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ANCIENT CHRISTIAN MAGIC - Coptic Texts of Ritual Power

By Marvin Meyer and Richard Smith, published by HarperCollins at £12.99. 406pp. ISBN: 0-06-065584-4

To a very great extent, this book takes over where the previous one leaves off, in that the writers examine the effects on the old Egyptian magical beliefs and practices of coming of Christianity to Egypt. What is remarkable is the extent to which early Coptic Christianity and magic not only were able to live side by side but managed to interact and enrich each other - albeit in unofficial ways. Perhaps the most interesting thing is the glimpse which the book gives into the minds of Christians in Egypt up until about 1000ce and into their preoccupations and concerns. And what a well-balanced and normal lot they were!

Most of the book is filled with examples of Coptic spells - predominantly either curses or blatant bonking magic. How to make a woman barren, how to curse a man with impotence, a curse of a mother-in-law against an unwelcome daughter-in-law, how to pull the man or woman of your dreams (or at least of your lust), how to make someone wild with desire. Perhaps the most fascinating of them all is the spell to be used by a man seeking a male lover. Other spells, however, were for more mundane things - like ensuring a good singing voice.

In this collection of spells, the ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses are invoked in the same breath as Jesus, the apostles alongside angels and archangels and Greek Gods alongside Hebrew prophets in an splendid sythethsis of magical traditions. This book is likely to be of particular interest to ceremonial magickians and others of such ilk.