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Evolution of the Dragon, by G. Elliot Smith, [1919], at


On re-reading the discussion of the significance of the ka I realize that, in striving after brevity and conciseness—to keep the size of my statement within the limits of the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, generously elastic though it is—I have left the argument in a rather nebulous form.

It must not be imagined that a concrete-minded people like the ancient Egyptians entertained highly abstract and ethereal ideas about "the soul". They recognized that all the expressions of consciousness and personality could cease during sleep; and at the same time the phenomena of dreams seemed to afford evidence that these absent elements of the individual's being were enjoying real experiences elsewhere. Thus there was an alter ego, identified by this matter-of-fact people with the twin (placenta) which was born with the child and was clearly concerned with its physical and intellectual nourishment—for it was obviously connected by its stalk to the embryo like a tree to its roots, and it seemed to be composed of blood, which was regarded as the vehicle of mind. But this intellectual "twin" kept pace in its growth with the physical body. When a statue was made to represent the latter the ka could dwell in the real body or the statue.

The identification of the placenta with the moon helped the growth of the conception that this "birth-promoter" could not only bring about a re-birth in the life to come, but also facilitate a transference to the sky-world. The placenta had already been superintending the deceased's welfare upon earth and would continue to do so when he rejoined his ka in the sky world.

The complexity of the conception is due to the fact that the simple early belief in "a double" was gradually elaborated, as one new idea after another became added to it, and rationalized to blend with the former complex in an increasingly involved synthesis. It was only when the

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elaborate scaffolding of material factors was cleared away that a more ethereal conception of "the soul" was sublimated.

Next: Appendix B