The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation – A Review

So, let’s talk about ancient magic. No one does it quite like the greeks and Egyptians, and for good reason as those as some of the oldest civilizations where there is written record of their practices. Time and again they are referenced, from the Book of the Dead to the Three Occult Books of Philosophy, not just due to the nature of the work, but also the inherit mysticism that surrounds them. I mean, who isn’t intrigued by seeing spells that are thousands of years old?

The Greek Magical Papyri is a collection of magical spells, formulas, and rituals from Greco-Roman Egypt. Dating from the second century B.C. to the fifth century A.D., these papyri have survived everything from the forces of nature to the efforts of ancient cults to destroy such documents. This book contains the Greek Papyri, the Demotic texts, as well as the Coptic text, and is considered the most comprehensive collection of this type of literature ever recorded. Being easily available on Amazon and other booksellers for a reasonable rate (I only paid like $50), this is a great document to help see what the ancients believed and practiced. 

Now this book is actually what it says, a book filled with rituals, spells, drawings, hymns, etc. Some of the spells include love spells, invisibility spells, spells for finding treasure, spells of death and spells of becoming a king. In other words, a spell for literally anything. That being said, it is not an easy book to reference as there is no real table of contents or an index. While there are pages stating what type of charms and spells are in the book, there is nothing notating what page it is on or page range it covers. Instead, it categorizes and references the spells via who the translator was. While not something I personally enjoyed, once I got the understanding of the layout it wasn’t too difficult to navigate my way through, however it is still not something I appreciated the extra headache over.

The spells however are indeed worth it and, most importantly, FASCINATING. There are spells for literally everything, and even better, spells you would never have even thought of (for example, a spell to have a dog fetch a missing item for you, and another one to cause either a dog bite or a sting from a venomous animal/insect). That being said, these spells are indeed ancient, like BEFORE MODERN MEDICINE AND KNOWLEDGE. No spell in this book should really be done without CAREFULLY researching every part of it for safety. I say that as some of these spells call for the collection and use of feces of various animals, plants known to be poisonous and cause hallucinations, and sometimes calls for personal harm or putting your health and safety at risk. That being said, this book has given me great ideas into new spells, new spell formats, and has really let me experiment with the nature of the spells in this book and trying to bring them into the modern era.

Over this is a wonderful book for any practicing occultist. Not only is it a great conversation piece, but it is filled with actually useful information. While it was written primarily for academic and research purposes, it definitely would be a welcome addition to any library. That being said, expect some frustration due to the way the book is written, and the fact that some spells and papyri were damaged, causing lost information (this is notated in the book in the section if something was damaged or was unable to be fully translated). A small headache for a mountain of wealth and information? I found it more than worth it.


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