In the “Sarcophagus Texts” we find, among others, one of the gods of the immense Egyptian pantheon, the god of magic Hekau, “He who activates the Ka“, and is cited as the one who existed “before the birth of duality”, created by a god when “two things” didn’t exist yet.
The hieroglyph that indicates its name consists of a piece of rolled linen, which vaguely resembles two intertwined snakes placed between two raised arms.
Heka was often depicted as a man holding two crossed snakes in his hands, it was he who destroyed Apopi, the mortal enemy of Ra, for whom he was the object of worship as early as the Old Kingdom.
From Heka comes the word Hekau which is commonly translated as “magic” or “supernatural force”, it represented the creative energy, the force of nature that already existed when nothing existed and was an instrument entrusted to the Demiurge.
It represented the hypostasis of the god of magic Heka, which consisted of a principle linked to the divine cult whose nature assumed a supernatural dimension.
From the ancient “Pyramid Texts” emerges the goddess Uret-Hekau, “she who is great in magic”, looking like a lioness or a serpent-uraeus to protect Horus or the god Ra.
The formulas 304 and 572 of the “Texts of the Sarcophagi” tell us that the “supernatural force”, or magical power, was attributed to the deceased in the duat.
Chapter 24 of the “Book of the Dead” reports:
<< … formula to give the deceased his magical power in duat .. >>,
while chapter 31 contains la:
<< ………. formula to reject the crocodile that came to take away the deceased his Hekau ……….. back, go back crocodile ….. ….. Don’t come against me. I live by my magic power ……….. or my spine, in which my magic power is manifested, do not let this vile crocodile, which lives on magical power, take it from me … …… >>.
From the inscriptions on some sarcophagi dating back to the Middle Kingdom from El-Bersha we learn that the deceased must have this energy to be able to successfully face the trials he will have to face during his journey, so the Hekau must integrate into his personality.
Covered by the energy of the Hekau, the deceased as an Akh, will be able to defend himself from the amorous seductions of the “two friends”, that is the two favorites of Ra, whose intent was to deprive the dead of their spiritual energies and magical powers.
By accepting their seductions the deceased was doomed and fell into chaos.
The spiritual forces of the deceased were almost all placed in his heart except the power that drew his strength in the vital energy that was in his bowels, this was called Heka, which constituted an intimate, personal knowledge, to use as a shield but also as a weapon.
We find the Hekau also in the myths that tell of the struggle between Horo and Seth and in the love between Isis and Osiris where he who infuses them to Isis is the god Thoth.
By: Piero Cargnino
Sources and bibliography:
Mario Tosi, “Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Gods of Ancient Egypt”, Ananke, 2004
Edda Bresciani, “Great illustrated encyclopedia of ancient Egypt “, De Agostini, 2005
Erik Homung, “The Gods of Ancient Egypt”, Salerno Editore, 1992
Mila Fois, “The Egyptian Myths (Meet Myths), 2016
Maurizio Damiano-Appia, “Encyclopedic dictionary of ancient Egypt and of the Nubian civilizations, Mondadori, 1996)