26 Aug 2011

THE GRIM REAPER AKA ????????

It's funny how people of different beliefs, different religions, different cultures etc view different things. A broad, sweeping statement I know, but in particular I'm thinking about Death. Morbid I know but typing my 'Memorable Moment' from THE LOLLIPOP SHOES by Joanne Harris (see my review soon) got me thinking as to the names we used and just how we visualised the Grim Reaper.


She's the wind that blows at the turn of the year. She's the sound of one hand clapping. She's the lump in your mother's breast. She's the absent look in your daughter's eyes. She's the cry of the cat. She's in the confessional. She's hiding inside the black pinata. But most of all she is simply Death; greedy old Mictecacihuatl herself, Santa Muerte, the Eater of Hearts, most terrible of the Kindly Ones.  - The Lollipop Shoes, Page 480.  

Ah yes, the Grim Reaper - an English 'creation' who from the 15th century onwards came to be portrayed as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe, clothed in a black cloak with a hood OR as the Urban Dictionary explains he is .....

Death with a capital D. Perhaps the most recognized entity of all time, neither ghost nor god; the Grim Reaper is a psychopomp who’s job is to conduct the souls of the recently dead into the afterlife. He is often depicted as a tall pale skeletal figure shrouded in a long, dark, black hooded cloak wielding a scythe which he uses to harvest souls with, although some accounts say he just touches the person to pop their soul so they don’t feel pain when they die. When he moves, he seemingly glides rather than walking.

He?

Yes, he. In many languages (English included)Death is personified in male form though in some others 'it' is perceived as feminine.

Take for example the afore mentioned Mictecacihuatl, the Goddess of Death and the Underworld who the Aztecs depicted with a skull face, a skirt made of serpents and sagging breasts. Her job? To watch over the bones of the dead which may possibly be needed to create the people of another future world.


OR how about Santa Muerte?

Also depicted in female form, Santa Muerte is a sacred figure venerated in Mexico. Referred to by many names, including amongst others Señora de las Sombras (Lady of the Shadows),  Señora Blanca (White Lady)and  La Flaca (The Skinny One), she usually appears as a skeletal figure who carries a scythe and a globe. 

And what about the Eater of Hearts?

Ammut (Ammit, Ahemait, Ammemet, Egyptian demoness of punishment, she was also known as 'The Devourer' and 'Great of Death' as well as the Eater of Hearts. Waiting by the Scales of Judgement to consume the heads of those who did evil during their lives, she was never considered a Goddess but embodied the creatures that the Egyptians feared, threatening to eat them if they did not follow the principles of Ma'at, the Eygptian concept of truth, law and justice.


Hmm, interesting. I'd love to know about your/your cultures perceptions on Death as a 'person'. Perhaps you'd like to leave a comment OR even write a post of your own .... just don't forget to leave a link if you do.


But you know I couldn't end this post without mention of Terry Pratchett's vision of Death.


A DISCWORLD character and a favourite of Husband dearest Death like most Grim Reapers is a black robed skeleton who usually carries a scythe. However,he does not appear as Death in the universal sense, his only jurisdiction being in the Discworld itself,he can only go where people believe in death and although not invisible (he can be seen by those of a magical disposition, children and cats)most people refuse to acknowledge him unless he insists.




14 comments:

Arti said...

In Hinduism, Yamraj is the God of Death...
He is depicted as black in color and sits on a buffalo...
He is the brother of Yamuna river, the most sacred river in India after the Ganga...
Have a great weekend Tracy:)

anilkurup said...

Interesting indeed. Yes as Arti mentioned God of death in Indian myth is male and he jets about on his ferocious looking buffalo and wields a club in one hand with a lasso in the other. Lasso to entangle victims whose time is up.

But I would prefer a beautiful feminine god of death- can you recall the movie " All that Jazz"?

Sridharan said...

Interesting thought..The diversity of human race starts from the birth and continues even after death , in beliefs !.
Some interesting links of the like subject
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yama_(Hinduism)

http://www.thatreligiousstudieswebsite.com/Religious_Studies/Phil_of_Rel/Life_after_Death/hinduism_life_death.php

Kelly said...

Very interesting! Stepping aside from my Christian beliefs for a moment, I tend to think of "death" as a grim reaper figure much like the one that accompanied Scrooge into the future in Dickens' story or the one you used at the top of the post.

I do remember the female version from "All That Jazz", too, that anildurup mentioned above.

Now, getting into my ideas as a Christian would be another whole comment. I'll spare you. :)

Kelly said...

Oh...and there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to when my posts update in your sidebar. I did post a new one this morning, but it's still showing my post from Wednesday. Who knows!?

Lilly said...

Very interesting post, I especially liked the job description of Mictecacihuatl.

I think in Norway we generally go with the Grim Reaper thing, I've not hear about anything else anyway.

A said...

I almost thought you wrote my name when I read "Ammut". Glad it is very different.

Always interesting to read your posts.

joan said...

thanks for visiting we are going to scarborough this week lol

iamjen said...

wow interesting topic. though honestly this post is scary to me. i really try not to go over this kind of topic.... but well i read it all. first time... well ever since i became a mommy, you know had near death experiences, now i hate the thought of dying...

chitra said...

Every religion. culture has its own version of describing death, and its aftermath. Hindus believe in a cycle of life and death.The soul which leaves the body is a temporary phase and again reappears in some other form depending on its deed it does in the previous one. The one's whose deeds are good they reach heaven and who are baddies go to hell and an account of good and bad is maintained by an admin officer called Chitragupta. After death he reads it and punishment is given to the souls depending on their KARMA ( deeds) . This is all in Hindu Philosophy. It is believed that God of death is Yama and he strikes when the time of death comes.These are mentioned in our scriptures but no one really knows what really happens.

Though Lord of death Yama is not worshipped anywhere , I have come across a temple where he is enshrined and worshipped to ward of any ill effects in their life.

themethatisme said...

...but you forgot all the interesting bits about Death on Discworld, like HE ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS and likes to pop out for a curry when he's not working.

Suko said...

Petty, I had not before heard of The Eater of Hearts. Fascinating post, on a topic we often dare not discuss!

StarTraci said...

Super interesting! I usually think of Death as the Reaper although after the Bill and Ted films, it is more of a humorous vision.

I didn't know about the Aztec and others -- I always think of Death as a "he".

Have a great week -- may you make none of the acquaintances.
:-)
Traci

Jenners said...

I love the quote from the Lollipop book. And I just may have nightmares from some of the photos. You should read "The Book Thief," if you haven't already. It is narrated by Death. It will give you a new perspective on "his" personality.