Reposted from: https://www.facebook.com/groups/165855053600195/permalink/198303137022053/
I was recently asked to write up this article due to a misunderstanding that had occurred regarding deities of my path, and so here I am. I will first give a little bit of background information explaining heka and Kemeticism, and then will go into the use of heka by deities in various stories. These stories are not necessarily meant as hard facts, however they are the same stories by which the ancient Egyptians performed their own heka, and it is often through these deities or their heka that the ancient Egyptians were successful in their endeavors.
Kemeticism and Heka:
Kemet translates as "the Black Land" or "the Black Soil" and is one of several names for ancient Egypt by the ancient Egyptians themselves. Kemet was used to describe what was Egypt in ancient times; the country built upon the riverbank of the Nile. Kemeticism is a term which describes the various practices and beliefs which are related to Kemet.
Kemeticism will, envitably, involve the practice of heka. Heka translates as "activating the ka" or "activating the spirit", and is roughly translated as magic by people who aren't involved in the path. While out and about other occultists/practitioners whom have no background knowledge of Kemet, I use the term magic in regards to my practice. Heka comes from the self, and heka can be stolen/consumed by others. Heka is powered by one's ka (spirit body) and their sekhem (personal power), and so heka could easily be said to be both a spiritual and magical practice. In Kemet, there never came a need for a word to describe the religion of the people, because religion was a constant for all and no one didn't have some sort of religious belief. Due to this, and the nature and practice of heka, it could also be called religious. So heka essentially is a magical-spiritual-religious practice of the people of Kemet and it is the same for those who practice Kemeticism. To ask a Kemetic to separate magic from the others is to ask the person to tear apart an original and highly useful term in order to sterlize it for the New Age movement.
Heka involves several concepts: the concept of words as power, the concept of images as power, and the concept of deities as power. I've discussed this a bit previously, but I will go into it now for informational purposes.
The concept of words as power is based upon several factors, some of which are purely mythical and others which are based in logic. The mythical factors have to deal with both creation stories and stories like that where Aset (Isis) learns Ra's true name. In several different creation stories, words factor in as a part of creation: the act of naming something creates that thing. In this way, Ptah and Djehuti (Thoth) gain the title of creator. At the same time, all of the other creator deities (Atum, Amun, Neith, etc) also bring the world into being and order through the act of speech at one point or another. I will include the story regarding Aset learning Ra's true name later in this article. The logical point of view is that since less than 10% of the people were literate, the ability to read strange symbols on paper, walls, etc, was considered a magical thing.
The concept of images as power is based upon sympathetic relationships between image and the entity or concept the image represents. The idea that red roses mean love is based on this concept, and it is this concept by which the ancient Egyptians used to heal, to curse, to care for their dead, and to communicate with their deities. The image of the thing was considered to be the same as action of the thing itself, and so this is why within the Books of Coming Forth by Day (Books of the Dead) contain images of the process/journey into/through the afterlife, and why dangerous animals (or people) had their bodies broken or incomplete when used as a image. Not all images of dangerous animals are constantly incomplete, but some remain complete until a later (more paranoid) date, such as is the case with Serqet's scorpion.
The concept of deities as power is based upon the nature of deities: they represent a concept within the created world or a concept before the created world (such as Nun). The power of the deities deals with their individual stories or their parts within an individual story, such as Aset having power over scorpions and their poisonous bites (yes, they are called bites) due to her journey to the reeds where Heru-sa-Aset was born, and later when he becomes bitten by a scorpion.
Heka as Performed by Deities:
As mentioned previously, creator deities such as Ptah, Djehuti, Atum, Amun, Re, and Neith perform heka when they speak the world into being. Not only this, but whenever the deities they create speak and/or bring up a new concept, they also perform heka. Djehuti can teach his learnings, however it is more commonly brought up that he does not teach it to humans, but rather he has a book within which all the knowledge of creation exists, which hekau (and others) attempt to get ahold of. The attempt to do so will lead one down a terribly cursed path as was shown in one story where a dead Heru in the Nest (prince), haunts a hekau until a book of Djehuti is returned to its resting place. The others do not teach heka at all.
Aset is a common practitioner of heka as well, in nearly all of the stories she is involved in, she performs heka. In the Contendings of Heru and Set, Aset creates a magical harpoon which she then performs heka on it in order to accurately hit her brother, Set, while he is tangling with her son, Heru-sa-Aset. Set cries out to her in pain, asking her to release him and reminding her that they are siblings, and she uses heka to cause the harpoon to release from Set's side. In the same story, she also transforms her outward appearance through heka twice. (Yes, in heka it is a common portion of the story that deities can and do change their appearances and in some stories hekau perform these same feats. In the above paraphrased portion, Set and Heru-sa-Aset became hippopotami through heka.) She first transforms into an old woman in order to go to the place where the throne of Egypt is being debated over, because Set had her barred from this place. She uses this disguise, and a bribe, to get Nemty (the boat master) to take her across. Once across, she transforms into a beautiful young woman, and then uses this disguise to trick her brother Set into admitting that he shouldn't hold the throne of Egypt and to promise his assistance to her in setting the rightful heir in place (Heru-sa-Aset). Aset also uses heka in healing a scorpion bite of a young son of a noble woman who shut her door to the grieving and pregnant Aset (the scorpion whom stung him was one of the Seven Scorpions whom accompanied Aset as guards). Aset uses heka when she heals her son, Heru-sa-Aset, of the scorpion and snake bites he receives as "the poison" of Set. Aset uses heka in the story where she learns the true name of Re. She waits until he crosses his normal path, leaving his spittle behind him. She takes his spittle and mixes it with the clay of the Nile, and forms a snake. The next day, she throws the snake in front of Re and it bites him. She then uses heka to heal him once she has learned his true name. When she raises Wesir (Osiris) back from the dead in order to make him a living god, she performs heka (along with her sister Nebthet/Nephthys and Yinepu/Anubis). The only one she actually teaches heka to is her son, otherwise she is constantly performing heka for all sorts of reasons.
Heka as Performed by Deities (Through Humans):
Within the performance of heka, it is very common for a person to use the power of a deity in order to do what needs or wants to be done. It is a similar practice to horsing or drawing down the moon, in that the deity's energy/presence/essence is supposed to overlay the person's self. However, it is different from the concept of either in that it wasn't always used to create a full possession state, and it isn't used to communicate between the deity and the person(s) viewing it. Often, a hekau (practitioner of heka) would channel the essence of the deity only (so that the energy of the deity was there, but not the deity themselves) and use this essence to perform the heka which was needed. At other moments, during sacred plays or during the mystery cults' celebrations, this same level of channeling would be used to re-enact the actions of the deities involved.
Whenever a funeral was performed, heka was performed upon the person's body in order to assist them in the afterlife and raise them back from the dead (as Aset did with Wesir). This particular heka was re-enacted based on what Aset, Nebthet, and Yinepu did together in order to raise Wesir, and so by re-enacting it, the people are working the original heka that the deities performed.