Akh Ba Ka Picture

In Egyptian mythology, the human soul is made up of five parts: the Ka, the Ba, the Akh, the Sheut, and the Ren. During life, the soul, including those of animals, and of gods, was thought to inhabit a body (named the Ha, meaning flesh).

Akh (Alternative: Khu)
The Akh (meaning shiner), was a concept that varied over the long history of egyptian belief. It was, at first, the unchanging unification of Ka and Ba, which united after the death of the physical body. In this sense, it was a sort of ghost. The Akh was then a part of the Akh-Akh, the panoply of Akhs from other people, gods and animals. In this system, it was the aspect of a person that would join the gods in the underworld being immortal and unchangeable.
In later belief, the Ka was considered to change into the Akh and Ba after death, rather than uniting with the Ba to become the Akh. At this stage, it was believed that the Akh spent some time dwelling in the underworld before returning and being reincarnated as a Ka, gaining a new Ba.

The separation of Akh / unification of Ka and Ba was created after death, by having the proper offerings made and knowing the proper efficacious spell, but there was an attendant risk of dying again. Egyptian funerary literature (such as the Coffin Texts and the Book of the Dead) were intended to aid the deceased in "not dying a second time" and becoming an akh.

Ba (soul/personality)
The Ba (b3) is in some regards the closest to the Western notion of the soul, but it also was everything that makes an individual unique, similar to the notion of personality.

Ka (corporal presence/life force)
The Ka (k3) was the concept of life force, the difference between a living and a dead person, death occurring when the ka left the body. The Ka was thought to be created by Khnum on a potter's wheel, or passed on to children via their father's semen.
Charon crossing the Styx
Akh Ba Ka
Belly Dance Pluto Inks