In different religions of the world there are deities that are directly related to death. Interestingly, all these creatures controlled the dead, but did not determine in any way how long a person should live.
For a person, death, like birth, is the most important component of life. The most famous gods of death 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 got the underworld, which he guards. The guide here is Hermes, who is generally a rather multifaceted deity. The Greeks also had the god of dying - Thanatos. But its other inhabitants of Olympus did not particularly respect, considering it indifferent to human sacrifices. Thanatos was the brother of the god of sleep, Hypnos. The Greeks often depicted death and sleep side by side, like a black and white youth. Thanatos held an extinguished torch in his hands, symbolizing the end of life. And the kingdom of Hades himself was described as gloomy fields with pale fields. There are disembodied, weightless souls who complain of a dull life without light and desires. And in this kingdom quiet moans are heard, like the rustle of withered leaves. There is no way to return from the kingdom of Hades' sorrow. Unsurprisingly, the Greeks were afraid to get here. The gloomy Hades was considered the Olympic god, rising up on business. His wife was Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Her father allowed her to spend two-thirds of her life on earth. Many legends are associated with the kingdom of the dead and Hades. Here is Sisyphus, who for his deception of death was sentenced to eternally raise the same stone. And Orpheus, in recognition of his talents, Hades even allowed to take his Eurydice. Hades also had their own immortal assistants - monsters and deities. The most famous of these is Charon, who transported the dead across the Styx River.
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 cannot be said that this animal for the symbol of God was chosen at random. The fact is that the jackal is outwardly a small predator, from which you do not initially expect a threat. But the animal can really symbolize death. Jackals feed on carrion, their howl resembles the screams of the desperate, it is also a very cunning creature. Before the appearance of the cult of Osiris, it was Anubis who was the main 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 the cups of which they put the heart of a person, and on the other - the feather of the goddess Maat, symbolizing justice. If the heart turned out to be as light, then the deceased went to the beautiful and fruitful paradise fields. Otherwise, he was devoured by the monstrous monster Amat - a lion with the head of a crocodile. And this already meant final death. According to one of the legends, Osiris was the pharaoh of Egypt, teaching people agriculture, winemaking and gardening. Killed by his brother, Set, Osiris was assembled piece by piece and resurrected by Ra. But the deity decided not to return to earth, leaving it to his son Horus. Osiris chose the kingdom of the dead for himself.
Hel. In the mythology of the ancient Scandinavians, the kingdom of the dead was ruled by Hel. She was the daughter of the cunning god Loki and the huge giantess Angrobda. In the myths, it is said that Hel inherited tall stature from her mother. This goddess was half dark blue and half deathly pale. It is no coincidence that she was also called Blue and White Hel. It was said that the goddess's thighs and legs were covered with cadaverous spots and therefore decomposed. This was due to the fact that death was presented in the form of a skeleton, the features of a corpse were transferred to the image of Hel. Her kingdom is a bleak place, cold and dark. It was believed that Hel received power over the kingdom of the dead from Odin. All the dead go there, with the exception of the heroes taken by the Valkyries to Valhalla. There, warriors fight, kill each other and resurrect again and again. This is how they show victory over death. The most famous mention of the goddess is found in the myth of Balder. After his death, he became a prisoner of Hel. He was almost able to escape from the realm of the dead, but the cunning Loki prevented this. The ancient Scandinavians believed that when the Last Battle - Ragnarok took place, Hel would lead the army of the dead to storm the heavens.
Izanami. In Shinto, this goddess is credited with power over creation and death. Together with her husband Izanagi, she created the earth and all its inhabitants. After that, Izanami gave birth to several other gods who were able to rule the world. Only Kagutsuchi, the fire god, scorched his mother, and after a serious illness she went to the land of eternal darkness, Emi. Even the pleas and tears of a loved one did not help. But Izanagi could not live without her and went for 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 last time. Instead, he saw a monster, exuding anger and surrounded by monsters. The creatures of darkness pounced on Izanagi, he barely managed to escape, closing the passage to the kingdom 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 your beloved in the kingdom of the dead is generally a popular story in mythology. In reality, people often break up due to the death of one of the spouses. So there are myths about how it was almost possible to return loved ones from the kingdom of the dead.
Miktlantecutli. In South America, the kingdom of the dead and its ruler were depicted in a similar manner in other cultures. Among the Aztecs, the god of the underworld was Miktlantecutli, who looked like a bloody skeleton or just a man with a skull in place of his head. The eerie image was accompanied by stylish owl feathers on the head and a necklace of people's eyes. The god is accompanied by a bat, an owl, a spider and Miktlansihuatl's wife. She was portrayed in a similar way, and she also had a rattlesnake skirt. And a couple lives in a house without windows, located at the bottom of the Hell. To get to visit them, the deceased had to make a four-day journey. And the path was not easy - between crumbling mountains, through the deserts, overcoming the icy wind and fleeing snakes and crocodiles. And on the bank of an underground river, the deceased met a guide in the form of a small dog with ruby eyes. On her back, she transported souls to the domain of Miktlantecutli. The deceased gave to God those gifts that his relatives put in his grave. According to the degree of wealth of gifts Miktlantecutli determined to what level of the underworld to send the newcomer. I must say that there was nothing good there. Only the warriors who died in the battle and the captives sacrificed fell into a special world, like Wahalla. The drowned men, who were considered guests of the god of water, had a separate afterlife. And women who died during childbirth had their own abode.
Satan. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it is the main enemy of heavenly forces. This god has many names, the most famous are Lucifer, Devil, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Shaitan. The Bible tells that Satan was originally an angel, perfect and wise. But the inhabitant of Eden became proud and wished to be equal to God himself. Then he was cast down to Earth together with friends who became demons. It is Satan who is guilty of driving people out of paradise by seducing Eve to taste the forbidden fruit of knowledge. And in Judaism, Satan is just an accusing angel who allows a person to make a choice. This deity is identified with evil inclinations and the angel of death. The mouth of Satan was often considered the entrance to hell, to get there meant to be devoured by the Devil. It is generally accepted that it is Satan who is in charge of hell, where all sinners go. And life was taken from people with the help of the angels of death sent by God. The most famous of them were Abaddon and Azrael.
Ereshkigal. The name of this goddess literally means “the great underground lady”. Among the Sumerians, Ereshkigal was the mistress of the underworld of Irkalla. Her older sister was Inanna (Ishtar), the goddess of love and fertility, and her husband was Nergal, the god of the underworld and the sun. Ereshkigal had seven judges of the underworld under his command. There was also a temple dedicated to the goddess in Babylon, in Kuta. For the Sumerians, Ishtar personified spring and summer, and Ereshkigal - autumn and winter, that is, death and withering. Later she was endowed with power over the afterlife and death. One of the most famous songs about Ereshkigal speaks of her deceit, how she forced Ishtar to sacrifice her husband. There is also a famous myth about how she married Nergal. Ereshkigal refused to attend the feast of the celestials. 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 as his wife, remaining with her in Irkalla.
Orcus and Pluto. Among the ancient Romans, Orcus was originally considered the god of death. Even among the Etruscans, he was considered a minor demon, but then his influence expanded. He was portrayed as a bearded and winged substance that takes human souls into his kingdom. Having become the ruler of the afterlife, Orcus absorbed the features of another similar deity, Dis Pater. And later he himself became part of the image of the god Pluto. Pluto was the 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 go back. God himself rarely appeared on the surface of the earth, solely to choose the next victim. They said that Pluto was looking for cracks in the earth so that the rays of the sun could not illuminate his dark kingdom. And he drives a chariot drawn by four black horses. His wife is considered the goddess of plants Proserpine, who reigns with him in the underworld.
Santa Muerte. If we talk about most religions in the past tense, then Santa Muerte is widespread today. This cult is present mainly in Mexico, but also in America. People worship the deity of the same name, which is the embodiment of death. This cult was born from a mixture of the myths of the aborigines of Mexico and Catholicism. It is quite natural for local residents to worship such deities, which is manifested in the celebration of the "Days of the Dead" even among Catholics. Fans of Santa Muerta believe that prayers addressed to her reach her, and she can grant wishes. Chapels are built in honor of the deity. It itself appears as a female skeleton in a dress. The offerings are cigarettes, chocolate and alcoholic beverages. The most fanatical believers even commit ritual murders in honor of the goddess. Poor people are attracted to this religion by the fact that everyone is equal before Santa Muerte, including criminals. The Mexican authorities declared the cult to be Satanist, carrying out repression against its fans. Yes, and representatives of the Catholic Church announced that this religion has nothing to do with Christianity. But the number of Santa Muerte followers is still growing.
Baron Samdi. 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. The deity is depicted in the form of a stylish skeleton, on which a black dress coat and a top hat flaunt. He looks like an undertaker. Moreover, the coffin is also its symbol. In Haiti, every new cemetery is supposed to dedicate the first grave to Baron Samdi. It can also infuse people, making them obsessed with food, alcohol and sex. Baron Samdi is also considered the patron saint of bandits. And the celebration of the Day of the Dead in Haiti turns into essentially a deity benefit. Pilgrims gather at his grave. They sing songs in his honor, smoke and drink strong rum. The cross on the Baron's grave is not Christian at all, but a symbol of the crossroads.
Pit. In the Buddhist tradition, this deity is responsible for the fate of the dead and disposes of hell. The world of Yama is called "heaven without battles" - 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-wang lives in the underworld of Yudu. In his hands is a brush and a book with the fates of the dead. The ruler himself has the face of a horse and the head of a bull. The guards bring the souls of people to Yanlo-wan, and he administers the judgment. The virtuous are successfully reborn, while the sinners go to hell or are reborn in other worlds. In China, Yanlo-wang is viewed more as an official than as a deity. Among the Tibetans, the role of Yama is played by Shinje, the lord of death. It is central to describing life after death. Legends say that Shinje sits in the very center of hell and determines the future destinies of souls.