Psychopomp is not some new age therapy but is an indigenous based practice that dates back over 25,000 years. Psychopomp is derived from the Greek word “psuchopompos” which means “guide of souls”. Today, psychopomp work is about guiding lost, confused or stuck souls of the deceased to where they need to go in the afterlife. With this article, we will focus on the shaman’s role in working with the lost soul.
Most people who pass over know instinctively where to go and they do not require any assistance in getting there. It may sound absurd to some that there are souls that have passed that need assistance. After all they are dead, don't have a body and know where to go, right? Well, not always.
There are many reasons why souls may be confused, lost or stuck. An example of this is a person who may have died suddenly and/or tragically. Because of this type of death, they may not realize that they have passed on. Another example is the soul is in a state of fear or guilt. The soul feels the need to have the fear or guilt reconciled before they can move on. Another example is the soul is unwilling to detach themselves permanently from the loved ones left behind. (A word to the living, when a loved one dies, let them move on, do not weigh them down with your selfish desire of having them near you all the time. Let them go on to where they must go). Another example why a soul may stick around is to finish unfinished business. The soul may contact a receptive person in an unusual way to convey a message to a living relative or friend. The message is relevant to that relative or friend and they can work to complete the uncompleted request.
Also, in today’s world, there is a growing number of people who have no idea how to deal with their own death. At the time of passing, the physical body is gone. What is left is the energy body or soul. If a person did not plan for this contingency, their soul may not know where to go. Because of this lack of planning for one’s death, the soul may become stuck or become confused when it leaves the confines of the physical body.
If a soul becomes stuck, it may begin to realize that something is not right and now they have no idea what to do. To find an answer, they may try to contact their descendants in various ways. They may work through dreams and/or just be present in some way. This can be disturbing and confusing to the living, but once the living understands what is going on, the solution can be found. This is the time when a shaman is contacted.
The shaman will conduct a psychopomp ceremony to assist the spirit in crossing over. An easy way to explain a psychopomp ceremony is that the shaman will enter non-ordinary reality, work with their helping spirits to negotiate and persuade the lost soul to go to where it needs to go. Once the soul has moved on, the shaman’s task is complete.
Psychopomp may sound like a grim task to some, but in fact psychopomp is a noble calling that is needed in this time of great transition. Also, we don't want to leave our ancestors wandering around lost and confused because this may cause disruption in the lives of their descendants.
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