As an attempt to make up a little for my complete absence this last month or so, here’s a little bit I just wrote – a bit of introduction to my new book project, dealing with the theology of the ka in what I hope will be practical and accessible terms.
(Unlike the Guide, I do not expect this one to be more full of jokes than my ordinary conversation.)
Sometime when I was a child – I do not know where or when – I saw a particular bit of line art somewhere in a book. The large figure was a seated man with the head of an animal I did not recognise, with wavy horns extending straight out on either side of his head. He stretched his hands out over a pair of human figures that appeared to be standing on a low table. I loved that drawing with the uncomplicated affection of a child: the gentle smile on the animal muzzle seemed so kind, so gracious, so benevolent. He seemed to me to care deeply for the little naked people standing on the table.
I did not really know – at any meaningful level – that this was a drawing of a god. I just knew, with that profound and clear simplicity, that the strange man seemed like a nice man. Gods, when I thought of them, were the lavishly illustrated humanoids of my D’Aulaires, whose stories were detailed by Edith Hamilton in her Mythology, or the mysterious figure that was explained to me in church sermons, who didn’t appear to have any particular interest in me, and thus lost my interest in return.
I got older. I learned things. I forgot things.
Somewhere along the line I learned that the two naked figures were standing on the potter’s wheel, and they were a human body and that body’s double or ka. I didn’t have the theology for what that meant, really, or a lot of interest in taking it deeper; I filed it away in the packrat-nest of information in my skull and carried on with my life.
When I stumbled into Kemetic religion, I turned back towards that friendly man with the strange head, which I had learned belonged to an extinct species of ram.
I returned in the end to Khnum, the first god I had ever loved, the craftsman of the ka.