The Crux of the GKS – Egyptian Dualism (gks 1)

Upper Egypt – a dual world – as above, so below

Upper Egypt should not be seen as the land of the dead, far from it, it was a parallel world coexisting alongside our Earthly world. Very much a vibrant land of the living as time itself followed the same day night cycle on earth. In taking up an intermediate location between the Two Lands, this role fell to the perennial sun god Re. One sun inextricably linked the two parallel worlds – dawn on Earth was dawn above, daytime on Earth was daytime above, dusk on Earth was dusk above and night was night in both lands. The Sun was the perennial life-supporting orb which shone on the two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt.

We need look no further than Re’s epithets to confirm not only the existence of the two worlds but also his role in illuminating, and in his perpetual existence, seemingly protecting them.

Illuminator of the Two Lands

Lord of the two lands is Re (an apt title also given to the pharaohs)

Powerful is Re protector of the Two Lands.

Many authors have proposed this ‘as above, so below’ concept, and Egyptologists are fully aware of the Egyptians concept of duality. I take this one step further and give the whole thing real physical presence. I would ask the question, would the ancient Egyptians be so obsessed with, and put so much of the nation’s resources into a duel world they couldn’t physically see?

How to get to this land

Having given real physical presence to the next world and identified it as Upper Egypt a world coexisting with this one, we can now turn our attention into getting there. This is where we get to the crux of the GKS and the bonding of mortals with astral bodies.

The physical body, the ka, ba and akh

The Egyptians believed each individual person was made up of many parts; the physical body, the ka, the ba, the akh, the name and the shadow. With a childlike outlook on the cosmos, it is easy to understand why the Egyptians believed that the shadows we cast have a spiritual existence. Our shadow is always with us and to a certain extent it appears to watch over us and protect us eternally. It was also reasonable for this ancient culture to believe a person’s name was vital regarding the afterlife. They believed that simply mentioning the name of the deceased brought that person to life. However, of greater importance was the ba, ka akh and the physical body. If we consider these we will understand how humans were ‘paired’ with astral bodies.

Scholars do not understand the ka, ba and akh, or anything connected to the ‘soul.’ They cannot grasp how and why the Egyptians came to the belief that each person consisted of so many spiritual parts. They are also at a loss to explain the true purpose and role of each part or soul. They assume the entire spiritual concept is yet another aspect of a totally bewildering world.

‘The precise meaning of ka, ba, ach (akh),`shm (sekhem) and so on is no longer clear to us. Well-meaning scholars try again and again and again to force the Egyptian idea of the soul into our traditional categories without enabling us to understand even a little of it any better.’ 

(Poortman, 1978)

I will offer a very simple and plausible explanation for the roles of the ba, ka and akh based solely on the convictions of the ancient Egyptians and the real world of celestial chaos.

Physical body

The physical body was very important. As resurrectionists, the Egyptians believed they would simply ‘get up and go’ in the next world’. It was therefore necessary to keep a person’s earthly form intact which is why the Egyptians mummified the dead.

The Ka

Khnum Potters Wheel

The god Khnum modelling both the human form and one’s Ka on his potters wheel.

The ka was the physical ‘double’ – it came into existence the moment a person was born. On many occasions the creator-god Khnum was shown modelling the ka on a potter’s wheel at the same time as he was forming the body of a human, as in the image on the left.

In funerary art, a persons ‘double’ or ka was sometimes depicted as a slightly smaller figure standing behind the living being. When an individual died, the ka continued to live and as such required the same sustenance as the living person required in life. For this reason it was provided with genuine food offerings, or with representations of food depicted on the wall of the tomb. While not physically eating the food offerings, the ka was thought to absorb their preserving life force.

Ka Symbol Afterlife

The symbol for Ka

Many tombs and temples had false doors and these were west-orientated and served as a link between the living and the dead. Offerings were typically made to the ka before the false doors. After death, the ka was ‘at rest’ whilst the body was prepared and mummified. The ka was then reactivated so that the spiritual transformation of rebirth in the ‘next world’ could take place. The deceased then travelled to join their ka and by doing so, the link to the next-world through their tomb was established. The ka was represented as a hieroglyph consisting of a pair of arms pointing upwards. It was believed the two outstretched arms magically warded off evil forces (drawing above & in the image below).

Giving physical identity to the Ka

The Ka-statue of king Hor.

Ka-statue of king Hor.

As discussed, 4,000 years ago the whole solar system was engulfed in space debris; the skies of Earth were dominated by kingly planets and littered with incalculable amounts of asteroids and comets of various shapes and sizes. The Egyptians regarded the planets, stars, asteroids and comets as real beings. They were not lumps of rock or dirty snowballs (asteroids and comets) as we know them, but real living, breathing individuals. They were also perceived to be physical ‘doubles’ of people living on Earth – they were the kas of the Egyptians.

Herein lies the key to understanding the Egyptian idea of the soul and the entire double concept. From the Egyptian perspective, a ka was not an individual being living a separate life in another world or dimension; it was not a spiritual part of a human as with our understanding of soul. It was a real astral ‘twin’ or stellar ‘double’ living a parallel existence, totally ‘at one’ with humans.

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