BA, the physical body
BA The Egyptians believed that each person came into the world with five separate parts, or facets, that made them a whole being: the physical body, the KA, the name, the shadow, and the ba. The ba is the most difficult to describe. At times it was a part of the soul of the deceased—the person’s spirit—and at other times it seemed to be the entire soul or the essence of the deceased. The ba is also described as something like the “personality.” It was able to fly from place to place and is often shown hovering over the mummy or resting on a shrine. Most commonly it is represented as a bird with a human head and arms. Supposedly it could assume any form it chose, and the BOOK OF THE DEAD has many spells to assist the ba in its transformation. One of the most important functions of the ba was to unite with the ka so the deceased could reach the heavens and become an AKH spirit
Egyptians rarely mentioned the ba of a living person, so it seems as if the ba came into existence after death. Like the living person, the ba had physical needs. Relatives of the deceased were supposed to leave food offerings in front of the tomb to feed the ba until it reached the next world. Illustrations in the Book of the Dead show the ba flying inside and sometimes outside the tomb. In some ways, the ba was the alter ego of the deceased. One Middle Kingdom (2055–1650 B.c.) papyrus tells the story of a man who was feeling weary of the world and wanted to kill himself. He had an argument with his ba, who told him to “throw his complaints on the woodpile” and threatened to desert the man in the next world. The end of the papyrus is missing, so we don’t know if the man followed the advice of his ba or not.
Because the ba was essential for existence in the next world, a special chapter in the Book of the Dead ensured that the ba would be reunited with the deceased. In the following spell for “Causing the Uniting of the Ba and its Body in the Netherworld,” the reader is instructed to recite the words over an
amulet of the ba made of gold, inlaid with the stone
that is placed on the deceased’s neck.
. . . Oh great god, cause that my Ba may come to me from any place where it is. If there is a problem, bring my Ba to me from any place where it is . . . If there is a problem, cause my Ba to see my body. If you find me Oh Eye of Horus, support me like those in the Netherworld . . . May the Ba see the body and may it rest upon its mummy. May it never perish, may it not be separated from the body forever.