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Author Topic: Soul Confusion  (Read 7860 times)
Lemon
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« Topic Start: January 20, 2008, 04:20:40 pm »

This is about the different concepts of soul (for lack of a better word) in Kemetic beliefs. Basically, I'm confused about all the different terms and what they mean. I've read about them on three or four different websites, and I've taken notes on them, but it's not really sinking in.

I know Khat is the physical body, so I'm not too confused about that one. But, the differences between Ka and Ba aren't really sticking with me. Ka is the life force, right? But what exactly does that mean? And Ba, that would be the personality part of the soul, right? From what I understand the Ba is immortal while the Ka can die out. I've also read about Sahu and Sekhem, and I'm just as lost as can be about those definitions. Also, the idea of Ren, which is the hidden name of an individual. How would that relate to a modern day Kemetic practice? From what I've read, in Ancient times people would have a hidden name because knowing that name would allow another person to have power over them. However, that doesn't seem to relate in modern times.

I think I just need someone who really understands these concepts to explain it to me in simple terms.  Grin
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« Reply #1: January 20, 2008, 07:34:27 pm »

This is about the different concepts of soul (for lack of a better word) in Kemetic beliefs. Basically, I'm confused about all the different terms and what they mean. I've read about them on three or four different websites, and I've taken notes on them, but it's not really sinking in.
[...]
I think I just need someone who really understands these concepts to explain it to me in simple terms.  Grin

This is how I look at things; I believe it to be reasonably accurate to how the ancients saw things with a little modern tweaking.

The ka:  This is your family soul, the thing you inherited from your ancestors.  It supports and nourishes your life (it is etymologically related to words for 'food' and 'procreation').  The ancients' euphemism for death was 'to go to the ka', to rejoin the energy of your ancestors.  Further, they presented gifts to each other with 'for your ka'.  Offering liturgy includes the phrase 'may your ka be fed'.  Think of this as your vital energy, your animation, that which is invested in you by your family and friends, that energy you devote to those you love.

The ba:  This is a little fiddlier.  The ancients represented the ba as a bird with a human head, so it obviously has a sense of the mobile about it, in three dimensions.  We can extract a little from other usages: the pyramids, for example, were the bau of the pharaohs that were entombed there; various gods are described as bau of other gods.  The suggestion is something like manifestation, representation, that part of you which interacts with and engages with the rest of the world, that which is known, seen, and communicating.  The word is occasionally used to mean 'reputation', as well.

"Sahu" is used interchangeably with "khat" in some texts, so the ancients weren't always perfectly clear about the difference.  "Khat" means "that which will decay", the mortal remains, the body (animated by the force of the ka while living).  I forget the etymology on 'sahu', but honestly if I wanted to translate it into modern terms I would just say 'astral body'.  (I am personally undecided about whether living people have sahu, but if they do, that's pretty much what it is.)

Sekhem means "power" (witness Sekhmet, Whose name is simply 'the powerful one').  The closest translation into non-Egyptian terms I know of is, unfortunately, not English, though English has borrowed the word: mana, from Polynesian languages.  Your personal oomph, your power, your inner strength; if you are a magician, the force that you can place behind your heka, your Will.

I don't see why the power of one's ren would have changed from ancient times.  Remember, Egyptian theology is one in which the power of creation itself is in clear and accurate naming: by speaking the names of things, the gods brought them into being.  the entire Western-magical philosophy behind the concept of the True Name applies here.


I hope that's some help.
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« Reply #2: January 20, 2008, 09:39:58 pm »

This is about the different concepts of soul (for lack of a better word) in Kemetic beliefs. Basically, I'm confused about all the different terms and what they mean. I've read about them on three or four different websites, and I've taken notes on them, but it's not really sinking in.

For me, the easiest way to understand the various parts is to think of a person as a pentagram. Since some people in Ancient Egypt believed that the deceased passed on to become a five pointed star, this seems an easy fit.

Before I begin, I would like to say that I know others will have different definitions than I do and I think that is fine. Truth be told, no one knows exactly for certain what the definitions of the soul were. They don't translate well into western thought.  Many of my interpretations come from my own conclusions that were later verified through study.  It was nice to be able to finally have terms to give to the parts of myself I always thought were there. I am not a reconstructionist, I consider myself more involved with ancient Egyptian spiritualism or mysticism. Learning about ancient texts is great, but I think a lot can be learned from folk practices and traditions as well. And a little intuition can go a long way.  Smiley

So, that said, if you think of yourself as a five pointed star your center (which forms a pentagon) would be the essence of you and each point of the star would be the parts of the soul. I will number the points below, but that is just for simplicity, it does not mean that one is ranked higher than another.

The Sekhem is you life force or essence of you. This is the center of the star.  It is the part of you that gives you life. It is what causes you to breath, your heart to beat, your nails to grow, without you having to think about it. It is also your connection to the universe and to each part of the soul.

1. is you as you are in this life. It also encompasses the physical body that you will leave when you die. It includes the heart which is the seat of all desires, needs, and intentions. It holds the truth of your actions and thoughts. Other organs are significant as well, the liver, the intestines, the stomach, and the lungs, which are tied to the four sons of Horus.

2. is your Ka. I can best describe the Ka as your guardian angel. It is a little more complicated than that though as there can be more than one guardian angel. The High Guardian Angel is actually you from a past life passed on to a more enlightened being here to help you in this life. This is also your connection to your ancestors, because here you are in a way, your own ancestor .

3. is your Ba. This is probably the closest to the western idea of the soul. It can hang around earth waiting to merge with the other parts of the soul after death. It is basically you, but not confined to the body. My personal belief is that during life, it is the part of you that can astral travel.

4. is the Khaibit or shadow or reflection. This is your opposite. It can move about independently if it wants to. When unhappy it can cause problems for you or others. Keeping in balance will keep it happy. This is not your evil twin however, more like the Yin to your Yang.

5. is Sahu. This is often defined as your personality. But, I don't think that is quite on the mark. I think of it more as knowledge you have gained in this life. It is neither good or bad. It carries all your life experiences, as well as people, places and the lessons you learned (or should have learned). It is all that shaped you into who you are are.

Finally, there is the Akhu or shining one. This is the merger of all five elements of the soul after death to form a more enlightened being. Again if you think of the pentagram and draw a straight line from each point of the star to the next, you form another pentagon and the whole process starts over again as you become a new star.

This is the best way I can explain it all. I hope it makes sense. That is my understanding or interpretation anyway.

I would also like to add that some areas in Ancient Egypt placed  more emphasis on certain concepts than others. This is also the same for various time periods. Some regions even seem to have had slightly different ideas on each concept as well. So, I think it is fine for interpretations to vary from individual to individual today.

Blessings along your path.
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« Reply #3: February 02, 2008, 10:07:17 am »

I don't see why the power of one's ren would have changed from ancient times.  Remember, Egyptian theology is one in which the power of creation itself is in clear and accurate naming: by speaking the names of things, the gods brought them into being.  the entire Western-magical philosophy behind the concept of the True Name applies here.

Sorry for not replying right away, I guess college has kept me more busy than I thought it would.  Cheesy

Anyways, I think the only thing that confused be about ren was that (from what I've read) it seemed that Ancient Egyptians had a secret name. Which is different from how we are all completely open with our names without any fear.


Quote from: Nile_Lily
For me, the easiest way to understand the various parts is to think of a person as a pentagram. Since some people in Ancient Egypt believed that the deceased passed on to become a five pointed star, this seems an easy fit.

Before I begin, I would like to say that I know others will have different definitions than I do and I think that is fine. Truth be told, no one knows exactly for certain what the definitions of the soul were. They don't translate well into western thought.  Many of my interpretations come from my own conclusions that were later verified through study.  It was nice to be able to finally have terms to give to the parts of myself I always thought were there.

Thanks for the pentagram idea, I'm a visual learner so it's really helpful to have a picture in my mind when I'm learning something. I liked your interpretations, they've given me something to think about.

I think the best way to learn this information is not only to take notes on it, but to also really think about it and make it personal. Right now I'm basically compiling as much information on it as I can, then later I'll look over things and come up with a definition that makes sense to me.

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« Reply #4: February 02, 2008, 10:11:59 am »


Just a quick note, Lemon.  Thank you for quoting both of the people you're replying to, but it's really better if you just reply to them separately (one reply message for each person).  That way the long BBcode for the quote gets left in for both of them so that we get the link back to each message you're replying to, which is at least as important to the staff as the quote itself is.

Thanks!
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« Reply #5: February 02, 2008, 11:15:06 am »

Just a quick note, Lemon.  Thank you for quoting both of the people you're replying to, but it's really better if you just reply to them separately (one reply message for each person).  That way the long BBcode for the quote gets left in for both of them so that we get the link back to each message you're replying to, which is at least as important to the staff as the quote itself is.

Not Lemon, but I didn't know that either...I double quote all the time - sorry!
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« Reply #6: February 02, 2008, 11:20:15 am »

Not Lemon, but I didn't know that either...I double quote all the time - sorry!

It just makes conversation flow easier having the link-back on the quote. Especially in a busy thread so you can just click on a quote to read a posters quote in context, without having to scroll back (possibly pages).
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« Reply #7: February 02, 2008, 11:22:40 am »

Anyways, I think the only thing that confused be about ren was that (from what I've read) it seemed that Ancient Egyptians had a secret name. Which is different from how we are all completely open with our names without any fear.


Thanks for the pentagram idea, I'm a visual learner so it's really helpful to have a picture in my mind when I'm learning something. I liked your interpretations, they've given me something to think about.

I think the best way to learn this information is not only to take notes on it, but to also really think about it and make it personal. Right now I'm basically compiling as much information on it as I can, then later I'll look over things and come up with a definition that makes sense to me.

The Ren thing is a little hard to understand. Basically, it is so that when someone is casting a spell or hex on someone, it won't work because you don't have the right name. To me it falls under superstition more than religion. - but that is just me.
(But just to be safe I did give my kids secret names.  Why take chances  Grin)

Glad to of been of help, compiling your notes and own definitions is a great idea. Good luck to you!
« Last Edit: February 02, 2008, 11:25:09 am by Nile_Lily, Reason: left out a word » Logged
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« Reply #8: February 02, 2008, 12:32:28 pm »

Sorry for not replying right away, I guess college has kept me more busy than I thought it would.  Cheesy

Anyways, I think the only thing that confused be about ren was that (from what I've read) it seemed that Ancient Egyptians had a secret name. Which is different from how we are all completely open with our names without any fear.

Is you legal name essentially you?

Mine certainly isn't.

Even the names I actually use aren't.
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« Reply #9: February 02, 2008, 07:26:09 pm »

Is you legal name essentially you?

Mine certainly isn't.

Even the names I actually use aren't.

Is it possible for you to not know your true name?

Edit: And is a true name something you discover, or create?
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« Reply #10: February 02, 2008, 08:38:06 pm »

Is you legal name essentially you?

Mine certainly isn't.

Even the names I actually use aren't.
I'm chuckling because you're the most extreme example of that, that I know.  I know several names for you, and have about decided that the patterns of how the names relate to each other (and there are definite patterns - though I'm not sure I've spotted them all) have more to do with your Essential Self than any of those names in and of themselves do.  Which doesn't make the collective pattern your True Name either, though it might be a small piece of it.

Mind you, that has a lot to do with my personal theory that the True Name isn't a simple sequence of pronounceable syllables (or even a long and complex sequence of unpronounceable ones), but the gestalt of all one is.  (This is also an answer of sorts to Treekisser's question, though not a Kemetic answer unless by pure coincidence.)

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« Reply #11: February 02, 2008, 08:56:24 pm »

Is you legal name essentially you?

Mine certainly isn't.

Even the names I actually use aren't.

I find that so incredibly amusing - because, in large part, I think Vieva is pretty damn close to any true name could possibly be for me. Cheesy  (or preferably Vieva!, given that I really deserve my own exclamation point. Cheesy )
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« Reply #12: February 02, 2008, 11:04:30 pm »

Is it possible for you to not know your true name?
Edit: And is a true name something you discover, or create?

If memory serves me right, the true name was given to a child at birth by the mother.
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« Reply #13: February 03, 2008, 12:13:19 am »

Is it possible for you to not know your true name?

I sure don't, but if you hum a few bars I can fake it.  (This is not as flip as it sounds; my personal metaphor for the concept of true name is the song one's souls sing.)

The story I know about true names is the one where Aset nicks Ra's off Him; among the many other things in this story is that the power of the true name is the power of the entity it manifests, and thus once She has Ra's name She has the power to create universes.

An entity may be called many things -- Ra gave a vast number of titles, nicknames, and calling-names -- but none of those have the same manifest power as the Name.

Perhaps pronouncing a human's Name takes that human's lifetime; that is what is made manifest thereby.  I don't know.  The KO think that the Name is what was whispered by the gods at one's soul's creation.

Names are Big Magic.
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« Reply #14: February 19, 2008, 03:02:13 pm »

Perhaps pronouncing a human's Name takes that human's lifetime; that is what is made manifest thereby.  I don't know.  The KO think that the Name is what was whispered by the gods at one's soul's creation.

Names are Big Magic.

Is there a way for a person to recover their own Hidden Name and, if so, are there any people willing to teach how it's done?
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