In different religions of the world there are deities that are directly related to death. In one case, they are the conductors of souls to another world, in the other – the underground deities and rulers of the next world, and in the third – one who took away the soul of a person at the time of death. Interestingly, all these creatures ruled the dead, but did not determine how much to live for.
For a person, death, like birth, is the most important component of life. That is why the gods of death are an important component of religion and mythology, powerful and powerful. In some cults, believers even worship them. About the most famous gods of death and will be discussed.
Hades and Thanatos.
Ancient Greek mythology is known to many. The God of the underworld in her – Hades, was the brother of Zeus himself. After the division of the world, he inherited the underworld, which he guards. The conductor here is Hermes, who is a rather versatile deity. There was also a god of death among the Greeks – Thanatos. But his other inhabitants of Olympus did not particularly respect, considering it indifferent to the victims of man. Thanatos was the brother of the dream god, Hypnos. The Greeks often portrayed death and a dream nearby, like a black and white youth. At Thanatos, in his hands was an extinguished torch, symbolizing the end of life. And the kingdom of Hades itself was described as gloomy fields with pale fields. There live disembodied weightless souls, who complain of a sad life without light and desires. And in this kingdom there are quiet moans, like the rustle of withered leaves. Return from the kingdom of sadness Hades there is no way. Not surprisingly, the Greeks were afraid to get here. Gloomy Hades was considered an Olympic god, climbing up on business. His wife was Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Her father allowed her to spend two-thirds of her life on the ground. Many legends are associated with the kingdom of the dead and Hades. Here and Sisyphus, who for his deception of death was sentenced to always raise the same stone. And Orpheus, in recognition of his talents, Hades even allowed to take his Eurydice. Hades also had his immortal assistants – monsters and deities. The most famous of them is Charon, who carried the dead through the river Styx.
Anubis and Osiris.
Anubis for the ancient Egyptians was considered a guide to the world of the dead. He was portrayed as a man with a jackal’s head. And it can not be said that this animal for the symbol of God was chosen at random. The fact is that the jackal is externally a small predator, from which you initially do not expect threats. But an animal can really symbolize death. Jackals feed on the dead, their howl is like the wails of desperate people, and it’s also a very cunning creature. Before the emergence of the Osiris cult, it was Anubis who was the chief deity of Western Egypt. Osiris was the father of this guide and the king of the afterlife. Together with his son, he judged the dead. Anubis held in his hands the scales of Truth, on one of whose bowls the human heart was laid, and on the other – the feather of the goddess Maat, symbolizing justice. If the heart was just as light, then the deceased fell on the beautiful and fruitful paradise fields. Otherwise, he was devoured by a monstrous monster Amat – a lion with a crocodile head. And this already meant the final death. According to one of the legends, Osiris was the pharaoh of Egypt, having taught people farming, winemaking and gardening. Killed by his brother Seth, Osiris was assembled in parts and resurrected Ra. But the deity decided not to return to earth, leaving her to her son Gora. Osiris chose the kingdom of the dead for himself.
In the mythology of the ancient Scandinavians, the kingdom of the dead is governed by Hel. She was the daughter of the cunning god Loki and the huge giantess Angobroda. In myths it is said that Hel inherited from her mother’s high growth. It was the goddess half-dark blue, and half-deadly pale. It is no coincidence that it was also called the Blue-White Hel. It was said that the thighs and legs of the goddess were covered with corpse stains and therefore decomposed.This was due to the fact that death was represented in the form of a skeleton, the character of the corpse was transferred to the image of Hel. Her kingdom is a dull place, where it’s cold and dark. It was believed that Hel received power over the kingdom of the dead from Odin. All the deceased go there, except for the heroes who were taken by valkyrs to Valhalla. There the soldiers fight, kill each other and raise again and again. So they show victory over death. The most famous mention of the goddess is found in the myth of Baldr. After death, he was a prisoner Hel. He almost managed to escape from the realm of the dead, but the cunning Loki prevented this. The ancient Scandinavians believed that when the Last Battle Ragnarok was held, Hel led the army of the dead to storm the skies.
In Shintoism, this goddess is credited with the power over creation and death. Together with her husband Izanagi, she created the land and all its inhabitants. After that, Izanami gave birth to several other gods who were able to rule the world. Only Kagutsuti, the god of fire, singed his mother, and after a serious illness she went to the land of eternal darkness, Emi. Did not help even the entreaties and tears of the beloved. But Idzanagi could not live without her and went after his beloved. But in the darkness he heard the voice of his wife, who told him that it was too late to change anything. Then Izanagi lit a torch to look at his beloved one for the last time. Instead of it, he saw a monster flowing in a bender and surrounded by monsters. Generations of darkness pounced on Izanagi, he barely managed to escape, closing the passage to the realm of the dead with a rock. It is interesting that this myth is somewhat similar to the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. The search for his beloved in the realm of the dead is in general a popular story in mythology. In reality, people often part because of the death of one of the spouses. So there are myths about how almost managed to return loved ones from the realm of the dead.
In South America, the kingdom of the dead and its ruler were portrayed in a similar way in other cultures. In the Aztecs, the god of the afterlife was Miklantekutli, who looked like a bloodied skeleton or just a man with a skull on the head. A wicked image was accompanied by stylish owl feathers on his head and a necklace from the eyes of people around his neck. The bat, owl, spider and wife Miktlansiuatl accompany God. She was portrayed in a similar way, besides, she also had a skirt of rattlesnakes. And there lives a couple in a house without windows, located on the bottom of the Underworld. To get to them on a visit, the deceased had to make a four-day trip. And the path was not easy – between the crumbling mountains, through the deserts, overcoming the icy wind and escaping snakes and crocodiles. And on the bank of the underground river the deceased met the conductor in the form of a small dog with ruby eyes. On her back she carried souls to Miklantekutli. The deceased gave to God those gifts that were put to his grave by his relatives. In terms of the wealth of gifts Miklantekutli and determined on what level of the underworld send a newcomer. I must say that there was nothing good there. Only the soldiers who died in the battle and the sacrificed prisoners fell into a special world, like Vakhalla. A separate afterworld was at the drowned people, who were considered guests of the god of water. And women who died during childbirth had their own abode.
In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it is the main enemy of the heavenly powers. This god has many names, the most famous are Lucifer, Devil, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Shaitan. The Bible tells us that Satan was originally an angel, perfect and wise. But the inhabitant of Edmam became proud and wished to be equal to God himself. Then he was thrown to Earth with friends who became demons. It is Satan who is guilty of driving people out of paradise, tempting Eve to taste the forbidden fruit of knowledge. And in Judaism Satan is only an angel-accuser, which allows a person to make a choice. This deity is identified with bad inclinations and the angel-death.The mouth of Satan was often considered an entrance to hell, to get there meant to be devoured by the Devil. It is generally accepted that it is Satan who guides hell, where all sinners fall. And the life was taken away from people with the help of the angels of death sent by God. The most famous of them were Abaddon and Azrael.
The name of this goddess literally means “the great underground lady”. The Sumerians Ereshkigal was the mistress of the underground kingdom of Irkalla. Her elder sister was Inanna (Ishtar), the goddess of love and fertility, and her husband is Nergal, the god of the underworld and the sun. Ereshkigal had seven judges of the underworld in charge. There was a temple dedicated to the goddess, in Kuta, in Babylon. In Sumerians, Ishtar personified spring and summer, and Ereshkigal – autumn and winter, that is, death and withering. Later, she was given power over the afterlife and death. One of the most famous songs about Ereshkigal talks about her cunning, about how she forced Ishtar to sacrifice her husband. There is also a well-known myth about how she married Nergal. Ereshkigal refused to attend the feast of the celibates. To punish her, the warlike Nergal was sent to the realm of the dead. But he not only did not punish her, but also took the goddess to wife, having stayed with her in Irkalla.
Orcus and Pluto.
The ancient Romans originally considered the god of death Orcus. Even in the Etruscans, he was considered a petty demon, but then his influence expanded. He was depicted as a bearded and winged substance that takes human souls to his kingdom. Becoming an afterlife ruler, Orcus absorbed the features of another such deity, Dis Patera. And later he himself became part of the image of the god Pluto. Pluto was a Roman version of Hades, incorporating many of its features. He was considered the brother of Jupiter and Neptune. Pluto was considered a hospitable god, but he did not let anyone back. God himself appeared on the surface of the earth rarely, solely for the choice of another victim. It was said that Pluto was looking for cracks on the ground so that the rays of the sun could not illuminate his gloomy kingdom. And he drives a chariot drawn by four black horses. His wife is the goddess of plants Proserpine, who reigns with him in the underworld.
If most of the religions we are talking about in the past tense, then Santa Muerta is still common today. This cult is present mainly in Mexico, but is also found in America. People worship the same-named deity, which is the embodiment of death. This cult was born on the basis of a mix of myths of the aborigines of Mexico and Catholicism. It is natural for local people to worship such deities, as manifested in the celebration of the “Days of the Dead”, even among Catholics. Fans of Santa Muert believe that the prayers addressed to her reach, and she can fulfill desires. In honor of the deity they build chapels. It itself appears as a female skeleton in a dress. Sacrifices are cigarettes, chocolate and alcoholic beverages. The most fanatical believers even perform ritual murders in honor of the goddess. Poor people, this religion attracts the fact that before Santa Muerta all are equal, including criminals. The Mexican authorities declared the cult a satanic, carrying out repressions against his admirers. Yes, and representatives of the Catholic Church announced that this religion has nothing to do with Christianity. But the number of followers of Santa Muerta is still growing.
This deity is present in the voodoo religion. Baron Samdi is associated not only with the dead and death, but also with sex and the birth of children. They depict the deity in the form of a stylish skeleton, on which flaunts a black coat and a cylinder. He looks as if the undertaker. Yes, the coffin is also his symbol. In Haiti, every new cemetery is supposed to dedicate the first grave to Baron Samdi. He can get into people, making them crazy about food, alcohol and sex. Baron Samdi is also considered the patron of the bandits.And the celebration of the Day of the Dead in Haiti is essentially a benefit of the deity. At his grave, pilgrims gather. They sing songs in his honor, smoke and drink strong rum. The cross on the Baron’s grave is not a Christian, but a symbol of the crossroads.
In the Buddhist tradition, this deity is responsible for the fate of the dead and disposes of hell. The world of the Pit is called “heaven without battle” – this is the first level, which has nothing to do with our life and its problems. In China, it is believed that the God of Death Yanlo-van lives in the underworld of Yudu. In his hands is a brush and a book with the fate of the deceased. The ruler himself has the face of a horse and the head of a bull. The guards lead to the Yanl-wang soul of people, and he takes the court. Virtue successfully degenerate, and sinners go to hell or are reborn in other worlds. In China, Yanglo-wan is regarded more as an official than as a deity. In Tibetans, the role of Yama is played by Shinja, the lord of death. He occupies a central position in describing life after death. Legends say that Shinjee sits in the very center of hell and determines the future destinies of souls.