The ancient Egyptians believed that it was important to have a happy life and to enter the afterlife when they died.
They thought that while the physical body remains on Earth after death, the soul enters the afterlife. A person’s soul is split into two pieces: the Ba and the Ka.
The Ka was the life force of a person and was breathed into a body at birth by the gods. It was pictured in hieroglyphics as a very little person standing next to a much larger version of the same person. Sometimes it was drawn as two outstretched arms to ward off evil from the tomb.
The Ka was thought to be stuck in the body or small statues that people in the tomb after death, so it was important to preserve the body so it didn’t decay! Some tombs had mini houses in them for the Ka to live in.
Ancient Egyptians also placed food and drink in tombs as offerings so that the Ka could eat to sustain itself – they believed the Ka absorbed the spirit of the food rather than eating the physical thing.
The second half of the soul, the Ba, was thought to be the part of the soul that made everyone unique. The Ba was your personality – your humour, charm, happiness and empathy were all found here.
It was pictured as a bird with a human head, as ancient Egyptians thought that birds could fly between the living world and the afterlife.
Unlike the Ka, the Ba could move around outside of the tomb. It would follow the gods around on journeys and then return to the tomb to reunite with the Ka until the next day.
Eventually both the Ba and the Ka would join together and a divine spark would occur, creating the Akhu (the reunited soul). The Akhu would then fly to the underworld where it would undergo a test; if it passed, the person’s soul would be allowed to reach the afterlife.
Journey to the Afterlife
Ancient Egyptians said prayers during the funeral rites. These prayers turned the physical body into a spiritual one called the Saku. The Saku then moved around the tomb, talking to the Ba and the Ka.
When the soul had joined together and was ready, the Saku would take the journey to the afterlife to join the gods.
If your name wasn’t written down or something happened to your body, the ancient Egyptians believed that the Ba and the Ka would not be able to find their way home to your tomb.
To help the Ba and Ka get back home, people attached a name plate to the coffin called a cartouche. This meant that your soul was not stuck wandering the living world and could make it to the afterlife.
Facts about The Ba and Ka
- The soul was split into two: the Ba and the Ka
- The Ka was your spirit and was given to you by the gods
- The Ka was pictured as a very small and very large version of the same person
- The Ba was your personality and was pictured as a bird with a human head
- The Ba could move around the living world and follow the gods on their journeys
- When the Ba and Ka reunited, the soul reformed into the Akhu
- Your spiritual body, the Saku, took you to the afterlife
- A name plate was added to your tomb so your soul didn’t lose its way
- What were the two most important things to the Ancient Egyptians?
Being happy during life on Earth and successfully entering the afterlife after they died.
- What was the Ka?
The part of your soul which was your life force and was given to you at birth by the gods.
- What was the Ba?
The part of your soul which was your personality and could follow the gods around on their journeys.
- How did the soul (Akhu) get to the afterlife?
Your spiritual body (Saku) took you to the afterlife after you followed the gods and passed a test.
- Back to – Ancient Egypt