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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Medicine                               183
patient's body. These spells, of varying length and elaboration,
are full of references to the gods and contain fragments of myths
of the highest interest. Some of the more elaborate spells
embody threats and exorcisms of a very daring character. In
these simplest cases, the magician operated merely by word of
mouth only, but in most spells the spoken words are accom-
panied by a ritual—by gestures, or by the use of amulets and
other objects. These two essential parts of the magician's art
have been aptly defined by Dr. Alan Gardiner as the oral rite
and the manual rite, respectively. It is usual hi the medico-
magical tests to find a rubric at the end of the oral rite giving
directions as to the performance of the accompanying manual
rite. The manual rite often took the form of reciting the words
over an image of wood or clay, a string of beads, a knotted cord,
a piece of inscribed linen, an amulet, a stone, or some other
object. These objects, thus magically charged, were generally
placed upon, or attached to, the patient's body. In cases of
illness or injury, the manual rite often takes the form of repeat-
ing the oral rite over a mixture of substances which were then
given to the patient to swallow or for external application, the
medicine so given being thus rendered efficacious. The medical
papyri, which are filled for the most part with prescriptions of
drugs, are interspersed with magical spells the object of which,
was to give efficacy to the prescriptions which follow them.
Such spells are the oral rites belonging to each group of prescrip-
tions, the preparation and administration of which constitute
the corresponding manual rite. Many of the doses contain
noxious or offensive ingredients, and the object of such is mani-
festly to be as unpalatable as possible to the possessing spirit,
so as to give it no encouragement to linger in the patient's body.
It is characteristic of the magician at all times that he should
have more than one string to his bow, for if one remedy fails
another may succeed, and his prestige and reputation must at
all costs be maintained. Consequently in the medical papyri