What’s always there

For this month’s Kemetic Round Table, we’re talking about working with heka – how we  work with it, how we can utilize it more in our day to day lives and what tips we may have for others to get started.

At first I wasn’t sure if my post would be somewhat redundant. If you read my blog, you already know heka plays a major part in my spiritual practice. However, I decided to contribute nonetheless, there’s always something to add, explain or clarify.

Working heka is ‘what’s always there’ in my practice and it has been so for over 10 years. It’s a constant, even if there are times when I have a break. Over 10 years of learning, practice, reading, occasional screw-ups and lessons learned.

For me, heka is inseparable from daily life, even if it’s in tiny measures – and the best example I can give is trying to constantly watch my words and be aware of the effects they might have. Maybe I can sum it up that way – being aware.

It’s not always the complex rituals, though I do love a good execration (perhaps many do, they’re quite effective) and a good lamp divination. Some times I tone it down because I find there is no need for a complex ritual when there are more handy alternatives: sigils, I’m looking at you! – and yes, you can argue sigil making is a ritual in itself, but that’s not the point here. To me, a complex ritual is going through multiple steps of ritual purity (at times including fasting and sexual abstinence – depending on the need), and undergoing ritual that can last hours and which calls for a number of ingredients, instruments, gestures, words of power, etc. These certainly have a place in my practice (usually at specific times of the year or whenever the situation calls for it) but they’re not the core of it. I perform a variety of workings which can some times include only a pen and a piece of paper or papyrus. Some times I only work with chalk. And these types of workings can be very effective, especially due to that ‘awareness’ I keep talking about.

I can say that after over 10 years (it’s actually closer to 12 if I think about it) my practice has become quite solid and it took a lot of trial and error and a lot of study. And I still study. I still experiment with words of power and new instruments. There’s always something to discover. I can’t say I’m someone who generally perseveres no matter what. There are things I have given up on. Heka isn’t one of them, however. My reaction to mistakes and screw-ups in this area are usually ‘hmmmm, that didn’t go so well, back to the drawing board’. And I have experimented with other systems too. There’s always been room for that. I have endless curiosity and interest when it comes to magic. It’s there waiting to be tapped into. And experiment. And some times to just dive in.

There is always an element of caution. When I decide to experiment, I try to be as informed as possible. There’s stuff I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole and there’s stuff that doesn’t even make sense to me and I steer away from it. Some stuff looks good in theory but I don’t bother because there’s either no need or it makes no sense to do it when there are other options available, some with which I have more experience. Don’t think I just try whatever takes my fancy, because that’s not the point.

Also – and this may be the unpopular opinion – there’s a considerable burden of responsibility. You don’t just play around. I think ultimately a magician has to be responsible. And keep a lot of things in check. And while some things can be light hearted, heka should be approached in a serious manner, because it’s not a game. I think this burden of responsibility increases when you work for someone else. Like I said, it may be the unpopular opinion, but that’s what I believe – simply because whether we realize it or not, whether we like it or not, there’s always an instance of something about the client’s life that wasn’t a factor in the heka working but it should have been. Of course, the fault isn’t necessarily with the magician – I’ve seen and heard of many situations where clients keep certain things hidden, some times on purpose. I’m not saying that this always happens, but it has happened and it can happen again. Also, if you work for yourself, there can be things you keep in denial. It can happen. So gain, you have to keep a lot of things in check.

This responsibility can also take the shape of keeping in check with the ritual requirements, not taking short cuts. For example, if sexual abstinence for ritual purity requirements is a factor, then you stick to it. You don’t go all ‘ah, it’ll be fine’. Or ‘I need dragon’s blood? I’ll just substitute with cumin!’. When you choose a certain ritual, as complex or simple it may be, stick to it. Ritual requirements are there for a reason. If there’s certain aspects of it you just can’t stick to for whatever reason, simply choose or create another, which you can stick to. Again, don’t read this as ‘don’t substitute’. Substitutes have their purpose. The point is don’t do it willy-nilly.

It takes responsibility and discernment. And you can always ask a fellow practitioner. I consult with fellow practitioners all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it, in fact I recommend it. It can be of great value – some times you just need a fresh pair of eyes to look at a certain situation.

It takes learning and studying. Even if you feel your practice is solid. There’s always something you can learn. My personal favourites are words of power – whether to be spoken or written. I’m always on the look out for a formula I can use – either as is, incorporated into the practice, or adapted.

It’s also a good idea to review all those boring basics from time to time. You may think ‘I know that stuff already, I want to go forward, not backward’, but I find it’s a good habit to review from time to time. Among other things, it can give you a good overlook on how your practice has grown and solidified, what things are not pertinent any more, and what remained constant.

For an absolute beginner I can say be excited and responsible. You can be excited about trying new things and you can be responsible and practice discernment. They don’t cancel each other out. Read as much as you can and as you keep reading, start doing as well. Know your base. Know your symbols. Know the Gods. Know the why and the what, learn the how. Read on other systems as well, be familiar with various ways of doing things, even if you don’t necessarily put it all into practice. It gives you a solid foundation of knowledge that you can ground your practice in. No two people are the same and so your working heka won’t be identical to mine or anyone else’s. Another unpopular opinion (perhaps): there are right ways and wrong ways to do certain things. We don’t generally like to be wrong, we don’t really like to be told we’re wrong. And ultimately, we some times only learn from experience. And what’s right for some may be really wrong for others and vice versa.

~~~

Find all the responses for this month’s KRT here.

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For a glimpse of my personal practice, here’s a list of bits I’ve written in the past. It’s by no means a full list, just a few to give you an idea, especially if you’re new to this blog.

Heka – introduction

Can anyone work heka?

Heka – Magical Drawings: Part 1, 2 and 3

Lamp Divination

Ritual eye makeup

Reconstructing and adapting rituals

 

 

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The Monday Quote

This is a short one, and it comes from the Teachings for Merikare (Middle Kingdom). There’s actually two translated versions that I’ve got written down. The first one I could not tell you for the life of me where I found it – I noted it before I started writing down what translation it was, but the second one is a Faulkner translation.

‘He (the sun god) created for them magic as a weapon, to fend off the blows of the happenings.’

‘He has made for them magic to be weapons to ward off what may happen.’

He (the sun god) = Re

Them = humans

Now why I love this paragraph so much is that I like the idea of magic (heka) as a weapon. A defensive one at that. The interesting bit, to me, is that this defensive weapon can take an aggressive stance – such with execrations: defensive in nature, but with an aggressive attitude, a sort of protection through the destruction of evil (whatever the form that evil may take: A/pep or any agent of Isfet). You protect yourself from enemies by trampling them underfoot, you ward off A/pep by destroying it* (over and over) and so on.

This is one of the reasons I love heka so much. It’s not just ‘shield yourself from it and whatever may come’ but it’s actively destroying Isfet. [I have nothing against shielding, it’s very useful, do it!]

Or maybe ‘aggressive stance’ isn’t the best wording. ‘Pro-active’ may define it better. Thoughts?

~~~

*I think I’ll stick to using the pronoun ‘it’ for A/pep. I know that usually ‘he’ is used but I feel that personifies this evil force a bit too much for my liking. It’s just a personal choice so I’m just throwing it in here, in case I get questions as to why I use ‘it’.

Posted in Food for Thought, Heka, The Monday Quote | 4 Comments

Heka for the New Year. Part 1 – Cleanse and Purify

A new year is upon us and it’s in the spirit of the season to look forward to new things, be more hopeful, make resolutions (and stick with them!) and begin new projects.

It’s a good time to lay the foundations for good things to come, both from a mundane perspective and a spiritual one.

Cleanse and Purify

Start by giving your home a thorough clean. Catch up on your laundry. Clean out your fridge and give it a good scrub. Wash those curtains and throws. De-clutter and be merciless about it. Hoover the place (or sweep it), wash the floors and give the place a good dusting. Even wash your windows if you need to. Change the bed(s).

Now that your home is nice and clean, you’re all set for a proper spiritual cleanse.

Light a white candle and anoint it with a white sage/cedar/sweetgrass oil – your choice (my personal choice was a ‘Heka’ oil).

With your mortar and pestle, grind up equal parts of frankincense and white sage.

Light a charcoal block and burn a third of that mix.

In the meantime, light a smoke cleansing stick (or ‘smudge stick’) – wormwood, white sage and juniper are excellent choices (I used a canarian wormwood one).

Open all your windows. Start cleansing your home with the smoke, front to back. If it’s on more than one level, start at the bottom and work your way up (and out). You have to work your way to the front door. And don’t forget those nooks and crannies!

Use Words of Power if you wish.

When reaching the front door, open it and smoke cleanse just outside it if you can too. If your stick hasn’t burned out by now (mine almost did), just place it in a fire-proof bowl, right next to the door (which you can now close).

Come back to your charcoal block and add another third of your frankincense and sage mix. When that burns out fully, add the last third.

Let the candle burn out by itself, don’t extinguish it. For practical reasons, you might want to use a small tea light.

This may sound like a lot of work and it can be, especially giving your home a thorough clean. You don’t have to do it all in one day (it took me a little over 3 days), especially if time and physical abilities are an issue. But it is necessary for your home to be physically clean before your perform your cleanse.

Some might feel that even this process isn’t enough, for whatever reason: it has been a particularly bad year, there’s been a horrible illness, perhaps even the death of a loved one, there’s a lot of negativity build-up, and so and so forth.

In such a case, the cleansing process can be extended to a full week.

The candle best for this is a white 7 day candle (and you’ll burn one knob off it each day, instead of letting it burn in one go, like with the tea light), but if that’s not possible, then 7 individual tea lights will do (fresh one each day, burn it fully). Magic must be practical, after all.

If you need to turn this into a 7 day affair, it’s sufficient to just keep your home clean, you don’t need to scrub it down every day, but keeping clutter to a minimum, not letting the dishes or laundry pile up are generally good ideas.

More often than not, I find a cleanse such as this can leave the place a bit ’empty’, it’s like a clean slate, if you will. As such, there’s a few other things which can be done, all will be discussed in the next posts.

Good luck!

Notes:

1. Basic fire safety obviously applies: be careful so you don’t get singed fingers, you don’t burn your eyebrows/nose hair/clothes. Never leave a candle unattended either!

2. I find that the best time to do this cleanse is either during dusk or dawn. Mine was performed at dusk.

3. Since in the past I have had questions about the sources of various supplies, bits and bobs which I use, I have decided to include links – where possible. I don’t receive money to endorse any of the products and I have no monetary affiliation with them. The owner of the Camino de Yara shop is a friend and I have purchased supplies from her, and I have no  contact with the owner of Phytognosis other than being a happy return customer.

Posted in Heka, Incense, Magic - Rituals and Spellwork, Magical Ingredients | Leave a comment

(Un)finished Projects

Normally I don’t pay a lot of attention to the deluge of memes, inspirational quotes and others as such which sometimes drown one’s feed on various social media platforms these days. There’s simply too many of them and I only get to really notice very very few.

However, about a month and a half ago, I did notice the following quote:

Getting ready to start something isn’t actually starting, you know. Spend all your time getting ready, and you’ll make a habit of not starting.*

At first I let the words sink in. The almost brutal truth of these words struck me in a very positive way. I re-read it a few times. Then put pen to paper and wrote it down. Then wrote it down over and over, even while speaking the words out loud.

You see, I hadn’t realized how my usual good organization had turned to dust. I hadn’t realized that I had fallen into the very habit of not starting. At that point, I had so many projects left unfinished. It was truly sad. Some weren’t even started. There was just the idea, the desire, but nothing else.

So, with new found determination, I truly did start. I made to-do lists for each project. This brought me to a grand total of about 25 lists, some which (in all honesty) should have been completed a long time ago. Some of these were for Christmas, as we were hosting, so a lot needed to be done.

Then I started to tackle each list, upon completion of each task I just ticked it off the list. When all was done, I just crossed the list and threw it in the recycling bin. (I tend to recycle every bit of paper that I can).

And let me tell you, I found I was feeling SO good whenever something was done. The dreaded ‘organizing my notes’ task, for example, was no longer something to stress over or procrastinate about. It was done and there was less clutter on (and around!) my desk. And it felt good. It took about two weeks to get through it all, and because I kept my determination, I didn’t get stuck in the kitchen all day on Christmas (I was the designated cook, go figure!) I even had one of my sisters-in-law tell me ‘I can’t believe you were this organized!’ To which I replied ‘To-do lists are the way forward, as long as you really do stick to them!’

It felt good and it brought a sense of achievement. Small for some, but big for me.

And it still feels good, because now – weeks later – I still stick to my system. I’ve even improved the system a bit: I bought this small, handy planner and it has really helped me be more organized and tackle each day, one small thing at a time. It’s colourful and fun and it somehow makes things more pleasurable, rather than feel like boring, daunting chores.

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I might even implement this system to keep to a better blogging schedule, as last year was quite hectic. I suppose we’ll see how things work out.

And I made sure I’ll never have a pile of notes on my desk waiting forever to be organized. I got a couple of small notebooks and I just jot down stuff in there, rather than on odd bits of paper. I still like my sticky notes though! :)

I hope you all have a wonderful year, filled with blessings and happiness. Wishing you all the best!

~~~

*I noticed this quote when I was reading a blog dedicated to stationery. Someone was reviewing the (awesome, in my opinion) Hobonichi Techo Planner and the quote was on one of the pages.

Posted in Food for Thought, Miscellaneous | 1 Comment

Joy

For this month’s Round Table, we’re discussing what parts of being Kemetic we enjoy the most and how it has enriched our lives.

I had to give this some thought because I’ve realized I found it extremely hard to put all of it in words. That’s why the simple title. Being Kemetic has brought immense joy in my life.

Knowing that the Gods are always there, watching over me, even when I feel sad, distressed and alone is soothing for my soul. In times of deep sorrow I always know they’re there to protect and guide me. I guess you could say I have a lot of faith. To be honest, they’ve never let me down. A lot of times they’ve done things in unexpected ways, things at which I have expressed my dismay, but which ultimately lead to good.

Like when Sekhmet appeared out of nowhere and announced that something incredibly hurtful will come my way and which will ultimately lead to healing some very old and deep wounds. Have faith and stay strong, I will help you heal. You won’t like what will happen, you will hurt, you will cry. But that’s when your true healing will begin and you will be stronger and a better person for it. At the time I was really afraid. I had no idea what exactly was coming my way. The gods can be quite vague at times. But the her reassuring tone and her reminder to have faith and keep strong were incredibly helpful. I’ll admit my first thought was along the lines of ‘Oh for eff’s sake, what now?!? Haven’t I had enough shit this year?’ I asked for more information but nothing came. And this was the first time she every appeared all of a sudden, offering help. I didn’t call on her at all. In fact, at the time I was busy with Ptah. (yes, I think we can assume there was some connection, it has crossed my mind). She never asked for anything in return (although I do feel obliged). And when it all hit the fan I knew what she meant. A two decade old secret that changed my life forever came out. It hurt deeply. I cried, I howled crying on the floor. I asked questions to which I received very unsatisfactory answers (which somehow made matters worse). But somehow I started feeling better. A short time after that even my anxiety was gone. It was like she lifted it all away.

This is the most recent example. And this came from a goddess I have had very little involvement with in the past. I don’t know how much more involvement will there be from now on, but I can say in the past three months or so since this happened, there has been none. It’s true what some say: the gods sometimes break you to make you. And I personally don’t have a problem with that.

I truly believe that all the heka I perform, all the devotionals, prayers, offerings are helping me grow on a multitude of levels. I have become accustomed to watching my words more (I still falter at times but I know I’ve improved). I have become more patient, and this was a real struggle, I never used to have any patience for anything other than reading. I have become more calm. I do certain things in moderation rather than burn out. I still have moments when I panic and lash out rather than see things clearly but even those moments are a lot more rare these days. I don’t get upset over certain things as much as I used to. I understand people and their motivations better. I’ve become a better judge of character. I’ve learned to be proud of my work. All these things and countless more are ways in which being Kemetic has improved my life.

I have learned lessons of patience, keeping silent and carrying on from Thoth. He’s also helped me with my writing and my studies.

I have learned about Death, the Other Side, Courage, and certain heka from Anubis.

I have learned about anger, loyalty, and passion from Seth. And about revenge.

I can’t begin to tell you what these lessons were and what shape they took but I can honestly say that they were incredibly valuable and they made me a better person. And these are but a few. They all have taught me very much along the years. Of course, there had to be a lot of work from my part too. It wasn’t all just handed on a silver platter. I have made mistakes (some were royal screw-ups actually), but you know the saying … chop wood, carry water.

And, of course, getting in contact with other Kemetics. I think there was a real lack of that until I started this blog. And I don’t just mean the other bloggers, I mean all the others I’ve met and from whom I am always learning. Keep awesome, people!

All the best and countless blessings,

K

~~~

Find all the responses for this month here.

Posted in Food for Thought, Kemetic Round Table | Tagged | 2 Comments

The Monday Quote

Since we’ve been discussing the Afterlife for the KRT this month, I thought this is relevant for the discussion. The following is an excerpt from Spell 151 of the Book of the Dead * (Spell for the head of mystery) which contains the words of power for giving life to a shabti and have it perform the chores which the deceased was supposed to perform.

The presentation of a shabti:

N says: O shabti, if I am summoned or counted of in the realm of the dead for any work, indeed obstacles are implanted there as a man at his duties, whether to make arable the fields, to flood the banks or to convey sand for West to East, ‘Here am I’ you shall say.

Like I said in the KRT post, the deceased would be expected to work in the Afterlife. However, having a shabti and this spell could make the difference between eternal work or … eternal procrastination eternal rest.

~~~

* From Faulkner’s Book of the Dead, British Museum Press

Posted in Heka, Kemetic Round Table, The Monday Quote, Words of Power | 1 Comment

Titles and Epithets for the Gods in Magical Papyri

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the past week with some translations of magical papyri. It occurred to me that some of the titles and epithets which the Magician uses to address the Gods (or even to identify with them) are quite interesting. So I’ve compiled a list, in the order in which I’ve come across them. They appear in petition-type formulas, short prayers to be said during ritual and in authoritative utterances in which the Magician identifies with the Gods.

Osiris, the divine Drowned (col. VI)

Nut, mother of water (col. VI)

Khonsu-in-Thebes-Nefer-Hotep, the noble child that came forth from the lotus (col. IX)

Horus, lord of time (col. IX)

Isis, mistress of magic (col. IX)

Anubis with thy fair face (col. X)

Geb, heir of the Gods (col. X)

Heknet, lady of the protective bandage (col. X)

Taweret, the great of sorcery (col. XII)

Sekhmet the great, lady of Ast, who has seized every impious person (col. XII)

Anubis, the good ox-herd (col. XIV)

Anubis, Pharaoh of the Underworld (col. XVIII)

Isis the sorceress (col. XIX)

Osiris, King of the Underworld, lord of burial, whose head is in This, and his feet in Thebes, he who giveth answer in Abydos (col XXI)

Something which I found particularly interesting is the following authoritative utterance for a spell spoken to a sting:

I am the King’s son, eldest and first, Anubis. My mother Sekhmet-Isis, she came after me forth from the land of Syria, to the hill of the land of Heh […]

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Osiris, the king of the Underworld, the lord of embalming, he who is in the south of Thinis, who gives answer at Abydos, he who is under the noubs tree in Meroue, whose glory is in Pashalom. (PGM IV 1-25)

Anubis, of the nome of Hansiese, upon his mountain (PGM IV 1-25)

Thoth, the great, the great, the wise (PGM IV 1-25)

Isis, the dusty maiden (PGM IV 94-153)

Thoth the Great (PGM IV 1-25) – here is is also referred to as Her Father, i.e. Isis’ father.

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Some of these titles and epithets I have come across before. However, there’s a handful I don’t think I have, such as Thoth being referred to as Isis’ father – this really doesn’t ring a bell at the moment.

And I find the merging of Sekhmet and Isis particularly interesting. I guess in a way it makes sense to refer to both goddesses when working heka, considering they are very well known for being ‘weret-hekau‘ (‘great of magic’) on their own. I wonder if the Magician was looking to double up on the heka so to speak :) Or it’s very possible that he is invoking the healing/great of magic powers of Sekhmet and the reference to Isis is linked to the fact that she cured Ra from a venomous sting (which herself caused, to gain knowledge of his secret name and therefore his power). In any case, I think it deserves some attention.

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* First set is from the London and Leyden Papyrus

Second set is from the Greek Magical Papyri

Posted in Anubis, Devotionals, Food for Thought, Heka, Thoth, Words of Power | Tagged | 4 Comments