In the category of spirits without bodies, we also find the zaar and the abdar. The words come to us from the Horn of Africa, where they are comparatively common, but zaar and abdar (while rare) occur across all nations and ethnic groups. Lacking a physical form, they most often possess inanimate objects of humanoid shape–mannikins, statuary, and such–or assemble a body out of possessed parts like a suit of clothing. They have also been known to expel human souls in order to possess their bodies, and this is the subject of a number of folk traditions. However, it is relatively rare, as inanimate objects are much easier to possess.

Zaar are created when a soul expires in a particularly lonely and bleak way, cut off from kith and kin. Rather than ascending to the next life, it instead acts as a magnet for malevolent spirit energy, concentrating it in an enormously potent form. Due to the circumstances of their genesis, zaar are often drawn to powerfully wicked creatures like daemons, who will employ them as high-ranking servants. It’s unclear what a zaar gets out of such an arrangement other than a kind of twisted surrogate family…and perhaps that is the point. They are universally mischievous, malicious, and deeply ensconced in most dire affairs.

Abdar represent the other side of the coin, with the same powers but rising from the expiration of a soul in a state of extraordinary peace. They draw in positive spirit energy by the same mechanism, but lack the same need for companionship, order, and structure that so often leads zaar to serve more powerful masters. Abdar instead tend to be fiercely independent, offering aid or advice to those in need. They do tend to be somewhat mercurial, and often prefer to guide those in need toward finding their own solutions rather than intervening directly.

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