Mythologies - Funeral Rites and Deities of Death

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A mythology is a collection of stories that explain the origins of a culture, its beliefs, and values. These stories often involve gods or other supernatural beings, and they can be used to teach lessons and resolve moral dilemmas. Creating unique mythology can be a challenge, as the mythologies of our world are extensive, and it feels like everything has been covered.

Every culture has its own creation story, and that is a good place to start. What were the first beings in your mythology? How did they come to be? What are their powers and responsibilities? This differs from religion in that religious creation stories are taken as literal gospel, meant to be believed by their congregation of worshipers. Mythologies, although treated as true stories, often act separately from religion. They are treated as moral guiding principles or allow readers to follow the guidance of a hero as an example to live by or achieve. The story of David and Goliath is the mythological underdog story of overcoming adversity in the face of a challenge by virtue of practice and skill. However, this story doesn't explain or attempt to justify the divine cosmology of the Chrisitan bible. Although in some interpretations, it may interact with it.

You can start to add twists and turns to your story. Maybe the first beings were created or influenced by an even older more ancient race of gods or holy civilization. The origin of humanity in the science-fiction universe, is a mythology of this type. Where the existence and continuity of the human species were dictated by the actions of an ancient species of ``Forerunners'', who were themselves acted upon and influenced by the Lovecraftian ``Precursors'' ancient to even them; acting as a sort of divine irony.

Maybe your ancient cultures fought against each other to determine who would govern the destiny of the world or had to work together to fight a common enemy. You can focus on the gods and supernatural beings themselves. What are their origins, representations, and powers? When they fought other gods who won? Has a non-deity fought a god and won? What happened when they did? Where were they punished, ascended to godhood, or did they take the throne?

Death is a universal experience. Every culture has its own customs and rituals surrounding death. Funeral rites can vary widely from culture to culture. All death customs have changed over time. In some cultures, funerals are somber affairs. In others, they are joyous celebrations of life. Many believe that the soul of the deceased lives on after death, while others believe that the soul is extinguished at death, reincarnated, or don't believe a soul exists at all.

Funeral rites often reflect the beliefs of a culture. About death and the afterlife, funerals are a means for the living to honor and remember the dead and pass worldly possessions onto their new plane of existence. In many cultures, the body of the deceased is prepared for burial or cremation according to special codified rituals. The body may be washed and clothed in special garments. Sometimes, the hair is styled in a particular way, the skin and face may have makeup applied after embalming, they might have coins placed over their eyes, or their organs put into ceramic urns.

A funeral service is usually held soon after death. These services may be conducted by a religious leader, such as a priest or imam. They may also be conducted by a secular officiant such as a funeral director. Services usually include readings from religious texts, prayers, and eulogies. In some cultures, mourners wear special clothing to funerals. Some rituals have attendees perform specific songs or dances, or consume specific foods or beverages. Unique customs might be associated with the burial itself such as cremation by pyre instead of a crematorium, or burial at sea.

After service is concluded the body is typically buried or cremated. Some cultures have the ashes of the deceased dispersed in a specific place. Funeral rights are important to the bereaved and can be a strong source of stress and emotion. However, they can also provide comfort and support to many during a time of sorrow and grief.

Funerals are a time of sadness and mourning. They are a time to remember the life of a person who has passed on and to say goodbye. Cultures do this often by burying the dead as soon as possible, but sometimes they wait for days or even weeks before holding a funeral. The corpse might be on display in plain view that entire time, which is why bodies are specially prepared before rites take place.

All cultures have some concept of the afterlife and a structure for it. Many of these conceptions have deities or other supernatural beings associated with processing passed-on souls for their new existence. These deities can be male or female, good or evil, helpful, harmful, or neutral. Some are seen as helpful guides to eternity, while others are feared as the bringers of death, destruction, or harvesters of souls.

Death in many cultures is seen as a natural part of the life cycle and the deities associated with death are seen as benevolent forces. Other cultures see death as a purely tragic event with the deities seen as malevolent beings who seek to only cause suffering and pain. Regardless, your culture's conceptualizations of death are going to differ by religious beliefs and region. Some religions worship death deities directly, seeking release from the pain and sorrows of life, or praying to prevent damnation to a dark and frightening abyss or eternal punishment. Many ideologies don't have death deities at all and instead believe in direct reincarnation. In others, the reincarnation might be directed by a deity of death, as a form of ``requalification'' before being allowed into the planes of eternal existence.

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