Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A spirit or spiritual being is a non-corporeal entity found in many religions and belief systems throughout the world. The word has many connections to the concept of the soul, with the difference that a spirit is not necessarily linked to a human or other corporeal being.
As the lowest level the only quality necessary of a spirit is that it is some kind of active force that is either invisible, or visible but immaterial, like the wind. In this sense a spirit does not necessarily have traits of personality, as do more specific kinds of spirit: soul or ghost or djinn. Hence words in English (spirit), Latin (spiritus), and Greek (pneumon) are all synonyms for 'air.'
In many belief systems, spirits are on the same plane of existence as "gods", though of much lesser magnitude. For example, Zeus was a god, and any given dryad was likewise accounted as a spirit in Greek mythology.
Many nature religions, such as animism, believe that everything found in nature has a personification, a spirit. These spirits may be prayed to, or in other ways coerced, in order to gain more favourable conditions. In such religions, magic is an integral part of reality, in effect the ability to communicate with the spirits.
Historically, spirits have been ascribed any number of powers, both over nature and over humans. Often a spirit's power is said to be linked with its purpose in creation.
In some parts of the world, spirits are believed to be able to possess humans and control their behaviour.
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