General - An immortal part of man and, in some authors, of animals. The idea of a soul appears in many religions and mythologies and is thought variously to reside in blood, the brain, the intestines or in such organs as the heart, liver or kidneys. (1) In some African societies, a man has four souls, women and children only three. One of these souls can leave the body during sleep. (2) In the East Indies, the Papuans say that the soul (sovai) survives death. (3) The Chinese envisage two types of soul, the hun and the p'o. Everybody has three hun (the spirit soul) and seven po (the spirit which maintains the body). (4) In Egypt, it was said that there were two souls; the ba which could leave the body and take any form, usually that of a bird, and the ka which lives on after death. (5) Early Hebrew lore tells of a three-part soul, comprising the neshemah, the refesh and the ruach. (6) The Malay soul (sumangat) is said to leave the body during illness. (7) Muslim lore says that all humans, animals and plants have souls. After death, the soul may live in the form of a white dove, sheltered by god's throne, though others say that souls are kept in the crops of green birds in heaven. (8) Some North American Indian tribes also believe in two souls - a small one in the heart which goes west at death and which can be reborn four times, and a lare soul. The latter was given by the hero, Wisaka, whereas the small soul is the gift of the supreme deity. Other tribes believe that the soul has a separate existence as a star. Still others believe that some animals have souls which leave the body finally only after it has been killed four times. (9) In Siberia, the Buriats say that there are three souls in each person; one dies, one becomes a ghost and one is reborn. (10) In South America, some equate the soul with a reflection in a mirror or in water, or with one's shadow; others say a person has several souls situated in various parts of the body. Some say there are only two souls, one kind, the other vicious. The soul is not always thought of as immortal. (11) In the West Indies, the Haitian zombie is the body of one whose soul has been taken over by a sorcerer who uses it to control them. In some references, known as soul.

Nearby Myths