Thursday, August 8, 2013

Egyptians & The Afterlife

  

The Egyptians did not believe in single soul. They believed in a number of different entities that together comprised what Westerners think of as a soul.

The primary component was 
1) the ka , a life force that was present even in fetuses in the womb and continued to live on after a person died. This was often was often portrayed in iconography as a duplicate of its owner. When a person was living the body and the ka were united. After death it separated from the body. Another important component was 
2) the ba . Found in humans, animals and gods, it is a kind of cognitive soul representing self consciousness, perception and memory. It is represented in hieroglyphics by a bird with a human head, arms and hands.

Other components of the soul include: 
3) the akh , a sort of ghostly aura or spirit represented in hieroglyphic by an ibis: and 
4) the ib , a deep seated self that is the source of creativity and courage and is represented in hieroglyphic by a heart.

The notion of an afterlife and judgement was embraced by the ancient Egyptians millennia before it was among Christians. Attaining the afterlife was of supreme importance.

When a person dies, the Egyptians believed that his ka , or life force, leaves his body, followed after burial by ba , the soul. One passage from the Book of the Dead reads: “Raise yourself. You have not died. Your life force will dwell with you forever.”

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