Through their death, you may know them

Raven Head (Copyright Bob Elsdale / Getty)

Raven Head
(Copyright Bob Elsdale / Getty)

Psychopomp is one of the many roles of the shaman. This is only necessary for souls which lose their way. For the well prepared soul, at peace and centred at the time of the death of their physical vehicle, the road home to Awonawilona is clear.

Sudden deaths, fearful passing, highly charged and emotional death, as, for example, on the battle field, can affect a disorientation which requires some assistance.

“For this fear of death is indeed the pretense of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being the appearance of knowing the unknown; since no one knows whether death, which they in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good.”
Socrates.

The first was a young local man, just into his eighteenth year. Sudden…

Your watch stopped
At 3:15. Still,
You smiled, as time
Finally made sense.
Eighteen years
Of growing into
The man shaped space
That awaited you.

Once filled, I guess,
It just felt too small
To hold all your hopes,
All your dreams.
“Sudden”, they said,
Not knowing, perhaps fearing,
The months and years
Of planning it took

To reach this day.
To take control
Was never easy.
Will weakens,
Power fails,
Strength falters.
Absolute certainty
Always wins.

My watch stopped at 3:15,
Still nothing makes sense.
Farewell, my fairest,
Dearest child.
So final: sinking into
The peaceful embrace
Of Mother Earth,
And, thence, home.

Whatever demons had driven him over the edge, it was a dazed soul that wandered up the cliff and entered my sacred space. It was his eyes which touched me most deeply, his confusion palpable. He showed no signs of the trauma which had taken him this far.

Inviting him to sit, we chatted a while. His only concern was how his mother would cope, a thought which had never crossed his mind as he went off-road, nor when his vehicle got stuck, nor when he got out, leaving the engine running, to continue on foot.

I could have called on Michael. This lad didn’t seem ready for that. I lit a bundle of sage. The sweet smell quickly filled the space. Placing sacred tobacco on the embers, he smiled and melted into the rising smoke.

“I tell you this: whatever of dust to dust
Goes down, whatever of ashes may return
To its essential self in its own season,
Loveliness such as yours will not be lost,
But, cast in bronze upon his very urn,
Make known him Master, and for what good reason.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay

About Running Elk

My given native name, Running Elk, was bestowed in 2008 as I took my first steps as a fully fledged Medicine Man of the Zuni tradition. A most unlikely candidate for the role, my journey as a healer began some four years prior. The detour onto the shamanic way was most unexpected, yet has been one of the most rewarding challenges to date.
This entry was posted in Introduction to shamanism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Through their death, you may know them

  1. What a beautiful post….on so many levels πŸ™‚

  2. alienorajt says:

    Oh, so touching and beautiful and sad and hopeful. I read it at a gulp and then read again more slowly, savouring every word. The psychopomp is such an important part of the journey for those, as you say, who lose their way – and the world mythology is littered with them in their various forms. You have created something profound here – more than I can speak of on here. xxx

  3. Such a tragic yet beautiful post! What you do is so inspiring and intriguing, I feel out of my depth even commenting.
    And I loved both quotes! The Edna St. Vincent Millay made me cry. She was my mother’s favorite poet. Bravo to you, *β™‘* Ellen

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