Grave Moss & Stars

historical heka, modern heka

Going through Faulkner’s translation of the Coffin Texts, I’m finding some gems.

Spell 470: “I have appeared as Pakhet the Great, whose eyes are keen and whose claws are sharp, the lioness who sees and catches by night. … I find Orion standing on the path with the staff in his hand, and I set up the staff and receive it, and I am a god by means of it.”

Spell 471, written on a man’s coffin: “A man has power through his magic. I have stood up as a holy woman, I have sat down as […] the sky, because you know my magic which I take to the sky.”

These make me gleeful, because I am nerdy and queer, and I like finding obscure lioness Netjeru and references to men standing up as women. This is a big part of this soft-recon / researchy-revivalism path that appeals to me—I like finding others’ words and integrating them into myself and my worldview. I nom language, and it nourishes me. I feel connected when I can read or hear something from a different time, culture, or just a different person and understand it, grok it, digest it, use it.

But I don’t live entirely off others’ words. I am a writer, too. I write my own heka, some shared publicly, some still private. My tone of voice when writing heka is based on the historical sources I’ve read, and that tone evokes a particular feeling that helps me remember that it’s heka, not just journaling or pondering or wishing. For example, check the difference between “My eyes are the eyes of Nebt-het” and “I have Nebt-het’s eyes.” Both are entirely valid!… but one feels more like heka to me than the other.

(Of course, this is all from a strictly English view. I can’t read Middle Egyptian (yet?), so I can only speak to the language in which I am fluent and in which I do most of my verbal thinking and discourse.)

Finding and using historical heka, and writing and using my own, is a balancing act for me. While some Kemetics may prefer one source over the other, I really enjoy having a blend of ancient heka that resonates with me and heka I create for myself. So I write heka and prayers in a paper journal multiple times a week, and I peruse the Coffin Texts, seeking both style and inspiration from ancient voices filtered through the pages.

“. . . his pen is a wand which lets him surpass; he will perform deeds and achieve governance – so says Osiris of [name]. One who has recourse to the storm, with protection in his hand . . .”

(Spell 665, CT.)