My wife pulls me over to the computer screen, “Watch this,” she says. It’s the trailer for Disney-Pixar’s latest film, Soul. As a psychopomp, I’m in the job of working with souls. My wife looks at me, “This is what you do, you’ve gone mainstream!”
There have been other major films about souls, death and even psychopomp-type work, but Disney-Pixar certainly is mainstream. And, releasing it for home streaming on Christmas day suggests they expect it to have broad appeal, despite the tricky subject matter. It is an interesting one and I wonder who they had in mind for their main target audience. Perhaps families with tweens and teenagers, but I don’t want to say more and spoil the message of the film! I really enjoyed the film. It is an easy-watch and largely family friendly. Here I offer some reflections on the story from the perspective of a psychopomp (don’t worry - no spoilers!)
It’s not a ‘spoiler' to say that the film starts with the unexpected, accidental death of Joe Gardner. We see Joe’s soul on a conveyer belt of souls heading towards a bright light. The bright, blinding light will be familiar to those of you who have read my other blog posts, although the landscape at this point in the film is different from what I see in my psychopomp work - I generally always see much wilder, natural landscapes. However, I don’t usually work with souls who pass on ’easily’.
Joe Gardner’s soul is not willing to pass on easily so he would be the sort of soul that I would potentially end up helping. When Joe bursts out of the conveyer belt arena and tumbles through kaleidoscope-type tunnels the experience becomes more similar to the sort of thing I experience. This is a little like what I experience when I seek to enter the journey state to do my psychopomp work.
The film doesn’t depict a psychopomp character as it mainly focuses on the very start of souls’ lives and their movement to life on Earth. I do not have any experience with souls at this early stage of life, but it was really interesting to watch the ideas and process as portrayed in the film.
The characters most closest to my role are those on the boat led by Moonwind. These are living people who enter an altered state of consciousness in different ways - someone meditating in Tibet, a Shamanic practitioner from California and Moonwind who spins advertising boards for a living in New York. They charitably look for what they refer to as ‘lost souls’ and perform soul healing work such as soul retrieval or soul fragmentation retrieval. I can also do this sort of soul work, although it is an aspect of soul communication that came to me after my psychopomp abilities. So far I have only helped the souls of people I know - friends and relatives who have experienced considerable trauma or have been unwell. Also, quite randomly, a shop assistant in my local supermarket who I see regularly but do not know. Her soul came to me seeking help in the night and I helped her guided by my usual team in the spirit world. This made for a very unusual shopping experience the next day as she seemed to recognise me in some way (beyond being a regular shopper) and stood for an unusually long time, mouth agape, at the end of the aisle when she saw me, before rushing off.
My experiences with this sort of soul retrieval work have been more harrowing than the film depicts - usually I see and experience some of the what the person has experienced. That would be too much for a Disney film, though. The film side-steps this by conveying Moonwind and his team helping a hedge-fund manager who has lost his soul to the grey drudgery of a life focused solely on making money. The landscape at this point of the film seemed really accurate to me. They depict a black shape-shifting fog that consumes the souls of some people. At the same time the ground is a sandy, undulating desert-sea and this sandy ground is very similar to the ground on which I do most of my psychopomp work.
Moonwind indicates that he can only help the souls of people who are alive, but apart from that his character and situation would be familiar to psychopomps and other people who do spiritual healing type work. He is conveyed as an energetic, spirited hippy-type person with a deeper understanding of life. He seems to be able to enter his altered state of consciousness through the repetitive action of spinning his advertising board and also by drumming. In the film it is apparent that he is really committed to his healing work. You get the sense that he remains at his boring, poorly paid job, because it offers him the chance to enter this state whilst at work and inside he’s feeling pretty smug despite his horrible boss. However, it is a bit of paradox that he is badly treated and paid so little, whilst freely and secretly helping the souls of the likes of hedge-fund managers who are making millions. Of course, he has the gift of what he calls ‘astral projection’ and he knows that there is so much more to life than money.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable watch and will hopefully spark some fascinating and deep conversations in family homes across the world. I would thoroughly recommend this film as a first step towards accepting the idea of souls, spirits and parallel worlds.
You can see the trailer for the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOsLIiBStEs
And the full film is available to view worldwide via DisneyPlus (we ended up subscribing so that we could see the film, my children are delighted!)