Many sets of religious beliefs have a particular spirit, deity, demon or angel whose responsibility is to escort newly-deceased souls to the afterlife, such as Heaven or Hell. These creatures are called psychopomps, from the Greek word ψυχοπομπóς (psuchopompos), literally meaning the "guide of souls".

They were often associated with horses, whippoorwills, ravens, dogs, crows, sparrows, harts (that is, male deer), and dolphins.

Aztec mythology

  • Xolotl
  • Cahuilla mythology
  • Muut

Celtic mythology

  • Belatu-Cadros (especially Wales)
  • Epona
  • Ogmios
  • Ankou

Christian mythology

  • Michael
  • Saint Peter

Egyptian mythology

  • Anubis
  • Neith
  • Horus
  • Set
  • Thoth

English mythology

  • Waetla
  • Etruscan mythology
  • Turms

Greek mythology

Hindu mythology

  • Agni
  • Pushan
  • Yama

Inuit mythology

  • Anguta
  • Pinga

Islamic mythology

  • Azrael
  • Nakir and Munkar

Japanese mythology

  • Shinigami

Judaism

  • Gabriel
  • Sandalphon

Maya mythology

  • Ixtab

Norse mythology

  • Baldur
  • Odin
  • Valkyries

Persian mythology

  • Mithra

Polynesian mythology

  • Aumakua

Roman mythology

  • Mercury

Slavic mythology

  • Volos
  • Vodun
  • Guédé

Zoroastrianism

  • Vohu Mano

Compare Virgil’s role in Dante’s Inferno. In modern literature, the title character of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is said to act as a guide for children: “At first Mrs. Darling did not know, but after thinking back into her childhood she just remembered a Peter Pan who was said to live with the fairies. There were odd stories about him; as that when children died he went part of the way with them, so that they should not be frightened.”

Links

Dictionary of the Psychopomp


Mythology Images

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