I know some of you will have a visceral reaction to seeing the skull in this post, go back ten years and I would have – especially if it was facing forward. Yet this is my face without all the gunk on it. This is all of us.
So why have skulls become synonymous with black magic and evil?
Death can’t help it, the dude has a job to do.
In the West we are so disconnected from death that it is heartbreaking. We used to care for our dead; sit with them, wash them, dress them and ready them for burial or cremation. We loved them in death as we loved them in life.
Now as soon as death has visited they are spirited away to either the Morgue or a Funeral Home where they do all that for you and you do not have to deal with the practicalities of a body. The dead are seen as unhygienic (they aren’t), creepy and unbecoming. Uncivilised on all counts (thank you Victorian era *eyeroll*).
Because we are so far removed from the process of death and it’s after effects a fear began. We don’t understand it, we never experience it so our imaginations will work over time on what death and decay is all about. Cue the Media…
Everyone loves a cheap thrill and I can guarantee most horror movies, especially from 1900 – 1990’s, have a skull in them somewhere. The creepy music begins as they cut to the table and my god what’s that on the table!? A skull!!!!????
They are just Skulls. Unlearn that they are scary. Take your power back.
Mexico on the other hand knew what they were doing. They celebrate the dead every November 1st with Dias de los Muertos and have done since the Aztec times, with skulls being hung every where and the dead are seen as sitting right by your side on this night. A truly beautiful thing.
Unlearning your fear of death and it’s iconography takes a little time. When I was researching Baron Samedi I remember having THAT reaction to his image. So I sat back and had ‘one of those’ conversations with myself.
“Baron Samedi can’t help what he looks like any more than I can. The dude is death personified so logically he kinda has to be a skeleton. Not actually his fault.”
From that moment on things changed.
It’s the same with the Ancestors.
On many, many altars and involved in many rituals all over the world there will be skulls. Some Holy Men and Women request that their skull is kept so their magic can continue to be used. Some still want to preside over their house and family, and with others it is simply a tradition.
They are honouring their requests.
Skulls do not mean black magic and evil, they represent those who came before us;our Great Grandfathers and Grandmothers. Those who have been through times we cannot even begin to imagine.
Without them we wouldn’t be here.
Next time you see a skull tip your hat – that’ll be you in a few decades.