A supernatural force of nature, discarnate entity or the animating essence within our physical bodies; sometimes referred to as soul but not precisely the same as the soul. Spirits can also represent places, such as the spirits of lakes, trees, mountains and sacred sites.

Spirit is the divine essence of who we are, an indivisible part of the three aspects of human existence: mind, body and spirit. In many belief systems the spirit survives death and can be contacted by a medium on our plane of existence.

Spirits are commonplace in the religions and folklores of the world and come in a multitude of shapes and forms, such as fairies, elves, demons and angels. In some cultures they are also thought to personify characteristics and forces of nature, which are worshiped. They are believed to exist in an invisible realm but can be seen by persons with clairvoyance. They are also thought to intervene at times in the affairs of humanity, for better or for worse.

The term is often used to describe all non-physical entities, including ghosts, but a spirit is not strictly speaking the same as a ghost even though the distinction between the two is sometimes vague. Spiritualism refers to a belief in the immortality of the soul and to communication with spirits of the dead. According to medium Arthur Ford, spirit was ‘nothing more than the stream of consciousness of a personality with which we are familiar in every human being. This is what survives death not as a spiritual wraith but as an oblong blur.’ Society for Psychical Research founder Frederick Myers suggested in his book Human Personality and Its Survival After Death (1903) that the spirit is the unknown part of a man’s personality, ‘which we discern as operating before or after death in the metetherical environment’.