In Egyptian mythology, the human soul is made up of five parts: the Ka, the Ba, the Akh, the Name and the Shadow.
The Akh ("to shine") changed somewhat in the history of Egyptian belief. It was, at first, the unchanging unification of Ka and Ba, which united after the death of the physical body. In this sense, it was a sort of ghost. The Akh was then a part of the Akh-Akh, the panoply of Akhs from other people, gods and animals. Alternatively, the Ka changed into the Akh and Ba after death, rather than uniting with the Ba. In this system, the Akh went to the underworld and became the Ka again, while the Ba remained on Earth in the corpse of the deceased.
Some Egyptians believed that they would spend their afterlives as blessed akhs, spending eternity with the circumpolar stars as companions.
The Ka was the spiritual soul of a person or a god, a type of mana. The Ka was created by Mesenet along with the physical form of the person, and then continued to the underworld after the death of the physical body. The Ka was also commonly referred to as a person's "Double", a constant companion that in some stories was separated from the person him/herself. In an Egyptian tale, Helen came to Egypt and the priestesses of Hathor separated her Ka from her living being, and the Trojan War was actually fought over Helen's Ka, rather then Helen herself!
After the death of an individual, the Ba was the shell or physical body that remained on Earth in its tomb. At some point the Ba was to reunite with the Ka and thus the body was mummified. Should the body be destroyed it was believed that a stone sculpture would suffice.
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46