Names of Death

Both in ancient times and the present day, we humans have always had a sense that knowing the name of an entity is a form of power over it.  In ancient times, that power was mystical or magical.  In the present day, that power is practical or legal.  Nonetheless, naming a thing continues to give us power over it.  The story of Adam naming all the creatures is symbolic of his dominion over them.  Naming a car or a pet is a sign of mastery over them.  Having a special designation for a significant other can often be suggestive of the power of exclusivity, a right to have a say in another person’s life, and that is a great power indeed.

But of all the things that we wish to have power over to the greatest degree, none surpasses death, the reality of our mortality.  We have named this reality many times, calling it Aralu, Tartarus, Kali, Yama, Ah Puch, Nergal, Anubis, Samael, Azrael, Mictlan, and Satan.  As a species, we have an unhealthy obsession of with our own end.  We personify it to make it seem more concrete and less mysterious.  We abstract it to distance ourselves from its importance to us by calling it oblivion or nothingness or nonexistence.  We trivialize its meaning in an effort to convince ourselves that it does not matter that much to us.

But the simple fact is that so long as you have to respond in some way to the notion of death, you are beholden to it.  By naming it, you do not gain power over it.  On the contrary, it gains power over you.

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