Reply To: Shadows of Samhain

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    Is Moses the Wizard or is he the High Priest? These are two different archetypes. They are very compatible of course, except that one serves the gods and the other uses magic to make things happen, so their roles are not exactly the same.

    This is quite complicated, especially in terms of Ancient Egypt because the priests of Ancient Egypt worked with magic, it’s just that this magic was part and parcel of their religion – the religion of a culture that was infused with ideas of magic anyway; for instance, the whole Book of the Dead is full of spells to help the soul on its journey after death and so on, so we could call it “magical”, but to an Ancient Egyptian it would have been considered part of his or her religion. Getting back to Moses, we have a man who was “… learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds,” (Acts 7:22). Moses and Aaron battle the two wise men and sorcerers sent by Pharaoh to challenge them, and outdo their “magical” feats or enchantments, the feats, however, being rather similar, not to mention the fact that the two Egyptians are described quite unequivocally as being enchanters or sorcerers.

    Ultimately, I suppose it also depends on our definition of “magic” – if we define magic as rituals, powers and actions which somehow affect the natural world through the intervention or manipulation of supernatural powers and beings, then one person’s priest/priestess could easily be another’s magician, wizard or witch. Now, from a Judaeo-Christian point of view, Moses and Aaron didn’t have any powers themselves, this was the power that came from God. Nevertheless, surely the Egyptian sorcerers didn’t think they had any powers themselves, as in being supernatural, either, but rather that these powers derived from whatever Egyptian deities they were calling upon and thus we come full circle again.

    I think that warriors and bards go very well together, I am not sure why except that in the Irish lore this happens almost automatically.

    That’s an interesting observation. Certainly, the High Medieval knight during the Age of Chivalry and the later, so-called Renaissance Man, would have been expected to excel not only in their martial skills, but also in their musical, poetic and literary abilities. Is this, maybe, something that has been projected on to the mythologies from a later period when they were being written down by the scribes? I’m not saying it has, but I think it’s something to consider.

    Having said all this, from much more ancient lore, we have the Biblical image of King David playing his lyre and singing and many Psalms are attributed to him, not to mention Achilles playing his lyre in his tent during the period in which he goes on strike from the Trojan War, so to speak. Moving to our own shores, both the figures of Taliesin and Myrddin Wyllt are bards who are somehow involved in or around battles too. Finally, let’s not forget the great Irish High King, Brian Boru, to whom the emblematic harp of Ireland is attributed. Let’s face it, in a warrior culture, a good sing-song after a battle (a bit like a modern post-rugby match celebration) is not too farfetched to imagine either. Ancient battles were pretty ghastly affairs at best and I’d bet most of the warriors were pretty relieved to have survived in one bit, add a bit of mead, wine or ale and without any other available entertainments, it pretty much sets the scene.