John Dee and Edward Kelley invoking the spirit of a deceased person (engraving from the Astrology by Ebenezer Sibly, 1806).

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The Halloween season is full of spooks and specters, sometimes for fun and sometimes for fright. But different religions have firm views on whether or not ghosts actually exist, and if they do, how humans should or should not interact with them. Here’s what some online research gleaned on the subject.

Roman Catholic

• When someone dies, their spirit goes to heaven, hell or purgatory.

• Ghosts are not spirits of the dead but malevolent spirits or demons.

• Attempt to contact spirits is strictly forbidden.

Jehovah's Witnesses

• When someone dies, their spirit is powerless and is unable to interact with the living world.

• Demons or unclean spirits deceive humans by posing as spirits of the dead to keep believers from worshiping Jehovah.

• Attempt to contact spirits is strictly forbidden.


• There are realms in which spirits exist.

• In the absence of specific biblical evidence, the church does not speculate on whether ghosts exist or not.

• Lutherans do believe in biblical teaching against occultism and contacting dead.

Latter-day Saints

• No firm doctrine on whether ghosts exist.

• Spirits contacted by mediums are most likely demons or devils who were cast out of heaven during the rebellion.

• Some LDS leaders have speculated that the spirits of those who have passed on are not far from the living.

• Occultism, seances, Ouija boards, spiritualism are tools of Satan and are to be avoided.


• Once a person dies, their soul remains in the grave and a barrier is set up. They cannot return to the place of the living, neither can they ascend to heaven or hell just yet.

• There are jinn, which are another creation of Allah, that live in a world parallel to humans. They are physically invisible and possess powers including taking on different physical forms.

• Jinn can sometimes appear as “ghosts” in an attempt to lead people astray.


• When a person dies, their spirit is divided into three aspects. One goes to heaven shortly after death, one wanders around the physical plane seeking the body it came from and will eventually fade away and another remains by the buried body forever.

• A dybbuk is a ghost of a deceased person who will possess another human for malevolent purposes.

• An ibbur is a ghost of a deceased person who will “impregnate” itself in a human for benevolent purposes. They can be thought of as a spiritual guide or guardian angel. When the person no longer needs them, the spirit will leave on its own accord.


• Both Tibetan Buddhists and Indian Buddhists believe in ghosts.

• Ghosts occupy a distinct, overlapping world.

• A person can be reincarnated as a ghost meant to work out bad karma. These are often called hungry ghosts, described as having bloated bellies and tiny mouths with which they cannot feed their overwhelming hunger.

• A person can also be reincarnated as a ghost called a devas who will live a comfortable life.


• Many Hindus believe in ghosts.

• Ghosts are often associated with people who had unnatural deaths, like a murder or an accident, and those dead people were not given proper Hindu death rituals like Shraadha or Tarpan.

• These ghosts cannot possess people and can become officially dead by having their death rituals performed.

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