A description of the Egyptian understanding of the subtle bodies and the Body of Light.
The Ancient Egyptians had a very defined and organized system of metaphysics and understanding of the subtle bodies. Understanding these and developing what is referred to as the Body of Light is essential not only in the practice of Egyptian magic, but in all magical practices.
First, there was the khat, physical body. Although not truly what we now think of as one of the subtle bodies, the physical body was none the less extremely important. It was the container of the higher bodies and their instrument for working on and influencing the physical world. As such, the physical body was respected and cared for and treated with the same level of importance as all the other bodies.
Overshadowing, existing within and enveloping the khat are a number of bodies composed of energies of various vibrational rates. The densest of these energy bodies was known as the khaibit, or the shadow. This roughly corresponds to what is now commonly known as the Etheric Double. This body supplies the energetic quality, or sekhem to the physical body. In magical practices this is the energy we use to perform magic, creating on the Yetziratic plane before it manifests into reality. This body is primarily for the preservation of the physical, and also the more base emotions such as survival, sustenance and procreation.
Next is the ka, the body of emotions. This body is close in function to the Astral body. This is the body that contains and experiences all emotional energy. This is the body that most people operate in, since the vast majority of common thoughts are based in emotions. Magically, while the khaibit is the vehicle of sekhem, the ka is the director of that energy. It is important to understand that every thought is an act of creation. Therefore, a ka that is trained to have only lower, baser thoughts will manifest exactly that. Through refinement of the emotions, and thereby the thoughts, is essential to all magical workings.
The ka is followed in subtlety by the ab, or heart (also known sometimes as the hati-ab, or outer heart). This is the beginnings of true thoughts. It functions in the form of knowledge and intellect. This is characterized by the processes of logic and reason. In modern metaphysics, this is what is known as the Lower Mental Body. Actually, there is only one mental body, but often there is distinction made between the lower and higher aspects of this body. Magically, this is the storehouse of correspondences, teachings and knowledge. Most things that can be written down originate from this body. Think of it as the source of knowledge that we use in magical preparations and workings.
Next is the ba, which the Egyptians called the soul. It functions as the Higher Mental Body. This is the source of inspiration and intuition. Higher mathematics, theoretical workings and abstract thinking are characteristic of this body, as are faith and religious inspiration. Normally there is very little use of this body by man, since the majority of people function in the ka and ab. In a magical sense, this is what connects us to the higher self. It is the source of channeled teachings and encounters with higher beings. This is also where we gain the understanding of the interconnectedness of all things.
The ba is is connected to the ka through the ab, and resides in the sah (sometimes sahu) or the spirit body. This spirit body is presided over by the khu, or spirit. This is our higher self. It is the point at which we know the divine intimately, and have full awareness of, yet are still aware of and able to function in the lower levels as well. This is typically the source of the slain and risen god stories such as Osiris and Jesus. In magic this is our higher self, seated in Tiphareth, which reflects to us the divine Light. While the Egyptians had many magical practices such as working with amulets and talismans for everyday issues, this was the highest focus and is reflected in the magical works of funeral rites such as Pert-Em-Hru (The Beginning of the Chapters of Coming Forth Into Light, also known as the Book of the Dead).
All of these were ruled over by khabs, which means star. It can also mean light. This is the divine spark that resides in each of us. It is the source of all life, and the truly eternal part of us. When we here the phrase Every man and woman is a star, this is what it is referring to. Ultimately it is the goal of ancient and modern Egyptian magic to allow this divine light to radiate through all of our bodies, illuminating our lives and through us the world.
Then, on top of all this, there is the Body of Light. Not a separate body, it is closer to a living aura that exists in and around the body. It is composed of several layers similar to the subtle bodies described earlier. It is roughly egg shaped and contains swirling of color in relation to thoughts and emotions. During the waking hours the Body of Light is centered on the body with the consciousness. However, at night, or times of controlled altered states of consciousness, it can separate itself and travel about on an astral or mental level although it is still always connected to the body. Once the practitioner has developed the proper awareness and the correct discipline and skills it is possible to move the consciousness into the subtle body and work within it.
Practices that help to develop the Body of Light into a useable vehicle for the consciousness include proper meditations, visualization and the psychic senses. Also, the Body of Light must be built up through the proper energy exercises or rituals. Some rituals, especially in the Ancient Egyptian tradition, are performed entirely with the Body of Light. It is also able to change its shape and can take on the energetic form of others, such as god-forms for rituals. While this is not as effective as calling forth the actual ka of the gods it is still useful and a good practice for newer students. Of course, this is only possible when an understanding and rapport has been established with the god-form.
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