Many European and Western Magick Traditions owe many of their origins from Arab Magicians, whose roots were based in the valley of the Nile, the 'Cradle of Magic' that is Egypt.
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Heka - Magic or Meaningful Speech - Ancient Egypt - The White Goddess

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Friday, 24 February 2017

Heka - Magic or Meaningful Speech

Heka - Magic or Meaningful Speech

Heka - Magic or 'Magickal/Meaningful Speech'

Egyptian Magic.

Many European and Western Magick Traditions owe many of their origins from Arab Magicians, whose roots were based in the valley of the Nile, the 'Cradle of Magic' that is Egypt. According to the Kabala, of the ten shares of magic that the Earth received, nine fell in Egypt, while the rest of the world shares the tenth. Indeed Egypt (Khem in Egyptian - meaning 'The Black Land' , referring to the black, fertile soil of the Nile Valley) is often to referred to as 'The Temple of the World'.

Heka is usually translated as meaning 'magic', however it is a concept that is so much more, another translation for heka is 'Art of the Mouth', although a better meaning could be 'magical/meaningful speech'. Another word for magical powers was 'akhu', this is sometimes translated as meaning 'enchantments, sorcery or spells'. Although deities and stars could utilise the akhu power, it was particularly associated with the blessed dead.

Magic, for the ancient Egyptians, permeated everything in creation, and as such all things in creation possess heka to a certain degree. Each ancient Egyptian in his manner was a magician and took part in the power which the Netjer gave to man to act upon reality. The sculptor, carving a statue, saw neither commemoration nor aesthetics, but a means of magically extending for eternity the existence of his model. The carving or writing of hieroglyphics, was also a form of heka, in that control of the written word confers power on the thing described. 'To speak the name of the dead, is to make them live again. It restoreth the name of life to he who hath vanished'.

All the deities (Netjer) and supernatural beings of ancient Egypt had their own heka, it was an intrinsic part of their very nature, as much as their bodies and names. Just as the Netjer had heka, so the forces of chaos, such as the great serpent Apep (Apophis) who existed in the watery abyss called Nun, had their own heka. Egyptian kings automatically had heka, the dead are also credited with a certain degree of heka. Tehuty (Thoth) is said to have the most heka of all the Netjer.

Heka is personified by the male Netjer, Heka, who is often depicted in human form, sometimes with the signs that write his name on his head. In other cases he is portrayed with a snake's head. He stands at the head of Ra's barge along with Hu 'divine utterance' and Sia 'divine knowledge' when Ra makes His nightly journey. Heka is also described as the ba (soul or manifestation) of the sun god. He was the energy which made creation possible and acts of magic were a continuation of the creative process. Although no major temples were built for Heka, he had a priesthood and shrines dedicated to him in Lower Egypt.

Weret Hakau, meaning 'Great Of Magic', was originally a title applied to several goddesses, she is also a goddess in her own right, often depicted as a cobra. The Netjer Heka is also connected to several of the creation myths, in the boat of Sun God or occasionally holding the earth and sky apart in place of Shu or shown behind the throne of Osiris. These roles stress the centrality of Heka in the Egyptian cosmos as one of the forces that hold the universe together and brought life into being.

The understanding of heka allowed the Priest/Magician to 'perform magic', the more heka you had, the greater the ability to do magic. Because written words had heka, owning books or scrolls and reading them gave you more heka. Hieroglyphs were known as the 'divine words' and the creation of writing was credited to Tehuty (Thoth). There are several myths about the 42 secret books written by Thoth, which as supposed to outline laws, magic spells, astrology, cosmology, geography and medicine.

Many scrolls, papyri and books of heka were often kept in the Temple Libraries known as Per Ankh's (House of Life). These temple libraries function as schools for many of the priesthood as well as nobility. There were also "shaman" like magicians & local healers who lived in the smaller rural areas who did not train in the Per Ankhs of the Temples, but unfortunately not much is known of these people or the form in which their magic took.

Because heka connects everything from the Divine to the material, it is invariably linked to Ma'at. The word Ma'at is usually translated as meaning 'justice, truth, balance' and like heka, its concept however, involved much more.

The understanding of Ma'at is vital in performing magic and as such those who do Ma'at are able to gain heka. This does not mean however, that you can do heka, the understanding and adherence to Ma'at allowed someone to have greater heka. As such, those who have heka, have a greater responsibility to do ma'at, and only those who do ma'at, are able to utilize their heka. The priest/magician/physician was also the upholder of Ma'at. The Per Ankh was the place were Priests learned their duties, the arts of magic and healing and the concept of Ma'at. The Priests of Sekhmet, Anpu, and Khnosu were considered good physicians. Magicians claimed priesthood from various temples, such as Tehuty.

The priests of Sekhmet play a prophylactic (Acting to defend against or prevent something, especially disease; protective.) role in medicine. The priest ("waeb Sekhmet") being present as an integral part of the treatment performed by the sunu (physician).

The role between Magic, Religion and Medicine in ancient Egypt is interchangeable, Priests would use religious, magical and medical means alongside each other as complimentary elements in a given situation. It was not uncommon for a physician to treat an affliction with a magical amulet, a prayer to a Netjer and regular medicine such as a herbal poultice. Magic as subversive, unorthodox and counter culture, does not apply to Egypt where ritual magic was practiced on behalf of the state for at least 3000 years.

In marked contrast to medieval Europe, where a distinction between, good, natural and demonic magick, Egyptian magic seems to lack this separation. It invoked all kinds of supernatural beings, some of which could be classed as demonic.

Sekhmet, although associated with the near destruction of mankind, was also seen as a healer, on the assumption that the Goddess could ward of pestilence aswell as cause it. She was given the title of 'Lady of Life', and was seen as a beneficial force to counteract illness.

Set, in early times, was worshipped as the god of wind and the desert storms, and prayed to that he would grant the strength of the storms to his followers. He was a god of expanding borders and radical changes of being - particularly birth, circumcision/initiation, death in battle, and rebirth through the Opening of the Mouth ceremony.

Although he was always a dark and moody god, he was believed to be the ally of his brother and sister, Osiris and Isis, the counterpart to his sister-wife Nephthys, and the defender of their father, Ra.

Set, was later to become a god of evil, in eternal conflict with the gods of light, and especially with Horus, the son of Osiris. Set became identified with his former enemy, the serpent Apep. By the XXVI Dynasty, Set was the major antagonist and embodiment of evil to the Egyptians. Why this change came about is unknown, but it is thought that some time after the unification of Egypt, the religion of Set fell into disfavor.

In Egyptian theology, very few of the supernatural beings were regarded as truly evil, so invoking them involved no spiritual danger, neither was there any stigma in worshipping these deities. Both 'natural' and 'demonic' magic could be used in a defensive or aggressive manner, according to the will of the magician. When studying Egyptian Magic, it is unwise to think of it as the bargain basement of religion or as a form of senile imbecility.

There are several types of magic in the Ancient Egypt culture.

* Written magic
* Spoken magic
* Sympathetic magic
* Amulets

Bibliography

HEKA, Magic and Bewitchment in Ancient Egypt By Claude Rilly
Magic In Ancient Egypt by Geraldine Pinch
Liber ægyptius - The Book of Egyptian Magic by Mélusine Draco
The Egyptian Book of Days complied by Mélusine Draco
Understanding Hieroglyphes by Hilary Wilson
Moon Magic by D Conway
Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses by George Hart
Isis Magic by M Isidora Forrest
The Mysteries of Isis by deTraci Regula

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