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The Eight Components of the Soul in Aether - (Ancient Egyptian concept of the soul)


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Hello again, today I’m bringing a little brain food for you all to chew on. 🧠

@anonymous mentioned in a recent discussion the various different depictions of a “soul” we see through the Aether story.

Which prompted some digging.
After some research, I realised that every different depiction of the mind/body/soul we see through the story relates to a section of the soul as viewed by the ancient Egyptians.

(that’s right, these guys who made a very brief cameo in the Buried intro cutscene)


All these aspects were considered “different” parts of the soul from the perspective of the Ancient Egyptians.
However they have been used to depict the “entire” soul in various other religions and media.

So, they could very well all just be different ways of depicting the same thing by Treyarch. A single "soul" not segmented.
Or not. That’s up to you to decide. 


All quotes come from this Wikipedia page, through which you can find the academic references. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_conception_of_the_soul)
All screenshots are from the video games, comics and related media released by Treyarch. Sources are given above each image.

The Eight Components of the Soul


Khet(physical body)

“The physical form had to exist for the soul (Ka / Personality) to have intelligence or the chance to be judged by the guardians of the underworld.
Therefore, it was necessary for the body to be preserved as efficiently and completely as possible.”

Preservation of the physical human body...

While initially it might seem that this is the clearest cut of the components, it is actually one of the more complicated.
For the main reason that, unlike some of the other components, the depictions of this all relate to partially or completely unexplained sections of the lore.

1) The “Cryogenic Slumber Party”, achievement from Moon.
2) The comic book remake of the “Nacht” loading screen (below)
3) The Gorod Krovi Cipher #1 which relates the cryo-pods to the “Nuketown” drill, and blood vial “sequencing”. (the “drill” and “sequencing” not being understood either)
“We will keep the individuals in stasis, on ice to speak, and continue the specimen rotation once we finish drawing more power from the drill.
Oh, I almost forgot, the sequencing for the current blood samples is as follows: SSMJABR”


Visual examples:

Call of Duty - Zombies #6



Tag Der Toten



Call of Duty - Zombies #3




Sah (spiritual body)
"Spiritual representation of the physical body"


Not much to go on for this one.
In most interpretations these appear as humanoid “ghosts”. Much like we see in MOTD and BOTD.


Visual examples:


Mob of the Dead



Blood of the Dead








Ib (heart)

This is where things get really interesting.

“In the Egyptian religion, the heart was the key to the afterlife.
It was essential to surviving death in the nether world, where it gave evidence for, or against, its possessor.”


image.png image.png


I won’t get too deep into the weeds here.
But basically, a theory that some of us have been workshopping is that (ignoring the AO/Tag rewrites) the elemental shards (one of which we see in the comics) are the “hearts” of various characters, the elemental shards (that we see in Origins) are related to these.
And the elements relate to the colours of 115 we see through the story. (Red Blue Green etc)
I'll leave it at that, and avoid any more sidetracking.

We see a “version” of this they used in AO/Tag with the elemental shard being the “souls” of our four characters bound into one “object” or “element” which was then that fabric of spacetime. (Or something along those lines, don’t quote me on AO/Tag stuff)

The key relation though is the line “It was essential to surviving death”, as the nature of the shard (/s) is what keeps the cycle going, and is (as the quote says) the real thing keeping the four “alive”.

The other relation is “it gave evidence for, or against, its possessor”.
Which is exactly what we see with various music easter eggs (Kino, Origins etc).
In the easter eggs the 115 (/elements /hearts) plays a song which reveals the true feeling or thoughts of whichever character is bound to that element/shard/heart.


Visual examples:

Call of Duty - Zombies #2


Origins (song “Archangel”)



Kino der Toten (song “115”)


Shangri La (we see here any early prototype of the idea of the elements as “hearts” back when the story was less defined)








Ka (vital essence)

“Ka was the Egyptian concept of vital essence, which distinguishes the difference between a living and a dead person”


Very simple one here.
The “vital essence” being present in a dead human body without the other elements of the soul causes reanimation and “zombification”.
The essence is an energy source, that we can extract, as seen in various maps.


Visual examples:


Origins (soul boxes)



Shadows of Evil (charging the eggs)









Ba (personality)
𓅽 was everything that makes an individual unique, similar to the notion of 'personality'.
It is sometimes depicted as a human-headed bird flying out of the tomb to join with the Ka in the afterlife”


This one we see only a few times, mostly in BOTD.
Thematically though it is mentioned various times.
Specifically the “flying out of the tomb to join with the Ka in the afterlife” part is reference by the “Escape from the tomb” poster.
The one we see in the House and ,more importantly, in that very same BOTD where the “bird” spirit forms are featured.


Visual examples:


Blood of the Dead (bird spirit form)


Blood of the Dead (heavy handed thematic reference to the function of the bird spirit form with the "Escape from the Tomb" poster)






Shut (shadow)
"Egyptians surmised that a shadow contains something of the person it represents.
Through this association, statues of people and deities were sometimes referred to as shadows.
Another form the shadow assumes (is as) an object which would create a shadow."


As with the Physical “cryo” components, this relates to an area of the story that is still being debated.
And as you can tell from the quote it’s not completely understood by historians either.

However, examples of this manifestation can be seen during the eclipses of various maps (Der Riese, The Giant, Shangri La) “object which would create a shadow”.
We also see it related to the “evil Samantha” spirit in the Classified poster (half her face is in deep shadow with the eclipse Moon for an eye).

While there is clearly something to this, the concept of “Shut” is not very well understood.
It seems likely to me that this concept was merged with different philosophical ideas, such as the “duality of man”.
For example, in “Shockwave” (from the aforementioned Classified) there are various relevant quotes, such as “evil” Samantha claiming to be a “shadow”, as well main “duality” references such as “noon and midnight, turn endlessly”.

I won’t go any deeper into this one for now.


Visual examples:


The Giant (Moon casting a shadow)



Shangri La ("object" casting a shadow)



Classified Poster (lots of relevant symbolism here, more can be found in “Shockwave”)








Sekhem (form)

“Little is known about the Egyptian interpretation of this portion of the soul. Many scholars define Sekhem as the living force or life-force of the soul which exists in the afterlife after all judgement has been passed.”


Here the real word understanding matches our understanding in the context of Aether.
Little is known”.
I would put forward the children in the House as a potential example, but not with any certainty.


(Potential) Visual examples:


The Gift (Director’s Cut)






Ren (name)

“As a part of the soul, a person's name was given to them at birth and the Egyptians believed that it would live for as long as that name was spoken.
Which explains why efforts were made to protect it and the practice of placing it in numerous writings.”


In Aether this concept has seen some overlap with Lovecraftian concepts of the name (especially in BO3 onwards).

This concept being that knowing someone’s true name gives you power over them, especially in the case of demons.

Examples that spring to mind are Nyarlathotep disguising his true name as Tony "hale' Rapt as revealed in Gorod Krovi cipher #11.

And also, Richtofen carving his name in Shangri La, which relates more to the Ancient Egyptian angle we’re looking at here.


Visual examples:


Shangri La




Akh (intellect)

“Relative to the afterlife, akh represented the deceased, who was transfigured and often identified with light. It was associated with thought, but not as an action of the mind; rather, it was intellect as a living entity. It was associated with thought.”

We have a pretty clear example of this one.
The spirit form of Gersh in Ascension and Gorod Krovi. In the easter egg we assist SOPHIA is extracting information from him.
Information from learned experience, that would logically reside in the “intellect” rather than other areas of the soul.

Visually, as a ball of light, he is clearly “identified with light”.
We also hear him thinking out loud, and he talks to us during the easter egg, unlike other soul forms we encounter.
Clearly a manifestation of “intellect” in my view.  

Another example is the light orb "soul" form we take when fast traveling in BOTD. 
As with Gersh, it is clear that this orb form transports our intellect and memory.
These orbs can also talk and are aware of their surroundings, much like Gersh.


Visual examples:


Gorod Krovi (Gersh's "intellect" in its non-corporeal (soul) form)


Blood of the Dead (playable character's "intellect" in its non-corporeal (soul) form)









That’s all I have on this topic.
Please add any ideas and stuff in the comments.
This is a really big topic and I tried to be as brief as I could to avoid it getting any longer than it is already…
So I hurried over a few parts and missed some entirely. (brains in jars etc etc)

Some related topics I might tackle in the future are the Ancient Egyptian “Book of going forth by day” (which has some strong connections to “Remember Forever”) and other sections from the “Book of the Dead”.
Until then, thanks for reading. 



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Great topic! There are more, less obvious references to Egyptian mythology in Zombies. One of them is a sign which is believed to be the Eye of Horus in Samantha's room.


Can you see it above the shelf? Horus was a god whose right eye was the sun and left eye was the moon, which reminds me of something else:


Horus is the god of heaven. The Sekhem (life force) doesn't reside with the Khet/physical body, but in heaven among the stars and gods. "It (Sekhem) is defined in a Book of the Dead as the "power" and as a place within which Horus and Osiris dwell in the underworld". In my opinion, this would fit quite well with the House, where we see Horus' symbol. The House can be considered as some kind of 'heaven' where the Sekhem of the children reside, even though their physical mature bodies (Khet) live in real universes.


Another, more questionable appearance of Egyptian mythology is thought to be found in Shangri-La's track Pareidolia:


"My nine eyes are fading by the blight"


Nine Eyes is another way to refer to the Nine Realms, or nine facets of the soul. Another connection with your theory?


Anyway, I am quite sure that the developers at one point stumbled upon the Egyptian conception of soul. The distinguishment between the appearance of a multitude of soul-types to us (House children form, Gersh-form, MotD afterlife-form, life force a la Origins chests, MPD cannister and Apothicon egg form, Avogadro form, etc) makes it clear that indeed there are different kind of souls in this story

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