A psychopomp is a guide that assists souls as they cross from life to death. This function can be performed by various roles such as the medicine person, shaman, priest, or a midwife to the dying. In Gaelic, this function is performed by the anam cara (soul friend). Functions performed by a psychopomp may include: reciting a guidebook to the dying person, chanting and praying over the dying person, listening to the dying person’s confessions and life review, recapitulation and forgiveness processing with the dying person, giving the dying person “permission” to die, assisting the soul as it exits the physical body, sealing the chakras after the soul has left the physical body, and assisting the soul to “go to the Light” when it is ready. In some parts of the world there is another psychopomp function called sin eating. Those that perform this ritual are sin eaters, people that eat food and drink laid on a dead person. This act removes the sins from the dying person saving them from purgatory.



  • Africa – Dead ancestors
  • Egypt – Anubis, Hathor, Horus, Thoth, Wepwawet
  • Nigeria – Aganju, Babalu Aye, Eshu, Oba Nani, Oya, Yewa
  • Aztec – Xolotl
  • Cahuilla – Muut
  • Inuit – Anguta, Pinga
  • Mayan – Ixtab
  • US – Grim Reaper
  • China – Ox-Head and Horse-Face, Black and White Guards of Impermanence
  • Japan – Shinigami
  • Mesopotamia – Namtar
  • Persia – Mithra
  • Philippines – Kumakatok, Magwayen
  • Europe – Ankou (Breton, Cornish, and Norman folklore), Grim Reaper
  • Anglo-Saxon – Wōden
  • Celtic – Dullahan, Manannán mac Lir, The Morrígan, Ogmios
  • Etruscan – Charun, Turms, Vanth
  • Greek – Charon, Hecate, Hermes, Morpheus, Thanatos
  • Norse – Freyja, Odin, Valkyries
  • Roman – Epona, Mercury
  • Slavic – Veles
  • Spanish – Santa Compaña
  • Welsh – Gwyn ap Nudd
  • Polynesia – Aumakua


  • Buddhism – Yama, Yamantaka
  • Christianity – Viaticum, Angels, Michael (archangel)
  • Hinduism – Agni, Pushan, Yama
  • Islam – Angels, Azrael
  • Judaism – Angels, Cassiel, Elijah / Sandalphon, Gabriel, Lailah, Samael
  • Vodun – Guédé, Legba
  • Zoroastrianism – Daena, Vohu Mano

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