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Philip Galkin
Philip Galkin

14 : Hellish Hell



In religion and folklore, hell is a location or state in the afterlife in which evil souls are subjected to punitive suffering, most often through torture, as eternal punishment after death. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as eternal destinations, the biggest examples of which are Christianity and Islam, whereas religions with reincarnation usually depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations, as is the case in the dharmic religions. Religions typically locate hell in another dimension or under Earth's surface. Other afterlife destinations include heaven, paradise, purgatory, limbo, and the underworld.




14 : Hellish Hell



Other religions, which do not conceive of the afterlife as a place of punishment or reward, merely describe an abode of the dead, the grave, a neutral place that is located under the surface of Earth (for example, see Kur, Hades, and Sheol). Such places are sometimes equated with the English word hell, though a more correct translation would be "underworld" or "world of the dead". The ancient Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, and Finnic religions include entrances to the underworld from the land of the living.


The modern English word hell is derived from Old English hel, helle (first attested around 725 AD to refer to a nether world of the dead) reaching into the Anglo-Saxon pagan period.[1] The word has cognates in all branches of the Germanic languages, including Old Norse hel (which refers to both a location and goddess-like being in Norse mythology), Old Frisian helle, Old Saxon hellia, Old High German hella, and Gothic halja. All forms ultimately derive from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic feminine noun *xaljō or *haljō ('concealed place, the underworld'). In turn, the Proto-Germanic form derives from the o-grade form of the Proto-Indo-European root *kel-, *kol-: 'to cover, conceal, save'.[2] Indo-European cognates include Latin cēlāre ("to hide", related to the English word cellar) and early Irish ceilid ("hides"). Upon the Christianization of the Germanic peoples, extensions of the Proto-Germanic *xaljō were reinterpreted to denote the underworld in Christian mythology[1][3] (see Gehenna).


Related early Germanic terms and concepts include Proto-Germanic *xalja-rūnō(n), a feminine compound noun, and *xalja-wītjan, a neutral compound noun. This form is reconstructed from the Latinized Gothic plural noun *haliurunnae (attested by Jordanes; according to philologist Vladimir Orel, meaning 'witches'), Old English helle-rúne ('sorceress, necromancer', according to Orel), and Old High German helli-rūna 'magic'. The compound is composed of two elements: *xaljō (*haljō) and *rūnō, the Proto-Germanic precursor to Modern English rune.[4] The second element in the Gothic haliurunnae may however instead be an agent noun from the verb rinnan ("to run, go"), which would make its literal meaning "one who travels to the netherworld".[5][6]


Proto-Germanic *xalja-wītjan (or *halja-wītjan) is reconstructed from Old Norse hel-víti 'hell', Old English helle-wíte 'hell-torment, hell', Old Saxon helli-wīti 'hell', and the Middle High German feminine noun helle-wīze. The compound is a compound of *xaljō (discussed above) and *wītjan (reconstructed from forms such as Old English witt 'right mind, wits', Old Saxon gewit 'understanding', and Gothic un-witi 'foolishness, understanding').[7]


Hell appears in several mythologies and religions. It is commonly inhabited by demons and the souls of dead people. A fable about hell which recurs in folklore across several cultures is the allegory of the long spoons.[citation needed]


Punishment in hell typically corresponds to sins committed during life. Sometimes these distinctions are specific, with damned souls suffering for each sin committed, such as in Plato's myth of Er or Dante's The Divine Comedy, but sometimes they are general, with condemned sinners relegated to one or more chamber of hell or to a level of suffering.[citation needed]


The hell of Swahili mythology is called kuzimu, and belief in it developed in the 7th and 8th century under the influence of Muslim merchants at the East African coast.[17] It is imagined as a very cold place.[17] Serer religion rejects the general notion of heaven and hell.[18] In Serer religion, acceptance by the ancestors who have long departed is as close to any heaven as one can get. Rejection and becoming a wandering soul is a sort of hell for one passing over. The souls of the dead must make their way to Jaaniw (the sacred dwelling place of the soul). Only those who have lived their lives on earth in accordance with Serer doctrines will be able to make this necessary journey and thus be accepted by the ancestors. Those who can't make the journey become lost and wandering souls, but they do not burn in "hell fire".[18][19]


According to the Yoruba mythology, there is no hellfire. Wicked people (guilty of e.g. theft, witchcraft, murder, or cruelty[20]) are confined to Orun Apaadi (heaven of potsherds), while the good people continue to live in the ancestral realm, Orun Baba Eni (heaven of our fathers).[21]


With the rise of the cult of Osiris during the Middle Kingdom the "democratization of religion" offered to even his humblest followers the prospect of eternal life, with moral fitness becoming the dominant factor in determining a person's suitability. At death a person faced judgment by a tribunal of forty-two divine judges. If they had led a life in conformance with the precepts of the goddess Maat, who represented truth and right living, the person was welcomed into the heavenly reed fields. If found guilty the person was thrown to Ammit, the "devourer of the dead" and would be condemned to the lake of fire.[23] The person taken by the devourer is subject first to terrifying punishment and then annihilated. These depictions of punishment may have influenced medieval perceptions of the inferno in hell via early Christian and Coptic texts.[24] Purification for those considered justified appears in the descriptions of "Flame Island", where humans experience the triumph over evil and rebirth. For the damned complete destruction into a state of non-being awaits but there is no suggestion of eternal torture; the weighing of the heart in Egyptian mythology can lead to annihilation.[25][26] The Tale of Khaemwese describes the torment of a rich man, who lacked charity, when he dies and compares it to the blessed state of a poor man who has also died.[27]Divine pardon at judgment always remained a central concern for the ancient Egyptians.[28]


The hells of Asia include the Bagobo "Gimokodan" (which is believed to be more of an otherworld, where the Red Region is reserved who those who died in battle, while ordinary people go to the White Region)[30] and in Dharmic religions, "Kalichi" or "Naraka".


According to a few sources, hell is below ground, and described as an uninviting wet[31] or fiery place reserved for sinful people in the Ainu religion, as stated by missionary John Batchelor.[32] However, belief in hell does not appear in oral tradition of the Ainu.[33] Instead, there is belief within the Ainu religion that the soul of the deceased (ramat) would become a kamuy after death.[33] There is also belief that the soul of someone who has been wicked during lifetime, committed suicide, got murdered or died in great agony would become a ghost (tukap) who would haunt the living,[33] to come to fulfillment from which it was excluded during life.[34]


The hells of Europe include Breton mythology's "Anaon", Celtic mythology's "Uffern", Slavic mythology's "Peklo", Norse mythology's Náströnd, the hell of Sami mythology and Finnish "Tuonela" ("manala").


In classic Greek mythology, below heaven, Earth, and Pontus is Tartarus, or Tartaros (Greek Τάρταρος, deep place). It is either a deep, gloomy place, a pit or abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides within Hades (the entire underworld) with Tartarus being the hellish component. In the Gorgias, Plato (c. 400 BC) wrote that souls of the deceased were judged after they paid for crossing the river of the dead and those who received punishment were sent to Tartarus.[39] As a place of punishment, it can be considered a hell. The classic Hades, on the other hand, is more similar to Old Testament Sheol. The Romans later adopted these views.


According to Jewish teachings, hell is not entirely physical; rather, it can be compared to a very intense feeling of shame. People are ashamed of their misdeeds and this constitutes suffering which makes up for the bad deeds. When one has so deviated from the will of God, one is said to be in Gehinnom. This is not meant to refer to some point in the future, but to the very present moment. The gates of teshuva (return) are said to be always open, and so one can align his will with that of God at any moment. Being out of alignment with God's will is itself a punishment according to the Torah.


Many scholars of Jewish mysticism, particularly of the Kabbalah, describe seven "compartments" or "habitations" of hell, just as they describe seven divisions of heaven. These divisions go by many different names, and the most frequently mentioned are as follows:[41]


Maimonides declares in his 13 principles of faith that the hells of the rabbinic literature were pedagogically motivated inventions to encourage respect of the Torah commandments by mankind, which had been regarded as immature.[51] Instead of being sent to hell, the souls of the wicked would actually get annihilated.[52]


The Christian doctrine of hell derives from passages in the New Testament. The word hell does not appear in the Greek New Testament; instead one of three words is used: the Greek words Tartarus or Hades, or the Hebrew word Gehinnom. 041b061a72


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