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Author Topic: Heka/Magic  (Read 41721 times)

Offline Sedjemes

  • Semer-Wati
  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2010, 02:29:06 pm »
Hotep!

After reading what Baket and Ubenet posted (and thank you, sisters, you helped me get a better handle on what I wanted to also add) I want to say this.

I don't know if the ancients did more with "ritual" or "heka" than just getting up in the morning and saying for example "Heru [or X god], please help me catch a good bunch of geese today" or "Ptah, please help me make the pottery stronger today" etc. When I call them "pragmatic" I am very deliberate for one reason only. It seems to me at least that ancient Egypt society carries with it a notion for modern folk that "magic" was everywhere, that everyone spent more time waving their hands and muttering magic spells, that the air was thick with all sorts of arcane energy, and that they had all sorts of "secret esoteric" knowledge and lived their lives in a constant "magic castle" sort of environment.

I like to think that for the most part, they were not much different from us. I think people in modern society who consider themselves spiritual or religious probably start our days breathing a prayer for daily success, ask for divine help in a specific task, or to protect our children or our daily journeys, etc. How we ask for help or protection or for clarity of thought, or extra wisdom or in seeking health or even to ease the passing into the afterlife, may differ in degrees from a prayer, to a prayer with particular action, etc, if at all. I personally don't always pray for specific wisdom when studying something, nor do I always pray for particular protection for sons. Sometimes when I do either, I *just* say a prayer. Other times, I may make a special offering along with that prayer, or, I may do something else as I feel "impelled."  Sometimes when I talk with someone about a situation that feels like it needs a bit of extra help, I may ask the gods for a nudge to something additional.

But sometimes not.

Sometimes how we approach a situation or another person requires nothing more "arcane" or "esoteric" or "heka-ish" for lack of a better term that simply using the very profound common sense and wisdom the gods have held available to us to garner for ourselves.

I don't say that to downplay heka. Not by a long shot. But I do think that in part, our modern society has acquired quite a "different" idea of "magic" which has in part colored how we view the lives of the ancient Egyptians. By all means, they were very aware and embracing of the part of the gods in their lives. Just as many people are today. But at the very same time, I think the ancients were also very practical and did what they could as they could when they could.  
Khenmetaset ("Aset Gladdens")
Sedjemes ("She listens")
Daughter of Aset-Serqet, Meryt Ra her Sekhmet
Heri-Sesheta Aset-Serqet

Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2010, 02:37:43 pm »
Sedjemes:
It seems to me at least that ancient Egypt society carries with it a notion for modern folk that "magic" was everywhere, that everyone spent more time waving their hands and muttering magic spells, that the air was thick with all sorts of arcane energy, and that they had all sorts of "secret esoteric" knowledge and lived their lives in a constant "magic castle" sort of environment..

..etc...

Ara:
I hate to say it Sedjemes, and I know you didn't intend it that way at all, but I have to say I'm a little offended at the view apparently expressed here that magic is illogical, irrational and unpragmatic. As someone who "waves their hands and mutters magic spells" I find it a little unneccesary...

I also don't think that praying=magic or replaces it. And I wasn't intending to open a discussion implying I was under the impression that they constantly, all day, did nothing but sit around and do magic.

Not sure what else to say here.
Timu

Sat Aset, meryt Wepwawet her Renenutet


Offline Sedjemes

  • Semer-Wati
  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2010, 03:02:30 pm »
Hotep Ara.

Ok my turn to ask not to take offense at something not intended to be directed at you at all, even indirectly.

I was attempting to explain the general reason why I seem to talk less about heka in its most magical terms, not because I want to demean you or what you do, but because I admit I probably sound like I think magic is in fact somehow impractical.

I don't. Not at all.

But there are people today who do believe that the only real thing ancient Egypt has to offer to modern society IS that kind of "magic" and nothing else. You already seem to have come to an understanding that for the ancients they considered heka as more integral to their daily life, and it may certainly have been. Many other folks today, I believe (I could be wrong, but maybe not) think that the ancients spent far LESS time doing practical every day things and far more time doing nothing BUT magic.

So, for my part, when anyone asks the question about what part heka plays in daily life today, I confess I do tend to probably sound more like I am saying it is irrelevant. That is really not what I believe. Do I think everyone has to use the same degree of heka, or use heka at all if they don't feel they need to? No I don't think that. Do I think heka is there for the useing if anyone feels it? absolutely. Do I think we cannot be pragmatic AND use heka? Not at all. Do I think people in general could acquire a far better understanding of the real pragmatism of the ancient Egyptians AS well as appreciate they were spiritual and used heka every day? Oh Absolutely! It would certainly be a fairer assessment of our ancient ancestors, I think!

So, again--I was not addressing you directly as much as attempting to address what I see in general as a subject lots of people may think about. I tend to try to address a multitude of unseen readers, or, to address a general concept, when I write things, and that tends to perhaps cloud what I am trying to say in general.

Hope this helps a bit.
Khenmetaset ("Aset Gladdens")
Sedjemes ("She listens")
Daughter of Aset-Serqet, Meryt Ra her Sekhmet
Heri-Sesheta Aset-Serqet

Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2010, 03:10:11 pm »
Thanks Sedjemes. As I said, I knew it wasn't directed or intended at ME, but it was my topic, and you did seem to be implying that magic and heka, were not an important part of AE, or even relevant and/or equated with prayer. So thanks for clearing that up for me.

:  )

I can understand that alot of people see AE as "the birthplace of magic and esoteric knowledge" (and it is) but theres soo much more to it, and many just gloss right over the rest so I appreciate what you were trying to convey.

Timu

Sat Aset, meryt Wepwawet her Renenutet


Offline Bastmuttepta

  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2010, 03:14:17 pm »
Quote from: Ara

Ara:
I hate to say it Sedjemes, and I know you didn't intend it that way at all, but I have to say I'm a little offended at the view apparently expressed here that magic is illogical, irrational and unpragmatic. As someone who "waves their hands and mutters magic spells" I find it a little unneccesary...

I also don't think that praying=magic or replaces it. And I wasn't intending to open a discussion implying I was under the impression that they constantly, all day, did nothing but sit around and do magic.

Not sure what else to say here.


Em hotep, Ara!

This is definitely not a clear-cut topic, but I just wanted to offer a different perspective of what KI Sedjemes said. I honestly don't think she was trying to imply that magic is "illogical, irrational and unpragmatic" - just that when people THINK of magic, that's what they're thinking of. You know the stereotype- blue flames shooting out of people's fingertips, the wizened old witches cackling over their cauldrons. In my opinion, the idea here is that people's idea of what magic IS is what is skewed. Their idea of what magic IS is what is not pragmatic. The true nature of magic itself, at least in my opinion, is that it is just that- *natural.* A natural practice, something that was so integrated into religion and every day life that no one really saw it as something "extra-ordinary."

As far as the relationship between praying and magic, it's really a matter of perspective. As someone who was Wiccan for quite some time, I have always believed that people often do magic without even thinking about it. Negative thoughts can manifest, positive thoughts can manifest, and the same (imho) goes for words. It is my opinion that prayer falls under the category of magic depending on what type of prayer is being said. If it is a prayer for thanks, it doesn't really fall under my idea of what magic is. If it is a 'petitionary' prayer asking for something for one's self or another person, I think it does fall under the category of magic. You are approaching the Gods (who are in possession of the "energy" to cause change), making your wishes/intent known to Them, and asking that they utilize the energy in their power to cause those changes. Of course- it's really up to Them whether or not to do that, but it is your direct intent/words that cause Them to decide whether or not to act on your behalf.

Again, I think it's really a matter of perspective, but I think that KI Sedjemes was just creating the stereotypical image of what most people (people who don't study Egypt, have no knowledge of Kemetic belief, etc) THINK magic in AE was like for the purpose of contrasting it with the reality. I don't think she was implying that's what you thought, not in the slightest.

Senebty,

Laura
Bastmuttepta - "Bast-Mut since the beginning; Bast-Mut survives; Bast-Mut perpetuates" | Sat Bast-Mut her Nisut (AUS) Meryt Sekhmet-Hethert, Serqet-Aset, Mafdet, Sobek, her Ptah-Sokar-Wesir | Fedw Diviner for Bast-Mut

Offline Bastmuttepta

  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2010, 03:16:35 pm »
Yeesh KI Sedjemes, you're fast! By the time I got my message typed out/posted you beat me to the punch... :)

Oh well. At least now I know I was on the right track with my conclusions.

Senebty!
Bastmuttepta - "Bast-Mut since the beginning; Bast-Mut survives; Bast-Mut perpetuates" | Sat Bast-Mut her Nisut (AUS) Meryt Sekhmet-Hethert, Serqet-Aset, Mafdet, Sobek, her Ptah-Sokar-Wesir | Fedw Diviner for Bast-Mut

Offline Sedjemes

  • Semer-Wati
  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: Heka/Magic--READ please :)
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2010, 03:24:01 pm »
You are all so wonderful! I love these discussions!

Before we start an entire side-thread trying to ensure that Ara knows exactly what I meant and that she is not personally offended or that I am feeling wounded ;)

I think she and I have a meeting of the minds and we are both ok and clear. I do appreciate being impelled to use the opportunity to be clearer! And it made me think as well!

So let's get back to the subject at hand.

Ara, I have to say that your questions and comments have definitely made me reflect on how I personally have defined heka, and magic, both before I joined the House, and since I have been a member.

My thinking has changed, for sure. Since I was raised Catholic, and remained Christian for many decades, to a degree, I always viewed "magic" as something, well, ya know....not done. Of course, I am also Italian, so I had to acknowledge the wearing of the "horn of good luck" and I realized that some lockets are "good luck charms" and I learned a few other odds and ends over the years that probably fall under the definition of "folk magic" to some.

Since I joined the House, I have taken note that on occasion, when I ponder a particular situation, or, when I am talking with someone about their particular situation of the moment, that I get a--hmm for lack of a better description, a piece of "heka"--that I, or they, might actually perform for that situation.

Years ago, I would never have considered such a thing. I pray, say a rosary, and that's that--because, ya know, "magic" is just not done *grin*. Now, I don't even think twice about that. I don't personally do a great deal of that kind of thing. On the other hand, I do a lot of conversing with various gods (mostly Aset, but sometimes with others). And those conversations can sometimes be frequent during the day, for several days, or, might be rare over the course of a season.

Sometimes during those conversations (which can take place as I walk back and forth to the grocery store as well as within my shrine space) I gain insights or get "messages." Sometimes I consider those insights or messages as hekau. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I don't think particualrly about them as anything but "answers."

Sometimes I think lots of things are hekau, ANd sometimes I don't think about that specifically I just tell someone something like "HEY, about that matter you told me about---you might consider doing this or that etc and see what happens." And that is heka too.
Khenmetaset ("Aset Gladdens")
Sedjemes ("She listens")
Daughter of Aset-Serqet, Meryt Ra her Sekhmet
Heri-Sesheta Aset-Serqet

Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2010, 03:31:52 pm »
shadow Lily:
The true nature of magic itself, at least in my opinion, is that it is just that- *natural.* A natural practice, something that was so integrated into religion and every day life that no one really saw it as something "extra-ordinary."

Ara:
As a witch who fully understand what magic implies, I couldn't agree more!

shadowLily:
I don't think she was implying that's what you thought, not in the slightest.


Ara:
I don't think so either. I was more "offended" by the apparent disregard/stereotypical view for/of magic and heka-in general, which view she has corrected.
Timu

Sat Aset, meryt Wepwawet her Renenutet


Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2010, 03:52:03 pm »
Sedjemes:
Before we start an entire side-thread trying to ensure that Ara knows exactly what I meant and that she is not personally offended or that I am feeling wounded

I think she and I have a meeting of the minds and we are both ok and clear. I do appreciate being impelled to use the opportunity to be clearer! And it made me think as well!
Ara:
I agree! Me too!
Sedjemes:
I have taken note that on occasion, when I ponder a particular situation, or, when I am talking with someone about their particular situation of the moment, that I get a--hmm for lack of a better description, a piece of "heka"--that I, or they, might actually perform for that situation.

HEY, about that matter you told me about---you might consider doing this or that etc and see what happens." And that is heka too.
Ara;
This is exactly the type of heka that I'm curious about. Fairly simply, everyday things to improve your life...well, ritual magic too if I'm being honest..
Timu

Sat Aset, meryt Wepwawet her Renenutet


Offline Rev. Sema'a

  • W'ab (priest)
  • Country: us
Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2010, 07:10:07 pm »
Personally, I have my own little rituals that I do, but they are just that - personal. I do not perform more elaborate rituals, as I do not have training or experience in that area. I on occasion intuitively perform heka at the direction of assorted gods, but this is all personal to me. If I need anything greater, it is done under the direction of someone with more experience (from the Nisut (AUS)'s prayerbook, for example, or from teaching from the Nisut or other sources). I do not consider myself a magician, but I will occasionally use stones and things at the direction of the Gods for my own purposes. Again, though, it is all very individual.

I believe that this would have been fairly in line with ancient traditions. Larger magical rituals would not likely have been a part of the daily life of the ancients. Occasionally, Joe Hotep may have consulted a private magician to perform them for him, but only for major occasions, such as births, deaths, to ward of financial issues, etc. There are amulets, but they would most likely have been obtained from a private magician. To be frank: I don't believe every Egyptian performed magic. Just like not every person is a magician today, I don't believe every ancient person was heavily involved with magic. That isn't to say that it wasn't an important part of their lives in general, but I doubt everyone had a strong inclination to perform heavy magical works.

I highly recommend reading The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice, I'm about halfway through it and it's what is heavily influencing what I am saying. I may be misreading, but it appears to me that the line between prayer and magic was very fine to the ancient Egyptians, and that while there was heka performed by the average person, much (thought not all) of what exists archaeologically was not directed to Joe Hotep-- primarily, because many ancient people were not literate and all we have left is written documents. This is just what I have gathered. It has been a while, but I'll browse back through my copy of Religion and Magic in Ancient Egypt again as well.

Senebty,
Sobeq
Sema'a Ankh Hen'a Semawy (Sobeqsenu)
W'ab Nekhen Ib Imau-sen
Priest of Wepwawet & Sekhmet-Mut, Beloved of Bast, Nut, Khonsu & Nebt-het
Heri-sesheta Wepwawet | Fedw Diviner
revdgallo@kemet.org

Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2010, 09:14:33 pm »
Sobeqsenu:
To be frank: I don't believe every Egyptian performed magic. Just like not every person is a magician today, I don't believe every ancient person was heavily involved with magic. That isn't to say that it wasn't an important part of their lives in general, but I doubt everyone had a strong inclination to perform heavy magical works.

I highly recommend reading The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice, I'm about halfway through it and it's what is heavily influencing what I am saying.
Ara:
See, I am about 1/3 of the way through it and I get the impression that magic *might* have been more common than previously expected. I also just read the portion about magic cirlces or "encircling"...which makes me kinda feel like.....cool, score one for the Wiccans. Not to imply I also think that EVERY AE citizen performed magic, but so far my take is that since some of the magic and ritual might have been tied in with the very mythology and theology of the day in a way that would make some of the *magical concepts* familiar to alot of people, even ones who couldn't read.
Timu

Sat Aset, meryt Wepwawet her Renenutet


Offline Rev. Sema'a

  • W'ab (priest)
  • Country: us
Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2010, 09:32:55 pm »
I do agree that magic was a large part of the life of the average Egyptian, but I don't think that high ritual was. I think we are agreeing here, with a difference in emphasis. Everyday heka was certainly a large part of Joe Hotep's life. Just like I have my little jackal statue that I keep in my car, like I pray to Sekhmet when I pass ambulances, and so on, they would have had their own small rituals. But I believe that large, elaborate rituals would not have been a part of the average person's life.

Like Ritner says, the line between magic and religion is extremely blurry in antiquity, and that line is still blurry today. Is praying to Sekhmet when passing an ambulance prayer or heka? Is offering meat in exchange for a new job prayer or heka? Is quietly praying as I put on a necklace prayer or heka?

I may not be making any sense, I'm very tired, heh. But I suspect we may agree, but are missing each other slightly because I am more emphasizing the lack of high ritual in every day life, and you are emphasizing the presence of small hekas in every day life. :)
Sema'a Ankh Hen'a Semawy (Sobeqsenu)
W'ab Nekhen Ib Imau-sen
Priest of Wepwawet & Sekhmet-Mut, Beloved of Bast, Nut, Khonsu & Nebt-het
Heri-sesheta Wepwawet | Fedw Diviner
revdgallo@kemet.org

Offline Hemka

  • Shemsu
  • Country: 00
Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2010, 09:49:31 pm »
To live in a world where magic happens?!.Sometimes things are so two-dimensional.You hear a word like "magic" said so much it doesnt mean anything.The idea of Heka gives me a new perspective.I love this place!

Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #28 on: January 12, 2010, 07:31:36 am »
Sobeqsenu:
But I believe that large, elaborate rituals would not have been a part of the average person's life.

Ara:
Right, I don't think so either. But honestly there is no way to tell, and to my mind there is no doubt that small heka was widespread, in fact to the point of being immeshed with the very fabric of the language. Whos to say that commoners didn't hold forth over "ritual magic" (whos complexity we can really only guess at) for some occasions, and practice daily magic in smaller ways. A thought tickles the back of my mind and thats the fact that as stated somewhere else here, and I've read it to, the priesthood were part timers. Which is really an interesting thought when you consider what may be unspoken implications on their functions outside of temple duty. How large were their numbers? Did they teach the people of their city, or village, did they perhaps institute something loosely resembling schools, was illiteracy *really* as widespread as would be believed? Did not common temple workers use "grafiti" and ostraca? Etc etc...I could go all day with these speculations....
Timu

Sat Aset, meryt Wepwawet her Renenutet


Offline NiankhSekhmet

  • Shemsu-Ankh
Re: Heka/Magic
« Reply #29 on: January 12, 2010, 08:23:15 am »
Em hotep!

Everyone does simple Heka...everyone. Whether you are planning out a ritual of a simple bit of folk magic, like when you peel fruit or blow out candles on a birthday cake and make a wish, to when you are praying or even focusing on Murray the God of Parking giving you an advantageous spot to place your vehicle at your final destination. There is no great hidden mystery to it, really. It is hard wired into our DNA - whether or not our parents, teachers and society at large try to beat it out of us is another matter.

Conversely, however, it is my personal belief that there was no need for 85% of people, either in antiquity or today, to do any sort of "elaborate" magical or heka ritual. Whether or not "know" that they did so in antiquity is absolutely immaterial. Then, as now, there were and are "specialists" to do those things. And to be completely frank, there is no need for the general laypublic to have ever done or do such things.  I think it is a matter of knowledge discipline and whether or not that person is even suited to the practice at all. Some people, quite hoenstly,  aren't.  Unfortunately, there are always those who want bigger, faster and more, and they never seem to understand the laws of Power or Heka and are further unwilling to take the discipline to learn it.  It's kind of like any other profession. There is simple first aid and folk medicine, and then there's surgery. I have seen more situations through the practices of both bad medicine and bad heka than I care to recount. It is kind of like those who think that a you need a military grade flame thrower to light your barbeque. I am sure that it will get the job done, but it might also burn down your house or you might hurt yourself in the process.  What would be the point of getting out the big guns if it is far from necessary?  Now I do know that my particular opinion might not be a popular one, but it really is about common sense.

If anyone doesn't have that in the first place, then they most definitely should not be doing serious heka / magic(k) in the first place. Do you weild the tool....or does it weild you? Please note that my commentary is not aimed at anyone in particular on these boards. These are my personal opinions gleaned from many years of experience in that area.

Senebty!

« Last Edit: January 12, 2010, 08:28:21 am by NiankhSekhmet »
NiankhSekhmet
Sat Sekhmet-Mut/HetHert
Meryt-Amun (Beloved of Amun)
Heri Seshta Sekhmet-Mut / HetHert

 


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