Reborn from the Ashes of History (post by Anna)
Reborn from the Ashes of History
October 25, 2015
Would you want to live forever? Immortality doesn’t always mean never dying. It can also entail being reborn or resurrected after death. We humans have told tales and built religious beliefs around this idea since recorded history began — and probably even before that. Today, many Christians believe in spiritual rebirth through the acceptance of Christ as their savior. Reincarnation of the soul plays a role in other religions. But physical rebirth is another thing altogether.
In mythology, we find two basic types of rebirth — the undead, who come back as inhuman creatures cursed to live off the blood or flesh of the living; and the resurrected, who return as living, breathing humans. The undead include vampires and zombies, though vampires have a much better rebirth than zombies! They can still walk without shuffling and seduce luscious young humans. The resurrected may be indistinguishable from everyday people and they may or may not be immortal.
Vampires have haunted our imaginations for thousands of years. The Tibetan Book of the Dead talked of Wrathful Deities that drained the blood from their victims, while the Chinese knew of blood-suckers called the jiangshi. Medieval folk spoke of revenants, the dead who rose from their graves, alternately described in the vein of vampires or zombies.
Resurrection also has a rich history in mythology, dating back to ancient times. In Greek mythology, the Phoenix bird rose from the ashes of its own demise to live again, becoming a powerful symbol of rebirth. The Phoenix has its origins even earlier, though, in Ancient Egypt’s benu bird. The Egyptians also told another, equally dramatic story of resurrection involving the god Osiris, his wife Isis, and his brother Seth. When Seth grew jealous of his brother and murdered Osiris, he dismembered the body and scattered the pieces. Isis hunted down the remnants of her husband’s body. With her magic, she reconstituted his body and resurrected him. Osiris lived on as the god of the afterlife, king of dead, though he himself was reborn.
The Egyptians believed every soul lived on after death, journeying through Osiris’s kingdom every night and returning to their bodies in the daytime. But true rebirth was reserved for a select few, like Osiris. This mythology plays a vital role in my Reborn series, in which a young woman mummified 3,000 years ago in Egypt awakens in a scientific laboratory in modern America. Resurrection can be a blessing — or it can wreak untold horror.
So, do you really want to live forever?