A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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ii             MAGIC HEALING IN THE PRE-CHRISTIAN ERA           51
and expected of the physician, who consequently used magical means. The doctor who prescribed remedies, however, was regarded merely as a clever practitioner. Gradually, then, medicine was liberating itself from the thraldom of magic, but even in the remedies, magic was latent. This is evident from the strange nature of some of the ingredients ; for example, the milk of a woman who has borne a male child. It can be shown that magical properties were associated with many simpler foodstuffs, such as honey and onions, but in many cases the well attested wholesomeness of these was at least a contributory cause of their use. In remedies the magical element has receded into the background, while in many predominantly magical rites the gradual intrusion of scientific ideas can be traced. Thus the borders of magic and medicine overlapped. Medicine was at its best in diagnosis and physiological speculations : its materia medica, however, was permanently influenced by magic.
The ritual of Egyptian magic included a spoken formula, which in order to be efficacious must be recited exactly as prescribed, and an act of gesture, often to be performed at a particular time and under special conditions of place and position. In one of the myths about her, I sis is said to have healed her son by laying on her hands, and it is likely that this was a common practice in healing. Davis45 (p. 21) says that the ancient Egyptians healed by the art of making passes and the laying on of hands. The choice of word and act was based on the doctrines of sympathy and homeopathy ; the belief that two things which have once been connected may continue to react upon each other even after separation, and the belief that like has power to affect like. In accordance with these principles a burn might be cured by the recitation of the words