the Ka

by Wim van den Dungen

Ka-statue of Auibre Hor
XIIIth Dynasty 

The "ka" ("kA") had two connotative layers :

  1. collective : vital energy, power of life, vitality, source of rejuvenation and restoration of health ;

  2. individual : subtle "double", vehicle of personal characteristics and traits, linked with life, prosperity & health.

The "act of ka"  was represented as two arms extended upwards from a base, supposed to be the breast muscles. Although the hands are extended as in adoration, in fact, an embrace is meant. To put one's arms around another, was to impart one's vital essence to that person.

The transmission of life power or vital energy is therefore linked with the "ka". This was the general meaning of the concept, applicable to all situations of life. The underlying idea being the sharing of this vital energy with others, be they humans or gods.

The giving of favours, good fortune in the world and health were all related to this vital energy.

On an individual level, every human being had a "double", which co-determined the fortunate aspects of a person's fate. This double contained the dispositions which influenced one's emotional life as well.

Hence, the Egyptian Ka encompasses both the yogi's "sheet of breath" ("etheric double") as well as the "sheet of passions" or "astral" body", influenced by the planets ("astra").

The Ka is linked with quickening and revitalization. So when the offerings to the Ka of the deceased ended, the latter's
soul ("bA") was no longer gratified. The restoration of oneness through rituals of rejuvenation were intimately linked with the doubles of Pharaoh and the deities.

The Ka was also the subtle, vital energy present in offerings.

initiated : 2003 - last update : 27 XI 2010

© Wim van den Dungen