Magic of Name: Primitive Thought and Ancient Egypt
many religious traditions arise cosmogony myths where one can trace
the origin and the development of the world of names by the creator
of the universe. Individuals and all belongings in the
world gain an existance, or reality, by means of the process
of receiving a name and the method of being named.
in the name as to the source of existanace can be observed within
many religious traditions. Primitive thought to which we can
refer in this regard, comprises both an 'ancient historical
tradition' element, as well as the circumstances and faculties
of the individual received at birth. Thus an individual's name founds
both existance whilst also serving as an elevating factor in the
eyes of current society by the association with the ancient element.
Thereby, an individual's name is seen as being closer to the
spirits and the gods rather than to the being of the individual
carrier of the name.
individual's name demands a certain degree of protection.
Primitive thought dictates that each human individual is connected
with the spirit or god like protector whose name he carries.
The name conferred by marriage denotes particular value for
this further name, hence is accompanied by appropriate various
ceremonies. Standing and public position of an individual
is also tied to an individual's name according to primitive thought.
primitive thought in ancient Egypt, one finds a developed
concept of name and naming. Furthermore, for the ancient Egyptians
an understanding of 'name' was required for both an understanding
of mortal life on Earth as well as the afterlife.
the nature of naming there is commonly the case where two individuals
will share the same name. Within each individual dwells an
attendant spirit, or Ka, to use the ancient Egyptian term.
For an individual to lose his name would occasion a break in the
eternal existance of the individual's being, between his two
halves ; that is his mortal life and his afterlife. The occurence
on tombs of an individual's name bears witness that the carriers
of the name continue to exist in the afterlife. Such existance
of an individual ceases with the disappearance of the name.
gain a fuller understanding of the individual or god and the
beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, one requires knowledge of
his name. Accordingly, the name Isida confirms that the individual
concerned will receive the power of Ra, a god, followed
by Ra sending his name to the individual. Thereby an extenxive
practice of 'magic' is derived from the knowledge of name and naming.
certain taboo exists for the primitive thought with respect to names.
A name provides 'magic' power and so pronounciation of the
name yields contact with the carrier of the name. Primitive
thought expresses a reference and awe in respect of the name.
In ancient Egypt this understanding derived from the development
of the mortal 'magic' individual and was characterized by the quest
for knowledge of names so as to use such knowlege to gain an authoritive
comprehension of individuals, gods and the spirits.
by Richard Bishop
PERSON. WORLD: Annual Scientific Conference, Russian
Christian Institute for the Humanities (Saint-
Petersburg, 1998): 21-22.