The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek!
When I first got started in the wild realm of heka, I think I overcomplicated the concept to myself. I tried to look at it from the same frame of reference as the ancient Egyptians. Don’t get me wrong – that’s important especially for those of us who are recreating the religion. But I spent so much time worrying about my words and what sort of associations, ramifications, and unintended hurts may end up being inflicted on others that I stopped saying anything of merit at all.
I can assure you – this is not how you work with heka.
I think the thing that hung me up the most is that, while the ancient Egyptians saw words as inherently powerful in their own right, things have changed to an extent. We don’t take as much time with the wording of something. I think our modern viewpoint negates the inherent ability within us to effectively create heka. It’s important, of course, to be mindful of our words and how tone, inflection, and the wording can impact others, but I don’t necessarily equate someone being a twatwaffle when they speak to utilizing heka.
When I use heka, I tend to save it for “larger” occasions, specifically during the rites and services I do on behalf of Sekhmet, during major holidays, or larger magical undertakings. So, for example, I have been cooking up (so to speak) a large personal rite that has aspects of both sympathetic magic and heka interwoven together. Outside of these instances, however, I very rarely use heka in my life on a day-to-day basis.
I found that my past failings with attempting to monitor my words and mind my attitude had ended up disastrously: it impacted me negatively by feeling as if I couldn’t say anything with any substance as well as setting off my anxiety. It also made it that much harder for me to communicate effectively. I still have leftovers from this – anyone who knows me that I go quiet on the Internet frequently. This isn’t always caused because of spoon management (or lack thereof) but because I don’t feel as if I have the ability or wherewithal to (A) add anything to the conversation or (B) say anything that wouldn’t, eventually, end up coming out badly.
So, I stopped worrying about my words on a daily basis and started worrying more about them when I was in ritual and when I was working on magix. I found that I worked on it all, studying what it was I was hoping to achieve by turning to heka (healing, protection, execration, etc) and using that as a firm foundation. From there, I built upward with what I felt was needed in order to have good heka in use for the goal I was aiming to achieve.
But you know what I discovered after a while? I’ve become far more mindful of my speech on a daily basis.
Part of this, of course, could be because my job is 95% done through written communication. Much of what I work on is highly technical… and I have to communicate the technical aspects to people who would not understand the lingo. I often find myself paying more attention to how I’m phrasing a problem and what the resolution for that problem was. I pare it down to its most basic component – as an example, the carrier made a wiring repair – and reflect that in my communication.
I do this, as well, within my written communication over the Internet and my conversations with friends and family. I think about what it is they are wanting to know from me, pare it down to its most basic component, and work upward from there. (For those just getting to know me via Tumblr, this is why 99% of my responses are so short.)
When I became aware of this, I started looking around to see if there were other instances where I would use heka on a more daily basis. And I found that I did have my moments. I can’t say it’s something that comes to me either naturally or often, but it is something that I do.
Periodically, I will do a sort of invocation of one of the netjer to see me through the day. The ancient Egyptians were fond of equating themselves as the gods when they were undertaking heka. It added a layer of legitimacy along with a layer of power to the heka that they were trying to do. Most often, as anyone can guess, I reach out to Sekhmet in my attempt to embody what she is capable of: getting through some bad ass shit.
I will admit that this has had mixed results, though I don’t think it’s necessarily because my heka is ineffectual as a whole, but because I tend to do this in a fit of pique. I don’t think that being at my wit’s end necessarily assists me with what I’m trying to do… which is why I tend to plan out for quite a long time frame beforehand what heka I am undertaking.
When it comes to getting started with heka, I honestly don’t know how someone should get started. I think studying the concept in an effort to understand how it was used in ancient Egypt is a good idea. However, when I did, I found myself anxious and overwhelmed both by the concept (since it isn’t exactly an easy one to figure out in a single go) and how it could possibly impact my life.
I think baby steps are probably the best way to go, but that’s honestly the case with about 99% of anything one wishes to study. When it comes to heka, I would go through Kemetics’ blogs and read through any posts tagged under “heka” or “heka hut.” That should give you a rough understanding if what it means to the modern day practitioner.
The next few baby steps that would be the most effective would be to start off small: execration. Execrations are probably the easiest, most cathartic, and the most common forms of heka modern practitioners utilize. (Have a whole KRT topic on it even!) I’m almost positive my first official act of heka was an execration. Besides, who doesn’t like the idea of beating the crap out of a pot or piece of paper when you’re frustrated beyond your measure?
From there, I would take it one step at a time. There’s never a rush when it comes to this sort of thing. Rushing into these types of endeavors can lead to more problems in the long-run anyway. And of course, as always, make sure you have fun with it all, you know? Don’t get boring with it.