Kingdom Hearts has quite an interesting mythos behind it, what with memories, personalities, hearts, and shadows and up ’til now, I’ve been pretty mystified by the whole thing. Until some of my research randomly led me to the ancient Egyptian view of the human soul. See, Egyptian mythology divides the soul into five parts…

Heart (Ib), Shadow (Sheut), Memories (Ren), Personality (Ba), and Life (Ka).

That’d be enough for some people, because I picked terms that closely parallel their use in the games. For those who are a bit more skeptical, I’ll go into some detail. Also, I did a quick Google search and discovered (not to much surprise) that I’m not the first person to puzzle this out. I’m sure it’s all over the place. Still, it’s new to me.

So, the heart. If you know much about Egyptian mummies, you know the heart is one of those vital organs they removed after you died, and placed in a little jar to bury separately. The heart, rather than the brain, was said to be the origin of a person’s thoughts and emotions, their determination, and their willpower.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise then, that the moment a person loses their heart (becoming one of the Heartless) that they become a mindless creature, devoid of intent or passion, wandering around until they’re eventually destroyed. It also shouldn’t surprise you then, that they’re pretty docile on their own.

The shadow is indistinguishable from a person. One cannot exist without the other. When you hear the villains rambling on about the darkness that exists in everyone, they’re talking about this shadow thing that can’t be separated from normal, mortal creatures. The shadow itself is a representation of a person, and vice versa.

I couldn’t find an easy source for more information about the shadow, but I imagine this was a major source of “creative reinterpretation.” I mean, the characters ramble on about light and darkness enough to make you sick of hearing about them. After a quick search, I found no negative connotations regarding the shadow.

Memories is the shorthand I chose to reflect the concept of a person’s name in Egyptian mythology. They practiced a little something similar to the concept of a person’s “true name,” seen in the myths and legends of other cultures. Having your name immortalized was one of the ways a soul remained on earth after they died.

Therefore, changing a person’s name was akin to rewriting the memories of a person. It seems the Egyptians were well acquainted with the idea of “history according to the victors.” You would remember your ancestors however you chose.

Your personality was a part of your soul, and it was what made you unique in all the world. Look no farther than the Nobodies, miscellaneous leftovers from when a personality separates from a body. (I checked a Kingdom Hearts wiki to confirm my assumptions about their nature and purpose. It’s annoyingly inconsistent.)

Finally, you have a person’s life force, which I assume is covered in some way by any one of the Kingdom Hearts games I haven’t played, which would technically been all but the first. I witnessed a fair amount of the second game, but haven’t played it through on my own. I’ll admit, some of my reasoning here is thin.

I don’t intend to write an essay, so I’m stopping here. I got what I was looking for, and any inconsistencies between the game series and Egyptian mythology can be seen as creative license taken by Square Enix. There are more than enough “coincidences” to determine a pretty definite link between them.