The Kemetic Concept of the Soul: Exploring Dimensions of Eternal Life - Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1903 Words
Date:  2024-01-28

The idea of the soul is critical in the narrative of Kemetic beliefs, especially in the conversation about eternal life (Asante, 2014). According to the Kemetic beliefs, at the beginning times, God stood right at the primordial mound at the center of the waters and created the world and everything therein (Quirke, 2014). Like all the other things created by God, humanity lived and moved through the magical force that animated them, which is the soul (Bauval & Osman, 2015). Therefore, the existence of a person on earth was regarded as one essential part of the eternal journey (Obenga, 2004). Based on this belief, an individual’s personality is established right from birth, whereas the soul is an immortal entity existing within a mortal vessel (Sauneron, 2000).

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Thus, a failure in the vessel resulted in the death of an individual, and the soul departed to another different plane of existence (Obenga, 2004). The Kemets believed that when the gods deemed it fit, the soul existed forever in paradise as a reflection of the person’s earthly existence (Asante, 2014Asante, 2014). They did not regard the soul as a single character but as a composite being comprised of different entities, all of which had their own unique role to play in the journey of life as well as the afterlife (Bauval & Osman, 2015). There is a need to understand the Kemetic concept of souls and their implications in the contemporary world.

Kemetic Concept of Soul

The idea of the soul formed a critical part of the narrative of ancient Egyptians, particularly in relation to the idea of eternal life (Bauval & Osman, 2015). As such, it is essential to examine how the Africans in ancient Egypt (the Kemet) viewed human existence to fully appreciate their belief in the human soul (Asante, 2014). For contemporary people, such an understanding of the human soul from the perspective of the ancient Egyptians can prove problematic due to the several dimensions of the individual (Quirke, 2014). The Kemet believed that humans were not just soul, body, and spirit but rather intrinsically more complicated in the lens of the philosophy of eternal life (Bauval & Osman, 2015).

As such, the Egyptians viewed humans as compromising various facets other than their physical attributes (Bauval & Osman, 2015). The ancient Egyptians believed that the soul was composed of five parts; the Ba, Ren, Ka, Sheut, and the lb (Obenga, 2004). However, the Khat was basically the human physical form. When the physical form became a corpse, it acted as a link between a person’s soul and the earthly life. The soul would have to be nourished after death the same way it had been when alive (Obenga, 2004).

Most archeologists and Egyptologists allude to the fact that one of the most common subjects for tomb carving and painting was that of the deceased seated by a table laden with food (Asante, 2014). It was believed that the deceased did not eat the food but instead absorbed the nutrients supernaturally (Bauval & Osman, 2015). It is also essential to highlight that the statues and the paintings of the dead people were laid in the tomb with the sole reason that if something damaged the body, the painting, and statue would assume their role (Quirke, 2014).

Even though it was regarded as essential, it was only necessary because it anchored or housed the most spiritual parts of human beings (Quirke, 2014). The two main governing concerns of the Ancient Egyptians were to understand how ankh nehehe assured eternal life and the nature of human beings within the physical world (Sauneron, 2000). For Kemet, a lifetime spent seeking to address the two concerns was regarded as proper knowledge (Bauval & Osman, 2015).

Due to the fact that physical life was regarded as a mere transition through which a person came into eternal life, it was an important place for the preparation of everlasting life (Asante, 2014). For one to be sure about eternity, it is crucial to perform all the necessary duties to position a person in the necessary orientation toward eternal life (Obenga, 2004). As such, human beings arose and went to bed with the central concern of establishing essential monuments, rituals, relationships, and ceremonies that would ensure eternal life (Sauneron, 2000).

In this light, all the ethics were viewed as ethics geared toward the preservation of human energy (Bauval & Osman, 2015). The relationship between people and their children, relatives, and friends gave a clear indication of how long they would stay in eternal life (Asante, 2014). Thus, if human beings wanted their ka to live, their name to be spoken, and ba to return to the physical body, then they had to make necessary preparations for such to occur (Obenga, 2004).

According to Kemet, it was never evident and automatic that when a person died; it had to be made definite through acting to ensure it (Quirke, 2014). The Kemet believed that it was practical to either ensure life everlasting or eternal life through the protection of several sections of the human being (Teeter, 2011). However, this would be dependent on the people seeking everlasting life and those responsible for performing proper rituals of the deceased (Asante, 2014). In several instances, the children of the deceased person performed the rituals that were necessary rituals for the protection of his/her soul (Sauneron, 2000).

In an attempt to protect the soul of an individual, all the aspects of the deceased had to be considered and protected, including the ren, Ib, akh, sheuti, ba, and ka (Quirke, 2014). It is crucial to note that the ib, according to the Kemet, was the metaphysical aspect of the heart of an individual that was believed to be created by some smaller blood drop obtained from the mother’s heart at conception (Teeter, 2011). Ib was regarded as a metaphysical aspect of the physical heart, but it was instead referred to as cikam to describe the physical heart alone (Asante, 2014). The Kemet believed that at the time of examination of a person’s heart, the ib, which represents a set of behaviors, emotions, and thoughts, was weighed against the feather of Maat (Bauval & Osman, 2015).

In case the feather was heavier than the heart, this was good (Bauval & Osman, 2015). However, if the feather was lighter than the heart, the heart was to be consumed by the monster Ammit, meaning it was weighed down by bad ideas, behavior, thoughts, concepts, and wrong deeds that it could not move towards eternity (Quirke, 2014). As such, the ib, according to Kemet, was a pathway to eternity and one could not access everlasting life without good deeds as well as the lightness of the ib heart (Asante, 2014).

The Kemet also believed that ren (person name) was another critical aspect of a human being. They believed that the name of a person would also exist forever (Bauval & Osman, 2015). As such, the name needs to be protected and conserved for eternal life (Quirke, 2014). The Kemet believed that to ensure the protection of a person’s soul, it was essential to have several names with a view that if the enemy wanted to destroy or punish you, they would not completely erase your soul if they didn’t know your full names (Asante, 2014). For instance, the enemy could erase one name, but if a person had more than one name, it would be a safer place to avoid destruction. This was majorly the origin of the belief that having a good name is crucial for one’s life (Teeter, 2011).

According to the Egyptians, a good name was not just a name that was well-spoken, but one that was well-protected as well (Sauneron, 2000). This explains why pharaohs (peraas) spent more time protecting their graves. Before death, people always started a mortuary temple to oversee the protection of the body, name, and the ba (Quirke, 2014). Most essentially, the ren name was given to a child at birth, and as long as a child was called by the name, he/she could live (Bauval & Osman, 2015).

As such, when most of the ancient Egyptians died, they put their names everywhere so that they could be spoken by several people upon their deaths (Asante, 2014). For instance, The Book of Breathings was essentially written to ensure the name of the deceased would survive (Asante, 2014). The idea was to ensure that his name was surrounded by a magical rope, shenu, to ensure it was protected (Teeter, 2011). In essence, having several names were meant to conceal the identity of the deceased. It seemed as though the deceased people were playing a game with the living to determine how well they could protect his/her name (Sauneron, 2000).

Again, the ancient Egyptians had a belief that each person had a shadow, sheuti, which was different from one individual to the other (Quirke, 2014). One’s shadow only belonged to its own owner. As such, the ancient Egyptians believed that the sheuti was basically black; thus, they were painted as black figures on the walls of the tombs (Asante, 2014). They also argued that the shadow was such a concrete occurrence that could be contained within a small box as a mechanism of protecting it from a person’s enemies (Bauval & Osman, 2015).

Furthermore, the ancient Egyptians believed that people died because they had lost their vital essence. Despite the fact that the loss of essence was only the loss of ka from the body, it did not indicate the end of life for the deceased (Teeter, 2011). This idea is essentially associated with the Western understanding of the soul. It basically relates to the spirit, which is closely linked with the second image of an individual (Asante, 2014). As such, the ancient Egyptians believed that even upon the death of individuals, their souls still remained alive as long as they were given oils, food, and incense (Quirke, 2014).

As the double of the personality of an individual’s personality, the soul was considered a spirit and thus could be present at any place (Bauval & Osman, 2015). Thus, the soul was capable of separating itself from a person or reuniting itself with the person. The ka was also believed to move freely from one place to another as well as return to its body (Ikram, 2010). As such, when an individual dies, it is essential to take his/her soul so that the deceased person can have eternal life. Oils, cakes, meat, and wines were offered to ka (Bauval & Osman, 2015).

The ancient Egyptians also believed that when the ka was well cared for, the deceased person could be satisfied (Asante, 2014). In essence, upon the burial of a deceased person, the tombs were painted, and his ka offered a constant supply of meats, oils, and cakes (Teeter, 2011). The ka was the crucial source that permitted people to continue receiving offerings in the afterlife (Asante, 2014). According to Bauval & Osman (2015), it is believed that the ka was established during the birth of an individual, thus reflecting an individual’s personality (Bauval & Osman, 2015).

Ka is, however, passed across successive generations bearing spiritual forces of the first creation (Ikram, 2010). It was not only viewed as one’s personality but also as a protector who was imbued with the divine spark (Bauval & Osman, 2015). The ancient Egyptians also believed that it was the ka that had the power to absorb the nutrients from the food offered to the deceased, which would go along in sustaining it in the afterlife (Sauneron, 2000). All living things, both animals and plants, had ka.

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The Kemetic Concept of the Soul: Exploring Dimensions of Eternal Life - Paper Example. (2024, Jan 28). Retrieved from

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