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History of Massage (Part 1): Massage in Ancient Egypt

by | Apr 3, 2024 | History of Massage

If you think that Swedish massage was the beginning of “massage therapy,” think again. The truth is that massage therapy has been an integral part of human civilization for thousands of years.

Among the ancient civilizations that embraced the power of touch, ancient Egypt is one of the oldest. Its healing practices are well-documented and, not surprisingly, include the art of massage therapy.

In this post, we’ll embark on a fascinating journey through the history of massage in ancient Egypt. Along the way, we’ll explore its rich tapestry of beliefs, customs, and healing rituals.

Let’s dive in!

Egyptian Healing Beliefs and Customs

In ancient Egypt, the belief in the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit formed the cornerstone of their medical philosophy.

They viewed illness as a disruption of the body’s balance. This could be caused by factors such as spiritual disharmony, environmental influences, or bodily imbalances.

To restore harmony and promote healing, Egyptians relied on a holistic approach that encompassed various therapeutic modalities — including massage.

Massage in Ancient Egypt

Massage therapy held a revered position in ancient Egyptian society. Historical evidence of its practice dates back over 4,000 years. Priests, physicians, and healers were well-versed in the art of massage, using it to treat a myriad of ailments.

One of the earliest recorded instances of massage in ancient Egypt is in the Edwin Smith Papyrus, a medical text dating to around 1550 BCE.

This papyrus contains detailed descriptions of massage techniques used to alleviate pain and facilitate healing. Massage was often prescribed alongside other therapeutic interventions such as herbal remedies, aromatherapy, and spiritual rituals.

Other Egyptian Customs & Practices

Massage therapy was not only valued for its physical benefits but also for its spiritual and psychological effects.

It was believed to cleanse the body of impurities, release stagnant energy, and promote spiritual alignment. Massage sessions were often accompanied by chants, prayers, and incantations to invoke the healing powers of the gods and goddesses.

One of the most well-known massage techniques in ancient Egypt was the “rubbing of oils.” This is where fragrant oils infused with herbs and botanicals were applied to the skin and massaged into the body. These oils were believed to have magical properties that could ward off evil spirits, protect against disease, and promote vitality.

Massage was also an integral part of religious ceremonies and rituals, particularly in temple settings. Temples served as centers of healing, where priests and priestesses would administer massages to worshippers seeking divine intervention for their ailments.

These sacred rituals reinforced the belief in the interconnectedness of the physical and spiritual realms, fostering a sense of unity and harmony within the community.

Massage Therapy in Our Modern Age

The legacy of massage in ancient Egypt is a testament to the wisdom and ingenuity of this ancient civilization.

Through their holistic approach to healing, the ancient Egyptians recognized the intimate relationship between body, mind, and spirit. In effect, they laid the foundation for modern-day massage practices.

You might not experience any chanting or religious rituals at your next massage session, but you’re sure to enjoy the same physical and mental health benefits as the ancient Egyptians.

Call us today at 970-748-1600 or book your next massage online at our lovely studio in Avon, Colorado.