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Thread: Brythonic Deities of Death

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    Brythonic Deities of Death

    I'm wondering if anyone can point me in the right direction here. I've had a massive revelation of sorts over the past few days and I understand now what this weird attraction I have to zombies is all about. I'm actually scared of death. I don't even like to clear away dead flies, and part of the reason I'm vegetarian is that the idea of eating a dead body creeps me out. This always made the zombie attraction all the weirder. It's not necessarily zombies, but anything wraith-like. I've had various wraith-like characters in my inner world, and always have a particularly close relationship with them, with these beings taking up more of my attention even than my guides.

    It seems they have two roles; one is that they represent my shadow self, and indicate that I have a close connection with, and acceptance of this part of my ego. The other role, is to connect me with the world of the dead. At the moment, this scares me still, but when I was in high school, I used to want to be an undertaker (the other girl who works nights at my place, had the same interest oddly enough). Now, I am thinking of changing careers and working in palliative care. I already work in the care sector, and one of the people I support is in the later stages of alzeimers. I've never nursed someone before, in fact we've all had to adapt and learn new skills in order to keep this lady in her home right to the end, but it feels natural to me. I think my role in life may actually be to ease souls through the transition from life to death. Even my spirit animal, Magpie, which I've identified with for around 13 years now, has a connection to the world of the dead, and funerary rites (a quality I always chose to ignore, again, due to my fear of death).

    Before I go handing in my notice (and I wouldn't do it until the lady in question has successfully made the journey), I'd like to learn what is needed of me, and how I can develop myself so I'm able to assist these individuals. I'd like to align myself with a deity to guide me through this process, but I'm not aware of any local deities of death.

    Has anyone come across such a deity? I know there is the Cailleach, but she isn't specifically Brythonic (but wide-spread enough to make the leap that she may have been acknowledged in Northumberland), and she doesn't seem to be specifically linked to death. I also came by Ankou (sometimes the Ankou), who seems like an early grim reaper. I'd rather not go rushing in and contacting a being like that before I know what I'm doing.

    So any ideas of who I should be looking towards? Or if you have any advise on how I should be developing myself, that would be appreciated too.

    Oh and before anyone worries about me, I've already been told I have to work on spiritual protection before I go any further. I'm thinking of taking a look at Mrs Penry's book on the subject. I'm not going to be diving in head-first.
    夕方に急なにわか雨は「夕立」と呼ばれるなら、なぜ朝ににわか雨は「朝立ち」と呼ばれないの? ^^If a sudden rain shower in the evening is referred to as an 'evening stand', then why isn't a shower in the morning called 'morning stand'?

  2. #2

    Re: Brythonic Deities of Death

    Well, upon looking up a list of Brythonic deities, I found Ankou (a personification of death) and Dis Pater (a god of the underworld). Perhaps some healing deities could also help in this situation. I would check out these links:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Celtic_deities
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ankou
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dis_Pater
    Hope this helped!

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    Re: Brythonic Deities of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by LearningMan View Post
    Well, upon looking up a list of Brythonic deities, I found Ankou (a personification of death) and Dis Pater (a god of the underworld). Perhaps some healing deities could also help in this situation. I would check out these links:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Celtic_deities
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ankou
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dis_Pater
    Hope this helped!
    Thanks. I'd found the Ankou already, but as I'd said, I'm a little nervous of him just yet. It reminded me though, that when I worked with the neteru, I was attracted to Nemty/Anti, the ferry God, although I never worshipped him. There was a version of the story with Isis that I found in a book of Egyptian mythology, where he not only loses his toes, but also his skin. So he was essentially a skeleton. I found this image charming, so maybe there's hope for me forming a relationship with the Ankou yet.

    I've decided I might re-read Terry Pratchett's 'Mort' again first. It's one of my favourites of his, second only to 'Wee Free Men', and seems like a nice place to start easing myself into the idea of serving Death.
    夕方に急なにわか雨は「夕立」と呼ばれるなら、なぜ朝ににわか雨は「朝立ち」と呼ばれないの? ^^If a sudden rain shower in the evening is referred to as an 'evening stand', then why isn't a shower in the morning called 'morning stand'?

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    Re: Brythonic Deities of Death

    Jem, remind me to jump in on this when I'm on the PC... not so much about Brythonic deities but as a psychopomp for animal souls who works with death deities. I may have something to add from that perspective, but not from my phone at lunch time!

    - - - Updated - - -

    In the meantime do a forum search on 'death deities' and on 'ankou' for some general discussions we've had in the past... I can rememember at least two I've chipped into recently.

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    Re: Brythonic Deities of Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Rae'ya View Post
    Jem, remind me to jump in on this when I'm on the PC... not so much about Brythonic deities but as a psychopomp for animal souls who works with death deities. I may have something to add from that perspective, but not from my phone at lunch time!

    - - - Updated - - -

    In the meantime do a forum search on 'death deities' and on 'ankou' for some general discussions we've had in the past... I can rememember at least two I've chipped into recently.
    Thank you! Your avatar was actually the second image to come into my mind when I asked my spirits where to look for information!
    夕方に急なにわか雨は「夕立」と呼ばれるなら、なぜ朝ににわか雨は「朝立ち」と呼ばれないの? ^^If a sudden rain shower in the evening is referred to as an 'evening stand', then why isn't a shower in the morning called 'morning stand'?

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    Re: Brythonic Deities of Death

    I should really be in bed right now, but I couldn't resist doing a search like you said, when I got home. Your post explaining the different types of death god was very helpful. Based on that already, I'm not sure I'd agree that Ankou is a psychopomp. Of course, I only started research yesterday, and I didn't find much, but it seems that his roll was in bringing death, rather than leading the dead to their final destination after death. It is hard to imagine that he wasn't the forerunner to the Grim Reaper though. Appearing as a cloaked skeleton, often with his face hidden. Carrying a scythe. So maybe I'll be better off reading up on the Reaper in order to get a grasp on Ankou.

    One thing I discovered in my short search last night, is that he doesn't just come for those who are dying, but also collects lost souls. The very first book on shamanism I ever read, way back when I was a teenager, spoke of a group of spirits called 'The Squadron', that took on this role. I'd be interested to know if you've ever heard of this concept before.

    If I do work with the Ankou, I don't think I'll be seeking some kind of close and meaningful connection with him/them (traditionally the role was passed to a different soul each year). I think I'll keep a respectful distance. In fact, I actually feel that I should feel fearful in his presence. I've been afraid of Death my whole life, so why change now I guess.

    Something that did come up though; I've been in mortal fear of dying young and leaving JP all alone. I was reminded on Sunday morning (when all this kicked off for me), of the fact that I had a close shave with death myself when I was 22. The fact I didn't die is nothing short of a miracle. A small coincidence and my mum's intuition are all that stood between me and the other side of the veil. I guess someone wanted me to live, and every extra day I've had since then has been a bonus. Somehow, that's lifted the anxiety around death.

    I feel that if I am really being called to work with Death, then it's all the more important that I affirm and celebrate life.
    夕方に急なにわか雨は「夕立」と呼ばれるなら、なぜ朝ににわか雨は「朝立ち」と呼ばれないの? ^^If a sudden rain shower in the evening is referred to as an 'evening stand', then why isn't a shower in the morning called 'morning stand'?

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    Re: Brythonic Deities of Death

    Okay here goes... lol

    Quote Originally Posted by Jembru View Post
    Now, I am thinking of changing careers and working in palliative care. I already work in the care sector, and one of the people I support is in the later stages of alzeimers. I've never nursed someone before, in fact we've all had to adapt and learn new skills in order to keep this lady in her home right to the end, but it feels natural to me.
    Firstly, on the practical side of things, palliative care is HARD. If you've never worked in a palliative care facility, see if you can do some volunteering or work placement of some kind before you make a final decision about ending up there (though I suspect you have to go through training first anyway, right?). I've never worked human palliative care myself, but I've been in a few facilities and my aunt worked palliative care for a long time. Just make sure you are prepared for it before you commit and know what to expect, including abusive patients throwing faeces at you or being deliberately belligerent. If it's your calling then absolutely go for it... but be careful of inadvertently romanticizing it because you've only scratched the surface so far. It can be really emotionally taxing, not just from the point of view of abusive or difficult patients, but also patients who are literally just laying there waiting to die, who are slowly starving to death, who are miserable, who are highly anxious, who have to be sedated to keep them manageable, family members being angry, in denial or grieving... being the person who helps them cross is really rewarding, but it's HARD. And it can take a few years to build up the emotional resilience without shutting yourself down. And then you have to work with people who have shut themselves down, who have compassion fatigue, and who generally don't share your spiritual connection to the job. Try to go into it with your eyes open, and decide whether a palliative care facility is the right place, or whether you'd prefer to do some sort of palliative home care visits or similar.

    As an aside, tending the dead can also be a job of the psychopomp. In my experience with animals, the soul leaves pretty much straight away, but in humans it's said that the soul will stay anywhere between 3-9 days after death. The rites and rituals around preparing the body for the funeral, as well as the funerary rites themselves, were designed to lead the soul into the next life and encourage it to pass rather than hanging around. I believe that in certain chronic illness cases, when the person is ready to die and waiting for it to happen, the soul will go immediately, but it other cases it may not. In cases like sudden accidental death, having a psychopomp present at the moment of death can help the soul start the process of moving on.

    So it's probably worth confirming with your guides and allies where you would be most effectively placed... in palliative care, in ICU, in a children's cancer ward, in emergency or in a post-death situation like an undertaker (keeping in mind that some of these options are only open to trained nurses). If you need to be present at the moment of death, consider if you'd be better placed as a nurse or caretaker, or as the person who sits vigils (usually clergy, counselors or volunteers).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jembru View Post
    I think my role in life may actually be to ease souls through the transition from life to death. Even my spirit animal, Magpie, which I've identified with for around 13 years now, has a connection to the world of the dead, and funerary rites (a quality I always chose to ignore, again, due to my fear of death).
    There are a few ways to fulfill the job of psychopomp, so it's important to figure out in what capacity you're supposed to be guiding these souls...

    - Facilitating the moment of death (ie, euthanasia, which is what I do for my animal patients)
    - Helping the person through the moment of death, which requires you to be present as they die (which is actually not always possible as a nurse or caretaker, but is often what volunteer clergy do when they sit at vigil with the person)
    - Helping the soul realise it's body is dead and it needs to pass
    - Helping the soul leave the body (often through preparation of the body for funeral or cremation)
    - Handing the soul over to whatever entity will lead it to it's Land of the Dead
    - Leading the soul to it's Land of the Dead yourself (which generally requires you to be a shamanist of some kind)
    - Helping souls who have gotten stuck or lost on the way to the Land of the Dead
    - Helping souls who have gotten stuck here in Thisworld and need to pass on

    Sometimes you can do a few of these at once. In my own practice, I prepare my patient for euthanasia, tend it while the veterinarian gives the injection (I do fatally injured wildlife myself, but pets are always done by the vet), ease them through the moment of death, hand their soul over to the spirit who will take them (usually the overarching Dog, Cat, Rabbit etc spirit, but sometimes it's the owner's guides or an 'angel' who works for YHVH), then prepare their body for cremation or burial (which is sort of a 'closure' situation).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jembru View Post
    Before I go handing in my notice (and I wouldn't do it until the lady in question has successfully made the journey), I'd like to learn what is needed of me, and how I can develop myself so I'm able to assist these individuals. I'd like to align myself with a deity to guide me through this process, but I'm not aware of any local deities of death.
    This is where the idea of different types of death deities comes into it. Who you need to ally with will depend a little on where you are situated in the process of death (as I mentioned above)...

    - Facilitating the moment of death requires you to ally with a deity who rules over the moment of death (I am sworn to Skuld). It doesn't necessarily have to be the deity who the patient believes in, because it seems that they all talk to each other and can arrange permission for you to tend that person if needed. You can't assume though... sometimes a deity of death will be territorial and will want their own people to do the deed, sometimes they don't really care, sometimes your deity will have negotiated your 'access' previously so you have automatic clearance to help that patient, and sometimes individual patients need to be negotiated individually. Basically, you can't do that by yourself and you have very little control over the outcome... you need a deity of death on your side.

    - Easing a soul through the moment of death and handing it over to an entity who will carry it to the Land of the Dead requires a working knowledge of the various Psychopomp entities. Which ones you need to be acquainted with will depend on the religion of the people you are helping, because a soul is generally collected by the entity attached to their religion or folklore. In America that may mean that most Christians are collected by an 'angel', while in Britain they may be collected by the local Ankou or the Grim Reaper. The Psychopomp entity/deity doesn't necessarily have to be religion specific... it can be local folklore specific, if that makes sense. Sometimes it's not actually a Psychopomp who will come to collect them at all, but an Ancestor or recently deceased loved one. There are relatively few big deities who will go collecting the dead themselves... most Psychopomp entities are entities rather than deities, and have the skills and networks to lead souls to several different Lands of the Dead. It's not necessary to have an official alliance with them, but it's nice to know your co-workers and make the effort to be able to recognise them and address them by name. Having said that, if folklore is strong in your area, and everyone has the general belief that when you die the Grim Reaper comes to pick you up... then see if He is willing to form a more personal alliance or relationship, given that He is probably the one you'll see most often.

    - Leading souls to the Land of the Dead yourself, or helping stuck souls, is fairly advanced shamanic work. Relatively few people are called to this in Western society, because it's not something that was ever a large part of our cultures. It happens, and there are those who act as psychopomps in the Otherworlds, but it's a specific skill set that requires specific alliances. If this is your calling, you'd know it already. But it sounds like it probably isn't, which is just as well, because as far as I'm aware, it sucks up a LOT of time and effort and is not something you can do on a casual basis. It's also not something you can do as a nurse or caretaker... because you need to be able to journey into the Otherworlds at a moment's notice, when your Death Keeper calls you to collect someone. You don't need to be physically present with the dead, but you need to be able to journey to them in the astral plane of Thisworld and guide them through the Otherworlds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jembru View Post
    So any ideas of who I should be looking towards? Or if you have any advise on how I should be developing myself, that would be appreciated too.
    In general, doing the transitional phase of psychopomp work is the most flexible and secular of tasks. There are lots of different guides who'll be able to help you with that, and provide introductions to Psychopomp entities you'll be meeting. Ancestors, certain Animal Guides, the ubiquitous 'spirit guide' and Psychopomps themselves can help you learn the process. If you've already got Magpie and others helping you in this, you don't specifically need to seek out anyone else. And if you do require another guide, Magpie is probably going to be the one who is best able to provide you with an introduction.

    The process itself is actually not that difficult. It's almost like... your name gets out there as the person who eases transitions, and so you become a beacon for the Psychopomps that makes their job easier. It's your presence rather than anything you actually do that is important, if that makes sense. What you are actually DOING is just what you normally do in that situation... I can't say that I do anything special that I wouldn't be doing anyway... which is possibly WHY I've been chosen for this task. It sort of comes naturally and without actually thinking too hard about it, which makes it difficult to explain. But I get the feeling that this is what makes us suited to this job... the fact that we have the 'knack' for easing the souls across that boundary.

    It's a bit surreal, but you get to the point where people thank you for euthanising their pets, and for being there. You get a reputation for being the person that they want present when it's done. People ask you things that they wouldn't ask of the other nurses, they trust you to "take care of him for me", they accept physical comfort from you when they wouldn't necessarily from other staff (I realised the other day that a client actually turned to me for hugs and solace rather than her husband who was standing right next to her), and they say things like "I'm glad it was you who was here for him". Most vets and nurses hate euthanasias and find them awkward and awful, they don't know what to say, what to do, whether to touch the person or not touch them, whether to stay and chat afterwards. I see my job as the person who eases that animal through the transition, who provides the solid touchstone for the animal during a confusing time when the family is in pieces, who allows them to release their suffering, who shepherds in the Psychopomp when it's time for them to go, and who prepares the body afterwards. Obviously that comes through in some way that the owner unconsciously recognises, because you also end up helping THEM through it as well.

    I work mostly with the overarching Animal Guide spirits of the species that I guide through death. The Psychopomp that comes to get them is normally Dog, Cat, Rabbit, Blue Tongued Skink, Budgerigar, Cockateil etc. My understanding of the animal afterlife is a version of reincarnation. There isn't really a Doggie Heaven where they run around in the sun with an unending supply of bones and koala poop to roll in. They are... 'absorbed' isn't quite the right word... welcomed back into the overarching spirit, which is a culmination of every dog that ever has been and will be. Sometimes the owner's Psychopomp spirit will come to get the pet, but I've only really seen that with very devout Christians. I also work closely with Barbatos, a Goetic Demon who is connected with animals and communicating with animals, but that's more in the capacity of caring for them in life rather than death.

    One of the most important things for this job is having an understanding of death and what happens afterwards. There is always a deep core of me that maintains an intellectual agnosticism when it comes to spiritual beliefs, but my experiences have led me to have faith that this is what happens after death. I think if you don't have that, then you'll struggle to be effective at this task. That's where researching, communing with your guides, learning about different Lands of the Dead and touching base with the keepers of the dead is important. You don't necessarily have to have a relationship or alliance with the keepers of the dead, but you should at least have some understanding of who they are and who is likely to end up with them. With humans that's a bit more complicated than with animals. We generally accept that a believer will end up in the Land of the Dead of their religion, and that it's their beliefs and religion that dictate whether something like reincarnation is on the tables. But what happens to atheists when they die?

    It's possible help to them through the transition without knowing or caring what happens to them afterwards, but I think to be truly effective and comforting in that moment you need to have that connection. There's as much non-verbal comfort and guidance provided as their is verbal... it's not just about what you say to the person, but about your confidence and conviction in what you say and your attitude to death. Because they will pick up on that, and they'll know if you aren't convinced by the process. And frankly, if you aren't convinced by the process then you probably shouldn't be doing this job.

    I think that's all I have for today lol.

  8. #8
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Brythonic Deities of Death

    My no. 1 daughter works in a retirement community.

    Her specific job, recreational therapist, is to, as much as possible, keep the elderly in her care actively interested in life.

    Her clientele ranges from the young-old (those who, even in their 90s, are lively) to the ancient-old (those who, even in their 60s - frequently due to medical conditions - mentally absent).

    Needless to say, many of the people with whom she works pass away...

    She loves her work, becomes attached to those she works with (I can't imagine a person doing that work well without meeting those two conditions), and misses those who pass away as if they were friends.

    The way she deals with the constant loss of "friends" is through the understanding that she worked to make the last bit of their lives as good as it was possible to be.

    P.S. I know nothing about death deities. But I do understand people, sometimes.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

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    Live and learn anunitu's Avatar
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    Re: Brythonic Deities of Death

    I am wondering if I might be a "Death Whisperer" if only because I am close to many here(Hear being a senior citizens apartments) who will die in a short time(but also I know a few here that will outlive me,and possibly YOU)

    I think it has a lot to do with your genes,even if you drank,and smoked and just plain had a LOT of fun being alive,also it might be you never really became an adult completely.
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    Supporter Jembru's Avatar
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    Re: Brythonic Deities of Death

    Thanks for the replies everyone! I'm back at work so can sit down and reply to this.

    The issue with working with the elderly isn't in the abuse or the emotional side; I already work in care. I've been spat at, screamed at, had my hair pulled, bitten, scratched and yes.. I'm used to poop! The main issue for me would be in the quality of care provided. It's what scares me the most about switching jobs. You see, there's a lot more money in the area I work. These are people will dual diagnosis; learning disability and mental health diagnosis, and there is a much bigger welfare pot for such people. When people out-grow child services, they come to companies like mine. We offer community support, day services and supported living. I worked on the community side for about 6 years, either supporting people in their own homes, or taking them out for the day. Now I'm in the supported living side; I work with 5 adults who share their home and split their support costs.

    We have a good staff ratio; never more than 3 clients to one staff member in the company generally, (and always 1:1 if out in the community) and in the home I work in, there are never fewer than 2 staff on shift, regardless of the number of clients (two of our ladies stay with family at the weekend sometimes, or even on family holidays). This means that no one is left waiting for attention from staff. If people want to go out for the day, they can, if they want to attend an event, we can work our rota around them. They get up when they want, and they go to bed when they want. They plan their own meals, pick their own clothes. We have 3 TV's downstairs, and everyone has one in their room.. so there are no fights over what people watch. The rooms are large and on-suit, so people can be alone if they choose to.

    Our training is amazing too. It's rare that a rota goes by and I wasn't scheduled to attend some kind of training or refresher (and it always means more money come pay day!!). From nutrition to makaton, NAPPI (non-aggressive physical intervention), to epilepsy awareness, my company is constantly on the ball with training, and we're quick adapt to the changing needs of our clients.

    In elderly care though, staff tend to be paid minimum wage, and don't get the on-going training that we have. It isn't unusual for 2 members of staff to be responsible for a floor of 20+ residents. The new waking-night girl here, came to us from a nursing home and when I was inducting her, she couldn't believe the quality of care here. She told me how in her home, they'd start getting people out of bed at 5 in the morning, so that they were all up and dressed by the time day staff came on shift. Then they'd have their evening meal at 4pm, so they can all be in bed by the time night staff start. It's horrific. There's no choice, no freedom. It would destroy me to be forced to treat human beings in that way.

    I was talking to a colleague about this, and he suggested that I stay on the learning disabilities side. Our company is planning to open a home for people with Downs syndrome, who have dementia. Such facilities are sadly lacking, and regular nursing homes rarely have the expertise to cater for people with learning disabilities. The lady I mentioned in a previous post was given 6 months to live.. over 3 years ago!! All the specialists involved with her tell us that had she not had the quality of care she gets here, that 6 months was probably accurate; she makes us so proud, and has really brought us together as a staff team.

    We had another gent with Downs syndrome, who had an upstairs bedroom so had to move out when he developed dementia and could no longer manage the stairs. He went to a regular nursing home, and didn't see the year out. It makes you wonder...

    So yeah, I won't be rushing out to work in a regular nursing home; I couldn't afford to take the pay cut for a start, never mind cope with the stress of knowing I'm not able to give these people the quality of care they deserve. It would kill me. Now when that specialist facility opens.. I may very well be interested in moving over there.

    It's also possible, I suppose, that I could be called to work with deities of death for other reasons, maybe to learn to understand the cycle of life and death better, and shed my fear of it. That would at least prepare me for when I'm called upon to nurse someone through those last hours. At this point, I really don't know what direction I'm being led in (and honestly, if I could choose, I'd rather change careers altogether and work in translation). I'm still scared of death, and I'm worried about working with such deities.. but maybe that alone is every reason why I should listen to my instincts, and find out exactly what it is they want from me...
    夕方に急なにわか雨は「夕立」と呼ばれるなら、なぜ朝ににわか雨は「朝立ち」と呼ばれないの? ^^If a sudden rain shower in the evening is referred to as an 'evening stand', then why isn't a shower in the morning called 'morning stand'?

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