Daily Ancient Magic #17: Democritos‘ Sphere

The ancient magic books do not only contain ritual instructions for the invocation of higher powers. In the papyrus scroll PGM XII – an extensive magic manual from the 4th century, which was written in the two languages Greek and => Demotic– a „prognostic of life and death“ is preserved, in which the ancient number and letter mysticism plays a crucial role.

Demokritos‘ sphere: prognostic of life and death. Find out what day of the month the sick one took to bed. Add his name from birth to the day of the month and divide by thirty. Look up on the „sphere“ the quotient: if the number is on the upper rcgister, the person will live, but if it is on the lower register, he will die.

PGM XII, 351-364, translation following Betz, The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, 1986, 165.



If you would like to know more about the ancient alphabet and number mysticism, you can find a lot of information in the old but very informative book by Franz Dornseiff, Das Alphabet in Mystik und Magie. The second edition from 1925 is available for free as a PDF via archive.org: https://archive.org/details/DasAlphabetInMystikUndMagie.

Papyrus AMS 75, (C) Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

Link to the papyrus: https://www.rmo.nl/collectie/collectiezoeker/collectiestuk/?object=172313
Link to the photo: https://www.rmo.nl/imageproxy/jpg/148585