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Observations placeholder

Lost souls - Soul Release: Guiding the Dead to the Spirit World



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

From Internet - Soul Release: Guiding the Dead to the Spirit World

Helping the spirits of the dead cross safely over to the spirit world is an important duty of the shaman--both for the soul of the deceased and for the welfare of the community the shaman serves. It is not healthful to have lost souls wandering around, and it is certainly not healthy for the lost or trapped spirits themselves.

Such work is called psychopomp work or soul release. Indigenous people consider it to be important and somewhat dangerous work.

Modern people, even modern religions, have generally forgotten the importance and the ways of soul release work, of helping the dead cross over. Nowadays funerals are intended to show respect for the dead and provide closure for the survivors. They tend to be ineffective in actually guiding lost souls to the other side.

Why Spirits of the Dead May Need Help

Wars, murders, and accidents often leave the souls of the dead wandering near the site of death, unaware that they are dead. Indigenous and traditional cultures did not forget how to help the dead cross over, but modern wars and natural disasters that wipe out whole villages and extended families, leaving no survivors to properly mourn (or in some case to even remember) the dead, sometimes result in there being no one to help the lost souls cross over.

Books of the Dead for Psychopomp Work

Some cultures believe that all spirits need to be guided across to prevent needless suffering. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) was written for psychopomp (soul release) work. It is actually read to the spirit of the dead person during the first few days after death in order to guide the person safely to the other side. The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day is said to have served the same purpose, and other cultures have had similar works.

The source of the experience

Shaman unspecified

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps