This list showcases the Gods of death, the Underworld, and destruction: from the Egyptian God of Death- Anubis, who was recognized as a man with a jackal head, to the Hindu God of Death- “Yama,” who took the records of each person’s death. But Thanatos was the personified spirit of non-violent death.
Death, along with birth, is the major part of human life. But death is the most unpredictable moment, probably the mysterious one. Deities linked with death often belong to a specific culture and religion. However, the deities of death & destruction often refer to someone who rules over death and determines the time of death.
People often associate the God of death with mythology and religion. Even in some religions, this deity is the main part of worship. We can say that the God of death also holds the book of destiny, where the lifetime of each person has been recorded.
Here are just a few of the deities who represent death and the dying of the earth.
Anubis, the god of death, is the oldest and the most prominent of ancient Egyptian deities. The ancient Egyptians highly admired Anubis because they believed he had enormous power over both their physical and spiritual forms when they died.
Anubis was either recognized as a man with a jackal head (dog) or completely in the form of a jackal. His fame lasted until his role as God of death was taken over by Osiris, and Anubis became Osiris' assistant. (18.1)
According to the Hindu Vedic tradition, Yama was honored as the God of death. In Hindu tradition, there is a book called “Book of Destiny,” where the records of each person are recorded, and Yama looks after this whole process.
Also, Hindu Vedic tradition believes that Yama was the very first human to die and then make his way to the new world where he got the task of being a King of the dead. (18.2)
Freyja was the Goddess of death in Norse Mythology associated with beauty, love, abundance, fertility, war, battle, and of course, death. Despite being a death God, people often called Freyja for assistance in childbirth, to get rid of marital problems, and to boost positivity in the surroundings (land and sea). (18.3)
Thanatos was the God or personified spirit of non-violent death. Although according to Greek Mythology, he was a minor and barely appearing in person, in Greek vase painting, Thanatos was depicted as a winged, bearded older man, or more rarely as a beardless youth. (18.4)
Hecate, the daughter of Perses and Asteria, was the Goddess of Death associated with crossroads, magic, light, knowledge of herbs, poisonous plants, ghosts, and death.
However, she was associated with the Goddess of fertility and childbirth, but over time, she has been linked with the underworld and destruction. People who belong to Greek mythology believe that she rules the world of spirit. (18.5)
Meng Po serves in Diyu, the Chinese Kingdom of the dead. This Chinese Goddess appears as an old woman. She prepared a special herbal tea, and this is to give each soul a drink before they leave Diyu. Her important task is to make sure that souls who are ready to be reincarnated should not remember anything about their previous life. (18.6)
Hades was the ancient Greek chthonic god of the underworld; he was the oldest son of Cronus and Rhea and brothers of Zeus and Poseidon. While Zeus received the sky and Poseidon received the sea, and last but not least, his brother Hades got stuck with the land of the underworld. (18.7)
In Norse mythology, Hel is the ruler of the underworld and death. She is the daughter of Loki and Angrboda. Her appearance is pretty hard to explain, but it is half blue and half flesh-colored with some gloomy texture downside. She has a hall called Eljudnir, and it is a strong belief in Norse Mythology that it is the hall where mortals go who do not die in battle but of natural causes or sickness. (18.8)
Morrighan is also known as Phantom queen or Morrigu. In Irish mythology, she is known as the Goddess of Death, who is associated with mainly war, battle, and death. She is also famous because of her foretelling death in the battle. Because of her association with war and battles, she is also known as a great warrior who determines which warriors walk off the battlefield. (18.9)
Osiris is God of Death and the underworld, but he is also associated with God of Transition, resurrection, and regeneration. He appears as the green-skinned deity, followed by a distinctive crown. Despite being the Egyptian God of Death, he was often described as Lord of Love in ancient times. His black-green skin symbolizes rebirth and resurrection. (18.10)
Mot was the ancient god of death and the Underworld. He was worshipped by the people of Ugarit and Phoenicians. It was said that his bottom lip touched earth while his top reached the heavens.
Mot was not at all a social being; instead, he was so scared of other Gods, especially Baal. It was a belief that Mot had some serious conflict with Baal, the God of rains and storms, but later on, Baal feared Mot because he built his divine palace without any window to keep his enemy God out. (18.11)
God of Death, Whiro, is also known as Lord of Darkness or Evil in Maori mythology. They are often responsible for the ills of all persons. And even in some tales, when people die, their bodies descend into the underworld, where they are eaten by Whiro. Each time Whiro eats a body, he becomes stronger. (18.12)
Pluto, the son of Saturn or Ops, is the God of death and the underworld in classical mythology (Roman). It differs from Hades in character, but both are not distinct figures, sharing two dominant myths. It was the earlier name for the god Hades. In the ancient Greek religion and mythology, it represents a more positive concept of the god presiding over the afterlife.
Chernobog (Black God) is one of the most Slavic gods that is also known as Cert, Cernobog, Czernobog, and Crnobog. It is the name of the alleged god of bad fate worshipped by the Polabian Slavs, which was first mentioned in the Chronica Slavorum by Helmold.
He was the god of night, misfortune, chaos, and winter and the creator of all evils in the world. It is believed that his reign of power began with the winter solstice- when the night is longest and lasts until spring.
In Aztech mythology, Coatlicue is the minor goddess of death and also the goddess of life and rebirth. She is the wife of Mixcōhuātl and the goddesses Toci “our grandmother” and Cihuacōātl “snake woman” were also seen as the aspects of Coatlicue.
It is represented as a woman wearing a skirt of writhing snakes and a necklace. She is the mother of the gods of the war, the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Sekhmet is the Egyptian goddess of war, retribution, death, and destruction and is depicted with a lioness figure. It is the most feared in ancient times. It is associated with the powers of the sun, healing, and medication.
People often confuse it with Bestet, whose sculptures are green, while Sekhmet’s are red. Due to Sekhmet’s unpredictable nature, she is neither associated with good nor evil. Those disobeying her are punished with bad luck, plaque, and disease. She is believed to be formed from the divine eye of Ra, the sun god.
In Siberian mythology, Elrik is closely associated with the creation of humanity but also a teacher of sin and became the ruler of the underworld and judge of the dead and darkness later. Ulgan created Elrik by giving a piece of mud a spirit. Elrik has an image similar to a totemic bear.
According to a myth, Elrik was driven by pride, and his bond with Ulgan was not cordial, and the latter was often deceived. So Elrik was eventually abolished in the 9th layer of earth and thus went on to take charge of death.
Ahriman or Angra Mainyu is considered the predecessor of Satan from Persian mythology. He is the god of death and destruction and brings ill, diseases, death, and every evil in the world. The daevas are the demons who spread evil all around the globe. Lust is the main weapon against goodness and humanity. His brother Ahura Mazda is believed to triumph over Ahriman to restore the good in the world.
Batara Kala is the god of the underworld in the traditional Javanese and Balinese mythology. He is the son of Batara Guru (Shiva) and Dewi Uma (Parvati). Along with his female counterpart Setesuyara, it ruled the underworld in a cave. He is the sworn enemy of Batara Candra (Moon god) and Batara Surya (Sun god).
Called the creator of light and earth, he was also the god of darkness, destruction, and time who annihilated unlucky people. It devoured the sun and moon to cause eclipses and is associated with the Hindu concept of Kala (or time). His negative aspects and symbolizes the negative effects of children born out of wedlock.
Regarded as the Mistress or Mother of the Sea, Sedna is the Inuit goddess of the underworld, destruction, sea, and marine animals. She has a good side and sends food to people where she rules. If she is not worshipped well, she shows her wrath and makes people suffer.
The story of Sedna is a creation myth describing how she came to rule over Adlivun, the Inuit world. In Killiniq, Labrador, she was referred to as "Old-woman-who-lived-in-the-sea."
Adro is one aspect of the evil supreme god of African origin. His benevolent side is Adroa- the god in the sky and remote from humankind. People would sacrifice their children earlier to gain the god Adro’s favor. If not, it was believed that they became Adroanzi after death. Thankfully, in the 1930s, it was abandoned, and a ram is rather sacrificed.
Adro took care of matters on the Earth and was the only one who could come in contact with humans. Invisible to people, he can transform into a snake and appears to people who are about to die as a translucent, tall & white half man. He could also be seen as a whirlwind or heard crying in grassfire. He also possesses young women, results in death and sickness, and seizes people to eat them.
His children, the Adroanzi, are guardian spirits of the dead and resemble serpents. They dwell in trees, rivers, rocks, and streams and sometimes follow people at night.
Many people learn about the deity of death and the underworld in their respective mythology and religion. Although the mythological world has evolved over the centuries, the origin and concept of these tales remain prevalent. Some people still believe in these myths, and some ignore them; either way, but you can’t deny them.
From Gaia to Kali; every goddess in mythologies have a prominent role to create or restore the balance in nature and the universe.
No wonder, the God of healing and magical tradition allied to it, never failed to surprise people especially in ancient times. Let’s discover some of God and Goddess of healing and their amazing contribution.
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