Death as an Ally – The Shaman’s Perception of Death

In our society and culture, death is something dark, mysterious, and fearful. Ancient cultures did not regard death as an enemy, but dared to make it an ally. It is ultimately about daring to live fearlessly from the centre of one’s truth, to challenge and defeat the tendency to inertia, fear of life and premature old age. To quote one of the great teachers, the Peruvian shaman Don Eduardo Calderon: ‘a shaman is someone who is already dead and thus has no fear of death or life’. Sometimes a life threatening crisis is what calls a person to the way of the shaDeath as an Ally - The Shaman’s Perception of Deathman.

In traditional wisdom and knowledge, life is a continuum that does not end at the moment of death. One of the most important traditional tasks of the seer, shaman, medicine man or woman is to assist people who are either dying or the spirits of those who have died to make the transition into great domain of consciousness. This body of practices is known as Psychopomp, from the Greek word psychopompos which literally means ‘conductor of souls’. In Greek mythology, the god Hermes served as the escort for the dead into the afterlife. This concept of a guide or intermediary between the living and the dead is a collective theme found in most religions and mythologies.

Death and Dying

In shamanism death and birth are closely related to each other. One of the roles of the shaman is as a midwife of dying, to help, guide, or usher the soul or essence of the dying person into the unity of the afterlife. This is the work of the Psychopomp, conductor of souls.

There are many ‘cosmographies’ of where souls go when they die, each dependent on the culture and society they originated in. Shamanism is not a system of belief or faith, it is a system of knowledge, and is directly experienced first hand by the senses. The world that Shamans work in is not a consensus reality, i.e. what we have agreed is reality. The Shaman sees i.e. experiences with all the senses, and is the mediator between the everyday physical world and an alternate reality. The roots of shamanism pre-date recorded history. The earliest findings date back over 40,000 years. Shamanism is the ancestral mother of the human spiritual experience.

In the great panorama of creation, many cultures have structured and formed a navigable cosmography. The shaman navigates and journeys in a cosmos experienced as three great realms revolving around a great axis, known as the great tree, or axis mundi. They are known as the, Upper World, Lower World, and Middle Worlds. Central to all these realms is the Axis Mundi, which is the central axis which connects these three realms.

These realms have been structured and implemented in ways relevant to our culture and the world we live in. These three worlds have been renamed but are still present; The Upper World, the realm of our ancestors, religious or spiritual leaders, the gods, the spirit guides, is known as Heaven. The Middle World has been simply moulded into meaning our physical world or Earth, and the Lower World, the traditional place of sustenance and nourishment, the home where the spiritual power of the natural world, the plants, animals resides, has become demonised, and renamed as Hell.

The problem here is that the Lower World has become demonised, and turned into a travesty of it’s original meaning and embodiment of the living force of the natural world, and has become a very ‘bad’ place where all the wicked (disobedient) people go to suffer eternal damnation, hellfire, and other such terrible punishments. From a shamanic and a psychological perspective this has created the major problem of separation. By demonising the Lower World, the place which holds the feminine qualities of nurturing, and sustenance, we have as a society managed to disconnect ourselves from these very attributes. The story of the Garden of Eden fundamentally underlies this separation. If we consider the unifying principle of ‘so above, so below’, we are also looking at the cosmography of the human soul.

We have also lost along the expressway to modern civilisation this concept of the transition of the human soul from the physical world into the great realms of existence. People who die in sudden death , accident , confused , unhappy, drugged , people who lack power, murdered, killed in war, often disappear in the Middle World, and may be unable to make their transition , or not have an awareness of where and who they are. The work of the conductor of souls is to help these deceased individuals make that journey.

The shaman would embark on a spirit journey, to find the person who had died in unfortunate circumstances such as an accidental death. They would start from the place that the person died, and in their trance vision of expanded awareness spiral outwards in concentric circles to find them. Once located, it is then the work of the shaman to help them make that transition to another place, and be welcomed and re-united with loved ones.

This is Psychopomp work, helping the deceased to another world. There is an enormous fear of death in our society, and a renewed interest in this kind of work could provide re-assurance to those who are dying, and their loved ones.

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9 thoughts on “Death as an Ally – The Shaman’s Perception of Death

  1. Hannelore Habicht says:

    Have not been able to read the article at a slow pace, but am impressed and excited to have found your website. I am especially attracted to the categories you provide. Am sure I will come back to some of them.

  2. Silver says:

    There is an enormous need for this kind of service especially in the US at our civil war battle grounds and of course the many other battle grounds however I shall address those grounds here. I am just learning to do this work.

    • Ob says:

      I’m shamanic practitioner with psychopomp attribute and in-service for conducting passage for individual and in mass souls. Conducting souls in mass, usually those that been sacrificed in a ritual. This would include battlefields. Keep pressing-on

  3. Silver says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Ob I will.I had a very interesting experience at work awhile back giving anesthesia for a shock treatment in a severly depressed patient. After the treatment was given, I was holding the patient’s airway and a huge nasty energy came out and tried to go into me. I called in the archangels GAbriel and Michael, saints and sages , etc etc etc to protect me. It was a pretty interesting event. Any comments?

    • O Byrd says:

      Excuse me for the delay. The Archangels are helpful. I recommend first lighting a white or red candle. I prefer white. Relax. Then take a shower to rinse off, use soap. Follow this with a bath. Prepare the bath; dissolve 1-2 cubs of espon salt in warm-hot tub of water and emerged yourself for 10-20 minutes. Submerged your head for moment or two. Submerge a few times. Be comfortable with this traditional process. Spirit means water, salt absorbs. After the bath drain the tub and rinse it. Then rinse the salt off of yourself. If you expereince any uncomfortable feelings or thoughs before, after and during the process, ask for assistance from the Archangels and direct the feelings toward the candle light. This is a rarity however, knowlwedge should prove valuable if needed.

  4. Ob says:

    By the way, a shock, by any method, release and enebles energy or spirit (energy with intent) to jump, move, propel from one body to another; human or otherwise. A tingling sensation may be expereince (immediately), upset stomach or headache may be expereince (immediately or one – two hours later) if the jump and attachment was made. If a headache is severe and or vomiting occurs. A shamanic practitioner with experience with medium world work will be able to assist (if traditional medicine can not find anything). This healing is typically for a shamanic practitioner. It is best performed in person but remote healing process. I recommend, in person, some spirits are best released in person for a number of professional shamanic reasons.

    The typical person carries 3-7 enternal entities without any ailment or negative effect to their health at any given time. Professionals in the health field expsoure to shocking people, sudden death, addictive personalities are the population most subject to jumping. This professional sholud use salt (table or sea) to wash their hands the same as with soap and water, and rinsed with water every time physical contact is make with a patient or person. If when rinsing a tingling sensation is felt, rinse once more. If a practitioner experiences depression frequently, a spiritual grounding method needs to learned and used along with the salt hand wash, and the epson salt bath mention earlier.

  5. Heather says:

    Amazing! Its genuinely remarkable article, I have got much clear idea regarding from this paragraph.

  6. […] In shamanism death and birth are closely related to each other. One of the roles of the shaman is as a midwife of dying, to help, guide, or usher the soul or essence of the dying person into the unity of the afterlife. This is the work of the Psychopomp, conductor of souls. … […]

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