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.)