Generally accepted as an alternative term for ghost, the origins of the word may be traced back to American Indian lore and thus regarded as a uniquely American term. In its purest sense, these spirits are regarded as benevolent and benign, capable of temporarily taking control of a living body to perform good works. This type of ghost is sometimes said to be able to haunt a person without him or her ever being aware of it, and can absorb themselves into the person at will. Along the Eastern United States, stories can still be discovered in rural areas of men who had achieved little in their lives until a spook took over them, enabling them to achieve wealth and success. The term is also now much used in America and the UK to describe intelligence operatives and government spies.
The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World: The Ultimate A–Z of Spirits, Mysteries and the Paranormal: The Ultimate A-Z of Spirits, Mysteries and the Paranormal – Written by Theresa Cheung – © Theresa Cheung 2006