Posted by Darkhawk on TC.
You are never alone.
This is not about the presence of the gods. You, yourself, are a community.
Remember that in Egyptian thought complete solitude is equal to nonexistence, and explore your relationship with yourselves. The number of souls or portions of identity given by scholars varies a great deal, and there is some dispute about what all of them mean, but it is clear that the ancient concept of identity is that of a set of relationships between selves, souls, component parts.(*1*)
You have a ka. You inherited this from your parents, they from theirs, and so on back to the first breaths of creation. Your ka is the seat of your vital energy, the root of your magical capacity, the substance of your vivacity. It animates you and embraces you. What you receive sustains it – food to maintain the energies of life, gifts to maintain the relationships with others. It is your twin, filled with being; you are in kinship with all things that have a ka, all forms of life and existence, all descendants from the moment of creation. It is because you have a ka that you are a part of the universe.
You have a ba. You have an individual nature and identity, an intellect, a capacity of observation, for communication, for separateness. You have ways that you appear to others in your social sphere, roles and places within your community. When others speak of you, they are speaking of your ba, which holds your place within the lacework of relationships within the world. It is because you have a ba that you are a part of a family, a community, a nation.
You have a heart. You have the capacity for wisdom and for good judgement. You can tell the difference between good actions and bad, and can strive for justice, beauty, peace, and prosperity for yourself and for others. Your conscience is aware and alive within you, for your heart is made to be a shrine to ma’at itself, holding within you an intuitive understanding of the basic order of the cosmos. It is because you have a heart that you reach for connection.
You have a body. (*2*) Your body is also a community, each organ and appendage having its own role and duty within you, and each having its own set of interests. You can interact with the world, move objects, and experience sensations; it is the means by which you can express intentions. It is because you have a body that you are present in the world.
You have a shadow (*3*). Your actions reflect upon the world, and their results are a part of you. The consequences you carry – of things you have done or things which have been done to you – walk with you always, for good or for ill. Because you are, you affect the world. It is because you have a shadow that your actions have meaning.
You have sekhem, power. You have the capacity to act, to move, to exert your will upon the universe. You have presence, charisma, and people listen to your words; you have the ability to work changes. You have the responsibility to do so with all your faculties, all of your component parts in place, so that right action is fed by how you choose to spend your energies. It is because you have sekhem that you have motivation and desire.
You have a ren, your name. This is not necessarily the name you were given at birth or that your friends call you; it is the name that makes you yourself, manifests your existence. Because language is one of the tools of the Creator, who brings things into being by speaking their names, your unique existence is brought into being by this name. It is the perfect you, the thing which is striving to manifest through all of your other parts, all of your forms of being; it was spoken originally in perfect ma’at, and thus it bears no flaw. It is because you have a ren that you are.
*1* In Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, Jan Assman devotes a significant amount of time to discussing the rituals that served to restore the component parts of a person to a “constellation of identity” that was disrupted at death.
*2* Or perhaps two; there are several words. I somewhat favor an interpretation that there is the physical body, for which I use the word “khat”, and the spiritual body, for which I use the word “sah”. “Sah” is also the word for mummy, and thus indicates the transformed body.
*3* The actual Egyptological meaning of the shadow is, as far as I have been able to find in my research, lost to us. My interpretation of this portion is partially Jungian and partially reflective of the fact that, in an illuminated world, a consequence of being is to cast a shadow. The shadow is often paired with the ba, and thus a parallelism can be made suggesting that the ba contains the echoes of the social world and the shadow the echoes of the material.