Many sets of religious beliefs have a particular spirit, deity, demon or angel whose responsibility is to escort newly-deceased souls to the afterlife, such as Heaven or Hell. These creatures are called psychopomps, from the Greek word ψυχοπομπóς (psuchopompos), literally meaning the "guide of souls".
They were often associated with horses, whippoorwills, ravens, dogs, crows, owls, sparrows, harts, and dolphins.
In some cultures, acting as a psychopompos was also one of the functions of a shaman. This could include not only acompanying the soul of the dead, but also vice versa: to help at birth, to introduce the newborn's soul to the word.
List by mythology
Compare Virgil's role in Danteâs Inferno.
In modern literature, the title character of J. M. Barrieâs Peter Pan is said to act as a guide for children: âAt first Mrs. Darling did not know, but after thinking back into her childhood she just remembered a Peter Pan who was said to live with the fairies. There were odd stories about him; as that when children died he went part of the way with them, so that they should not be frightened.â