What Is The Difference Between A Soul And A Spirit?

This is a question I have wondered about since I was a child. I have my own ideas and I have had people who tried to explain to me what they thought it was according to their church or beliefs.

I read in the Bible about souls and spirits but it just didnt seem clear to me. I used a concordance and read everything I could find with the words “soul” or “spirit”. The words seem to be used interchangeably almost.

I dont really comment or anything like that but I do read these questions and stuff a lot. I am hoping that someone could explain to me what the difference between a persons soul and spirit are – in a way that makes sense to me.

Thanks for reading

Asked by Dani

13 Comments
  1. Hello Dani,

    They have exactly the same meaning. People just use one or the other to describe the part of us that returns to God when we die.

    SOUL – 1) The spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or
    animal, regarded as immortal.
    2) A person’s moral or emotional nature or sense of identity.

    Synonyms – spirit – mind – psyche – heart – ghost

    SPIRIT – The nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of
    emotions and character; the soul.

    Synonyms – ghost – soul – mind – psyche

    SPIRIT also has many other meanings .. I wrote this to my facebook community the other day –

    1) spirit – a dead person who has gone into heaven (in comparison to ‘ghost’ who died and is earthbound)
    2) spirit – liveliness and energy
    3) spirit – alcohol
    4) spirit – demon
    5) spirit – God/Goddess as in Holy Spirit

    It’s no wonder people get confused.

    Love & Peace
    Ama Nazra

  2. LOL.. ok now I am confused.. I thought after your post of the difference between spirit and ghost .. I had it LOL.. but the break down of 1,2,3,4 and 5 has been sooo confused… more more Ms. Ama :)

    Blessings,
    Lisa

  3. Hey Lisa,

    The word ‘spirit’ gets abused constantly. We need to have only one word that means the eternal part of us, our ‘spirit’ selves. Let me expand on my comments above.

    People sometimes say –

    1) Let’s have a seance and talk to the ‘spirits’ (who they hope are dead people who have crossed into heaven and come back to visit once in a while, preferably someone famous that they can prove to their friends was real .. or scary as heck) …

    but .. you are more likely to get ghosts at a seance (dead people who never made it heaven) doing that. And stay away from OUIJA boards.

    2) “Let’s get into the ‘spirit’ of the occasion”.

    Become very cheerful like everyone else in the room, or morose .. or whatever the mood is, or join in their fun and games, whatever that might be. Like being ‘skyclad’ at a wiccan ceremony, or joining in the singing in church, heart full of love, arms raised to heaven. This is a mood, or action, not a ‘being’ of any sort.

    3) Let’s drink some spirit(s) (whisky, burbon, rum .. not beer).

    4) Demons, in the Christian Bible, are called ‘spirits’ too. Spirit of anger, spirit of hatred, spirit of jealousy etc

    5) Let’s ask Spirits’ help ..

    So either the person is going to talk to God (Spirit), the Holy Spirit (Spirit), by praying, or just sitting there having a chat, or going into meditation and calling up one of their ‘spirit’ guides (humans ‘in spirit’ (heaven) especially trained for the job). Yes, a human spirit, between lives, can train as a guide for other living spirits (people) in human bodies. They are all called ‘spirits’.

    6) Let’s pray to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

    They are all spirit(ual) beings. They don’t have bodies right now, that we know of.

    7) Let’s go and visit Spirit in the spirit planes.

    (Christian translation – hmm.. can’t really, they don’t believe in astral travelling .. ok, stretch the point a bit ..

    “Let’s go out of our bodies (leave the earthly bit of us behind for a little while) and visit Spirit (God/Holy Spirit) in the spirit(ual) planes (heaven)”.)

    Any less confused .. try this

    1) spirit – a dead person who has gone into heaven (positive)
    1a) in comparison to ‘ghost’ who died and is earthbound (negative) – they are both descriptions for human beings, but very different frequencies of energy.

    So use the term spirit for the happy energy and ghosts for the ones that haunt us at times.

    2) spirit – liveliness and energy – enthusiasm?

    3) spirit(s) – alcohol by the various names above. How they got called ‘spirits’ to start with I have no idea.

    4) spirit – demon .. its a demon, so call it a demon. Ghosts are people, they do not become demons. They can be just as nasty as a demon without having to change form or energy. Spirits, on the other hand, are reconnected to Source (God) and are full of LOVE.

    5) spirit – God/Goddess as in Holy Spirit

    The folk that needed to separate God from Christianity took the Holy out of Spirit, but its still the same entity.

    Angels aren’t spirits .. they are not human and never have been. Humans do not become angels. They are two separate streams of creation.

    What have I missed?

    AJ?

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  4. Thank you!! I think I have the understanding of the differences now… I really had not thought of ghost and spirit in those terms, but it makes a lot of sense.. I appreciate you breaking it all down for me Ms. Ama :) … I told ya’ll I was a little slow sometimes lol…very good explanations…

    Blessings,
    Lisa

  5. Can’t agree, Lisa. I have never noticed you being slow, and you come up with such great questions … :-)

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  6. A-Ha! Spirit explanations again (sorry, just catching up on this board!)

    Hi guys!

    Just to add a couple of things to Ama’s comprehensive breakdown of the noun, Spirit’

    Ama’s note 3) Spirit(s) – alcohol. Alcohol comes from the Arabic “al-kuhl” which was the name of a body-eating spirit. In fact, the English “ghoul” comes from the same word.

    When Arab alchemists’ ingested alcohol their senses deadened and they named the substance according to its “body-taking” qualities. Knowing this, European speakers who understood its etymology coined the use of the term “spirits” for alcohol.

    Angels come in the Spirit of God. Each angel is a part of God – a segment of God’s character if you like. They do not exist as individuals (unlike us) but rather as a part of a whole (think cog in a watch – it needs the cogs to work with it, in order to keep time.) Angels, unlike us, do not have free will in their own right.

    So, although we may refer to God as Spirit (Holy Spirit) because God is whole, the angels are not referred to as spirit, because they are not whole.

    Interestingly though, demon’s are considered to work independantly of each other and therefore, technically, would be considered a spirit in their own right. (Evil spirit). The reason for this is because those angels that fell, broke away from the God source thus became seperated from God the Whole.

    Bet you’re really confused now – lol!

    AJ
    x

  7. I really can’t do ‘ghouls’ .. yuck.

    Thank you, AJ, I didn’t know about the alcohol thing .. :-)

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  8. I sure do know my ‘spirits’ Ama – Hic!

  9. And I’m allergic to them. LOL

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  10. LOL.. ya’ll make me smile… and lol a lot… : )

    If I may ask a question on a movie.. “based” on true events”.. The Emily Rose story?… not her real name I know… my heart breaks when I try to go and google and research the claims of this sweet innocent girls death… my emotions sometimes over takes me and I find myself backing off on certain subjects.. but this one… with all the tears and wondering has me thinking… could this be a bad call by the Catholic Church… or was her suffering meant for a reason?.. I ask only because of the OP question.. What spirit or entity was present in this young girls life.. I mean she was a poor farm girl.. with friends and going into college… just don’t know the whys of it…

    Thanks again,
    Lisa

  11. Hi Lisa,

    The first question that comes to mind is ‘how much ‘truth’ was there in the ‘truth’ of the story behind the movie? When I do a little research, not having seen the movie, I find that the lady might have actually had schizophrenia, which can lead to all sorts of manic behaviour, and sensory hallucinations. She also suffered from epilepsy (grand mal seizures). The ‘demons’ she was supposed to be possessed by had very human names (hitler, judas, nero), but, as the Catholic Church believes that all spirits/ghosts are demons, which is not true, it is possible she was being haunted by a whole lot of ghosts, rather than demons .. and that can happen, but not often.

    She was not given medical attention, she was handed over to the priests to be exorcised. If what I read of her childhood was true, she was raised by an over-religious household, by a mother punished for having an illegitimate child, who Anneliese had to pray for (for forgiveness for the ‘sin’ of being born illegitimate?), particularly after the old girl died at eight. Was that a case of believing, as the church teaches, that the sins of the parents will be ‘visited’ upon the children?

    So a child in a fragile mental and physical state is told she is possessed, handed over to the church, who then confirm this ‘opinion’ (without medical backup or a psychiatrist’s report, from what I read) and continue to brainwash her into believing she’s possessed, and then exorcise her over and over again .. until she really believes she is, and acts in ways that she thinks will please her torturers (the priests), the more appalling the better, as time goes on, just to keep their attention. You could define that as ‘stockholm syndrome’, where the abused comes to see lack of bad treatment as a kindness. http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome

    According to the medical report she died of dehydration and starvation .. Quoting from the webpage – “She forced herself to fast because she believed that it would rid her of Satan’s influence. At the time of her death, she weighed only 68 lbs (telegraph.co.uk). Prior to her death, she had spoke of dying to atone for the sins of the wayward youth and apostate priests of the modern church (washingtonpost.com). ”

    Now that certainly shows church .. opinion. Who the heck filled her head full of that nonsense? Oh dear, who had the most control over her until she died?

    What happened to her afterwards – I wonder if she thought she would go to ‘hell’, because she hadn’t succeeded in ridding herself of ‘satan’s influence’. Thankfully her angels would have been waiting for her when she crossed, and would have escorted into the HEALING she really needed. Schizophrenia is a mental illness. It can make a person feel and think they are possessed, but they are not. But all mental illnesses still have social stigma to them, and people were often hidden away because of it – and schizophrenia is one that starts in children, as does depression, psychosis, paranoia .. hopefully, these days, people are handed over to doctors and not the church .. when their families search for a cure.

    What ‘spirits’, Lisa. Her human spirit guides. What ghosts .. we shall never know, because the church doesn’t know how to clear people of ghosts, that I can see .. if you call a ghost a demon you misname it and it doesn’t have to leave. Call it for what it is, a very confused human who never crossed into heaven .. and you can make sure it gets there. It’s harder with demons, but it’s still possible to help people rid themselves of them, if they want to. Sometimes the fight is in getting the person to ‘want to’ be free, when the demon is busy supplying them with whatever they ask for, while strangling, or poisoning, people that the ‘victim’ of the demon considers enemies. I hope that sentence makes sense? LOL

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  12. Hmm .. I missed a bit ..

    .. and what demons? Perhaps none at all. Just one fragile person, physically, emotionally and spiritually abused in order to save her ‘soul’, not her life ..

    Her soul was never in jeopardy – that always belongs to God, regardless of what happens our bodies.

    And sadly, her abusers, the priests and parents, never went to prison. I wonder what her life would have been like if she’d been recognised as schizophrenic and given medication instead of abuse? Perhaps she might have had an almost normal existence?

    And then some person has to come along and make a horror movie out of it? Dear God.

    Love & Peace
    Ama

  13. Hi yu, Lisa

    Glad we brighten up your day! LOL!

    I’m with Ama on the ‘Emily Rose’ story. The problem I have with possession being the blame in this case, is that no less than 67 exorcism sessions took place, yet they all failed to solve the problem. A trained exorcist, having true Faith simply would not ‘fail’ to expel a demon 67 times in a row over a period of 10 months. Not even if the spirit in question were the Big Cheese, Dark Lord itself that they were attempting to drive out. Demon’s are driven out in the name of God. All of them. They must retreat. It’s some kind of ancient ‘Cosmic Lore’. I don’t why it works; it just works (provided the exorcism is exercised correctly).

    The only way that so many exorcisms in a row would fail is if
    a)the Exorcist’s in question did not have Faith
    b)there were no demons or ghosts to exorcise.
    But, from what I have read about the case, the exorcists in question did have Faith. So there lyeth the problem. No demons!

    Anneliese Michel was, based on accounts, brought up in a staunch Catholic environment where the fear of demons, Satan, God and all other spiritual hokum-pokum was drummed into her from an early age. Add the confusion we all experience at some degree when we hit puberty and Wham! something ‘switched on’ inside her head causing all kinds of confliction and total removal from reality. Schizophrenia or some other kind of mental health issue, or even a hormonal imbalance, in my view, may well have been the root the problem all along.

    This case does sadden me deeply because, although there are demons, malicious ghosts and even elementals that can attempt to twist us and cause confusion and anxiety, equally there are medical conditions that can manifest themselves the same way. I believe some palimony health tests were done on Anneliese, but I think the family, and even Anneliese herself were so convinced her suffering was at the hands of Satan rather than medical, other avenues were not explored in any depth. This was a mighty error, ultimately costing a young woman her life, because a lot the problems and afflictions experienced by Anneliese were psychosomatic – in my view, anyway.

    AJ
    x

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