Fascination with death
In past times, people would form cults around death gods and figures. Famously, Anubis, Osiris, Hades, and La Santa Muerte have all had large cult followings. La Santa Muerte (Saint Death), or the personification of death, is currently worshiped by many in Mexico and other countries in Central America. Day of the Dead (2 November), is a celebration for the dead.
The ancient Egyptians are most famous for their fascination of death by mummifying their dead and building exquisite tombs, like the pyramids of Giza, for their dead. Many of their deities were death-related, such as: Ammut, the devourer of unworthy souls; Anubis, the guardian of the Necropolis and the keeper of poisons, medicines, and herbs; and Osiris, the king of the dead.
The Greek underworld, Hades, was ruled by the god Hades, and had five rivers that flowed through it. The rivers were: Acheron, river of sadness; Cocytus, river of lamentation; Lethe, river of forgetfulness; Phlegethon, river of fire; Styx, river of hate. The Underworld had attendants who, though not rulers, were important gods and beings. The Furies were female spirits who exacted vengeance against people who committed specific crimes. Keres were female spirits of death and destruction. Persephone was the goddess of the underworld and the spouse of Hades. Thanatos, the god of death, was said to wear dark robes.
The Vikings believed that if a warrior died in battle, he would be taken to the Norse afterlife: the hall of Valhöll, in which the warriors would prepare for Ragnarökk, the battle at the end of the world. Rune stones were erected to commemorate particularly brave warriors. Death in one's sleep (a "straw death") was considered dishonorable.
In the early part of the 20th century, it was common to hold séances at dinner parties. A séance is the event where a group of people (3 or more) try to communicate with the dead through one person of the group, known as a Psychic Medium.
Today there are a number of authors who have spoken on the fascination people have with death. "If it bleeds it leads" is a phrase related to this, meaning that in the mass media most of the material is based on death. For example: death and crime are almost always a topic in the news. The Goth and Metal subcultures are often associated with death and dying.
'Necrophilia' is generally used in English to refer to the paraphilia associated with dead bodies, although the term has been used in a broader sense and in foreign language merely to refer to 'a fascination with death.'
- "Death: A User's Guide" by Tom Hickman
- "Spook: Science Tackles The Afterlife" by Mary Roach
- "Letters from the Afterlife: A Guide to the Other Side" by Katherine Hart, Elsa Barker
- "Life After Death : A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion" by Alan F. Segal
- "The Ghost Next Door" by Mark Alan Morris
- "Ghosts, Spirits and Hauntings" by Patricia Telesco
- "The Beginner's Guide for the Recently Deceased" by David Staume
- All Souls Day
- Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos)
- History and Customs of Halloween
- Dark Tourism - the pursuit of visiting sites where people have died