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Another Goofy Word I've Recently Come Across

May 10, 2009

I've got another goofy word to hit you with. This one is incredibly odd. Well, maybe I think it's odd because I'm not overly familiar with ancient Greek. Still, it seems like an overly goofy word and the meaning might not be immediately apparent (I had to look a the etymology in order for it to make more sense).

Psychopomp: a conductor or leader of souls to the afterworld. Charon was a psychopomp who carried the souls of the dead across the River Styx into the realm of Hades. Hermes served as a psychopomp when he guided Eurydice's ghost to Orpheus. Psychopomps aren't limited to Greek mythology (Heimdall is a Norse psychopomp), but these are two better known instances that I could think of.

I mean, seriously? We needed a word for this? Apparently so. Given that my BIG BAD EPIC STORY is a fantasy story with gods and shit in it, working this one into a book would probably be easy. The real challenge should be to work into a piece of fiction that isn't a fantasy. Still, I'm going to pop it in somewhere, probably dealing with the God of Death. I've already formulated the scene in my mind. Not having a psychopomp will be one of the reasons why the God of Death has gone mad: he is the one who has to guide the souls of all the deceased to their final realm. It will probably appear in the conversation between one of my main characters and one of the gods, probably the Death God's sister, the Goddess of Life. See how that works? Almost brilliant, eh?

Oh, apparently, "psyche" doesn't pertain just to "mind" in Greek, it is used as the word for "soul". "Pompos" means "sending", so I guess it literally means "one who sends souls" somewhere.

And, by the way, Happy Mother's Day. May your mama--or you, if'n your you're a mama--not meet up with any psychopomps for a good, long while.

15 comments:

Scope said...

You would think you would need a band of psychopomps to deal with it. Maybe a group of tall, blond scandinavian women wearing breat plates? That's a nice image for you.

Soda and Candy said...

Ooh. learning! Psychopomp just makes me think of a crazy fat guy with a monocle.

PS - I'm pretty sure I need to buy your book when it comes out.


PPS - "your a mama"??? YOU'RE a professional writer! *tsk tsk*.

Eric said...

I used to think psychopomp meant a crazy pretentious person. Seriously though, they are depicted in some of the ancient Stabiae frescos.

Joel D. Timm said...

I just read the book "Boundary Waters" by William Kent Krueger and there was a reference to Charon in it. Just finished it last night and then I read this post today.

Weird.

Frank said...

Is there a rock band named Psychopomp? There should be.

That Baldy Fella said...

It was Stephen King who first introduced me to this word - he uses it quite a lot in "The Dark Half".

coolred38 said...

I wish someone would psychopomp my ex right on down to where he deserves to be...

*oh did I say that out loud...my bad.

Chemgeek said...

I had a psychoprom date once. That's pretty much the same thing, right?

words...words...words... said...

What Frank said. That would be an awesome band name.

And who is the hottie?

Fancy Schmancy said...

Awww, that was the sweetest, most unusual mother's day wish I've ever heard...

TishTash said...

This word makes me think of a crazy person in a graduation cap and gown.

Which is how I would dress if I were a psychopomp.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Scope: I've heard that They're not all blonde. Imagine that.

@ Soda & Candy: I think I might start putting that in the query letter: "I've got a big family, several friends, and nearly 100 blog followers who will by the book. I mean, isn't that enough for a publishing contract?"

@ Eric: That's what I would have guessed where I told to come up with a definition.

@ Joel: Weird...or impeccable timing on my part?

@ Frank: Looks like there is. It is a pretty good name for a band, too.

@ Baldy: I'm not a big King fan. I think I first saw it in Sandman, but I found it the other day when looking up personifications of Death. Did I say that already? It's been a while.

@ CoolRed38: I've got a whole list of folks who can go with him.

@ ChemGeek: I dunno. Did she have big knockers?

@ words^3: I don't know her name. She's dressed up like Death from the Sandman comics.

@ Fancy Schmancy: I'm a poet like that. A very touching, odd poet.

@ TishTash: Would it be all in black, or would you go crazy and do something like purple and gold?

Sassy Britches said...

It's horrid, but I saw "poop," not "pomp." Huh. I need to hang out with little kids more; hanging with the adults gets me more "poop" talk than with kids!

The Ambiguous Blob said...

My favorite goddess, Persephone, was a part-time psychopomp. I want her job.

~E said...

I'm a bus driver for the psychopomp express. As long as Im heading to hell anyway, might as well pick up some virgins, minors, and aging rockstars along the way.