Heathen Concept of the Soul

One concept that often comes up when discussing Heathenry is that of the soul. The curious will ask, "What happens to your soul when you die?" Non-Heathens often just ask, "Don't you care about your immortal soul?" These questions bring up a better question for those who don't know: What is the Heathen concept of the soul?

If you grew up in western civilization, you have probably been exposed to the Christian idea of the soul. Much of this is derived from the Jewish idea of the soul. In general, the Jewish belief is that all souls were created while the universe was created and that their God blows one into a person's body at the time of conception. They believe that the body is the means by which the soul can do good works and grow, thereby being worthy of rejoining God after death.

There are some differences between the Jewish ideas and the Christian ones. For example, many Christians in the United States believe that when they die they will become an angel. To the Jews, angels are a separate type of entity and, though you get to hang around with them, you don't become one.

Other cultures have different views. For example, the ancient Egyptians, and those who still follow that path, believe that the person is made up of five parts other than the body. They believe that the person's heart derives from the mother's heart at conception and that their Gods judge this after death. The even have one part, called the Ahk, that doesn't come into existence until they die and is made up of some of the other parts. Surprisingly, they consider a person's name to be part of the living entity, and erasing someone's name is a form of destruction.

The Egyptian concept is more in line with the Heathen concept of what makes up a person. We believe in nine parts, bound together by the Aethem or "Breath of Life". All of the parts you inherit from your parents. As long as your Aethem holds out, you are a living person in the Middle Garden.