In ancient #Egyptian religion, Heka represents one of the attributes of the #creator god Re-Atum; the term is often translated as "magic," or "magical power," although its exact meaning also pertains to cult practices. It was believed that Heka accompanied #Re on the daily journey of his solar boat across the heavens; it could also be used by commoners. Egyptians believed that Heka served as the #primordial force present at the creation of the world, that it could be summoned during religious rituals, and that its primary function was to preserve the natural order of the world.
It was thought that Heka was the energy that powered the universe and that it had the power to heal the sick, protect the dead, and bring the gods and goddesses to life. It was believed that by invoking Heka, one could gain access to the gods and goddesses and influence the outcome of events. Heka rituals were performed to gain access to the divine power of Heka and to invoke it for healing, protection, and to bring the gods and goddesses to life. These rituals could involve reciting incantations, offering sacrifices, and performing certain symbolic gestures.
In anthropomorphic form he was represented as a man in royal dress with a curved beard that belonged to the gods. His staff was interwoven with two serpents. As a symbol of healing, the caduceus was originally associated with #Ninazu of #Sumer (son of the #goddess #Gula). It was adopted by Heka and has since become synonymous with Asclepius of Greece, and today symbolizes the medical profession. It is also sometimes implied that Heka represents both #Sia and #Hu, who are closely associated with him. Since the Late Period (525-332 BCE), he has been depicted as a child and as the son of #Menhet and #Khnum. Heka was later linked to the Greek goddess #Hecate, who was believed to be the source of Heka's power. It was believed that Hecate was the one who could grant access to the power of Heka and that she could be invoked through rituals and offerings to bring the gods and goddesses to life.
As well as being the personification of magic, Heka was the god of magic and medicine in ancient Egypt. Due to his pervasive presence, he was almost invisible to #Egyptologists in the 19th and 20th centuries CE. This is despite the fact that he is probably the most significant god in Egyptian mythology. Aside from the Late Period of Ancient Egypt, 525-323 BCE, Heka had no cult following, no ritual worship, and no temples (as opposed to Osiris and Isis). The most common mention of him appears in medical texts and magical spells and incantations, which makes him more of a superstition than a religious figure. Despite not being mentioned in the most well-known myths, the ancient Egyptians considered him to be the power behind the gods.
Ancient Egyptians did not have a word for religion; the closest thing they had was #Heka, or magic. The word Heka literally means "activation of the ka", ka being the life force that survives death within the human body and is also shared by mankind and the gods. Universal life energy, the creative power that moves between the spiritual and physical worlds, is responsible for making creation possible. Hence, magic predated the creation of the gods and was believed to be even more powerful.
Sacred words, images, and rituals were used by #Egyptian magicians to summon the power of Heka. With the principle of sympathy, they attempted to influence the course of the cosmos through magic, circumventing ordinary laws of cause and effect. The power of the #neters or gods could be invoked by using the corresponding words or images in magic to manifest the magician's will because everything on earth was believed to be connected to their divine archetypes. It was believed that the word had the power to manifest what existed on a causal-spiritual level, especially when spoken with intention and intonation. In the beginning, words brought life to the things they represented. This was exemplified by the god #Tehuti, or #Thoth, who invented speech and created the world with his words. Moreover, writing was regarded as a magical act. It is the written word that distinguishes magic from shamanism, which is primarily an oral tradition. Egyptologist Geraldine Pinch believes that the Pyramid Texts codified older shamanistic rituals in Egypt's earliest magical literature. Egyptian deities probably evolved from prehistoric shamanism, as well. In the Egyptian pantheon of gods, animal deities and theriomorphic animal-headed humans are preserved. While shamans sought their own visions and spirit helpers, literate Egyptian priest-magicians worked with deities and knowledge derived from religious tradition-and which was largely transmitted through written texts.