Death Faces, Our Psyche, Culture, And The World Around Us

 Big Stock Photo ID: 38625631 Copyright: z_i_b_i

Big Stock Photo ID: 38625631
Copyright: z_i_b_i

The Many Faces of Death


Death is part of our psyche, a silent shadow on the subconscious.  We begin to age from the moment of conception cycling through this life from fetus to senectitude to grave. We are born to die. Our awareness of death builds as we live life through socialization in a literal sense, religion, mythology and symbolic representation.

Death has many names with many stories of origin, cultural connections, and literary association all around the world.  Death has a face in every spot on the globe.  These are just a few of the names he is known by or stories are built around.

Angel of Death, Uriel, The Man in Black, Cronus, Azra’il, Azrael, Anubis, Grey Walker, Enma, Samael, Thanatos, Keres, Charon the ferryman, Ankou, Giltine, Yama, Grim Reaper, Father of Time from Celtic folklore, The Destroyer, Dark Companion, The 4th Horseman of the Apocalypse.



Death can have many definitions that have nothing to do with the physical act of dying.   The meanings represent negative and positive traits that many people use as a guide for interpretation, to make sense of their lives and understand it through symbolism, mystic art forms, and ritual. Interpretation will vary revealing different aspects and understanding for everyone depending on the situation, awareness, and perception of the person involved.

Some Interpretations are symbolically defining & Keywords: Birth, rebirth, renewal, mobility, shifting, transitions, opportunity, possibilities, resetting, clearing, cleansing, openings, beginnings, and endings.  Limitations, structure, authority, discipline, boundary, striving, responsibilities, depression, stability.

Positive and negative meanings such as:

Positive: trustworthiness, tenacity, and discipline.  Negative:  Stingy, rigid, stubborn, scheming, self-pity, depression and even anti-social traits.




In astrology,  Saturn is portrayed as the Grim Reaper creating order out of chaos, establishing boundaries, using restriction and structure to build the world into a tangible reality. I tend to think of this more metaphorically than in the physical, but it applies to both.  For an idea to live and breath moving from the concept to the reality it has to take a form first.  Sometimes for an idea, a dream, to reach it’s full potential it means breaking, tearing down and rebuilding or destroying, so it can morph, the Phoenix reborn from the ashes.




photo credit: Santa Muerte via photopin (license)

photo credit: Santa Muerte via photopin (license)


Death is life as life is death.

Devasting loss accompanied by crippling grief.  It is the most defining aspect of death that every living “thing” will experience.  

We can flee, but there is nowhere to hide.  We can rage against it but it changes nothing, or we can accept it allowing the imposed strictures to shape us.   No one is neutral to Death’s influence, nor immune to his touch and power.







Strangely it is death that makes us human. The metaphorical and metaphysical effects as powerful as physical death.   He shines a light on the human psyche and spirit forcing growth, or regression, forcing us to examine our choices, re-evaluate, start-over and discard when we resist.  Death can hand us triumph in unexpected ways but all these sometimes come’s at a great personal cost.


photo credit: Catrinas via photopin (license)

photo credit: Catrinas via photopin (license)


Poignant Pictures of Death Ritual’s Around the World National Geographic

Death Ritual—The Day of the Dead – November 2nd

Celebrating the Day of the Dead is an old tradition in Mexico. Many people believe that the dead souls of loved ones return to visit, give advice and counsel to those they love still living.

This Disney movie based on the traditional holiday Day of the Dead is a prime example of death ritual and culture personified for entertainment purposes.








Death is represented and portrayed in an allegorical manner in many cultures throughout the world.  I depict Death as a character in my current writing, Apocalypse, Signed, Sealed & Delivered, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and although I do not feature Death as a character in my mystery project Wings Over Texas the personification occurs through the theme.



Symbols of Death Wikipedia 

Death Icons & Symbols



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  • C. Lee McKenzie

    And isn’t it interesting that we’re never more keenly aware of life than when we’re faced with death? I liked what you wrote about death being at the center of what connects us. No matter who we are or what we do, we come to an end, so really it’s that dash thing again. Make it count and make it count good.

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