Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Grim Reaper

With Grim being an archaic synonym for 'spirit/soul', The Grim Reaper is in effect, the reaper of souls.

Every culture on earth has a personification of Death. The Grim Reaper is primarily a European creation, appearing as a skeleton wrapped in a black, hooded-cloak, and carrying a scythe, a tool used to harvest or 'reap' grain, hence the symbolism of him being a 'reaper of souls'. Click HERE to see a classic representation of the Grim Reaper. Look to the lower right to see who he has come for!

To the Greeks, Death was called Thanatos, the son of Night, twin brother of Sleep, and was portrayed as a man with wings.

To certain practitioners of Santeria, Death is Yewa, a Virgin Orisha, who favors the color pink and who dances with horsetails at funerals. Other Orishas that are constant companions of Death include, Oya, the spirit of wind and lightning who lives in cemeteries. As a spirit of wind and air, Oya also rules over breath, as in 'The Breath Of Life'. Although not Death herself, Oya plays her role when the time comes to remove that breath. Then there is Babalu Aye, the Orisha who was originally associated with Smallpox but has now been given dominion over all disease. He has killed (and healed) untold numbers of humans. For Babalu Aye, being the spirit of sickness can also remove that sickness if he so chooses.

To Christians, The Angel Of Death, has been a source of confusion. Is the entity an Angel or a Demon? I guess it all depends on the manner of the individuals death. It's hard to fathom a loving God would send forth an Angel to cause a child to be murdered by a child predator. See the confusion? Many Christians solve this dilemma by claiming there are more than one spirit of Death, some being good (Angels) and some being evil (Demons).

To add to that confusion, many people in Mexico and the United States have begun to worship Santa Muerte, 'Saint Death', the Angel Of Death promoted to Sainthood, similar to how St. Michael the Archangel and other Angels have been made into Saints. Her worship is forbidden by the Catholic Church, but believers scoff at the notion that the Church has any control over 'The Skinny Girl', or 'The White Girl', euphanisms by which her followers jokingly refer to her as.

Death is bittersweet. It can be a a beautiful release from pain and agony of disease or handicap. It can be a peaceful passing away in one's sleep. Death can also be evil, almost as if taking delight in human suffering. Whatever form Death may take, it is inescapable, for now at least.

Perhaps H.P. Lovecraft was right when he wrote that, " strange aeons even Death may die."

Until then, live today as if were your last, for fall you know, it just might be.

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