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R is for Reaper.....

Reapers, death personified--

The belief that Death exists as a sentient creature is eons-old. Sometimes called the Grim Reaper, sometimes called the Angel of Death or the Devil of Death--the Angel of Dark and Light-- some believe the Reaper causes the individual's death (bringing their life to a close), other beliefs show death as a psychopomp (much like a Fetch) not causing their death, but being enlisted as the individual's guide to their afterlife.

In societies where the belief is held that the Reapers cause death, there has been a parallel development in the belief that Death can somehow be bribed, bought, tricked or out-witted, in an effort to avoid one's own end.

In most societies, including English, Death is personified as a male figure, often cloaked and carrying a scythe. In the Slavic and other Romance societies, the personified figure is female.

Death, is of course, inevitable--- and in ancient civilizations, like Ancient Greece, death isn't represented as a completely evil form. Often a bearded, winged man... sometimes as a boy, death hands the dead over to Charon (ferryman) who will guide the dead over the River Styx (separating the world of the living form the world of the dead.)

The Celtic figure of death is the species of Dullahan. It is said they carry their head under their arm--- a head with large eyes and a gaping smile that stretches from ear to ear. They ride black horses and stop at houses of those next to die.

Latin American folklore has Santa Muerte (Saint Death)-- a sacred feminine skeletal folk saint, made holy by popularity. She is venerated and celebrated with lavish rituals.

Both feared and revered, Death and its Reapers are present (in one form or another) in every religion and culture throughout the world. Stories meant to garner hope are told alongside those that seek to terrify. Whether the guide or the thread-cutter, the Reapers or death, will be waiting for everyone.

When the Words You Can No Longer Speak

When the words you can no longer speak,
fall frozen to the ground,
and the breaths you can no longer take,
escape without a sound.

Then, my friend, you'll know the time has come,
the seconds dwindling down,
for your numbered days to finally end,
new pathways must now be found.

Your steps, free-will, or road predestined
life's moments will astound,
one quick look back on all you're leaving,
the future's gifts abound.

                                                                                                      ---e.a.s. demers


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