The spirit of men (earlier in time referred to as the "gast" or "ghost") was always prone to wander, and excepting the amount of spirit needed to maintain body functions, exited each night through one of the body openings. In ill health the spirit, or runner, frequently wandered from the body for considerable periods and departed finally and completely at death.
A man who returned from the land of the dead, told his fellow Micmacs that:
Every person has a skitekumj, a ghost body. For a man or a woman, it looks like a black shadow of a man or woman. It has hands and feet, a mouth, a head, and all the other parts of a human body. It drinks and eats. It puts on clothes, it hunts and fishes and amuses itself. With a moose or a beaver, it looks like a black shadow of the animal. For a canoe or a pair of snowshoes, a cooking pot,or a sleeping mat, it looks like a shadow of these things.