Egyptian soul

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The Ancient Egyptians believed that a human soul was made up of five parts: the Ren, the Ba, the Ka, the Sheut, and the Ib. In addition to these components of the soul there was the human body (called the ha, occasionally a plural haw, meaning approximately sum of bodily parts). The other souls were aakhu, khaibut, and khat.

Contents

Ib (heart)

An important part of the Egyptian soul was thought to be the Ib (jb), or heart. The Ib [1][2] or metaphysical heart was believed to be formed from one drop of blood from the child's mothers heart, taken at conception.[3]

To Ancient Egyptians, it was the heart and not the brain that was the seat of emotion, thought, will and intention. This is evidenced by the many expressions in the Egyptian language which incorporate the word ib, Awt-ib: happiness (literally, wideness of heart), Xak-ib: estranged (literally, truncated of heart). This word was transcribed by Wallis Budge as Ab.

In Egyptian religion, the heart was the key to the afterlife. It was conceived as surviving death in the nether world, where it gave evidence for, or against, its possessor. It was thought that the heart was examined by Anubis and the deities during the Weighing of the Heart ceremony. If the heart weighed more than the feather of Maat, it was immediately consumed by the monster Ammit.

Sheut (shadow)

A person's shadow, Sheut (šwt in Egyptian), was always present. It was believed that a person could not exist without a shadow, nor a shadow without a person, therefore, Egyptians surmised that a shadow contained something of the person it represents. For this reason statues of people and deities were sometimes referred to as their shadows.

The shadow was represented graphically as a small human figure painted completely black as well, as a figure of death, or servant of Anubis.

Ren (name)

As a part of the soul, a person's ren (rn 'name') was given to them at birth and the Egyptians believed that it would live for as long as that name was spoken, which explains why efforts were made to protect it and the practice of placing it in numerous writings. For example, part of the Book of Breathings, a derivative of the Book of the Dead, was a means to ensure the survival of the name. A cartouche (magical rope) often was used to surround the name and protect it. Conversely, the names of deceased enemies of the state, such as Akhenaten, were hacked out of monuments in a form of damnatio memoriae. Sometimes, however, they were removed in order to make room for the economical insertion of the name of a successor, without having to build another monument. The greater the number of places a name was used, the greater the possibility it would survive to be read and spoken.

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