The noumenal self—consciousness and will—is attached to the body by prana, the thing that is neither mind nor matter but unites the two. The prana that unites your particular mind and body is as thoroughly aspected with your identity as possible. If you could manage to cast it forth, or the bulk of it, it would quite naturally be, as much as possible, a duplicate of you formed of prana. This duplicate, made of your vital energy, is called the "ka" in the Egyptian anatomy of the soul, plural "ka'u." The ka is the basis of many supernatural phenomena.
The ka is the astral body. If the caster performs astral projection, they are using the ka as their own body and cannot cast a ka in addition – unless they can cast more than one ka. Like a ghost, a ka or an astral projector can fly, and can choose whether to be visible or palpable.
Astral projection is the central skill of [link: shamanism], allowing the shaman to move through realms other than the material plane, and to encounter spirits on their own terms, with all the advantages and risks of being discarnate. A shaman in astral form is like a high-powered ghost with no trace of death trauma; the only difference is the trace of prana left in the body, the "silver cord" leading back home. If that is lost, the shaman _is_ a ghost and the body dies.
It is possible to take over one's ka while awake&emdash;to walk and talk normally while astrally projecting. This allows one to be effectively in two places at once. However, it takes a lot of concentration, so it is most usually found among saints and other such people who cultivate a lot of serenity and the austerities that let them build up lots of prana.
It is commoner to cast a ka unconsciously. You then have a ghost of yourself walking about, possibly appearing and doing what you would do, sometimes anticipating your actions. This is a doppleganger.
Up to this point, we have only considered ka'u that look like the caster. But sometimes a ka takes animal form. Astral projection in animal form is therianthropy. (Or most therianthropy. Actual physical transformation into an animal is much rarer.) Werewolves and other werebeasts are typically animal-shaped astral bodies of (usually malign) shamans, sometimes worn over the real body as a cloak of illusion and "power armor."
Some groups have a magical affinity for some particular animal species, as part of totemism, and their ka'u may sometimes or always take the form of that animal. The [link:Benandante] are a shamanistic clan in which the men can do astral projection in wolf shape. [link: Roanoac] shamans project as wolverines.
A familiar is a spirit assistant, typically in animal form, and might, in its own nature, be any of a number of things. Like "vampire," "familiar" is a job description, not a species. One form of familiar is a ka in servant mode and in animal form.
The role of familiar puts a ka in a social relationship with its caster. Besides running errands, it can also be a sounding-board for the caster, though it is unlikely to come up with any new insights. Sometimes, a ka familiar acts as the caster's "shadow" in the Jungian sense, saying and doing things that the caster would like to do but does not for prudential or social reasons. Normally, this just means the ka makes acidulated remarks to the caster, saying what the caster himself thinks or is near to thinking. But then, normally, a ka obeys its caster; if the ka does not, the caster can have a more serious problem than a mouthy sidekick.
A fylgia is an animal-shaped protective spirit, in Scandinavian folklore. It might be a friendly fay or ghost, or it might be the subject's own ka in protective mode and in animal form. The roles of fylgia and familiar can blur, though a fylgia is typically unseen by and unknown to its master.
Some ghosts are [link: orphaned ka'u]. A complete ka-ghost is hard to distinguish from the true active spirit, having all the memories and skills of its original. But it cannot change its mind, develop its character, or even learn new skills, and when it is "laid" (exorcized, its haunting put to an end), it simply ends, or perhaps is claimed by the actual soul that cast it.
Ka-ghosts are just as much commodities of the ghost trade as are truly animated ghosts. The ghost- hunters and ghost-drinkers do not differentiate between the two forms of ghost.
One need not cast a complete duplicate when casting a ka. One can limit the range of memories, goals, or skills the ka gets. This can save time or effort, or can be done to maintain security in case the ka is captured by an enemy, or can enhance the focus of a ka sent on an errand.
Some spells are actually very heavily edited ka'u. For instance, a curse that seems to inflict the curser's specific sense of evil humor and style may be a partial ka. It does have the curser's sense of humor and style, a sufficient list of the curser's magical powers, and nothing else to do except plague the target. The curser, meanwhile, need know nothing of what goes on.
The same mechanics apply to ka-based blessings, aegises (specifically protective blessings), and wishes.
Pallia (sing. pallium) are partial ka'u, endowing the wearer with a package of skills, powers, knowledge (often instinctive, latent, or unconscious), and geases. "Pallium" is the formal term; "mark" is used as an informal term. A pallium that confers authority, either by social recognition or by magical gift of command, is called a "mantle." The curse of vampirehood and mantles of magical kingship are the best-known pallia. Getting a pallium, either voluntarily or involuntarily, is surgery on your soul and so always a major or defining event in one's life.
A great many gods are djinn or elves who have acquired and managed to "pull"/upload/merge with an eldilic ka as a pallium. Adding to the confusion of what you are meeting when you meet a "god," some gods are the powerful ka'u of still more powerful beings – beings that may or may not have asuumed the role of gods before casting the ka'u. These independent ka'u can themselves cast multiple ka'u, in mutating cascades of divinity.
Few humans or prosaic animals can cast more than one ka. Djinn, on the other hand, can usually cast three to seven ka'u. Furthermore, ka-casting is a normal activity with them, not a freakish, paranormal event or an act of exotic magic; ka'u are a normal part of djinnish life, and djinn are held responsible for the actions of their ka'u.
The ka-casting abilities of the Inkliverse races are as follows:
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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010