The soul is believed to be the animating presence within a person and represents the individual’s core identity, as distinguished from the physical body. It is thought to live on after death on this plane of existence and, depending on beliefs, lives in heaven, hell or purgatory, is reincarnated or is transformed into another living person, animal, plant or other organic material.

If a distinction is made between mind, body and spirit, soul refers to the essence of a person and spirit refers to the life force.

The concept of the soul is difficult to define as it differs according to belief systems. However, in almost all religious traditions, except Buddhism, it is believed to be immortal.

In spiritualism the soul is conceived of as discarnate and indivisible and each person is normally allocated one. The soul, however, can detach from the body and may leave it during out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences.

It is also the part of a person that is said to travel in the astral plane. In some cases apparitions are regarded as a reflection of the soul itself.