Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Ba

So yesterday I talked a bit about the complicated and very foreign idea of person-hood in Ancient Egypt. One of the most interesting aspects of the Egyptian belief on this subject is the ba. Most people tend to translate ba as "soul" because that's the easiest thing to do, but if you actually read the texts this doesn't make much sense. Louis B. Zabkar in A Study of the Ba Concept in Ancient Egyptian Literature concludes that the ba is closer to meaning a manifestation of a person or god's power. Kings are described as being "ba mighty" or "ba-full" when they are making a show of their power. And in early texts, the ba is the part of the person (always the King) that becomes manifest and joins the gods in heaven after death, it is essentially "deified".

In my "Fantasy Egypt", called Akhet, I wanted to make sense of the ba concept and use it. I have latched onto the idea of the ba being connected to "power" and am modifying it to be a part of my world's "magic system". Thus the "ba" of a person is the part of them through which they are able to reach out beyond the physical realm and participate in the cosmic drama of the universe. The ba of a person is able to touch and affect the aether that surrounds the world and thus perform feats through it that look like magic.

In my fantasy world, I am also utilizing the idea of Aristotelean "Forms" which are basically the perfect, unchanging essences of various things or ideas. For instance, all chairs, no matter how different they are, partake to some extent in the Form of chairness. The ba of a person will be the part of them that partakes of the Form of "person-hood". Since Forms are the ultimate reality, a person's ba will partake of the reality of person-hood to greater or lesser extents individually, different people will essentially be more or less "real". The strength of one's ba will determine to what extent one can perform magic-like feats.

(Side Note: Thanks to everyone for the comments and encouragement the past few days. I have not been here to respond to visit your blogs because I've been in the hospital having a baby. Now that we're home I'll be catching up. This should be an exciting month here on the blog and in real life! Thanks for stopping by.)

15 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. Congratulations on the baby. I can't even believe you're keeping up with the challenge.

    B is for Baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. Great post, and congratulations on the baby! Hope you are feeling well. Carole.

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  3. Somehow knew your A-Z would be full of Egyptian coolness!

    Congrats on the new addition. Hope you and your family are doing well!

    EJ

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  4. Congratulations on your child's birth! I'll be following and doing the A-Z blogging too.

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  5. Congrats on the newly arrived wee one!

    I love ancient history and loved reading your entries.

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  6. I would have liked to have been an Egyptologist in another life. Nice post.

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  7. That is interesting. I hadn't really read anything about that concept before.

    Congrats on your little one!

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  8. blogging after having a baby. oh my gosh. congratulations.

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  9. Congratulations with the baby! I love everything ancient egyptian.

    Thank you for stopping by and following my blog. I have no idea how you managed to do that and give birth. More power to you.

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  10. Hi Sarah .. all I can say is congratulations to you all .. family of 4 or 5 now? and A - Zing .. crazy Mamma?! Cheers just enjoy your new little life .. Hilary

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  12. Congratulations on the baby and for keeping up the A to Z as well. Ancient Egypt is a fascinating topic.

    Monti
    NotesAlongTheWay

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  13. Congratulations on your bundle of joy!

    I really enjoyed this post - I love Ancient Egypt! I'm really looking forward to the rest of posts for the month. :-)

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  14. Our family is a total of 6 now. 4 kids, two girls and two boys. And yes, I'm probably crazy to be doing this challenge. But I signed up for it without thinking about how it coincided with the due date and I'm having fun so far. :)

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