The modern day terms soul, spirit and ghost come close to the meaning of the Ka to the ancient Egyptians, but do not quite capture its unique nature.
The Ka, sometime shown with a pair of arms and raised hands resting on its head (the hieroglyphic symbol for the Ka), was a spiritual double residing inside every individual, but unlike our ideas of ethereal projections, the Ka was almost as corporeal as the body, not grey like a ghost, but chromatic and lit by an aura of life-power.
The Ka needed sustenance to survive however, requiring ‘bread, beer, beef and fowl, a thousand of food-offerings, a thousand of drink-offerings, all the plants that sprout from earth, a thousand of all things good and pure...’
Modern fiction and film abound with stories of the confused dead who are trapped, sometimes unknowingly, in their Ka state and struggling to set right some mistakes in their lives, (The Ka of Gifford Hillary by Dennis Wheatley and the films The Sixth Sense and Ghost).
And of course the Kas of the dead appear as characters in some of the earliest fiction in history, the cycle of tales that grew up around the magus, seeker of knowledge and anachronistic Prince Khaemwaset himself.
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