The legend of the Egyptian Scarab goes back to 2300 B.C. and is one of the most well-known and sacred of all amulets. It represents both eternal life and a new creation and immense protection against evil for the wearer. Many millions of scarab amulets came into being since then and this carried on well into the fourth century A.D. and people still have faith in them for many reasons. One of the primary reasons is that it is a good luck charm that works.
Significance of the scarab
The Scarabaeus sacer, to give the scarab beetle its biological name, is a form of dung beetle. Its action of rolling dung across the earth is the movement of the sun across the sky. The other significant action was that of the scarab laying its eggs on the dead bodies of other animals. It came to represent the birth from the dead – a sort of reincarnation. Thus, the Egyptian Scarab came to represent Khepri – God of the rising sun and of eternal life.
Symbolism associated with Khepri
Khepri stood for divine wisdom, immortality, and rejuvenation. He was one form of Ra, the sun god – Khepri was the dawn and Atum was the evening sun. Pictures depict him as a beetle-headed man, a beetle or beetle-headed hawk.
The origin of the word is from the Egyptian word khepher meaning ‘to become’ or ‘to be transformed’. In Egyptian mythology, there is a legend about how Khepri is divided and buried every night. He rises triumphant each morning as his body is resurrected. Another legend has it that his mother Nut swallows him every night. He is resurrected in the morning. In the book of the Dead, to overcome the fear of disintegration through decay, they summon Khepri. They declare the corpse will not decay because it is Khepri whose body parts shall not decay. They will continue to exist. Khepri gives the promise of a life renewable after death.
About the heart scarab
The heart scarab amulet is placed over the heart of the deceased inside the bandages covering the mummy. If you read the chapter 30 of the Book of the Dead. There is an inscription of a spell to be used on judgment day. This stops the heart speaking of sinful behaviour or talking ill of the dead. This is the kind of protection the scarab beetle gave.
Egyptian book of the dead
The Egyptian scarab will see to it that life will be resurrected. These heart scarabs are bigger than the normal Egyptian scarab amulets. Amulets showing the scarab with extended wings are a sign or extended protection. The first amulet of the scarab beetle did not have any engravings but during and after the Middle Kingdom 2055-1650 B.C. all the amulets were engraved.
Although Khepri did not have a temple of his own, yet many temples had statues and engravings of the sacred scarab beetle inside the temple. And many of these had mystical powers. For instance, the temple complex at Karnak has an Egyptian scarab beetle statue. If anyone told their wish to the scarab and walked around the statue three times, their wish would come true.