A Guide of Spirits: A Psychopomp’s Manual For Transitioning The Dead To The Afterlife, by Chris Allaun
Moon Books, 9781789046601, 224 pages, October 2021
“Death is a final rite of passage of our physical life. As we know, death is not the end. There is a spiritual journey ahead for each person. Each of us must walk our own path of death and into the realm of the afterlife. Walking our spiritual path of death can be difficult and we may need the help of a guide. The psychopomp has the sacred duty of guiding the spirits of the dead back home to be with their beloved ancestors.”1
It seemed fitting to begin this review of A Guide of Spirits: A Psychopomp’s Manual For Transitioning The Dead To The Afterlife by Chris Allaun with a quote from the first paragraph of the conclusion, as the quote beautifully states what appears to be an ending is actually a beginning in a new fashion and form. Allaun has done a marvelous job of honoring and explaining the role of those individuals who selflessly give of themselves to serve as guides for those transitioning beyond the veils of death: the psychopomp.
A Guide of Spirits is separated into nine chapters that provide the reader with an inside perspective of what being a psychopomp entails, the journeys of the spirits they guide, and practical recommendation for self-care and psychic defense. The bibliography is extensive in its diversity of source, ranging from Carl Jung to Bullfinch’s Mythology to Virgil and the work of occultist Israel Regardie to name just a few. These also included religious and spiritual texts such as The Tibetan Book of the Dead and Greek and Roman Necromancy, which are often referenced when speaking of cultural attitudes and customs regarding death.
Allaun gives a beautiful introduction in chapter one, “The Psychopomp”, about what a psychopomp is and the service that one who takes up this calling provides:
“A psychopomp is a special type of healer. Not only do they escort the spirit of the dead to the realm of their ancestors, they also send the spirit healing energy to aid in letting go of earthly attachments that may keep them bound to the physical world. The word itself comes from the Greek language which roughly translates to “conductor” or “guide of the soul.”2
The reader is given the perspective of the psychopomp as a healer, not dissimilar to what the usual definitions of a healer may be, but in this case, one who assists the healing of release of corporeal existence so the real journey can begin. We learn that the work of a psychopomp is not readily taken up because of its close association with death, something that many still fear.
A Guide of Spirits is nicely balanced with theory, practical application, and exercises to develop both the reader’s psychic abilities and pathways towards communing with Spirits and the ancestors. I found these to be very useful in a variety of ways beyond whether one chooses to take up the work of becoming a psychopomp. There is a lot of general information that could serve to deepen the readers connection to their own ancestors and departed beloveds that would offer comfort and healing as death approaches or has occurred.
Allaun provides the reader with many opportunities of encouragement in trusting and believing in the inherent skills he believes everyone possesses…
“As I said, I believe we all have the ability to see the spirits. Yes, some magical people are natural seers and do not have to try hard to see the spirits, while the rest of us have to practice daily in order to get just a little hint that the spirits are there. I want to make something very clear; just because it may be difficult for you to see spirits now, does not mean you will not grow into a powerful seer.”3
I truly found this running theme within the book to be truly empowering. Confidence builds as the reader moves through each of the chapters, practices the exercises, and deepens their awareness of perception “outside of the box”.
Chapter five, “Helping the Dying to Transition” takes the reader through the steps of death’s process and what may occur for both the individual preparing for transition and any who are assisting or witnessing that crossing. The importance of surrounding the individual with compassion and love is stressed throughout the book as a requisite for those acting as psychopomp. Through the tools of “Death Midwifery”, a term used to describe the work of the psychopomp, an energetic space of love is created for the dying to draw upon as manifest life recedes.
“The art of death midwifery is a profound and intuitive way of communing with the dying, of lending support and guidance to those making the greatest of transitions. Committing to deep spiritual work. The death midwife becomes a strong, clear conduit who directs the flow of divine love to the dying.”4
Overall, A Guide of Spirits provides a clear and thorough text of how we may become better supports for those who are in all stages of the process of death. Whether reading out of curiosity or for the purpose of serious consideration of how to assist those souls embarking on the next grand journey, the reader will come away from this reading with tools that may be applied to any spiritual pursuits. This title is rich with ritual, moments for reflection, exercises to strengthen greater self-awareness and much more. This is a book I am excited to continue working with and exploring the profound nature of death and those who support a loving transition. Perhaps it will provide you with a new perspective of death, as well.
Robin Fennelly is an Elder within the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition [www.sacredwheel.org]. She is a dancer, teacher, astrologer, author, ritualist and seeker of all things of a spiritual nature. Her writings and classes incorporate a deep understanding of Eastern practice and Western Hermetics and bring a unique perspective towards integration and synthesis of the Divine and Mundane natures of our being. She is a mother of five and lives in Eastern PA with her husband of 45+ years.