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Reflections of the Soul

When Abraham Lincoln’s body lay in state in the East Room of the White House, “The heavy gildings of the frames were entirely enshrouded, while the plates of the mirrors were covered with white crape.”¹

The belief that all the mirrors in the house of the recently deceased should be covered stems from the 16th century belief that mirrors reflected one’s soul. It was thought that at the time of death when the soul was free to leave the body, it was vulnerable to being trapped in the mirrored glass and taken by the Devil. During the Victorian Age, it was commonly held that if you saw yourself in a mirror in a room where a person had recently died you, too, would die shortly thereafter.²

  1. (Coggeshall, William Turner. (2013). pp. 110-1. Lincoln Memorial: The Journeys of Abraham Lincoln; From Springfield to Washington, 1861. London: Forgotten Books. (Original work published 1865)
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