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Death as a sentient entity is a concept that has existed in many societies since the beginning of history. In English, death is often given the name the "Grim Reaper" and from the 15th century onwards came to be shown as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe and clothed in a black cloak with a hood. It is also given the name of the Angel of Death stemming from the Bible.
In some cases, the Grim Reaper is able to actually cause the victim's death, leading to tales that he can be bribed, tricked, or outwitted in order to retain one's life. Other beliefs hold that the Spectre of Death is only a psychopomp, serving only to sever the last tie from the soul to the body and guide the deceased to the next world and having no control over the fact of their death.
In many languages Death is personified in male form (English including), while in others it is perceived as a female character (for instance, in Slavic languages, e.g. in Polish).
The origins of the Grim Reaper go back far into the past and he was known by many names. In old Celtic folklore he was known as L’Ankou, sometimes called Father Time. To the Greeks he was known as Cronus and the Romans called him Saturn.
n 2001 at around 6:30 p.m. on the 13th of June, I was about 1/2 a kilometer into my woods in order to feed the guineas I had bought to scare away the neighbor's blasted mutt. I brought out the feed and looked to a hill in the forest and immediately dropped everything to stare. Behold, just to the south about quarter of a mile to the side of me, a figure with a gray robe and small wings walked across the hillside. It stood around 20-25 feet tall and carried a large (about 5-foot) mace. I continued to gaze at it until it turned and walked away, out of sight.
I have had a strange experience twice. When I was four years old, I saw the Grim Reaper. It was tall and very scary, wearing a black hooded cloak with a sickle in the right hand, while the left hand motioned for me to come to it. My mom told me to come to her room, but I screamed in terror since it was blocking the hall to her bedroom. So she came to me and walked right threw it! She told me to pray and went back to bed, and the Grim Reaper faded into a mist, then haze then into thin air.
I can't really put it into words. I checked the machine and had my back turned. All of sudden, something or someone tapped me very hard three times on my right shoulder. Frightened, I didn't dare to turn around. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what looked like a long bony finger with three raised bony knuckles. The apparition was kind of cartoon-ish in that it was blue and green but real bright. I stood still and really didn't know what to do. Then I heard a voice that haunts me to this day. 'NOBODY'S HOME' it said in a deep guttural angry tone.
Now, the way I've always heard it told is that if you see the Grim
Reaper, then he's coming for YOU and you're as good as toast. Well, I'm one
who lived to tell about it. Here's the story.
Me, my sister and her boyfriend were getting kinda antsy one Sunday night
after church so we decided to load up and run to town to get something to
eat. Well we live about thirty minutes from town, but we made it there and
chowed down and were on our way back. We were about halfway there when we
passed by the Friendship Cemetery. Now, I don't know what made me take a
good long look at that place that night, but I did, and what I saw scared me
pretty bad. Standing there between the gate and some trees was what I took
to be the Grim Reaper. There he stood, tall and menacing. You couldn't see
his face, but the dark cloak that hid it was enough for me. My sister saw
him too. Her boyfriend slammed on the brakes
and we did a U-turn for a closer inspection. Of course, he wasn't there, so
we headed on home, but not a word was spoken between us. That night a couple
of hours later, I lay in my bed trying to get to sleep, but I only succeeded
in being able to stare at the ceiling. Thats when I heard it. Scratch,
scratch...on my window. I sat bolt upright. My first thought was that it
was my sister's boyfriend. This was not a funny joke. But then I remembered
he had to drive back to college that night- it couldn't be him. I told
myself I was just imagining things. I laid back down, but not before turning
the closet light on. It wasn't but a minute before it happened again, but
this time more intense. SCRATCH, SCRATCH. Before I could even think about
it, I sprinted to my sister's room and jumped in the bed with her.
The next morning, I woke up feeling pretty stupid. It was all just a
dream. At least, thats what I thought until I walked into my room. My
window was open, the screen tossed into the yard. My curtains were in the
floor. The only other thing was my pillow. It looked like it had been torn
in half, like it had been slashed with something long and sharp. I guess he
just decided he didn't want me that bad, and you know what? I'm not offended
in the least.
• In Muslim and Islam theology, Azrael is the angel of death who is “forever writing in a large book and forever erasing what he writes: what he writes is the birth of man, what he erases is the name of the man at death.”
• In Judeo-christian lore, Michael, Gabriel, Sammael, and Sariel are all named as the angel of death.
• In Zoroastrianism, the angel of death is Mairya.
• In Babylon, it is Mot.
• In Rabbinical lore, there are 14 Angels of Death: Yetzerhara, Adriel, Yehudiam, Abaddon, Sammael, Azrael, Metatron, Gabriel, Mashhit, Hemah, Malach ha-mavet, Kafziel, Kesef, and Leviathan.
• In Falasha lore, it is Suriel.
• The Arabic angel is Azrael.