marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

Death Becomes Her (or Him)

Death personified.

One panelist thought it was only a literary technique, he couldn't take it seriously because of a childhood near death experience, where he was coming up to a black wall and knew that past it he would either know about the afterlife or be extinct,
Death so often appears as a lover.  There were some questions as to whether it ever appears as female because of that, and some examples were brought up, but admissions of the lure, the attractiveness of death.

Of course, being human(ish), Death appears exorable, which is not true to life.  Still, it  contrasts strongly with the Devil, which is out to hurt you.  Death just doesn't care.  It's about dying, not harming.  Death is not good or evil, just Death.

And stories where you get off tend to show it's very, very, very bad.  There's the versions where you stop Death entirely, and it's horrible.  Or one story of the Jack O'Lantern -- usually he's rejected by both Heaven and Hell, but sometimes he's rejected by Death and must wander the world forever.  The Brothers Grimm feature "Godfather Death" -- a poor man could get no one else to stand godfather for his son, and then Death teaches him healing and tells him that if Death stands at the head of the bed, he can do nothing, but if he stands at the foot, he may cure them.  Then he's summoned to heal a princess, sees Death at the head, and turns the bed around. . . it ends badly.

Also, Death as a human can give answers, which is useful.  The Seventh Seal has the character very frustrated when all the figures he meets can't give him answers.

Most it was about personified death.  But when someone mentioned Hades, the differences between personified deaths, gods of the lands of the dead, and psychopomps came up.  The first two are rather distinct.  Psychopomps, OTOH, can just escort you to the afterlife, but they can give you the bit of assistance with separating the body and soul first.  (Then, psychopomps, unlike Deaths, can be quite moral, and can even show up in opposing pairs and quarrel over who gets you.)

Whether one worships death.  Much pondering about whether anyone actually did worship Death, even Thanatos or like figures.  In Lord of Light, there is mention that Yama's altar is always dusty from those who come, but the only offering he gets is the official, required ones that the priests do, and occasional pleas for mercy, but seldom ever offerings.
Tags: boskone, death, world-building: deities, world-building: metaphysics, world-building: religion
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