The ancient Egyptians postulated seven souls.

Top soul, and the first to leave at the moment of death, is
Ren the Secret Name. This corresponds to the Director. He
directs the film of your life from conception to death. The Secret
Name is the title of your film. When you die, that's where Ren
came in.


Second Soul, and second one off the sinking ship, is Sekem.
Energy, Power, Light. The Director gives the orders, Sekem
presses the right buttons.

Number three is Khu, the Guardian Angel. He, she, or it is
the third man out...depicted as flying away across a full moon,
a bird with luminous wings and head of light. Sort of thing you
might see on a screen in an Indian restaurant in Panama. The
Khu is responsible for the subject and can be injured in his
defense--but not permanently, since the first three souls are
eternal. They go back to Heaven for another vessel. The four
remaining souls must take their chances with the subject in the
Land of the Dead.

Number four is Ba, the Heart, often treacherous. This is a
hawk's body with your face on it, shrunk down to the size of a
fist. Many a hero has been brought down, like Samson, by a
perfidious Ba.

Number five is Ka, the Double, most closely associated with
the subject. The Ka, which usually reaches adolescence at the
time of bodily death, is the only reliable guide through the
Land of the Dead to the Western Lands.

Number six is Khaibit, the Shadow, Memory, your whole
past conditioning from this and other lives.

Number seven is Sekhu, the Remains.


--Norman Mailer--

(as paraphrased in The Western Lands by William S. Burroughs)

see also Egyptian Mythology

Novel by Norman Mailer set in Ancient Egypt. Includes descriptions of the different souls and their journeys through the land of the dead and encounters with the Gods. The book is highly scatological including descriptions of male rape, and much earthy ordinary sex. It tells the story of Menenhetet, a courtier of the Pharaoh who has lived three separate incarnations, as a soldier, priest and soldier again.

Epic novel by Norman Mailer, set (mostly) in the Egypt of Ramses the Great. The book has two rather confusing and unneccesary framing stories, the first detailing how the nominal protagonist is travelling through the afterlife, and the other dealing with a night that he was at the Pharoahs court, with his great grandfather (a courtier), telling tales of his first incarnation.

The main body of the story is the great grandfather's tale, telling how in a previous life he rose to power in the steamy, violent, yet beautiful and heroic society og Egypt. This functions more as a way to tell various tales of ancient Egypt then to tell a straight narrative. Some mysteries and plots unfold, and there is a good amount of intrigue and treachery, but these still come across as almost secondary to Norman Mailer's not inconsiderable descriptive talent.

On the plus side, this book is interesting for the entire 800 or so pages. And the amount of detail that he puts into describing a three thousand year old civilization shows a lot of research and a lot of imagination, more what I would expect from a fantasy writer than from a writer who has built up a reputation for being hard nosed. The book is really a total immersion in the atmosphere of royalty in Ancient Egypt.

On the other hand, he seems to use the book to grind some of his own psychosexual axes, and there seems to be a lot about anal sex and incest. I am sure for that in the pre-asstr days, people needed to go to literature to get such information, but in our more enlightened days, we can use the net for pr0n and use literature for literature.

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