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Mythologies of Death

            Death has a universal presence in this world and as such, a universally present motif in all mythologies. The way death is presented in mythology, even across vastly dissimilar culture, are curiously similar. In reality, there is often little people can do about death other than grieve or be happy. But in myths across cultures, humans often have the ability to challenge death, to follow in its footsteps and retrieve their dead loved ones. Nevertheless, even in mythology and the fantasies of man, such task is nigh on impossible. The presence of an afterlife is pervasive in myths, nevertheless, those who move on to the afterlife cannot be brought back again to demonstrate the natural order of life.
             It is well known that myths attempt to explain the unknown, and humans, who exist from birth, cannot imagine the cessation of existence that is death. As such, there is always an afterlife where the dead go to continue living after deaths in mythology. In the Babylonian myths, it is the Underworld, in Iroquois myths, it was spirit world, and in Algonquin myths, it was the island of the blessed and the lake which surround it. There are marked similarities within the Native American myths, which both described a spirit world. These worlds both seemed to be accessible on Earth, but require a guide and a long difficult journey. Present in both myths is an old man which guides the protagonist towards the spirit world. Sayadio of the Iroquois "encountered a wise old man who knew the secrets of the spirit world" and "gave him a magic gourd in which he might catch the spirit of his sister." The young warrior in the Algonquin myth found "an ancient wise man" who "who recited some magic chants [to make] the warrior's spirit leave his body" so the warrior could continue to search for his dead bride.

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