What Is the Difference Between A Spirit and A Ghost?

The distinction between spirits and ghosts extends beyond semantics and words alone, and into dimensions, beliefs, and cultural ideologies. Understanding the difference between spirits and ghosts delves into the essence of existence and the transition between corporeal and ethereal states, and can even impact your day to day.

In various cultural and spiritual contexts, the distinction between spirits and ghosts is paramount. The term ‘spirit,’ often represented by the Mandarin word ‘Shen,’ embodies an expansive, multi-dimensional, and energetic essence that links to the Dao (Tao) or Cosmic Life Force present in all things. Sometimes also referred to as Universal Intelligence or Source, it’s viewed as the source energy that under certain conditions materializes as a physical form. This broader definition of spirit extends beyond human existence, enveloping animals, plants, deities, mythical beings, elemental forces, ancestors, and is the essence of animacy, and what grants all things their vitality and distinctiveness.

On the contrary, ‘ghosts,’ epitomized by the Mandarin term ‘Guei,’ signify spirits of the deceased, especially those in a transitional phase between the earthly plane and the ethereal realms. Once transitioned to the Otherside, they then assume a more interconnected energy, and take on the title ‘spirit’. Beings described as ghosts are often entities who linger due to unresolved issues, unfulfilled desires, or a lack of acknowledgment regarding their transition from the mortal realm to the beyond-life reality. Ghostly apparitions might be rooted in unfinished business, unresolved emotions, or a reluctance to depart this 3D plane.

The fundamental distinction lies in the nature and state of existence. Spirits, as manifestations of energy and consciousness, are not limited by physical constraints, showcasing a timeless and boundless nature. They are continuous, evolutionary, and interconnected within the cosmic web of life. On the other hand, ghosts, specific to deceased individuals, often remain tethered to the earthly realm, and often to a specific place (such as a building or a landmark) due to energetic attachments or the lack of resolution that prevents it from moving on in Life’s Cosmic Wheel, and whereby hauntings can be palpably felt and noticed by living humans and animals.

Across cultural and spiritual practices, engaging with spirits or ghosts can take diverse forms. Shamans and shamanic practitioners, psychics, mediums, energy workers, and other spirit workers often commune with spirits for guidance, healing, spiritual insights, or continued connection, channeling their wisdom and energies to foster growth. This is because they themselves are able to tap into their own field of the Dao that connects to the larger field of existence, whether through spirit travel, channeling, or animistic communication such as with the Elements, or a combination. Ghostly encounters might involve communicating with restless spirits with the same methods listed above, but with the intent of seeking closure or assisting them in transitioning to the next phase of their soul’s journey. Communicating with spirits involve tuning into the wider Cosmic container; ghost-mediumship often is more boundaried and more focused on listening and speaking to the geographically rooted beings, such as the home, the land spirits, and the ghost(s) themselves.

In the Homing Coven, the coven-mates and I explore intuition, psychic development, and occultic work on a weekly basis. Learn more about what the Homing Coven HERE.