Heka was the deification of magic in Egyptian mythology, his name being the Egyptian word for "magic". According to Egyptian writing (Coffin text, spell 261), Heka existed "before duality had yet come into being." The term "Heka" was also used for the practice of magical ritual. The Coptic word "hik" is derived from the Ancient Egyptian.
Heka literally means activating the Ka, the aspect of the soul which embodied personality. Egyptians thought activating the power of the soul was how magic worked. "Heka" also implied great power and influence, particularly in the case of drawing upon the Ka of the gods. Heka acted together with Hu, the principle of divine utterance, and Sia, the concept of divine omniscience, to create the basis of creative power both in the mortal world and the world of the gods.
As the one who activates Ka, Heka was also said to be the son of Atum, the creator of things in general, or occasionally the son of Khnum, who created specific individual Ba (another aspect of the soul). As the son of Khnum, his mother was said to be Menhit.
The hieroglyph for his name featured a twist of flax within a pair of raised arms; however, it also vaguely resembles a pair of entwined snakes within someone's arms. Consequently, Heka was said to have battled and conquered two serpents, and was usually depicted as a man choking two entwined serpents. Medicine and doctors were thought to be a form of magic, and so Heka's priesthood performed these activities.
Egyptians believed that with Heka, the activation of the Ka, an aspect of the soul of both gods and humans, (and divine personification of magic), they could influence the gods and gain protection, healing and transformation. Health and wholeness of being were sacred to Heka. There is no word for religion in the ancient Egyptian language, mundane and religious world views were not distinct; thus Heka was not a secular practice but rather a religious observance. Every aspect of life, every word, plant, animal and ritual was connected to the power and authority of the gods.
In ancient Egypt, medicine consisted of four components; the primeval potency that empowered the creator-god was identified with Heka, who was accompanied by magical rituals known as Seshaw held within sacred texts called Rw. In addition Pekhret, medicinal prescriptions, were given to patients to bring relief. This magic was used in temple rituals as well as informal situations by priests. These rituals, along with medical practices, formed an integrated therapy for both physical and spiritual health. Magic was also used for protection against the angry deities, jealous ghosts, foreign demons and sorcerers who were thought to cause illness, accidents, poverty and infertility.
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