The Kemetic Round Table Question of the half month is, “Heka: What is it? How can I work with it?”

Heka is the kemetic version of magic. It is based on speech and the written word. Having things written down was a special thing in ancient Egypt because only a few people actually knew how to write. If you wanted a written spell, you’d have to pay a professional to make or sell you one. The spells varied in subject from medical treatments, to love, protection, revenge, and spells for the dead to find their way to a happy and comfortable afterlife.

There’s probably not a whole lot I can add that won’t be repeated by other bloggers. There is the idea that words represent real things, on a deeper level than that which we take for granted. The Kemetic idea of Names is related to that idea. If you know someone’s Name you have power over them. I believe that is because then you have inside knowledge as to what motivates them, their strengths and their weaknesses. You have to reach behind the surface and “read between the lines” to find the hidden meaning of the words.

In the Kemetic Orthodoxy, each person who takes shemsu vows is given a name. Part of the vow is to explore the meaning of that name. Mine is no secret. It’s also the name of this blog. I’m not particularly worried about it being used against me. What you have up there is just a surface level translation, pretty much stripped of its original nuances. It’s meant to be a public name. I have other names that I don’t tell, and none of those are THE name. They are like satellites orbiting the center. They give clues, they get close, but the center remains hidden. It’s helpful for me to know them, because that gives me a way to know if I’m staying true to myself, or if I’m starting to drift. If something doesn’t seem right, I can check with my names to see if I am contradicting myself. (Note: I said I have other names. One does not have to become a shemsu in order to have a name. How do you find out your name? Pure dumb luck, mostly.) Knowing my names, even if they’re not the main one, helps me to gain power over myself. That’s some pretty good heka there since most of my problems can be traced back to that person who looks at me through the mirror.

In the practice of heka, the general idea is that you say the thing you want to occur. Writing it down also helps and can be considered magical in itself. After the Boston bombing I did a little bit of heka here. I won’t take credit for the excellent work done by so many others, but this one did have a successful outcome. In writing your own, your words need to be confident and authoritative. It helps if they align with existing archetypal patterns. Myths were often mentioned with the speaker adopting the role of one of the participants, even that of a god, so that the same pattern established in the myth would be established in their situation. It also helps if you can dive into the deeper and multiple meanings of the words. Ancient Egyptians were fond of puns, not just for humor value, but for the additional meanings supplied to the words. The scales in the example above can apply either to the scales of Ma’at in the duat, or to the scales of justice in court. I admit, I wasn’t that picky. As for the harshness of the spell, that’s actually pretty tame compared to some of the historical spells I’ve read. The ancients didn’t mess around in life or death situations.


3 thoughts on “Heka

  1. suzmuse says:

    In writing your own, your words need to be confident and authoritative. It helps if they align with existing archetypal patterns. ‘

    ooooo, i really love that. i have similar resonances with magic and the spoken or written word with hermes, but this articulates it clearly and in a way i need to remember.

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