I’ve not made it any secret that my true muse has always been Death. Whether it is the McKean/Gaiman creation from the Sandman graphic novels, the skeletal waltz danse macabre, the cloaked guy with the scythe with a knight on a beach, the vampire at the window asking for permission to cross the threshold, or the Mórrígan, Death has been the audience I most write for and am most inspired by.
And I know one of the things that may raise eyebrows among some folks is that I typically personify Death in my head as a sensual female. All kinds of Freudian fodder in there, I suppose.
I know that some might wave it off and say “Oh, Michael, you just have a crush on Dave McKean’s Cinamon-inspired creation,” and I won’t deny that there is some of that going on. But my first realized personification of Death as a sensual female was before I was introduced to Sandman and was being a bit of a hedge-wiccan and declaring my patron was Mórrígan, the goddess of war and death in British Isles mythology (Irish, with Welsh variants), who has among her symbols, the raven. (left: Cinamon Hadley and McKean’s initial art for Death, comparison)
I am/was “in love” with the raven goddess early in my practice and wrote all sorts of gushy poetic things directed towards that personification shortly after leaving high school. And I still do, for that matter, although less of it shows up here than you might think and increasingly more as time goes on. A month or two back, I was jesting about finding a new muse and asking for suggestions, but I strongly suspect were I to adopt a “new” muse, she would eventually become a female, sensualized personification of Death. It’s the old dog and new tricks conundrum. I’ve been in love with Death far too long to really change much now.
Because Death is also passion. I’m not sure who said it originally, but someone said something along the lines that sex and orgasms are a brush with death, the time when we are closest to death. I think that person also said something about it being the moment when we are, for all practical purposes, dead, as we are in the throws of bliss. I could probably find the exact quote if I googled it for a while, but it seems to be one of those things best kept as a faulty memory rather than an exact quote — I’m afraid it would lose all depth and wisdom it had for me if I reread the original text. I can’t even begin to think of where I might have read it, so it may be a product of my own mind. I dunno.
But it is these connections, death = sex = death, that drives the sensual imagery I have of the grim reaper. Since adulthood, I’ve had a hard time taking the scythe guy, or Mr. Dancing Bones too seriously and I have a hard time seeing Death as a sinister figure.
And, of course, there are the myriad dreams. Dreams are untrustworthy things, but within them are promises made and kept — if only you know which promises were made in earnest.