Bad-guy-turned-good: The demon-deity Maga

Part of a series of posts by the 2017-18 students taking the course CLE343: Supernatural Beings and Demons of Ancient Egypt / CL-M79 Ancient Egyptian Demons led by Dr. Kasia Szpakowska at Swansea University

Post written and designed by John Rogers 

If Egyptian mythology were a film, Maga would be the villain of the piece. He’s a crocodile, and doesn’t seem much to look at. He doesn’t appear often, he deosn’t socialise with the rabble, and he never explains himself (so he’s no Bond villain). He hangs around in the water, quietly waiting, watching for an opportunity to attack anyone…including you.
      In Pharaonic mythology, he did just this. The gods were travelling along in the nightbark, happily on their way, when Maga jumped out of the water and tore the shoulder of Osiris off. Osiris went to Heliopolis to recover, but it seems that Maga followed him,

and when Osiris was alone recovering, attacked him again, intent on finishing the job.

     Luckily for peace and cosmic order as the universe knew it, Osiris survived both encounters. No-one is too big for Maga to take on. Those other demons are under the control of the gods; Maga destroys the control of the gods. He’s his own person. 
Apparently, Osiris was not the only one to annoy Maga, because he tries exactly the same thing on Horus! He fails this time, but if you’re crossing the river, beware!
     Maga is a enigmatic character, never being found with other beings, apart from one. His only brother-in-crime is the infamous Apep. Perhaps these two were the Kray twins of the ancient world.
 

 
 
      However, at the end of Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period (c.1070-664BC), He seems to have a change of heart, and looks to protect those who he once tried to kill. He becomes one of a number f beings who protect the temples at Edfu and Dendera, particularly protecting the birth-houses.
     His change of heart (think Darth Vader now), you’ll be pleased to know, does not go unrewarded. He gets to wear the Atef crown, and even ends up joining another god to become the chief defender of a city in the Fayum – Athribis.
 
     So he’s cool. That’s obvious. But is he the coolest? Well, if you can find another ancient Egyptian being who tore gods to pieces, who answers to no-one, whose best friend is Apep, who then becomes a force for good, who defends the temple order he once tried to destroy, who particularly protects mother and child during birth, who becomes the protector of a town, who perhaps even becomes one of the gods…if you can find another being like that, maybe he won’t be the coolest anymore.
     But until you find that other being, he is.