Tuesday, July 1, 2014


   Death, "the time at which life ends".  It is inescapable no matter what you do, or where you go, death will find you.  It is just one of the many facts of life.  And the one personification of this event has been the Grim Reaper.  Different parts of the world have their own take on where this mythological figure originated.

 Probably the most accepted version of the Grim Reaper is the Skeletal figure wearing a black robe wielding a scythe, sometimes on horseback.  Also know to be carrying a hour glass, just waiting for time to run out, so that he may reap your soul.  But the legend of the Grim reaper can be tracked all the way back to Greek mythology.


 The Greeks had two different takes on the origins of the reaper.  A pleasant version, and a not so pleasant version.
  On the lighter side of things there was Thanatos, who had a twin brother Hypnos, the god of sleep.  They were both quite friendly.  Thanatos's job was to accompany souls to hades (The Greek underworld).  He would then pass them on to the ferryman on the river styx, Charon.


   On the more darker side, There was Cronos (Kronos).  The son of Greek gods Uranus and Gaia.  The legend goes, Cronos was forced back into his mother's womb with his siblings, by his father.  For Uranus feared to be over taken by his children.  But unknown to Uranus, Gaia had given Cronos a sickle (an edge tool for cutting grass or crops; has a curved blade and a short handle) to escape from the womb.  Once freed, Cronos used the sickle to castrate his father Uranus.


   Japanese folklore interprets the reaper as the ruler of the underworld, Yama, or Enma.  Yama is said to be the judge of who goes to heaven and who goes to hell.  And has been said to cut the tongues off of those who lie.


  A more modern take that the Japanese have adopted is Shinigami.  He is the one who escorts the dead to the afterlife.  He is also been said to keep track of death records.  Unlike Yama, Shinigami cannot be found in traditional Japanese mythology.
   Slavic tribes have a slightly rarer take on the reaper.  In the form of a woman.  Who is said to be dressed in white, and carries a green sprout that never dies.  When people come in contact with this sprout, they are put to sleep, never to awake again.  Lithuanians also see the reaper as a woman.
   There is a rather big difference between the two.  And that being the Lithuanian reaper, known as Giltine, has adeformed face.  An over sized blue nose, and a poisonous tongue.
   The black plague of 1328, which killed 1/3 of Europe's population, and about 75 million worldwide.  Inspired many sculptors and painters to start depicting the Grim Reaper in many of there works.  Taken from the book The Gods Of Eden, authored by William Bramley.  He says that in Brandenburge, Germany men with "fearful faces" and scythes.  Were seen swinging their scythes, which could be herd making a hissing noise from miles away.  After the appearance of these men, came a severe outbreak of the plague.

   "Strange men in black, demons, and other terrifying figures were observed in other European communities carrying "brooms" or "scythes" or "swords" that were used to sweep or knock at people's doors.  The inhabitants of these houses fell ill with plague afterwards.  It is from these reports that people created the popular image of death as a skeleton, a demon, a man in a black robe carrying a scythe".  So as you can see there is a vast history on the origins of the Grim Reaper from all over this earth.  Which cultural myth will you believe?  That depends on you.  But know this.  When the sand in your hour glass runs out, rest assured that you will cross paths with the Grim Reaper.

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