hellenic and they cannot be found in Hellas in any bookstore or library.

The PGM contain many spells and rites with voces magicaes, Gods from different panthea, kabbalistic names of the God, deep knowledge of the mythology etc. Some Gods can be found more often that others like Thot, Anubis, Serapis, Ammon, Horus, Agathodaimon, Typhon. This is normal because in hellenistic era, the whole known world was under the sword of Alexander the Great. So civilization mixes were easily happened. In fact, in Hellas, some Egyptian deities were worshipped officially, something that was not possible in the classic era, not possible by the law. In the mixes we see the connections between Gods from Hellas and Egypt. This has happened before in the hellenic towns, where olded Gods were replaced by newer but they kept both names and properties from the older. Isis is connected with Selene, Selene with Hekate. Bast is connected with Artemis, Horus with Apollo, Ammon with Zeus, Ptath with Hephestus etc.The Goddess Hekate was invoked more often in Cyprus, Egypt, Hellas, according to the papyri.

Katadesmoi

Katadesmoi in hellenic or tabellae defixionis in latin means great binding. The verb in hellenic is kata-deo. Lead tablets are small tablets made from lead with a charm engraved. Then the tablet is folded in the middle. A nail is passing to secure the binding. Lead can be engraved easily and has great duralibily in natural phenomena. So, it is a perfect material for eternal bindings. Lead is a metal that does not passes through the cleansing power of a fire. The nail that is used to engrave is also dark in color, because dead souls were used too to enfuse the binding, so the color should be dark too. Professional witches who did those bindings could be found in cities, but this technique was one of the favorites of all citizens. Binding spells were very common in ancient Hellas, because Hellenes believed very much in the power of the written words.

In Defixionum Tabellae of Auguste Audollent we find a katadesmos which Hekate, chthonios Hermes, Gaia, Mother of the Gods are invoked to bind some other Witches, their spells with the dead and their spells with other Gods and Goddesses. This technique reminds us the witches wars of medieval times...

Magickal images of Hekate found in a lead tablet in ancient agora of Athens. This exhibit does not exist in the museum of the ancient agora of Athens, today. It is found in the book Gods and Heroes in the Ancient Mediterranean, Princeton 1980 Hekate Triformis is engraved holding snakes, whips and torches. Magickal sigils are around her. This ancient symbol can be used as a phylacterion (talisman) today.

Threatening in Katadesmoi

Somethimes witches used to threaten a God in their writings in katadesmoi. In a tablet, a male Witch is writing that a woman told some bad things about Hekate, one of them is that She drunk human blood. He asks from Hekate to cause trouble sleeping, burn her genitals, make her mad and then guide her to him. Another woman offered to Selene fat (profanation), blood , sheet of a goat (profanation), blood from a young lady who died before her marriage (strong ghost), a heart of a dead baby (profanation), a dead dog's corpse (profanation), the embryo of a woman (profanation). She also offered sacred animals to fire along with a type of mouse (profanation). She spoke in public saying lies about the Goddess like that she likes to eat flesh, to put dead skin from people to her genitals etc. The witch is asking from Selene to punish her. Selene is called as Fate of Gods and people. Selene with Hekate and Artemis were considered to be the same Goddess.

Curse Tablets

In the hellenic island of Knidos close to the statue of the Goddess Demeter a curse tablet was found with the purpose to separate an illegal partnership. A married woman asks for Demeter, Persephone and Pluton, to curse another woman who stole her husband, Nakon. The woman is named Prosodia. She asks from the Goddesses not to show her any favor, to bring illness, punishments and make her live in hell. This tablet is considered to be created aryoun 200 b.C. Curses like this one were used as a mean of justice against thieves, love affairs, lies, false accusations and of course phthonos. In another curse tablet a woman who was flogged is asking from the same Goddesses to find her enemies and make them confess the truth. Another bronze tablet has a request for returning the lost gold items that thieves had stolen. In that bronze tablet the Mother of all Gods is invoked. At 249 b.C. in a stone of a cemetery, a curse is engraved to prevent necromantic rites.

In another roman lead tablet we read "Night that brings the snake (probably the Witch invokes Hekate) I guide you to this katadesmos of the text. Daimons and spirits who live here of men and of women, I summon you in the holy name (voces magicae). The curse continues. A woman curses another who mistreated her by bringing her bad luck and difficulties in relationships.

Another curse is alalia, to disable the ability to speak. Typical binding spells for the tongue so that the receiver could not speak about something specific. This may be gossip, lies about a person etc. In a tablet that has been found in Athens, Theodora is the victim who is bound with a curse not to speak about two other men. Hekate, Persephone, Hermes, Tythis and the restless dead are invoked. In the same tablet one of the men, Charias is also bound to forget about Theodora. In Courion of Cyprus in 1890 curse tablets were found but they transfered -again- in the british museum. In one of them the Witch Soterianos is making a strong invocation to the ghosts of the violently dead, of the dead who died before their time. This invocation is done to the name of the Goddes who shakes the earth, precipitates the body. The name of the chthonic God ΑΓΑΛΕΜΟΡΦΩΘ is used to make the invocation stronger. Moreover, the invocation continues calling all chthonic Gods, chthonia Hekate, chthonios Hermes, Pluto, Erynies and the dead... to make Ariston impossible to speak. The witch continues to give this name to the chthonic Gods using voces magicae ΑΛΛΑ ΑΛΚΗ ΚΕ ΑΛΚΕΩ ΚΕ ΛΑΛΑΘΑΝΑΘΩ, the Kore with the three names. In that curse of alalia, Hekate is called with Her properties (shakes the earth), by Her name and via Kore.

A curse tablet from Athens describes a story with a man who instead of guarding some things he stole them with a co-partner. The victim is invoking chthonios Hermes, Pluto, Persephpne, Fates, Kerberus and chtonia Hekate to make the thieves become ill in specific parts of their bodies. The names of the thieves are also written. Hekate, Persephone, Hermes, Fates are invoked again in anothet tablet, along with Furies (Erynies) to make the thieves bring back what they have stolen and as they bind them, they should also bind anyone who knows the thieves but doesn't speak.

From Egypt only 15 lead tablets have been found, due to the use of papyrus, a material that was easy to obtain in Egypt. One tablet has a binding spell written by a woman who loved Eutyches. Three Gods are used to help in the binding. Nekydaimon, the spirit of a dead, Abraxas, a God mainly invoked by Witches and Adonai, the christian God. This was very common in Witchcraft methods of hellenistic and roman area. In another lead tablet, Poseidonios is binding a woman who likes her, named Heronou. Chthonic Gods, associated with the dead are invokd like Ereshchigal, Hermes, Thoth and Anubis. Again, we notice the use of three different panthea. Spirits of the place are also invoked to bind the woman so that she will not like any other man, neither she will have any kind of sex with him. Voces magicae are also used, after the invocations. The help of a dead spirit is used in the end. In both cases the witches who use binding techniques are full in love. Professor Andre Bernard who has written The Grecs Sorciers and provides lots of information about curse tablets, he mentions that this word pattern is also repeated in other tablets from different places. He writes that there are at least five other tablets slightly different. According to this notice we can see that a witch school had been found and it was really active in roman period, especially concerning the fact that many tablets remain hidden and that papyros was used mainly in Egypt.

Phylacteria

Ancient amulets made by metals, crystals with magickal symbols on them were phylacteria or phylacteries. The hellenic magick tought the properties of metals and crystals from very ancient times, before 1300 b.C. or even before 11.000 b.C. Orpheus has written a book with the properties of rocks and crystals,. He established mysteries in many places all around Hellas. Ancient gold sheets with an except from mysteries have been found in the graves of initiated people. Also, those materials had astrological correspondences, like today. Even the word talisman is hellenic from the word telesma, meaning ritual performed. A phylacterion could have many forms, from a tablet, a sheet, a statue, any type of jewelery to pieces of fabric, wood etc. In magick the limitation is imagination.

Plylacterion with Aphrodite from the Museum of Kerameikos, Ancient Agora of Athens Perhaps it was used by women who served men in the place and they asked the Goddess Aphrodite to protect them. Moreover this phylacterion could be engraved in the back (still remains unknown) and be used as an invocation tool to the Ultimate Creator of the world as it looks like a phylacterion that was used for a very powerful altering the will rite, the "Sword of Dardanos". Dardanos was considered the founder of the Mysteries in Samothrace. This rite became popular in the Roman Era and the eight archangels were invoked too. Accorfing to the rite (PGM IV 1716-1870) the phylacterion had engraved Aphrodite over Phyche with Eros burning the Phyche. The burning offering to Eros is made of styrax, livani (franckincense), myrrh, saffron, bdella, fig, wine.

Kolossoi

Poppet magick was a partner of binding spells. Poppets or kolossoi were made of flour or lead or clay or wax or wood from specific trees. Parts of the body were bound with the same material that the kolossos was made or nails were used to certain areas of the body. In the PGV IV 296-334 there are clear instruction of how to bind a lover using kolossos, copper needles and a lead tablet. An extended use of voces magicae is taking place in the whole process. The witch is making a kolossos for the person he wants to bind and one other male in the form of Ares armed. The male is threatening the female and the the witch is binding the female poppet's hands and writes magickal words all over her body. The energy of Hekate is secretly used in this binding. At the next stage thirteen copper needles are nailed to specific parts no strengthen the binding according to the law of sympathy. Then in a lead tablet the name is written and the whole spell's words invoking also Abrasax to hold the poppet. At the final stage the help of a ghost is used, so the Witch will have to find a special interest grave and put it there.

A naked woman's popper (kollosos or omoioma) nailed for magickal purposes probably it is a love binding to prevent sex

Squares

Magick squares is not a technique of the grimoire magick, but it was used in ancient Hellas with the combination of voces magicae. The name of a daimon is written in squares or in triangular shapes or in pyramid or following other patterns like diagonal writing. Squares were used with other techniques.

Healing

Greek Magical Papyri contain a wide variety of healing spells, ceremonies, epodai for diferent kind of illnesses. From abortion to a bite. Witchcraft was the strongest competitor of medicine, if not the first choice. Herbal remedies, invocations or ceremonies were used to heal both psychological and physical weaknesses. Sympathetic magick was used most of the time to promote healing along with epodai. Dioskouride's work is full of herbal and animal parts that are used. Hippocrates fought magick maybe because medicine had an antagonist. Healing magick also promoted in organized places like oneiromanteia, places where divination was practiced for healing purposes. Crystals and phylacteries were also constructed for healing and removing pain from specifil parts of the body.

Conclusion

In ancient Hellas, Witchcraft was an art. Many people knew Witchcraft techniques like epodai (invocations), (religious) hymns, potions and used them to improve their lives. Divination techniques and healing magick were among the most useful but katadesmos was the most used technique. Katadesmoi were so popular that the structure of the technique is similar in different places where Hellenes lived. Professional witches were used for oracular work, divinations, necromancy, making herbal brews and phylacteria. Hellenic magick used a certain structure of a rite which contained voces magicaes, invocations, praying to cosmic deities and oftenly chthonic deities, daimons, witch Gods and Goddesses from different panthea and a combination of techniques to strengthen the magick. It was a long process, not an easy rite with the Witch having a great knowledge of different theologies. Witches did not only made charms, potions, ointments, phylacteries but they also taught their art daily. Witchcraft was passing orally like many ancient arts and sciences and many Hellenes took lessons in order to know how to protect themselves from the actions of phthonos, envy and dark magick.

Divination, necromancy and binding spells with curses were used every day. Witchcraft had been developed greatly as a practice, as a system, as a philosophy and many of occult arts have been reached their peak in Hellas and of course in Egypt. Too many references can be found in ancient texts and concerning the fact that 97% of ancient hellenic texts have been destroyed, especially those with religious and magickal teachings... we can understand how important magick was in the ancient world. After all, magick and religion are interconnected in the ancient world. Professor Andre Bernard in Grecs Sorciers he is makes the conculsion that education should forbid people to learn and practice Witchcraft, but teachers, doctors, rhetors used magick frequently. He also refers a tablet from Attica in which a teacher and his friends are bound by a colleage or a parent of a student.

Category: 
Evaluation: 
0
No votes yet

Theurgy and Philosophy are two different methods which lead to the union with God.

Follow on

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Latest Comments

Shrines

Back to Top