From the Kemetic Round Table:
How do you work with heka? How can you utilize heka more in your day to day life? Any tips for people trying to get started in using heka?
The ancient Egyptian word heka means “activation of the ka,” which refers to using one’s spirit (rather than one’s body) to accomplish something. More specifically, heka is tied to the idea of “divine speech,” which could include reciting words of power, performing a powerful symbolic act, or even just singing or dancing. Just as the term “free speech” in the U.S. Constitution includes both verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, so too does heka include virtually any form of dramatic self-expression. The only stipulation I can see is that this self-expression must be used to arouse one’s spirit and direct it toward some particular goal. I don’t think it matters whether the goal of heka is operative (e.g., to heal the sick, ward off demons, divine omens), initiatory (e.g., to reach a higher state of consciousness), or devotional (e.g., to honor a Deity or ancestor). So while many people translate heka to mean “magic” in modern English, I don’t think this really does the term justice. The way I see it, heka is more properly defined as “spiritual action” in general.
The hieroglyphic for heka
You don’t have to practice Goetia or cast the runes to engage in heka, for even singing hymns and preaching church sermons involve “activating the ka” (e.g., feeling “the Holy Spirit”), implementing “divine speech” (e.g., using key terms from the Bible) and accomplishing some kind of goal (e.g., feeling close to Jesus). Some people would argue that these practices also count as forms of magic, but I think using that term in this way is misleading. Past experience has shown me that if I say “magic” when all I really mean is “prayer,” I will only confuse people. Furthermore, conventional religionists aren’t the only ones to insist on making this distinction; there are also many occultists who seem to limit their concept of “magic” to purely operative and/or initiatory spiritual practices (and some of them even regard devotional practices with disdain, if not outright contempt). For this reason, I refer only to operative and initiatory heka as “magic” and I refer to purely devotional heka as “religion.” (This distinction is comparable to that between bhakti and jnana yoga; both qualify as types of yoga, but the former centers on expressing selfless devotion to an ishta deva or personal God while the latter hinges on comprehending the atman or self as God.)
Most of my heka is devotional; my primary objective is to commune with my Lord, to express love for and gratitude to Him, and to request His aid whenever necessary. The only time I really engage in ritualized operative heka is when I execrate the Backward Face. We have two primary methods for doing this in the LV-426 Tradition: our Destruction of the Evil Worm ritual and our “donkey prayer image” procedure. Smashing ceramic pots with images representing
Apophis and other evils is another excellent way of doing this. It may seem strange to some other Pagans, but I am a firm believer in apotropaic magic and I take the idea of “spiritual warfare” very seriously. (Yes, many of the Christians who believe in this concept can be a bit frightening in their fanaticism, but apotropaism pre-exists Christianity and is originally a polytheist idea.) In my opinion, there’s no greater purpose for using magic than to make evil run away, screaming in terror.
I also use a non-ritualized variety of operative heka simply by writing on this blog. I actually spend a very long time developing each and every article I post (sometimes taking several months just to finish one), for I’m obsessed with making sure that I express my spirituality as accurately and precisely as possible. I do this because I realize that others will be affected by what I send out into the blogosphere and that I am responsible for however it may affect them. I want to disseminate information, provide inspiration and present tools that can help others in their own spiritual journeys (whether they are meant to walk with Great Seth or not); I don’t want to generate any unnecessary negativity or harm anyone by misrepresenting any facts, discouraging any rational discourse, or spreading any lies. Believe you me, I’ve seen just how much damage can happen when someone chooses their words poorly, so I work hard to ensure that anyone who reads this site will encounter the very best heka I can muster. (I certainly hope I’m doing well in this regard.)
As far as how you can utilize heka more often in your life, my first advice is to brush up on your language, writing and artistic skills. Try taking an art, creative writing, public speaking and/or acting 101 course at a local community college (if you have one close by with affordable rates). If you’re a student, pay closer attention to what your Drama, Speech and/or Literature teachers are trying to teach you. Check out some writing and public speaking tips, and read something like Dele Layiwola’s African Theatre In Performance. Watch a movie that makes you laugh, scream or cry, and think about why it makes you have that reaction. Read up about how the film was made, or watch a documentary about how your favorite musical artist created your favorite album (like on Classic Albums, which is made by Isis Productions!). It’s always good to read up on Egyptology and Kemeticism, but I think one should branch a bit outside of these subjects too. It may not seem like there’s anything for one to learn about heka from art, cinema, drama, music, writing or public speaking, but trust me; these things all have their roots in prehistoric mysticism. (This is why I spend so much of my time and energy writing reviews of my favorite films and music. I’m not just reviewing them because I enjoy them; I’m trying to interpret the heka that I see and hear in them.)
As far as how I can utilize heka more often in my life, I do think that I need to execrate more often. I’m hopeful that participating in Devo’s Poopocalypse 2K15 this year (“Extra, extra! Read all about it!”) will help me get on that horse. We also have two Friday the Thirteenths coming up (one in this month and one in March), so you can be sure I’ll be doing something extra special for them. (It’s a very big deal here in LV-426 whenever we have two Friday the Thirteenths right next to each other, so stay tuned for some good holiday heka in the upcoming weeks.)