mors ianua vitae.
Death is the portal to life.
pron = mohrs IAH-noo-ah WEE-tai.
Comment: Based on what I have been able to find (very little) about this proverb, it apparently comes from pre-Christian Rome. In other
words, some Romans held the belief that death was an entry way into
another dimension of life. Christians appropriated the saying
themselves. Metal rock groups have made whole albums out of this
Latin proverb. One group calls itself by the proverb, and another song
spins out multiple verses about how death will unite the singer to the
I only summarize these to point out that there is not an "obvious"
meaning or angle to this proverb.
The first of November approaches. Ancient peoples, Romans and their
Gallic, Celtic and Germanic neighbors to the north to name a few,
celebrated Oct. 31-Nov 2 as a thinning of the veil between this world
and the other worlds. During those three days they experienced their
ancestors walking among them. It was a time to commune with the
dead,but not too much! Romans cleansed their houses with fava beans,
took food and wine to the graves of their dead and feasted with them,
but also asked them to keep their distance. Centuries later,
Christians adapted these holidays into All Saints and All Souls days.
As the trees turn their colors and the air grows cooler for us in the
norther hemisphere, we might allow these signs of things dying to help
us reflect on what life has brought us, what letting go might mean,
what waking up on the other side of winter's death might bring, and
then just be here, in the Fall, and live into death as it comes to our
part of the earth. Sound macabre? No death (winter), no spring.
Death, from an earth-centered view--really is the portal to life.
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive