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 theafterlife. 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, Whip-poor-wills,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 child’s soul to the world. This also accounts for the contemporary title of “midwife to the dying,” which is another form of psychopomp work.
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Jung once said, “The sole purpose of existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of being.” The kindling of one’s spark is our defining element, the foundation upon which all understanding blossoms. We are sentient beings floating through space in an indifferent universe. We must create our own meaning, and do our best to be mindful of the fact that we live in a world full of 7 billion other individuals searching for theirs. Transcend your mortal coil with as much grace and compassion as you can find. You are not alone.
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