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“They will cry and sing around me on Sunday!” Some aspects of the image of Devil within the motif of “Devil in the Coffin”

Keywords: mythical notions, devils, Devil, funeral ritual, Mother Goddess, chtonic world, rebirth, Christianity
Language: In Latvian

Based on the material of fairy tales and legends, the article deals with the hitherto littlestudied image of the Devil, designated in the body of fairy tales by the term “Devil in the coffin”. Notions of the creatures and deities of the underground (chtonic space) make an important part of mythical thinking, demonstrating both the former conceptions of the world structure and the issue of post-mortem life, and illustrating the modern way of thinking about these phenomena.

The article analyses the meaning of the concepts “Devil” and “devils” in traditional mythical notions. The subject phenomenon is based on fairy tale plots, where devils take over the body of the deceased in certain transition situations — in this case, during the funerary ritual. Within the article, this action has been analysed on the basis of both the mythical aspect and including also the inflow of Christian notions into Latvian folklore texts. The study concluded that, on the one hand, the plot featuring devils who take over the dead body during the funerary ritual contains Christian notions of the hell and punishment, but on the other hand, this also highlights more ancient mythical conceptions about the Earth as the lap of Mother Goddess. Perhaps one of the funerary rituals, such as wake, or guarding of the dead before interment, has also formed from these syncreticism ideas.