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KRT: Heka

15 May

This round of the Kemetic Round Table is about heka and what it is, and how we can work with it.

So what is heka?

Like ma’at, heka is both a deity and a concept, and it is the concept that we are concerning ourselves with today. Heka, which is commonly referred to as ‘magic’ in English, is about authoritative speech and also means “activating the ka”. To put it in laymen terms, heka is about words of any shape or variety. Spoken words, written words, signed words- just about any form of communication you can throw a stick at falls under heka. Everyone on the planet has the capacity to utilize heka as it was given to all of us by the gods (Ra is often cited as the main ‘giver’) to help protect ourselves from the perils of the world.

Despite the literal translation of ‘heka’ referring to words and communication, heka rituals can involve much more than just speech. According to Rittner, heka can involve circumambulation, licking, spitting, binding, trampling, blowing, swallowing, the use of images, breaking, burning, piercing, etc. While this may seem confusing as first, I believe that the two concepts go hand in hand because ritualized action (and all actions and body language in general) fall under the realm of communication- which is essentially what heka is all about (the use of words in all forms to command and create change in the world around us).

What makes one person’s heka more powerful than another’s is knowing how to effectively use both of these elements to create that change. What makes it difficult is knowing that pretty much everything you say or do is heka, and that everything you say and do creates ripples in the world around you, which creates change in the world around you.

How do we use heka well?

Also like ma’at, using heka effectively will vary person to person, but I think it can be summed up fairly simply:

Be considerate of all that you say and do.

Now, when I say ‘be considerate’, I’m not necessarily saying that you always need to be considerate to others, I’m saying that you need to consider every action that you take. To ensure that your actions and words have the greatest impact, you have to understand the situation you’re in at any given time, and consider which actions you can take that will bring about the desired reactions and changes in the world around you.

That is where the power of heka lies.

This means being concise in your statements- making sure that you have enough details to get the message across without having too many details. Its about making sure that your words and actions are tailored to the person/s you’re around and that you are communicating n a way that will create the desired response from those you are interacting with. Some might consider this a sign of being a charmer or charismatic.

I consider it a sign of being good with heka.

How can we work with it?

That is difficult to answer because, to me, the answer is so diverse and large that it’s hard to put into words. Heka has the capacity to permeate all aspects of your life- in magical, mundane and religious aspects. Every ritual you do for the gods is heka. Any magical rite you do could be considered heka. Talking with your boss can be a form of heka.

Anything and everything can go back to heka.

That is why learning how to communicate effectively (both in speech and body language) can be so important and useful- because you can use those skills just about anywhere and with anyone.

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