What did Ancient Egyptians Believe About Ghosts and Spirits?
Ancient Egyptian beliefs in the afterlife and ghosts consistently changed over more than a couple thousand years, but belief in the existence of the human soul after the physical body perishes has remained a standard throughout time.
Early ancient Egyptians thought that part of the human soul was made up of a separate entity not unlike other religions' beliefs in a god giving life to all people. This "other" part of man was described as "light" and called, "Khu." Later, the definition of Khu would morph into a word for ill-spirited ghosts that possess the bodies of the living for purposes of torment (sort of a more scary meaning, similar to popular beliefs in demons, if you will).
These ancient Egyptian beliefs in the soul and spirit would later become more complex and consist of 5 parts: the heart (thoughts and feelings), shadow (we can assume this to mean the darker or negative nature of man), soul (the personality known as "Ba"), spirit (the life-giving source known as "Ka") and name. When the body expires, the Ba and Ka were believed to be back together, again, and called the "Akh." It is the Akh that is said to be the spirits (or possibly ghosts) of Egyptian people. The Akh could be either a blessing or curse upon the living, effectively interacting with people to affect their feelings, both positively or negatively. Akh, Egyptian "ghosts," have been blamed for things such as bad dreams, ailments and mental suffering. This idea would be very similar to modern spiritual beliefs in "ghost attachments."
Sightings of ghosts in Egypt have, of course, been reported and documented over many centuries. Curses of people being condemned to walk the desert as disembodied spirits have been some of the more interesting tales of Egyptian haunting. Pharaoh Akhenaten was purportedly condemned by priests who, after his passing from this world, cursed him to be trapped as a ghost who must walk the Earth for the rest of time. Consequently, sightings of Akhenaten still surface, even today; whether or not these are true ghost sightings of the ancient Pharaoh cannot be confirmed. After all, his banishment took place some 3300 years ago!
In contrast, in some ancient beliefs of Egypt, the ghost or spirit of the person would live with the body in its tomb. This is why food would be interred along with other items the person might potentially need in the aftelife. The tombs of Egyptian mummies might also contain a small statue, made to look like them, as a backup plan should the body ever be destroyed. The spirit of the person was said to transfer to the statue in such a case.
Interestingly, in 2013, a strange report surfaced in England about a 10" statue taken from a mummy's tomb and the possible spirit activity attached to it. The Egyptian relic, on display for 70 years in the same spot on a glass shelf at the Manchester Museum, began slowly turning away from visitors. Time-lapsed video recorded the statue-turning phenomenon multiple times. It was revealed that the icon, placed in a row among 3 other statuettes from tombs, moved slowly during museum visitation hours. This has led some scientists to believe that vibrations from people walking near the display might have caused the stone statue to rotate 180 degrees on the smooth, glass surface. But others have asked, if true, why has the ghost-like trick taken 7 decades to suddenly begin happening? Is it a discontent spirit within the effigy? No one knows, for sure.