NOTES || Transformation: Aspects of the Soul

World-building Notes

Transformation: Aspects of the Soul

World-building notes on the concepts and fictional role of deity transformations. This section focuses on the five primary aspects of the Egyptian soul, and their appearance and significance in DEITIES Project.

Aspects of the soul refer to the different manifestations of a being’s soul. […] It was believed that a person’s soul was a composite of several different parts, that were semi-divine in nature, and became most relevant in the afterlife.




The aspects of the soul in DEITIES Project are all heavily based on descriptions from Ancient Egyptian history and beliefs. It was believed that a person’s soul was a composite of several different parts, that were semi-divine in nature, and became most relevant in the afterlife.

Because of how important these aspects were to their religion and funerary ceremonies, I’ve created a system for these aspects of the soul in the story, with my own personal interpretations applied for the world of DEITIES. Different aspects will carry different weight and roles for how they contribute to a person’s being, but all forms are considered important to make up the whole entity of the soul.


In DEITIES Project, there are 5 distinct aspects of the Egyptian soul — the Ka, the Ba, the Ib, the Sheut, and the Ren — which all make up a person’s being. These divisions apply to both mortals and deities, in both life and death.

[NOTE: There are texts from research that describe more than 5 parts of the soul. But I’m choosing to keep to 5 aspects to make it easier to manage, rather than extending the count to 8 or 9… or 12…]

During life, all 5 aspects are united within the body. When a mortal person dies, their aspects separate into their different manifestations, which then need to be rejoined in the underworld of Duat in order for the person to become an Akh, and live an immortal afterlife (see more on Akhu in the notes for Duat Residents: Semi-divine & Other Beings). However, deities are able to separate the aspects of their soul under certain circumstances or with certain instances of magic, and can have them manifest in different ways. Additionally, figures and statues are said to contain or hide certain aspects of the deities or person they represent.

Below are more detailed information on each of the 5 aspects of the soul, and the ways they often appear for mortals and for deities in DEITIES verse. There will be some fictional variations to the appearance of certain aspects, that are relevant to DEITIES Project.


In DEITIES, the Ka is one aspect of the soul that represents a person’s spirit, and is known as the life force or “vital spark” of the person’s body. The ka is also the internal source of energy for a deity’s magic (see notes for Magic & Energy: Part I).


During life, the ka is the one aspect that must remain with the physical body in order to keep it alive. If the ka is permanently severed from the body, or separated for a prolonged time, the person will die.

Following death, it is the ka that travels through Duat for judgement. A ka that has been severed from its body will arrive in the underworld and take the long, arduous journey towards The Hall of Ma’at, facing several trials along the way. Kau (plural) that pass these trials will eventually face judgment in the Weighing of the Heart ceremony, with hopes of rejoining with their other aspects to become an Akh, and making it to Duat’s paradise, Aaru.

Despite this journey, kau had to be aided in the living world, as they were said to depend on sustenance like food in the same way as the living body did. It was left to other living mortals to leave food offerings in tombs and in temples, and to allow a person’s or deity’s ka to absorb the energy from the food.


In Egyptian art, kau are represented as a duplicate person, sometimes with the glyph of hands pointing upwards and located over their heads. In DEITIES, kau are more simplified and bear closer resemblance to the general idea of a spirit or ghost, but still distinct from the appearance of Akhu (exalted souls).

Within the body, the ka “appears” as a small light of energy, which ranges from white to off-white for mortals, and brighter colors for deities. The color for a deity’s ka usually matches the color of their eyes, as well as their true magic (see example, below).

Outside of the body, the ka appears as a life-sized “duplicate” of a person’s physical body. In the case of a deity’s ka, they resemble the deity’s mortal “human” form. In this form, kau lack accessories or attire, in contrast to how decorated their owners usually appear in their living bodies. The eyes of kau appear illuminated in the same way that a deity’s eyes appear when using high levels of magic (colored sclera and white pupils). Furthermore, the limbs and lower extremities of kau are also illuminated in the same color of light.

[EX: The color and appearance of Osiris’s ka, as well as his magic, is the same green color as his eyes. Similarly, the color of Anubis’s ka and magic are the same orange as his eyes.]


The Ba is another aspect of a person’s combined soul. In DEITIES, the ba is a manifestation of the personality, and individual ba may have unique behaviors and mannerisms that reflect the person they belong to.


The ba is the part of the soul that has to be released from the body during embalming, and can then leave and return to the body each day.

All bau (plural) possess the ability to hover and levitate through the air, even those whose forms do not possess the ability of flight (see Design Notes below). Generally, they tend to hover about as they please, and can partake in enjoying earthly sustenance and pleasures, much like the ka. Bau also often accompany Ra during his nightly voyages thru Duat by hovering alongside the Solar Barque — to seek its protection, and to eventually meet with the person’s ka in Duat at The Hall of Ma’at.


In Egyptian art, bau are shown to be the form of a bird with a human head, much like a harpy. In DEITIES, the bau of mortals often adopt the form of small, diminutive birds with white eyes and emitting a faint glow. Many mortal bau will also carry a red scarab-shaped emblem that hover around their person, often in front of their foreheads similar to halos. The emblems are a form of the person’s ib (see below).

The bau of deities, however, are distinguished from mortals because they often take a different shape, instead adopting the form of a deity’s sacred animal (and in turn, a deity’s sacred animal reflects the form of their ba). A deity’s ba emits a colored glow that match the color of their ka. The eyes of the ba are also fully illuminated in the same color of light.

[EX: In DEITIES, Osiris’s ba takes the form of a Bennu bird, the same as his Sacred animal. Similarly, Anubis’s ba would be a jackal, Horus’s would be a falcon, and Set’s would be a Set animal.]


The Ib is the aspect of the soul representing a person’s physical heart. In DEITIES, and following the myths and beliefs of Ancient Egypt, the ib shares a vital link with the mind of the soul.


Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart was the center of one’s emotions, will, and truth. The heart itself was one of the few organs that was left inside a mummified body, in the belief that the soul would need to retrieve it from the body for their journey through Duat. More specifically, the ib is what the Ba carried thru Duat, to be judged in The Weighing of the Heart ceremony, and determined if the person was worthy to pass.

The ib, in the form of the physical heart, also helps keep the physical body alive by keeping it and the ka nourished; if the heart is damaged beyond recovery, then a severed link between the ka and the body would be sure to follow.


In Egyptian art, the ib can be represented in various forms depending on the context, and this is a similar case in DEITIES. In the living body, the ib resides within the physical heart of its owner. Once released from the body after proper ceremony, the ib can adapt to various forms that — while not particularly unique between different individuals, or between mortals and deities (compared to other aspects like the ka and ba) — can be better suited for different situations.

Despite representing the heart, one physical form that the ib can change into include that of a small clay figure, which can fit within one’s hands and can be used during The Weighing of the Heart ceremony. While the ib is usually dormant and inanimate in this form, it can also change into the active form of a scarab beetle, if for any reason the ib needed to move without aid. Another more passive form for the ib is that of a pectoral amulet, which resembles those placed on person’s chest during burial.

Furthermore, in DEITIES the ib can also manifest into the form of a halo-like emblem that hovers over the ba’s head, as a more practical means for the ba to “carry” the ib through Duat. When a ba returns to its owner’s body, or when it appears at The Weighing of the Heart ceremony, the ib can return to its clay, scarab, or amulet forms.

[EX: Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus vitae congue. Neque sodales ut etiam sit amet. Eget nunc scelerisque viverra mauris.]


The Sheut is the aspect of the soul that represents a person’s physical shadow. In DEITIES, the sheut will also be closely linked to a person’s experiences and memories.


Egyptians believed that shadows were alive, and continued to live even after death, thus closely associating the shadow with the soul. The sheut, and shadows in general, were considered to be a source of protection to other beings. The sheut also seemed to be the only part of the soul that remains close to the deceased body, and that were not required to make the journey thru Duat. It’s said that sometimes a “shadow box” is built within a person’s tomb, to contain part of the sheut, and some texts describe them as having great power and the ability to move at quick speeds.

In DEITIES, the sheut has the ability to temporarily detach itself from their owners. They can travel along the surfaces of the ground and walls as disembodied shadows, and can hide within the shadows of other objects as they travel, before returning back to their owner’s body.


In DEITIES, the sheut often resides passively within the shadow of its owner, similar to how they are depicted in Egyptian art. When active, the sheut acts in the manner of a living shadow, whether still attached to or detached from their owner. For deities, the sheut may be used to help observe surroundings, and can be split into small parts as a way to monitor different areas, particularly in their temples and other sacred places in the overworld.

Visually, an activated sheut will appear as the silhouettes of their owners, and display emptied areas for the location of their “eyes.” A sheut will not normally display or emit colors or light, given their nature as shadows, but they do have a tendency to display the hybrid features of animal-like deities — as if revealing the true form of their owners. These traits are mutable, and a sheut can alter other parts of their form to resemble the different transformations of their deity. A sheut can also fully mask itself to appear as normal shadows.

[EX: Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus vitae congue. Neque sodales ut etiam sit amet. Eget nunc scelerisque viverra mauris.]


In the simplest definition, the Ren is the aspect of the soul that represents a person’s name, and for that reason, also represents a person’s identity. The ren is also closely linked to a person’s Secret Name.


The Ancient Egyptians believed that names held power, and that as long as one’s name was recorded and remembered, a person would continue to live far after their mortal death. For this reason, a lot of emphasis was put into carving the names of nobles, royalty, and the gods in their art and monuments, and it would be a blatant act to deface someone’s name from history.

In DEITIES verse, the ren is more than just the name, but also acts as a collective of different parts of a deity’s identity. As far as the story is concerned, the ren extends to: (1) a person’s given name at birth; (2) a person’s various titles and epithets they earn through life; and (3) a person’s Secret Name.


((WIP description — See below artwork for visual reference; design not final))

[EX: “Sekhmet” is her given name, and “Mistress of Dread” is one of several different titles that she’s earned. When they are all gathered together, along with her Secret Name, they make up her entire ren.]


As the ren is meant to protect and preserve a person, it was encouraged to have one’s given name and titles well known and remembered by others. However, the Secret Name was an exception, as it was the component of the ren that was closely guarded and rarely shared.

Ancient Egyptians believed that knowing another’s Secret Name would grant a person power over the one that the name belongs to, or even render the owner powerless. These beliefs were reflected in their stories and myths, and also hold true in DEITIES verse — where even the gods are not exempt from the risks of revealing their secret name.

In DEITIES, a Secret Name reveals the deepest essence and understanding of its owner’s identity and legacy, and can even grant access to powerful forms of magic. Secret Names are thus held in high importance, and few risk sharing theirs with anyone else. To share a Secret Name willingly with someone is among the most intimate exchanges of trust; but to abuse another’s Secret Name against their will is a high personal violation. For these reasons, deities are highly protective of their Secret Name; not every person — or even every deity — learned or knew their Secret Name, but those who do learn to guard their Name closely.