Posts Tagged ‘psychopompos’

Psychopompos – ‘soul conductor’



Psychopomp: literally, ‘soul conductor’, an escort to the afterlife. In Jungian psychology, the mediator between conscious and unconscious minds. He came in a recurring nightmare between years four and twelve, was forgotten, then remembered again at twenty in paintings and prints, a costume, and a film.
Bogeyman, muse, and friend; all that we dream is only another part of ourselves.

Psychopomps (from the Greek word ψυχοπομπός (psychopompos), literally meaning the “guide of souls”) are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly-deceased souls to the afterlife.

Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage. Frequently depicted on funerary art, psychopomps have been associated at different times and in different cultures with horses, whippoorwills, ravens, dogs, crows, owls, sparrows, cuckoos, and harts.

In Jungian psychology, the psychopomp is a mediator between the unconscious and conscious realms. It is symbolically personified in dreams as a wise man (or woman), or sometimes as a helpful animal. In many cultures, the shaman also fulfills the role of the psychopomp.

This may include not only accompanying the soul of the dead, but also vice versa: to help at birth, to introduce the newborn’s soul to the world (p. 36 of [1]). This also accounts for the contemporary title of “midwife to the dying,” which is another form of psychopomp work.


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