I’ve been asked about the word ‘psychopomp’ several times lately, and it was suggested that a bit of explaining might do. Psychopomp is Greek for ‘conductor of souls,’ or someone whose role is to peacefully lead the departed to their next experience. Traditionally shamans are psychopomps, or deathwalkers, as others refer to them. In that context, there is a good bit more involved than escorting the dead onward and upward. In my childhood were several ongoing experiences that convinced me I was having a different go of things than most, and seeing dead people was one of them. It wasn’t until my late teens that I put the pieces together and understood that I was a natural deathwalker.
In order to be effective as a psychopomp, one has to possess reasonable skills in counseling, nurturing, protection, good boundaries, as well as the obvious ability to move between realms and know to where souls should be directed when they move on. My innate skills lay in seeing souls, but that was about it. I first had to learn not to be afraid of them, as often they were frightening and gruesome, in order to understand why they were coming to me. I gained initial insight into that dynamic on my own, then later learned specific techniques to help them transition. There are many ways to accomplish that purpose, some as simple as opening space and ‘pushing them’ up, or literally escorting them through in an ecstatic trance state. Others that I’ve found useful involve Middle World journeys to release them (solo energies and group), and a group Brazilian mediumistic technique called mesa blanca, which focuses on the release of suffering spirits.
Ultimately the goal is for the souls to move to their next experience of themselves peacefully. Life force isn’t created to be stagnant. It is progressive, evolving energy that needs to maintain challenging experiences to raise its consciousness. Stuck in place, that elevation of awareness can’t happen, and that’s when problems begin. Sometimes releasing life force goes more smoothly than others. Often souls who are invested in the chaos they create in the formed world are less likely to move on, and encouraging them to do so requires skill in counsel, negotiation, and protection. In many cases, the dead don’t realize they are dead, and that reality can be very upsetting to them. Again, finesse is required. On rarer occasions, they just refuse to move on, and this requires a mutual respect. As with the living, we can only be where we are; we can’t force ourselves or anyone else to be where they are not.
A caveat to releasing the dead is, sometimes the spirits in this realm aren’t of the deceased. There are different schools of thought on this scenario, of which I find souls that were never in form require a different approach to address their needs and release them. These usually are energies that have languished for centuries, or longer, if not are elementals and collective buildup resulting from the planet’s etheric grid being congested. Places, structure become entities separate from the people who dwell in them, and sometimes need to be cleared. Nature spirits sometimes need to be appeased and released. Sometimes people become attached to spirits or loved ones, and in the process of depossesion that spirit needs help moving on. The scenarios of psychopomp work are unique and possibly infinite.
It is our nature to keep moving, progressing. When any facet of our diverse souls doesn’t grow, All Things staggers under the weight of that stagnation. My approach to facilitating that has been to teach classes on how to die, as with all things, education goes a long way. In that way, education itself acts as a soul conductor. And in learning how to die, most of us truly begin to live.