A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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n             MAGIC HEALING IN THE PRE-CHRISTIAN ERA           53
onkh, ' the house of life \ One of these schools was at Memphis, originally the principal temple of Imhotep, others existed at Thebes, Sais and On (Heliopolis). The head priest of Sais bore the title ' Greatest of all the physicians \ Of these we know but little, but it seems that magic could be taught there, and the belief in magic was thus a tribute to knowledge. The magician's power might in some cases be due to special gifts. The instructions appended to magical incantations usually presupposed that private individuals could use them for their own profit if only they observed the right precautions. Thus the magician's presence was not essential, and his authority lay solely in the fact that he was the possessor of magical knowledge : the epithet ' knower of things ' was commonly applied to him.
In practice, the magician often spoke of himself in the first person, but sometimes he identified himself with a particular god whose assistance he desired. At other times he merely claimed to be ' the servant of Horus ', or some other deity.
As early as c. 1500 B.C., Prince Ptah Hotep, in describing senility, wrote, ' The heart grows heavy and remembers not yesterday \ This statement may have had a basis, even at that time, in anatomical as well as in psychological observations.93 The Egyptians thought themselves to be possessed of several different selves, and a careful perusal of their teachings clearly indicates that such beliefs were a very definite anticipation of the modern doctrine of the subconscious mind.201 In the Ebers Papyrus (c. 1550 B.C.), mental disease is mentioned, but is attributed to ' possession ', or the action of evil spirits. At a somewhat later date the temples of Saturn were remarkably fine asylums where every advantage which an experienced priesthood could invent