Egyptian Soul

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<p>Interactive grimoire egyptian soul</p> <p>In discussing Egyptian ideas about the Soul it must first be understood that while everyone agrees that the Egyptians looked at the Soul as having several distinct components, there is no agreement as to what those components were or exactly how many components where involved some say that the Egyptian Soul had five parts, others that it had seven or eight parts, still others say that there were nine. Moreover because of the extreme longevity of Egyptian civilization at least four thousand years from the dawn of dynastic civilization until the advent of Christianity- Egyptian ideas about these differing components underwent changes over time, so that so that the same beliefs current at the dawn of Egyptian civilization were not necessarily current at its dnouement. Therefore the comments which follow must be viewed as being rather broad, and reflecting my own opinion just as any other analysis of the subject is necessarily influenced by the opinion of its author in the absence of a conclusive statement by the Egyptians themselves. It has often been said that Egyptian ideas about the Soul are very alien to the modern mind. In my opinion this is because of a typically Judeo-Christian overly literal interpretation of just how separate the Egyptians actually viewed the Souls components as being. Certainly in Metaphysical circles the idea that the Soul has several components is not alien at all. As Pagans we quite naturally speak of our Higher Self, our Astral Self, our Younger Self, our Conscious Self, et cetera. We think of these as being different aspects of our Soul of which in many cases we are not fully conscious, but we never think of them as being disconnected entities. I see no reason why this should have been different for the ancient Egyptians. In fact it is my opinion that Egyptian ideas about the Soul were in fact remarkably similar to modern ideas about the Soul. Most lists of the parts of the Egyptian concept of the Soul include the</p> <p>following: The Khat: the Sahu: the Khaibit: the Ab: the Ren: the Ka: the Ba: the Khu: and the Sekhem. Each of these aspects of the Soul had a specific nature, about which again- there is often much disagreement. The Khat was understood to be the physical body itself: the corpse which was, if at all possible, mummified and preserved in the tomb. It is often asserted that the Egyptians believed that it was essential to preserve the body if the Soul was to enjoy eternal life though this seems to be something of an over-statement The Egyptians did place great importance upon the preservation of the body, it is true. However the idea that if the body were not preserved or were later damaged or destroyed the Soul would loose its afterlife does not appear to have been how the Egyptians actually looked at the matter. Rather, the preserved body acted as a kind of key, an anchor the Soul of the deceased which allowed it to interact with the world of the living as an Ancestor Spirit rather than simply moving away from its old identity.</p> <p>Above: The Khat" The preservation of the body itself was looked at as the ideal for this purpose, but other alternatives existed notably images of the deceased, which played the same role. So long as an image of the deceased remained, or even the deceased written name, they could still manifest through it. This belief that a Spirit could manifest through an image is one reason why so many ancient images were destroyed by early Christians. The term Sahu seems to have referred to the</p> <p>energetic body. Where the Khat was recognized as dead and subject to decay, the Sahu was manifest in the spiritual realms and continued to flourish after death. The Khaibit, also termed Sheut, is described as the shadow of the deceased and was depicted the same way as a black figure resembling a shadow. What Egyptians believed about the Khaibit is equally shadowy, but it is assumed that it was similar to the Hebrew Qlipphoth or the Roman Umbra a kind of emotional remnant or impression of the deceased which was essentially reactive in nature. The Ren was the name by which is meant the persona of the deceased. Like the Khat, the preservation of the Ren was considered extremely important. It was believed that the identity of the Soul would remain intact as long as the Ren was remembered.</p> <p>Above: The Khaibit</p> <p>Above: The Psychostasia in which the Ab is weighed against the feather of Maat The Ab is the heart, which was considered the center of intelligence and identity by the ancient Egyptians. In this sense the Ab is very similar to the Ren, and might be looked at as private and public aspects of the persona. It was the Ab which was weighed during the Psychostasia, the most famous image of the Egyptian afterlife. This was the weighing of the heart against the feather of Maat, or truth. If the heart were light the Soul was judged worthy to move on into Khert Neter, the paradise of Osiris. If the heart were heavy, weighed down with misdeeds, it was eaten by the monster Ammemet. To me this resembles our own belief that the Soul reviews its life after death, Ammemet representing not destruction but the grief of a negative self-</p> <p>judgment. The Ka is sometimes described as the Double of the person, and is represented by a pair of upraised arms. The Ka has also been described as the vital force which animated the person in life and survived with persona intact after death. The word Ka itself means Bull which suggests that the Ka was seen as embodying a vital Spiritual power. The Ka was conceived of as being exactly like the person, or perhaps a more perfect form of the person, and is the chief object of mortuary ritual attention. The Ka was conceived of as being exactly like the person, or perhaps a more perfect form of the person, and is the chief object of mortuary ritual attention. The person and their Ka were closely associated. There is a famous image from the mortuary temple of the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut at Dier-al-Bahari, often mentioned in association with the Ka, which shows the God Khnum with His potters wheel forming the Princess Hatshepsut and her Ka at the same time, identical in every respect. The Ka was part of the person, but could leave the body during sleep or in trance. After death the Ka was thought of as inhabiting the tomb. Special Ka chapels were built for it where mortuary offerings would be made.</p> <p>Above: The Ka It was believed that the Ka would partake of the offerings, consuming not the physical offering of course but rather being nourished by virtue of the offerings own Ka. In addition to paying their respects to the Ka through prayers and offerings people would talk to it and ask for messages in return which often came in the form of dreams. The Ka chapels were distinguished by an image of</p> <p>the deceased, which is one of the earliest origins of portraiture. Like the body this Ka chapel image was used by the Ka as a Key to communicate with the living. If the body were destroyed the Ka chapel image alone, or in its lieu other images, would be used as the Key. If the mortuary offerings ceased the Ka was believed to whither and eventually dissipate. This is rather similar to our own idea that the Spirit remains active as an Ancestor as long as it is remembered and worked with, but moves on when this need ceases. The Ba was represented as a human-headed bird this represented its ethereal nature and ability to fly about at will. The Ba seems to have been regarded as the essential nature of the person, which was within the body during life but exited at death. It was thought that the Ba enjoyed a wide-ranging existence moving among Gods and in the world, but would return to the tomb from time to time. For</p> <p>Above: The Khaibit this reason many ancient tombs included narrow channels created to allow the Ba access though it is clear that the nature of the Ba was incorporeal and that such physical opening were symbolic rather than necessary. Of the components of the Egyptian Soul the Ba is most comparable to the modern idea of Spirit or Soul. Not only humans but also Gods were spoken of as having a Ba. It was the Ba of the God which manifested through the Divine image to commune</p> <p>with worshippers. Interestingly, the theophany, or animal form, of a God was also described as its Ba. Thus the Phoenix, or Bennu, was looked upon as the Ba of Osiris. Similarly, the ram the Ba of Amon-Ra. Syncretically the Goddess Bast was spoken of as the Ba of Isis.</p> <p>Above: The Khu The Khu, or Akhu, was the part of the Soul that dwelt with the Gods among the Stars. The word Khu means Shining and the Khu was considered to be something like a body of light, and was represented by a Crested Ibis.</p> <p>Both the Ka and the Ba were considered to be united through the Khu. But where the Khu and the Ba were inherently immortal, the Ka was not, dissipating when forgotten by the living. In certain eras the Khu was thought to reincarnate through the Ba as successive Kas, which each expressed the immortal nature of the Khu and Ba in differing ways. Finally we have the Sekhem. The word Sekhem means something like Power, or Magic and is perhaps closest to the modern word Spirit in that it could be used in both general and particular ways.</p> <p>Above: The Sekhem" A person had a Sekhem, but Sekhem was also an impersonal quality. The term Sekhem were sometimes applied to Gods and to stars, and certain leading Gods including Ra and Osiris had among their names Sekhem Ur meaning roughly Great Power. And of course one of the greatest early Goddesses was Sekhemet. The Sekhem was symbolized by a scepter, and the term carries a connotation of ruler-ship. The Sekhem scepter was carried by Kings and high officials to denote their imperium. Sekhem scepters were</p> <p>also used by mortuary Priests when making offerings, and were associated with the deceased. The Sekhem may be said to be the Divine essence which generated all the other parts of the Soul: the ultimately mortal Khat, Khaibit, Ren, and Ka: the immortal Ba and Khu. Thus it will be seen that the ancient Egyptian concept of the Soul is in fact not alien at all, but closely parallels our modern Pagan conceptions of the Soul. The Khat will be seen to correspond to the Physical Self, which flourishes for its time but dies and decays in turn. The Khaibit or Sheut will be seen to correspond to the emotional self, ultimately responsive in nature: reacting to stimuli just as a shadow is cast by light. The outer Ren and inner Ab will be seen to correspond to the mental self, the seat of choice and understanding. The Ka will be seen to be the Astral Self: able to travel independently but ultimately an aspect of the given life which dissipates with time. The Ba is the Soul which is inherently immortal even though successive lives dissipate with time. The Khu is the Monad or Oversoul which generates the Soul and through it the individual life. And the Sekhem is the Divine Self the Divine Spark which animates all things and ultimately unites all things. Thus we see a clear correspondence through our own Seven Planes and the Egyptians Seven Souls.</p>


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