What the Heka?

I don’t know if it’s the time of year, or what, but I keep coming across questions about what heka is, and how to do it, and if it is real.  What does that even mean, is heka real?  I mean, are you real?  Is that tree in the backyard real?  Are my shoes real? Does objective reality really exist?

(Five points to anyone who gets the last statement, gentle reader.)

In all seriousness, I can’t give an answer to whether heka is real…but I can tell you what it is.  Funnily enough, it stems from one point I keep making over and over and over again.  Say it with me now – words mean things.

See?  I knew you could do it!

Words mean things is the foundation of heka. Now, I could pull 50 definitions out of scholarly texts and…wait.  Actually, let me start there:


  • “…the energy of life itself… – Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods; Meeks and Favard-Meeks
  • “The Egyptian word usually translated as ‘magic’ is heka…All deities and lesser supernatural beings, including the forces of chaos, had their own heka.  It was considered as much a part of them as their bodies or their names…” – Magic in Ancient Egypt; Pinch.
  • “Magic, effective speech.  It is written with the twisted rope H and the symbol of the ka…” – The Traveller’s Guide to the Duat; Nicoll.

I once had a discussion with a friend  and she gave me some imagery that really helped to nail down heka for me – if we think of he- as the sound of an exhale, then heka is the act of breathing life into the ka to shape it.   Since I tend to work from the idea that words have intrinsic meaning and application from external sources can shape that meaning in another fashion…well, you can see why it appeals so much.

So, heka.  Well, take a series of words with intrinsic meaning and examine them closely.  Arrange them in a way that supports your desired outcome.  Double check them to make sure what you’ve laid out will actually work in the way you envision, take a deep breath and make it so.

Repeat as necessary.


One response to “What the Heka?

  1. I always find it fascinating how many different definitions there are for Heka. It sometimes makes me wonder if the word should have had the mini-man meaning millions instead (Heh), because it seems there are that many definitions. When I first heard you talking about “words meaning things” it struck a chord and made the concept much easier to deal with in my own easily confused space of a world.

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