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The Ancient Egyptian Concept of the Soul

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To the Ancient Egyptians, their soul - their being - was made up of many different parts. Not only was there the physical form, but there were eight immortal or semi-divine parts that survived death, with the body making nine parts of a human.

The precise meaning of ka, ba, ach (akh), `shm (sekhem), and so on is no longer clear to us. Well-meaning scholars try again and again to force the Egyptian idea of the soul into our traditional categories without enabling us to understand even a little of it any better

-- J. J. Poortman, Vehicles of Consciousness - the Concept of Hylic Pluralism

- Khat (Kha) - The physical form, the body that could decay after death, the mortal, outward part of the human that could only be preserved by mummification.

- · Ka - The double that lingered on in the tomb inhabiting the body or even statues of the deceased, but was also independent of man and could move, eat and drink at will. (There was both a higher guardian angel like Ka and a lower Ka that came from knowledge learned on earth.)



- Ba - The human headed bird flitted around in the tomb during the day bringing air and food to the deceased, but travelled with Ra on the Solar Barque during the evenings.

- Khaibit - The shadow of a man. It could partake of funerary offerings and was able to detach itself from the body and travel at will, though it was always thought to stay near the Ba.

- Akhu (Akh, Khu, Ikhu) - This was the immortal part, the radiant and shining being that lived on in the Sahu, the intellect, will and intentions of the deceased that transfigured death and ascended to the heavens to live with the gods or the imperishable stars.

- Sahu - The incorruptible spiritual body of man that could dwell in the heavens, appearing from the physical body after the judgement of the dead was passed (if successful) with all of the mental and spiritual abilities of a living body.

- Sekhem - This was the incorporeal personification of the life force of man, which lived in heaven with the Akhu, after death.

- Ab (Ib) - The heart, this was the source of good and evil within a person, the moral awareness and centre of thought that could leave the body at will, and live with the gods after death, or be eaten by Ammut as the final death if it failed to weigh equally against Ma'at.

- Ren - The true name, a vital part to man on his journey through life and the afterlife, a magical part that could destroy a man if his name was obliterated or could give power of the man if someone knew his Ren - naming ceremonies in Egypt were secret, and a child lived his whole life with a nickname to avoid anyone from learning his true name!

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