They were "psychopomps," spirits that guide newly-deceased souls to the afterlife. Many religious belief systems tell of psychopomps, e.g., the Egyptian Anubis, The Valkyries of Norse mythology, Charon from the Greek myths, the angels of JudeoChristianity. Sometimes the psychopomps were animals, such as dogs, horses, or even dolphins. Birds that are said to function as psychopomps include eagles, owls, ravens, cranes, crows, and sparrows. In Lovecraft's story, they were whippoorwills: "Then, too, the natives are mortally afraid of the numerous whippoorwills which grow vocal on warm nights. It is vowed that the birds are psychopomps lying in wait for the souls of the dying, and that they time their eerie cries in unison with the sufferer's struggling breath. If they can catch the fleeing soul when it leaves the body, they instantly flutter away chittering in daemoniac laughter; but if they fail, they subside gradually into a disappointed silence."