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Ways of Worship: Thanatos

Hellenic Witch/Wiccan Worship of Thanatos

By Lilli BehomPublished 4 months ago 3 min read
Image courtesy of Google Images

General info

The God and personification of Death, specifically of peaceful death. Violent death was left to the Keres, his bloodthirsty sisters. He is often classified as the personification or spirit of death. He is the son of Nyx. In some lore, Nyx was his only parent and in others, he was fathered by Erebus. Twin of Hypnos whose other siblings include Moros, Keres, Hypnos, Oneiroi, Momus, Oizys, Hesperides, Moirai, Nemesis, Apate, Philotes, Geras, Eris, Styx, Dolos, Ponos, Euphrosyne, Epiphron, Continentia, Petulantia, Misericordia, Keres, Pertinacia. His Roman name is Mors.

Thanatos is often described as a clean-shaven young man with dark hair or a dark-haired older man with a full beard. He is always depicted with dark wings just like his mother and siblings. He is described as merciless and indiscriminate, hateful towards mortals and gods, and hated by them in return.

In the Hellenic religion, he was not typically worshipped as the other Gods were. His depiction was shown in many other temples but didn't have one of his own and often wasn't given an alter. He was worshipped in Sparta and was depicted in a temple along with Hypnos and Aphrodite Ambologera.

Many of us know about the myth where a mortal was sentenced to roll a giant boulder up a hill for eternity but what is often missed is Thanatos's role in that myth. King Sisyphus of Korinth was set to die and be chained up in Tartarus for eternity by order of Zeus. When Thanatos went to deliver Sisyphus to his punishment the sly king tricked Thanatos into the shackles. While he was imprisoned there, no mortal or god could die. Eventually, the war god Ares became frustrated and tired of his wars being stuck in stalemate with neither side gaining the upper hand. He set out to release Thanatos from his prison. Once Thanatos was free, Ares handed Sisyphus over to the other god to see out his punishment. Sisyphus however, convinced Persephone to release him and allow him to see his wife, saying she didn't give him a proper funeral. Ultimately, Sisyphus was dragged back to the Underworld by Hermes and was sentenced to Tartarus to roll his boulder up the hill and fall back down once he was close to the top.

Thanatos appears in the Iliad, because let's face it who doesn't, along with his twin Hypnos. Homer writes that Zeus charged the twins by way of Apollo with the swift delivery of the hero Sarpedon's body back to his homeland of Lycia.


General Symbols: Sword, wings, theta, inverted torch, wreath, bones, furs, antlers/horns

Colors: Black, silver, red, blue, purple

Animals: Butterflies, ravens, crows, owls, vultures, snakes, spiders

Food: Wine, mint, pomegranate, beets, sweet potatoes, rosemary, thyme, blood orange

Scents: Sandalwood, dragons blood, myrrh, poppy or opium, wisteria,

Crystals/rocks: Onyx, obsidian, black stones, lapis lazuli, garnet, smoky quartz, mookaite, bronze, gold, dark amethyst

Plants: Poppy, wormwort, mugwart, rose, hibiscus, hemlock, wolfsbane, cypress


Things to pray for: assistance in the peaceful passing of a loved one, carrying that loved one to their final resting place, keeping the Keres away, peace, assist with the fear/anxiety of death

Prayer #1

To Thanatos, so kind and so good, I offer my praise.

Son of the darkness and the night, of wise Erebos

and raven-haired Nyx, brother of Hypnos who grants a respite

ephemeral and sweet, O Thanatos, you bring a repose

of a longer span–an endless sleep is yours to bestow.

Beautiful Thanatos, well-wreathed with poppies red as blood,

black-winged god, fleet-footed one, bearer of the sharp-edged sword

with which you cut a lock of hair from each who enters Hades’ realm:

some call you merciless, hard of heart, O god who takes

from us those we most love–and yet, dear Thanatos,

yours is a mercy great and freeing, a boundless comfort,

a final peace. O god who gives us life’s last blessing, I praise you.


Prayer #2

Thanatos, God of Death, bringer of peace in final rest

Thanatos, the unmoveable one, the farrier to the final stop

Thanatos, he who holds our hand as our final breath leaves our body

I call to you

Bringer of endless sleep, brother of dream, son of Nyx

Black-winged god, fighter of peace, the one we trust with our loved ones

I call to you


About the Creator

Lilli Behom

I have no idea what I'm doing but I'm always down for spooks.

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  • Manikandan Blog Writer4 months ago


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