Double Vision: Can Photographs Steal Your Soul?

At a family gathering recently, we were looking at very old photographs, letters, journals, Bibles, etc. that go way back in our family. In one album, my grandmother had made a note that a certain picture of my great-grandmother was the only one in existence. She believed that photos steal the soul, and generally refused to be photographed. My research has found this belief in many different cultures around the world. Do you think that a photograph captures some psychic essence of its subjects? Can this be harmful or used against those depicted?

- Al


Your great-grandmother isn't the only person who thought that a camera could steal her soul; my own Granny was the same way. The only photograph I have of her is on her driver's license. (Her line of thinking came from reading books, so beware of reading!)

Insecurity, religion, and superstition all play a part in the idea that a camera can steal part of one's soul. From Native Americans to Aborigines, there are many cultures and religions that believe that a photograph or any image of a person may deplete that person's energy or holiness and take away part of their soul.

I've encountered this idea in older people all over the world. Different cultures and religions have different views on what may or may not steal a piece of a person away from them. In some places, making drawings or paintings of someone else is even forbidden.

Working in the Caribbean really opened my eyes about this particular superstitious behavior. While studying voodoo in Haiti, I was introduced to a magician who was crazy about his Polaroid camera. It produced an instant picture with no muss and no fuss. He would simply tape a photo of his intended victim or the person to be healed to a doll to create a representation of that person.

No us'n gaderin' dem clppins, hairs or teeph, dahlin, just take dapicher. If people in these parts believe that dolls can be used to affect someone for good or ill, it makes sense that many religious or superstitious people would view photographs as potentially harmful in a similar way.

Some people (like me) don't like to have their picture taken for any reason. I think Granny was that way and used the soul stealing notion as an excuse. Going back through my family photos, I counted many where the rest of us were calmly posing while she was pulling her sweater up over her face!

I will admit that her saying that a picture can steal the soul has probably influenced me on this subject, even though I think I know better than to believe in it.

Souls aside, we should all try to remember that being sensitive to people who don't want to be photographed for any reason is good manners. Oh, and one more thing: my Haitian teacher taught me that digital cameras can't steal a person's soul, only regular ones can do that, so if you're out stealing souls with your camera, be sure you're using the right technology.



This is a belief that grew during the early years of photography, which at the time seemed nothing short of magical. As with many new inventions, initially the majority of the population was afraid of photography. People tend to fear the unknown, which is how many misconceptions crop up. As with many superstitions, it's not surprising that this fear has traveled across the globe and through decades of time.

A photograph alone is not dangerous to one's spirit, though people often have intense emotional reactions to them. Seeing a loved one's picture may evoke all kinds of feelings.

Historical photos may reveal physical similarities or family traits and offer a time-stamp of the period in which they were taken. When viewing them, we may feel transported back to the days when they were taken. Watching a documentary that includes photos of people and events that happened over a hundred years ago can make us feel as if we are right there.

Cameras have been known to capture images of ghosts, which seems to give them the ability to perceive more than the naked eye can. While these photos attest to the reality of entities, they don't actually capture the spirits within them.

Many people will use photographs or likenesses in their religious or spiritual practices as a focus for devotion or influence, but again, the icons themselves are just symbols; they don't carry the essence of the soul.

On a trip to Bali a number of years ago, I was walking through a village with a tour guide when a native woman approached us. When I attempted to take her picture, she became very agitated and tried to avoid the camera.

I assumed she was afraid to have her spirit stolen too, but when I asked the guide if this was the case, he laughed and said, No, she just doesn't like to have her picture taken.

I've felt the same way many times myself, so I realized that being camera-shy is just as prevalent in other cultures as it is here in the USA.

While photographic images definitely capture the essence of their subjects, your great-grandmother's fear that they would steal her soul are unfounded. However, this is an excellent example of how the unknown can create unwarranted fears in all of us until we understand the scientific process behind them.


Many times in life we hear, "You will always have what you NEED, but not necessarily what you WANT." Your spirit must have needed to experience the feeling of leaving your human body, and the suggestion in the next chapter of Sylvia Brown's book was all it took to get you there.

Even though you hadn't read it yet, your SOUL recognized the title of that chapter as something it had been seeking, and your soul, knowing that you had that reference to read after your experience, got with it and out you went!

While I don't usually recommend her books, Sylvia Brown has a wide reaching and powerful effect on lots of people. A Gemini like you would be able to relate easily to her writing and put it to good use. Synchronicity - you gotta love it!

I like your description of "getting caught." That's exactly what it feels like, isn't it? One minute you're free and hovering above the room, and the next minute, ZAP! back down into your corporeal form you go!

As a little kid, I loved that "feeling of return." With practice, most of the time we can control that event, but sometimes, when our physical ears hear a distracting noise or something else occurs to knock us back into reality, back we go. With practice you will be able to control your return better.

I find it interesting that you were visiting your mother-in-law and not someone in your own genetic family. Evidently, you and your husband got married for reasons that are even deeper than love. His family's interest in "psychic stuff" will nurture your children in such matters and help them to grow into their own abilities.

You'll never have to be concerned that when your daughter visits them, she'll be discouraged from exploring her own psychic life and power. My parents encouraged me to develop my psychic senses in a time when it wasn't nice to even discuss such things in public. Heck, it's STILL not considered a great topic at the dinner table in some families!

Your kids will get to talk about it ALL and ask questions and read and study. This is going to give them such an edge in life! Talk with your husband about how you want to present this to your kiddos, so that you are united in your approach and ready to tell them their experiences are all natural and okay.

A word or two of warning: Geminis often have difficulty staying grounded in REAL LIFE. Don't get so strung out on your ASTRAL life that you neglect what you're doing here on Earth.

You are at the beginning of a long journey to learn where your power really lies. Try to be patient with this process and take your time.