Ba is the Egyptian word for soul—specifically the personality part of the soul. There are nine different parts to the soul. The other eight are: the khat is the physical body, the sahu is the spiritual body, the rn is the name or identity, the ka is the double, the jb is the heart, the šwt shadow, the ḫw is intelligence, the sḫm is the power or form and the akh is the combined spirits of a dead person.
I thought Ba was apt since I began my Tales from the Stork project. The form the Ba often takes the form of a stork in Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Storks are common along the Nile and were thought to carry the personality to the other parts of the soul in the afterlife. It makes sense that the stork be associated with bringing babies because it associated with the spirit or soul.
I finally finished The Red Pyramid and am about to begin The Throne of Fire, so Egypt is still very much on mind.
Abracadabra is often used on stage for magic tricks these days, but it came from ancient mystical texts. Apparently, the Gnostic Basilideans of Alexandria originally used it as a secret magical formula. Then word showed up in the form of a Magic Amulet or Abraxas Stones. Eventually, it spread beyond the Gnostics to physicians in Rome who would write it inside a triangle to help heal the sick. In 1904 Alistair Crowley wrote about Abrahcadabra in his book The Book of Law. He used Hermetic Qabalah to explain its significance. Many think that since the word has a value of 365 it is meant to represent the Father El or the Sun God Ra. The five letters in the word are: A, the Crown; B, the Wand; D, the Cup; H, the Sword; R, the Rosy Cross. In Egyptian Mythology this would refer to Amoun the Father and Thoth his messenger as well as Isis, Horus, Osiris—the divine-human triad.
Abracadabra is also thought to be a variation on the Greek term Abraxas. Abraxas referred to the Great Archon. It also has a numerical value of 365 and refers to God or the “The Uncreated Father.” The lost Compendium of Hippolytus said that Abraxas is specifically as “the power above all, and First Principle.” It is “the cause and first archetype” of all things. Therefore calling upon Abraxas is to call upon God the Creator himself. You can see why it would be considered a powerful word.
I had never heard of Abraxas before with the exception of the boy’s home on State Route 39 between Shelby and Mansfield, Ohio. The place used to be The Sacred Heart Seminary School for those who wished to become Catholic Priests. Since 1993 it houses male juveniles who need treatment for drug and alcohol addiction or who are sex offenders. I suppose it is fitting.
Abracadabra ties into my week in two ways: First through my continued reading of the Kane Chronicles by Rick Roirdan to Sebastian and, secondly, through my typing of my Critical Canon Class. I am up to my notes on the Kabbalah and the mystical use of language.
The word magical is derived from Magi, which referred to the priest sorcerers of Ancient Persia. Magus is the plural of Magi. It was Three Magi that came to visit baby Jesus in Bethlehem, however Magi is often translated as Wise Men. This would mean that Priests of Magic came to see the baby. That ties into the theories that the miracles Jesus later performed was essentially magic he learned from his time in Egypt or possibly Persia and beyond.
This connects to Zoroastrianism and Medes. Zoroastrianism was probably the first Monotheistic religion and the basis of a lot of Christian Mythology. The Medes were Ancient Tribe of people called the Media in 550 BC Iran.
Anyway, Magu is Persian for Magic. The Greek appear to have borrowed this word and called it Magus or the Art of Magus. Latin transformed that word into Magica or Magicus. The Old French word for Magic is Magique.
This relates to the past few weeks in several ways. First, I have been dealing with three separate systems on the computer at work. The first is FAMIS, which stands for Family Assistance Management Information system. The second is MEDES, which stands for Missouri Eligibility Determination and Enrollment System. The third is MAGI, which stands for Modified Adjusted Gross Income. I would like to think MEDES and MAGI have a secondary magical meaning. Certainly it can seem like magic to those in need.
In addition to these etymological parallels, I am currently reading a new series by Jessica Cluess. I read the first book A Shadow Bright and Burning and am working on the second book A Poison Dark and Drowning. I will read the third book A Sorrow Fierce and Falling next. The book centers on a Magician Born Sorceress named Harrieta and her love interest Magnus. The books are set in Victorian London, which gives them a sort of Harry Potter feel. But the world more like that created by the SyFy TV show Magicians. It also echoes the sort of young adult adventure found the books of Jennifer Nielson.
The name Magnus ties into the Magnus Chase series I’ve been reading to the kids. We are on book three The Ship of the Dead. The name Magnus means Great. It doesn’t seem to be directly related to the word Magus. However, Magnus was first a Roman name that the Norse borrowed and used about as frequently as they did Erik in the Middle Ages. The character of Magnus Chase does possess the magical ability to heal via his father Frey. I wanted to write about Valhalla or Valkyries, but I couldn’t think of how to tie them into my life. Then I found the Magical Thread and followed it!
Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest religions and, in many ways, a precursor to Christianity. Founded in Persia or Iran, it is a monotheistic religion that preaches a dualism between light and dark or good and evil. Ahura Mazda is the Creator Lord whose name means Being of the Mind. Zoroaster or Zarathustra is the Prophet or Christ-like figure. Similar to Jesus, Zarathustra went into the river and came out renewed at age 30. He then began preaching about the God of Wisdom and about Free Will.
Zoroastrianism shows up in many places, including Game of Thrones. George R.R. Martin has stated that the central element of the religion of R’hllor in A Song of Fire and Ice is that is the idea that there is one true good god that locked in eternal combat with an evil deity. This is also central to Christian Gnosticism and is described in the Pistis Sophia.
This symbolism of the light in the darkness is why Christmas is celebrated just after the Winter Solstice. Scholars believe Jesus was probably born in July sometime, but leaders of the church moved the date to coincide with pagan festivals of light. It merges the historical figure earlier mythologies, thus cementing reputation of Jesus as a Lord of Light.
This year I chose to speak of Zarathustra because I believe that the struggle between the light and the darkness has been the subtext of this past year. The darkness of oppression, depression and fear interplays with the lightness that is freedom, happiness and love. I see this dichotomy or this tension not only in current events, but within myself and those around me.