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Apophis: Mother of all Curses

Pagan Theologian Mogg Morgan discusses ancient Egyptian Magick – Apophis, an ancient chaos demon (two parts) illustrated

A version of this presentation was delivered to Museum of Witchcraft & Magick, Boscastle, Cornwall, conference on Curses –
29th/30th April 2017



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The Demonic double in Egypt, past & present. (A Magick Square to protect an Expectant Mother)

Contains a remarkable confluence of traditions, Islamic, Coptic, Biblical & Pharaonic. The charm is in effect a copy of an agreement between the queen of the Aqran (plural of Qarin) & King David.  Among the Upper Egyptian Fellahin, it is believed that one’s psyche is a multiple thing, that the soul (ruh) has several parts. The Qarin (female Qarinah) is the mirror image or double of the regular soul. Qarin is from a root meaning horns. The Qarin appears at birth and is comparable to concept known from many diverse cultures, current and historical. For instance it is very like ancient Egyptian Ka .

The reason this spell works is recounted in an accompanying story, the historiola: For it happened that, Long ago, King David saw the Queen of the Aqran unfasten her hair, and fire issuing from her mouth. She causes miscarriage but agrees, under threat of death, to spare those babies that carried the special kitab. The Queen of the Aqran, known elsewhere as  Lilith?

Translation (Collected by Winifred Blackman The Fellahin of Upper Egypt:

“In the name of God of Triune nature, He is the Mighty benefactor, Creator of all the powerful witches [evil women], Whom eye does not see and thought cannot conceive [mix with], Who knows what is before it is, before Whom the angels tremble with awe, and whom the devils fear for his Power. All things in Heaven and on earth worship Him, and He is Ruler over all things. O God, by They mighty Name and Powerful Arm and the Beneficent Light of Thy Face protect the bearer of this my charm – what is in her womb and who drinks [will drink] of her milk – from the devilish, cursed Qarinah by the power of this magic square and what of Thy Might name it contains.” P74

The probably meaning of the square in the illustration is, so I was told: “Make it your charge, O Gabriel, make it your charge, O Michail, make it your charge O Rafail, make it your charge O Suriyal, Make it your charge O Maniyal, by the power and might of the Mighty God, the Almighty, and His broad Throne, and His dazzling Light, to burn the cursed qaríneh and cast her into the fire.”


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Afarit, Djinn & ancient Egyptian Akhw


Small domestic statue of an ancestor or Akh, 8cm high, domestic context, from workers village at Deir el Medina. Egyptian New Kingdom 18th dyn


“Appease (sHtp) the Akh (AH), do what he likes and abstain from what he detests. May you be spared from his many evil deeds; his is (from him comes) all misfortune. Is there an animal taken away from the field? It is he who has done such a thing (lit: the like). Is there any damage on the threshing floor in the fields? It is the akh, they say again. Storm in the house? Hearts in discord? All this he has caused.”



This page of hieroglyphic text is from “Instructions of Any”, a New Kingdom Text circa 1300bce. It is often just omitted from published editions, for instance the well known series edited by Miriam Lichtheim Ancient Egyptian Literature. It describes offerings made to one’s Akh, which in this instance can be compared to an Afrit (‘afarit) or Djinn of later times. In my book Supernatural Assault in Ancient Egypt I also discuss this aspect of the Akh as a demon or troublesome ghost. Gerald Posener, who solved the riddle of the text, included with it, two 20th century accounts of djinn in Upper Egypt, which attracted the Egyptologist because they were so similar to the New Kingdom accounts.

Gerald Posener’s startling translation of this obscure passage has since been widely quoted in for instance Demaree “the Ah iqr en Ra stele, ancestor worship in Ae”, PhD thesis) and many other works.

Like many who have looked at the material, myself included, Posener finds a close parallel between the concept of the Akhw and surviving beliefs of the ‘Afarit or Djinn. He gives two examples from Winifred Blackman’s groundbreaking “The Fellahin of Upper Egypt”. She was an anthropologist working among the Egyptian Fellahin (peasants) in the 1930s:

“Young man in Upper Egypt became very angry with his wife one night while she was sitting in front of the fire cooking the evening meal. In his anger he took a pottery water bottle (a kulleh), and struck her with it. In doing that he broke the bottle, and the water and some of the pieces of pottery fell into the fire, extinguishing it. The next moment he heard a voice saying to him ‘you have broken the head of one of my children, so I will come into you (ie possess you).’ This man thereupon became mad and began to tear his own face, and strike all those who came near him. Some of relatives tied him up but he continued to rave for several months.

They visited a sheikh (magician) who had many books of incantations and charms – he asked for a piece of his garment, wrote some words on it and diagnosed an ‘afarit. He read the incantation but the madman still raved saying “you have an unclean woman (ie menstruating) in the house” . The house was cleared of bystanders.

The exorcism continued until the ‘afarit asked via what part of the man’s body he should make his exit – if through the eyes the man would become blind because he would still need to be punished for killing the ‘afarit child. The magician told him to exit via the man’s big toe & that the he would know he had done so when the kulleh was knocked over. The sheikh eventually saw blood on the man’s big toe and the kulleh was smashed. The man recovered from his madness and reported that he had been “among the ‘afarit.”

And another of this accounts collected by Winifred Blackman:
In upper Egypt a Coptic Sheikh (B) was said to be married to an ‘afrarit because he disappeared every night but his spirit wife and children were never seen. He was called to help another Coptic couple who had problems conceiving. During the magician’s visit, which was late in the evening, the husband, a clerk, stayed in his room obsessively reciting the psalms & refusing to stop, even though the Sheikh said it was disrupting the healing session.

Sheikh B then told him to stop as it was hurting his spirit children, who had come up “from under the earth” to accompany their father. The clerk eventually desisted and went to bed. But then he sensed strangers in his bedroom and felt himself levitating. He opened his eyes and saw four ‘afarit dressed in quaint coats and trousers of many colours and wearing tall peaked caps. Two held him by his arms and feet and only flew off when he said a pater noster.

Whether the couple’s problem starting a family was solved is not recorded. But the confluence of ideas here, from ancient and modern Egypt is quite remarkable.

(currently researching a book on “Zar & Egyptian Ghost Dancing” due some time in the future )


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The cost & scale of Kingship, even before the pyramid building began:

Establishing the Ideology of Egyptian Kings in the early dynasties required “massive amounts of labor appropriated from across the country. It is most staggeringly apparent in the First Dynasty mastabas of Saqqara, such as number 3504. At 49.5 m by 20 m in area, it is the largest structure of its time, with 68 internal storerooms containing around 2500 ceramic vessels (once full of thousands of liters of wine, beer, and other offerings), along with 1500 stone vessels in a wide array of materials (Emery 1954). Gold had been used extensively in the decoration of the burial chamber and the remains of other more perishable items of burial equipment were abundant even after extensive plundering. Outside of the tomb, a low bench wrapped around the exterior served as a platform for 300 pairs of real bull horns inserted into mud-shaped bucrania, while trenches around the mastaba’s perimeter held the bodies of 62 men, women, and children.”

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Predawn Sky (The Duat) Winter Solstice 2016



Remarkable image from Stellarium, “clouds” are Milky Way “on its side” to birth sun via Cygnus stars, birth canal of goddess Nwt


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Gnostic Sethians & Sethian Gnostics


I’ve been looking into any possible relationship between Seth, third son of Adam & Egyptian god Seth. On the face of it just the name suggests it, Seth is Greek transcription of the god’s name in Egyptian religion; Seth or Shith, the name of the revered prophet of several religions, including the Mandeans. The Gnostic Sethians, one of the seed or founding sects of the Gnostic tradition, claim him as their founder and mentor. I’ve not yet found any scholarly research that even discusses the possible connection between them. We know of the gnostic Sethians from the Nag Hammadi texts, so obviously they were based in Egypt and much of their ideas depend on Alexandrian Platonism. I’ve been looking at two books on them from which I couldn’t help but spot several important points of similarity.

Origen in Contra Celsum  6.32 says the names of last three Archons are based on magical sources.

(h)oraeus ὡραῖος in Origen (checked that although spelling is ὡραῖe, has an Ass’s head – which is another egyptian connection, given that they all have animal heads

Horos is in PGM IV 930-1114 – interesting spell for direct vision, ie a Phi-Ntr – A god’s arrival – Horos name occurs at line 985 – no doubt other examples

As bullet points

Prophet Seth

1.  Inventor of astronomy

2. Sethian gnostic also known as Ophites – “snake people”, who worshiped snakes

3. Patron of craftsman, especially horn combs

4. Sethian gnostics specifically sorcerers – as opposed to supposedly more high status Theurgists

5. Sealing = initiation, as in 7 seals or their 5 fold rite

6. Strong exorcism tradition, exorcism and initiation are related

6. Mithraism and ladder of initiation

7. Three Stele of Seth

8. Important of Ursa Major & Draco

9. The serpent of Genesis, a more positive analysis of its actions in recommending eating of tree of knowledge – the suggestion the Sethians were snake worshippers may be explicable in terms of many Biblical references to serpent, Moses etc. But may equally quote the Egyptian serpents on scepter of Thoth, Caduceus etc

10. Alexandrian Platonism

11. Corpus Hermetika & Chaldean Oracles

12.Origins of Kabbalah, Zohar etc

13. “Gnostic ascent” through seven gates to meet god – compare with Ancient Egyptian books of the otherworld such as “Book of Gates”

13. “Sons of Seth” made two pillars on which are recorded all pre-flood knowledge, astronomy, cosmology etc …

14. Archons are animal headed entities, the seventh ass headed – a well known avatar of Egyptian Seth

Paradise Reconsidered in Gnostic Myth, Tuomas Rosimus

Apocalyse of An Alien God, D Burns

Islamic State blew up Nabi Shiyt (Prophet Seth) shrine in Mosul

Seth also plays a role in Sufism see Ibn al-Arabi, The Bezels of Seth trans R. W. J. Austin

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Osiris: Sunken Cities, Egypt’s Lost World


What better  month to visit the Sunken Cities expo in the British Museum than Khoiak, the ancient month dedicated to the god Osiris which just happens to coincide with our modern October. This  superb show has been touring the world, starting in underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio’s native France in January this year under the title Osiris: Mystères engloutis d’Égypte – Osiris: Egyptian sunken Mysteries; which I can’t help thinking is a more informative title, as so many of the discoveries are about the ancient cult of Osiris – confirming many details previously only known from classical sources.

It’s a huge show spread over several rooms, each one of which is full of treasures, so one needs to pace oneself for some of the revelations in the final rooms, which bring together all the new knowledge with material about the various processions that took place in this ancient sunken temple of the god Osiris.

My prime motive for visiting was to see the an object called the “Naos of the Decades” – which in itself is rather a startling discovery and the subject of books in its own right, being a magical shrine that was dedicated in one of the temple’s many rooms;  the earliest example of what one might call an astrological artifact, whose complex text is in effect a horoscope, drawn up by Egypt’s last native Pharaoh, Nectanebo II, with magical intent.


The ancient city of  Thonis-Heracleion sunk beneath the waves 1800 years ago, taking with it all of its secrets. At this time Osiris was Egypt’s most popular god. The core ritual that emerges from various sources, began on the first day of the month with the preparation of a talismanic image of Osiris, a complex assemblage of 14 substances including barley seeds, which can sprout, the image springing to life by the fifteen day, just in time for the 1st procession from the temple on to waterways where various votive objects, including the germinating figures of Osiris can be offering into the water.

[Another of the amazing photographs from the excavations, showing one of the small, votive images of Osiris beside one of the model boats, offered by devotees into the sacred waterway]

The mysteries culminate on the month’s final days with a second  procession. The picture shows some of the miniature votive offerings, many hundreds of which have this far been discovered on the submerged ritual waterway. Never before seen because mostly melted down as scrap over the years. These survived at the bottom of Aboukir bay. They tell us so much about the “mechanics” of the Osiris rituals, and how people, rich and poor, participated in the cult, aspects of personal piety.



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The Sethian Dilemma – two ways of viewing an ancient Seth


(Image of Seth bringing wine from the Oasis, Opet Shrine attached to Temple of Khonsu at Kharnak. The building was the location for one of the many mystery cults of Egypt in late period. The fact that Seth often appears on Ptolemaic temples, is one of the reasons to doubt the old consensus that his cult had declined – an exploration of Egyptian mystery cults can be found in my book “Isis, goddess in Egypt & India”)

Seth is an ancient Egyptian deity, much maligned in popular, academic and theological Thought. Up until fairly recently the only thing one needed to know about Seth was that he was personification of evil and the prototype of the devil and Satan and all bad things in the world. He is the god who in one of the worlds most ubiquitous myths, kills another god, his own brother Osiris no less, then usurps his role as king, persecuting the orphaned Horus who only survives to manhood, due to the cunning of his sorcerer mother Isis. Horus then overpowers Seth and ensures he gets his just deserts.

Since the 1960s much more attention has been paid to Seth by academic researchers and, perhaps surprisingly by neo-pagans practitioners. As a consequence earlier views of Seth are being challenged in academia. And in the neo-pagan community the god has experienced something of a revival. This long article describes what brought about this radical sea change.

1960s San Francisco was the reputed heart of the counterculture. Yet it was also here that in 1966 a new form of counter cultural Satanism emerged. This organisation eschewed earlier literary conventions, and acquired a political dimension against liberalism[1], elitist,[2] pessimistic[3] and rightwing.[4] “Satanism is Americanism in its purest form.”[5] “Satan was a symbolic standard bearer for social criticism and affirmation of individual license (“indulgence instead of Abstinence”).[6] “Might is Right”.[7]

This organisation is the Church of Satan (COS). Nine years later in the summer of 1975 another new organisation emerged from or depending on your point of view, transmogrified from the Church of Satan after a series of internal conflicts. This was the Temple of Set (TOS), which adopted as its patron, the ancient Egyptian god Set, or to use the standard Egyptological transcription “Seth”.[8]

The late Kenneth Grant and his “Typhonian” interpretation of Aleister Crowley’s “Liber Al vel Legis”, is an early and important populariser of what we might call the Sethian mythos. Kenneth Grant published a series of monographs, that have become known as the Typhonian trilogies. The first of these The Magical Revival was published in 1972, and in it Grant equates Aiwass, the discarnate entity who supposedly dictated Liber Al vel legis, with Shaitan and Seth:

“The stele is a talisman of great power in Crowley’s system. It shows the goddess Nuit arched over the solar-phallic Fire of (shin), Spirit, the letter of Abrasax or Abrahadabra, the Word of the Aeon of which Aiwass is the current expression. Sin also the letter of Shaitan or Set, the Fire of Desire (Hadit) at the Heart of Matter (Nuit).” [9]

In things Egyptian, Kenneth Grant relied heavily on the works Gerald Massey (1828-1907), a Victorian Chartist, Theosophist, and amateur Egyptologist. Massey made good use of the leading academic authorities of his day, including Flinders Petrie, Wallace Budge and Heinrich Brugsch. Thus Grant’s theorizing reads very like many passages from Massey’s masterwork Ancient Egypt: Light of the World:

Read rest of article here


[1]                  Michael Aquino 2009 : 624 “A Grotto is an autocracy not a democracy”; also Michael Aquino “That Other Black Order” The Cloven Hoof IV-4 1972: 611sq “There is nothing in the Nazi philosophy that conflicts with the basic desires of the human personality.” I’ve used two principal sources Michael Aquino (2009) The Church of Satan, ebook Michael Aquino (2010) The Temple of Set, ebook

[2]                      MA COS p102 and need to reserve secrets from initiated. But also essay: L Dale Seago “The Implications of Elitism”, Aquino 2010 appendix 38 “ “I seek my elect and none other, .. and I think not of those who think not of me” BOCFBN. “In dealings with those outside the temple it may at times require the will to be coldly and utterly ruthless.” “In the words of Set spoken at the first conclave, ‘Ye are alien to mankind”.

[3]                      MA TOS p298

[4]                      See Zeena La Vey preface to Anton LaVey, The Satanic Witch (formerly: The Compleate Witch) retitled, pii (Feral House 2002) “a guide to selective breeding, a manual of eugenics- the lost science of preserving the able-bodied and able-minded while controlling the surplus population of the weak and incompetent.”

[5]                      MA COS : 41

[6]                      MA COS : 28 “Indulgence instead of Abstinence” is from the opening manifesto of Anton La Vey (?) The Satanic Bible.

[7]                      MA COS fn p 99. claims that a large section of Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible is lifted from an earlier political track entitled “Might Is Right”. The Loompanics reprint of this obscure text sported a new preface by La Vey and a controversial “Neo-Nazi” cover.

[8]                      H Te Velde (1967) Seth, God of Confusion: A study of his role in Egyptian Mythology and Religion, Brill. Page 3 for summary of available forms of the god’s name.

[9]               Kenneth Grant (1972) The Magical Revival, Muller, London : 47 & Glossary. American Edition Weisers (1973). Library of Congress also has a copy of the UK edition.



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Seth & the Seed Goddess

dayr al bahri-042

Extract from “Ritual Year In Ancient Egypt”

Although the goddess Hathor is known as the bestower of human fertility, there are traces that this quality extents to animals and indeed crops. The myth of “Seth & the Seed goddess” concerns seed in all its connotation including semen and the female equivalent. The following dedication is adapted from traditional spells of the time of King Rameses II.
Why this is so

(this part of the spell is to be read out)

Once upon a time
The Seed Goddess Hathor
Took a bath on the shore in order to purify herself in the oasis
Seth was out walking and he saw her
He saw her jewel encrusted girdle, he saw her bare ass,
And it turned him on
Then he mounted her as a ram mounts a ewe
He covered her as a bull covers a cow
But for the seed goddess it was all wrong
And she went straight to his head
To the region between his eyebrows where the full moon sits
And he lay down, exhausted on his bed
and was stricken with the seed become poison
Then his other wife Nephthys (Anath),
The victorious goddess
An androgynous woman who acts like a warrior
Who wears a man’s kilt
Tied with a woman’s sash
Distressed, went to her father the Sun god Ra
He said “what is the matter with you”
Nephthys, victorious goddess
Androgynous woman who acts like a warrior
Who wears a man’s kilt
Tied with a woman’s sash
I am near to my evening setting
I know you want me to cure Set of the effects of his overstrenous coupling with Hathor
The poison of the bad seed out of place
Let Set’s stupidity be a lesson for him
Hathor, the seed goddess was destined for the bed
of the sun god above
He will make love to her with his heavenly fire
His will be as hard as steel when he enters her.

Hearing this the divine Isis said:
I am the Nubian woman
I have come down from heaven
I have come to realise the seed in the body
of every mother’s son and every mother’s daughter
And cause them to return in good health
For as Horus lives
So shall all live:

Morgan, M (2011) The Ritual Year in Ancient Egypt, Mandrake of Oxford
Pinch, G (1993) Votive Offerings to Hathor, Oxford

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Illuminating the House of Life

A supplement to my essay “Ancient Egyptian Lights & Lighting

Below is a picture of the House of Life (Per Ankh), one of two scriptoria from the temple of Horus at Edfu. You can see the interior is very dark and dimly lit. It does not appear to benefit from any natural lighting.


Peak inside and there is a niche, where manuscripts were supposedly stored. (In this photograph I used flash) Given the importance of this temple, it seems a surprisingly meager provision. I suggest that this niche is actually intended to hold an oil lamp with floating wick, of the kind postulated in my essay mentioned above. If I’m right then the room would have had wooden shelves or tables and be capable of holding the many more papyri no doubt in use in a working temple.


In my essay I mentioned my intention to search this kind of facility in existing temples. Here is first such example




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