What exactly is a psychopomp?
When I first heard this term within the context of my Dedicant Druidic training with Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) I thought to myself: So it is a shortened version of a psychotic, pompous deity? Because there very well could be some huffy-puffiness among the Kindred…hubris is often something left to mortals, after all. In actualty, a psychopomp is a way of describing a certain kind of immortal being…one that is useful and has the ability to travel between all the worlds at ease. In ADF they are referred to as the Gatekeepers, opening the ways to the Gods and Goddesses through the opening of a portal…leading up into the axis mundi to give access to all realms of sea, sky, and land. As I explored hearth cultures in which to work with the Kindred in my personal Druidry, finding a psychopomp in which I could connect with as a guide for communication proved to be more significant than I would have originally imagined.
There are specific traits all psychopomps have, and whilst they may be from different hearth cultures and pantheaons the commonalities transcend boundaries of language and time.On the whole, psychopomps tend to be deities or beings in which:
- adept at guiding others through transformative experiences just as death or major changes in life
- are nonjudgmental, compassionate, and generally approachable by anyone
- tendancy to be border crossers and walkers between worlds
- tricksters who will do whatever it takes to meet their goals
- shapeshifters who can change their appearance at will
- arbiters of change for individuals and the culture
- magical beings who can facilitate healing in unexpected ways
The Sitter in the Doorway
Having the patronage of the Lord Cernunnos has been something very different in my spiritual life: praying and connecting to a masculine divinity. In the past, my path has been primarily focused on different Goddesses, in all Her aspects. Turning away from the Patriarchy of my childhood Catholicism, I saw the Goddess as empowering and nurturing to my soul. I could not ignore the presence of Cernunnos, as He repeatedly appeared in my life over and over in classical and literal form. The more I meditated and asked for guidance, the more apparent His Patronage over me became. He appeared in dreams, visions and meditations, speaking to me without words, helping me to shapeshift and run free as a deer in His sacred Herd.
Having come full circle back to a Father God, I am seeing the peaceful possibilities He offers and the clearing of spiritual confusion. In researching his place in the ancient world, I found his many names to be similar to that of the “10,000 Names” for the Goddess; Herne, Cernunnos, Pan, Greenman, the Horned One: all are names for a God of the Hunt and Vegetation. His is the mystery of the spiral. Cernunnos is considered a chthonic God, a God of the Shadow Self with ties to the Other or Under World. Cernunnos is a liminal God, born only to die and be reborn again and again. He is the promise of the Son/Sun at Yule, the return of the animals and plants at Spring, the golden light touching and caressing the Earth becoming her lover at Beltane, and finishing with His sacrifice in the Autumn promising to keep us comforted throughout the cold season ahead. With His hoofed feet in all worlds, the Horned God is a Gatekeeper; a guide through the unseen mysteries and dark places of my heart. By looking at these fears instead of leaving them in the unswept corners of my psyche, Cernunnos empowers me to move forward, gently.
Walking the Ways
As the doors became opened for me, I stepped up to the challenge ahead…many more were waiting to be connected with and understood. The lessons to be learned and roadways walked have since shown me the possibilities that come with being flexible and open in my spiritual life. I surrender more and more each day and pray for the guidance to choose wisely as opportunities present themselves. The Gods want us to be happy, we need only listen and willing to adapt to the pathways spread before us.