This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.
Today’s Kemetic Round Table post covers heka; specifically, what it is and how it is used.
I would like to, first and foremost, direct your attention to two exemplary posts: the first by Sarduriur as a general academic overview of what heka is (and is not), and the second by Saryt as an interpretation of heka applied to music. They are both stellar reads and speak volumes beyond what I will cover here.
Furthermore, since I’ve already written my take on the basics of heka, I would like to give some examples of heka, rather than restate myself or repeat portions of the aforelinked fantastic essays.
To sum up briefly: Heka is not magic as Westerners think of magic; it is authoritative utterance or meaningful speech, and it is a power that lies within every person and every Netjeru. Heka is a natural and neutral tool, neither innately positive or negative, and can be used to defend and attack as well as propitiate and strengthen. Heka was frequently used to identify oneself with different deities in order to assume Their characteristics (and powers) and can be akin to sympathetic magic in that regard; to speak (or scribe) is to make it so.
Now, let’s get to a couple of modern heka samples, shall we? They should illustrate just how simple and clear-cut heka can be; it’s not all fancy ceremonial litanies that take half an hour to recite! (Not to knock long-form heka, mind; it has its place, as do the briefer kinds.)
first heka: for migraines
I suffer from migraines, and while I have them in hand for the most part, they can still take me out at the kneecaps if I’m caught unawares. Because a migraine feels like my brain is unraveling in a rather painful and messy fashion, I liken it to uncreation, and I invoke the Eye of Ra Who has made me to protect me. (In my particular case, the Eye can be both Nebt-het (Nephthys), my divine Mother, and Sekhmet.) While this heka could also be done by my directly assuming the role of the Eye goddess, I am usually too swamped by the migraine symptoms to confidently pull that off.
This migraine seeks to uncreate me!
Its darkness is the darkness of
its pain is the pain of
My Lady the Eye burns away the shadows;
She burns away the pain and cauterizes me.
My Lady the Eye has created me
and no force shall undo Her work in me.
second heka: for eye trouble
I wear contacts, and on rare occasion, I’ll get some little grain of grit sandwiched between a lens and my eye. It’s deeply uncomfortable and often sharply painful, and since I don’t currently have glasses of an appropriate Rx, I’m stuck hoping I can wash the offending particle out and put my contact right back in. Given that I’d be legally blind without contacts, it’s kind of vital that I be able to wear ’em, especially at work or while driving. I’ve used the below heka a couple times to considerable effect; the first two lines are paraphrased from an ancient prayer to Bast-Ra.
Turn to me, peace-loving Netjer, forgive me;
Make light for me so I can see Your beauty.
My eye is the eye of Heru that was wounded and made whole again.
third heka: job-hunting
This heka was made for my partner, the first part to be spoken before starting a job-hunting session (online or in person) and the second part to conclude that session. I involve Heru-wer only because He’s willing, but other deities could easily take His place if the need arose.
Heru-wer, accept this incense and grant me opportunity.
My eyes are Your eyes, my hands Your talons;
I will swoop down and seize success.
. . .
Thank You for Your long sight and swift wings, Heru.
May we enjoy victory together – nekhtet!
fourth heka: protection
This is part of a longer execration heka; I conclude the heka by invoking my personal Netjeru (plus Set) for protection.
Nebt-het watches over me,
Hethert-Nut uplifts me,
Ma’ahes guards me,
Serqet guides me.
Sekhmet is over me,
Set is behind me,
Netjer is around me.
I am safe from all isfet.
If you enjoyed this post, please check out the other takes on heka by my fellow Round Table bloggers!