Classification of Spirits

I’m quite aware that things like Ouija boards and other attempts to “channel” spirits are dangerous and forbidden, and for good reason. I understand why. We have no business dabbling in things we know nothing about and have not been given the sense to discern rightly.

Having said that, I do have a question. Does the Church teach whether or not there are any spirits other than the spirits of humans (including both the living and the dead) and of the angels (which includes both the fallen and those still in friendship with God)? Are there any intelligent spritual beings that are neither angels nor devils nor the souls of human beings but that communicate with humans? Are these spirits either good or bad but never anything in-between? I don’t know what you’d call them, but it would include fairies and, well, I’m not sure what. People have some odd experiences that they did not ask for and could not be morally culpable for–I’m speaking of near-death experiences and the like–and sometimes they don’t seem to fit into any particular category. Is the teaching “just don’t go there” or is there a definitive “no, you’re either dealing with an Angel, which you will know by X, or else you are dealing with a demon or something controlled by a demon, which is all things not X.”

I guess I could put it this way:

We know it is possible for a human being to be invinicibly ignorant: that is, in spite of a good faith effort to find the truth to nevertheless have an imperfect understanding of the truth.

Is this possible for anyone who lives on the spirit plane alone? Is it possible for a spirit to be invincibly ignorant or to have part of the truth but not the fullness of truth, and yet not be evil or willfully disobedient? What about spirits who are not the souls of departed human beings? Are they all angels, with angelic wisdom, or are there spirits both not human and yet not angels, and therefore not human and yet still capable of invincible ignorance?

You may have fallen for the world view known as “spiritualism” that arose in Victorian times. You speak of the “spiritual plane” and likely also believe in “the other side of the veil”. These are spiritualist terms and world view not Christian terms.

Traditionally Christians believe in possession or influence on the imagination by a bad angel but that is about it really. Lost wandering souls…no.

But in the end who really knows anyways, God never told us.


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All pure spirits come directly from God.

(So do our souls, but these have “spiritual senses” dumbed down by the effects of our sins.)

Because spirit comes directly from God, it is impossible for spirit-beings to be invincibly ignorant of God. Even if they reject God, they once knew Him.

There may well be spirit-beings who never interact with human life, but for that very reason we’d never know about them.


Arent the watchers spiritual beings, sort of between angels and men, but generally do not have any interaction with the human race?

This line of questioning comes because I have a relative who is into this kind of thing. There was this “event” some time back when they all had some “light the fire” world group meditation. All well meant, but I spent it praying prayers to the Holy Spirit for all these people who were blindly throwing their souls up in the air with good intentions but without having the slightest idea what they were dealing with.

I guess I wondered what we know about that. Is it certainly of the devil, or forbidden because we cannot know and should not take a chance when the consequences of running afoul of evil are so dire? I had no idea what the Church had to say about such a thing.

But in the end who really knows anyways, God never told us.

One has to believe that there is a reason for not being told anything we have not been told, particularly when investigation is forbidden. My question concerned the nature of what we do know or what is possible according to the Church.

I think of this is unfortunately some of the vast knowledge that has been lost to time within the Church.

If you are thinking/wondering about spirits other than human and Angel all I can say is beware. Satan himself can appear as an angel of light so all his fallen army can appear as anything they like (they can tell you they are fairies, pixies, dead relatives etc) so long as it will trick you, trap you and deceive you.

If your smart enough to know to stay away from ooiju boards then they could indeed just try a more veiled and less obvious approach such as appearing as something other than angel or human.

And so to that I say please just be on your guard, scripturally we are only told of humans and angels (both fallen and not) and so I think it’s fairly safe to assume if something is appearing as anything other than those things, it isn’t really what it is and is trying to deceive you.

Just to clarify: I have no intention of trying to court any contact with any unseen spirits, save those allies in prayer revealed by the Church: the saints and the Holy Angels, and even those in proper proportion.

No, I mean that some of us go through this life and experience some of these things unbidden. How is that kind of experience supposed to be handled? What can be made of such things? What are the teachings of the Church? Are we taught, “these are the categories: this must be a dream or hallucination, this is essentially you talking to yourself, this is an apparition that might be of God, and this is an apparition that is of the evil one.” Is that all, or is there a category of which it would be said, “yes, it is possible o encounter a being that is neither animal nor angel nor demon nor the soul of one who has died, but you are forbidden from speaking with them if they make themselves sensible to you and you should not under any circumstances allow them to become guides. They are like wild animals; perhaps not predators, but also not safe, as it is not meant for you to have husbandry of them or for them to have husbandry over you. Neither judge them nor have anything to do with them; give them a wide berth.”

Is there a category of being like that, or are there only angels and demons and of course the souls which we pray for or perhaps pray with if they died in friendship with God and also those souls we even use as our great allies in prayer if God identifies them as such through the success God gives their intercession?

I mean to ask which of these is true:
A: There are saints and angels; avoid all others, because all others are definitely demons or the subjects and pawns of demons OR
B: There are saints and angels; test all others and avoid them when there is the least doubt, because they may be demons, and you are frankly really poor at discerning spirits.
C: None of the above, but rather ______________________

There are some priests who know a lot about such things…and most of them that have taught about angels and demons have been and are retreat masters.


I would suggest the opposite. It is pagan supertstition that the Church consciously rejected as but the imagination of man.

The Catechism is fairly clear on how we deal in such things:


This does not directly answer the question. It says, rightly, that attempts to divine the future or to practice magic in any form (including calling for the assistance of unseen powers other than the power of God) is contrary to the 1st Commandment.

The question is philosophical: are all spirits either divine, human or angelic? Are there any spirits that are neither demons nor angels nor human?

From what I can gather elsewhere, the answer is “no,” or at least that un-called upon spirits ought to be considered with great wariness, since it is the greatest chance that these are evils spirits or auto-suggestion. Any spirit that is of God will be nothing but patient with a soul that is properly wary of offending God or of cooperating with a deceptive spirit. Either a spirit is under the control of God or not, and a spirit that has any marks not fitting for a holy spirit ought to be considered to be either an auto-suggestion or else something sent to achieve the will of the evil one.

Discerning spirits is in contrast to discerning human persons, who cannot be automatically shunned because their faith or conduct is imperfectly in keeping with the will of God. That would be an arrogant and uncharitable way to treat another human being, but it is the most humble way to deal with any seeming “being” that might seem to the soul to be a special revelation.

To be direct: NO.

Angels - created, pure spirits (they are of different offices such as angel, principality, dominion, archangel, but they are all angels). We call fallen angels demons, but they are angels.

Humans - created, body united with a spiritual soul

Aniimals and plants - created, body with a material soul

God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, uncreated, pure spirit. Jesus incarnated and united with a body in the hypostatic union.

That’s all there is.

I recommend: Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed if you want to delve more into the theology behind this.

Excellent book, very clearly written.

Thank you!

As mentioned nobody knows :shrug:. Just as God never told us whether aliens exist.
But the Church has treated your concept of “spirits” (presumably you mean lost human spirits) as a superstition of pagan religions and these are to be rejected.

What exactly is the practical consequence of your philosophic problem?

Are you referring to NT phrases such as “testing the spirits”?

How can a soul, which is intrinsically non material, be called material…
Perhaps you mean a spiritual soul that does not exist apart from matter?

It is called a material soul not because it is made of matter but because it depends upon matter for its existence. The material soul is the principle of life of a creature which ceases to exist at death

It is distinguished from a spiritual soul which persists after death as it is immortal.

No. Spiritual and material describe two different types of souls.

You can use a term other than material for the life force of animals and plants if you like. But spiritual soul is specifically used to describe our souls (see CCC) .

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