A Scarab is a unique insect that influenced the entire Egyptian civilization for many thousands of years. In fact, the basic idea of using a scarab as an instrument of amulet goes as far back as the time of the building of the Pyramids in the early Egyptian times. It was also true that a scarab always represented many set of beliefs that were older even those early periods of ancient Egypt.
To the ancient Egyptians the Scarab was one of the most potent of all amulets and symbolized the sun, protection, transformation and resurrection.
It is a wide spread belief that the physical heart and lungs are very important for an afterlife and to protect these vital organs from theft and robbery, Egyptians employed magical and supernatural powers of the heart amulet. Egyptians also believed that the importance of body with respect to its perceived source of life and its transition to new life of afterworld. As a result, ancient Egyptians believed in the sanctity of the body of the dead.
One particular sect of ancient priests believed that the amulets of hearts were after all, stone heart that might not be safe enough to provide security to the heart. Thus, they believed that scarab or a beetle possessed remarkable prowess and magical powers to provide enough level of security. They also believed that an amulet made out of a scarab, with proper words of power written on it might ensure maximum safety to the dead souls. It will also provide a brand new life and energy to them, when they enter the harsh after-life. In addition, a scarab is a typical symbols of god Khepera that invisible power which propelled the sun across the deep sky.
The variety of beetle used for copying amulets was the dung feeding and tropical, Lamellicorns, which have a streak of dark blue color on their body and in some extreme cases a rich variety of other colors. Anatomically speaking, these beetles have the extraordinary ability to a distinctive walking style. In addition, they also have a different set of anatomical features that do not exist in other beetles.
Mythological and religious connotations imply that such beetles had their own special characters that made them revered during the early and middle Egyptian periods. All scarabs of Egypt used to fly during the hottest parts of the day and when they flew, it was easy to see their full body parts. In fact, Egyptians identified this phase in the development in a scarab’s life cycle with that of the sun and his solar phases.
Early Egyptians also believed that scarabs represented and symbolized the germs of life, while the ball of scarab eggs signified the appearance of the sun itself. God Khepera made the sun to roll across the sky and this act of rolling was synonymous with the rolling actions of the scarab. Thus, the name kheper means “the one who rolls over again and again”. The god Khepera also symbolized inert, but living physical matter and thus he was a god of resurrection as well!
On the other hand, Egyptians believed that dead human body contained germs of life, which they invoked by reciting special prayers on the day of the funeral. In this aspect, the ball of eggs and the idea of dead body are almost similar. As the scarab provided potential life and energy to the eggs, Egyptians believed it was the symbol of the god Khepera, who also provided life to the deceased body with words of power.
Since time immemorial, scarabs represented life and freshness in both Sudan and Egypt (just check out those religious practices among nomadic people of Egypt and Sudan who still consume dried extracts of scarabs to enhance their generation!). A brief magical procedure that was in vogue was:
- Cutting off the heads and wings of a large scarab,
- Boiling the scarab in hot water and later in oil,
- Warming the boiled head and wings and steep them in the oil of a serpent,
- Consumption of the resulting mixture to drive away evil spirits and sorcery
Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of scarab amulets available in the nooks and corners of modern day Egypt. Scarab amulets are available in several varieties and forms like:
- green basalt,
- green granite,
- green marble,
- blue paste,
- blue glass,
- purple, blue and green glazed porcelain
In each of these scarabs, one can find words of power etched neatly on the upper surface. In some rare cases, you can also find scarab amulets with a human face or a mane. In extremely rare cases, one can also find out scarabs with the boat of Râ, of the Bennu bird, “the soul of Râ,” and of the eye of Horus.
Some scarab amulets could also be:
- Green colored amulets set in gold with a pronounced band across and down the back surface where the two wings join.
- In other cases, one can also find the whole back glided, with its base covered with a shining plate of gold, on which priest etch the words of power.
- In some extreme cases, there are scarab amulets with a heart like base signifying the close relation between the heart and scarab.
The oldest known and the most famous green stone funeral scarab amulet is probably the one that is in the British Museum; this is from a region called Kûrna near Thebes and it belongs to the period of the XIth dynasty, dating back to about B.C. 2600.
Once the ancient Egyptian recognized the importance of scarabs in the funerary procedures, the habit of using them as ornaments, by living persons arrived as a popular fashion. As a result, hundreds of artisans started creating different varieties of scarabs for their clients. Very soon, the usage of scarabs spread across to other parts of Asia that bordered the great Mediterranean Sea.
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