I became interested in the topic when reading that some fundamentalist christian ministers proposed that Christopher Hitchens, now that he has died, has become a believer due to his burning in hell. It made me wonder, exactly "where" hell is located?
In my Baptist upbringing, I was taught that hell was located under the earth. That concept is difficult for an adult to support, since the earth is a globe and encircles the sun, so there is no "under" location for hell. Some claimed that hell was in the center of the earth, with all that hot lava and stuff. Again, difficult to support, since we have a pretty good knowledge of geology, and the earth is not hollow.
I suppose you COULD say that hell is inside the sun - it's hot there, and at least would be in this solar system. But the sun, being the source of light and warmth, is usually thought to be a beneficial star. Maybe Venus or Mars?
I don't know what the fundamentalists teach about hell now. I read that some suggest hell is in another dimension or parallel universe - convenient, unprovable argument.
wikipedia shows the diversity of hells. Seems there are as many hells as there are religions. Hell can range from annihilation (no different from the atheist concept of death) to just being the place where the dead are, to a place of torment. The wikipedia article is far more detailed than I can quite here, and makes for fascinating reading.
Here is some more about the Aztrec "hell" (again, not a good word, given the horrors of some christian hells, and the muslim and buddhist type hells already described): river-styx.net This description of the Aztec place after death states
"Mictlan is the lowest layer of the underworld, situated in the north. Every soul, except those of fallen warriors and women who died giving birth, have to descend to the underworld. Here, their souls will find eternal rest. However, they first have to make the dangerous journey to Mictlan. At the burial, the deceased are given magical powers and with the help of the god Xolotl, they are able to make this journey safely. The ruler of this underworld is Mictlantecuhtli ... Mictlan, the Aztec Underworld, was ruled over by its Lord and Lady (Mictlantecuhtli and Mictlantecihuatl). It was a gloomy place, reached by the dead only after wandering for four years (four suns) beneath the earth accompanied by a "soul-companion", a dog cremated with the corpse.
The god of Mictlan, is described here as "a blood-spattered skeleton or a person wearing a toothy skull. His headdress was shown decorated with owl feathers and paper banners, and he wore a necklace of human eyeballs... in the Aztec world skeletal imagery was a symbol of fertility, health and abundance, emphasizing the close links between death and life."
It's interesting that, contrasted to some of the other religions we know, the afterlife does not include torment, punishment, retribution, or the opposite, a place or time of paradise and eternal pleasure. It is not annihilation, and there is no reincarnation. Just kind of an eternal gloomy place.
Mictlan sounds like my understanding of Hades. Not bad, just kinda depressing. Sort of like office work.
I think it's kind of clever that the Aztecs gave their gods unpronounceable names, just in case people were inclined to blaspheme. Hard to upset the buggers if it's not actually their names you're taking in vain.
And psychopomp absolutely must be repurposed as the label for a style of music. I'm thinking maybe for speed-metal Billy Joel songs, or something.
And for all the nastiness of the Conquistadors, the Balmis Expedition was sort of an amazing project in the opposite direction. Must be that liberal guilt thing.
Interesting observation. Do you suppose that Hades has Continuous Process Improvement, cargo-cult application of 5-S, and "360-performance evaluations"?
Will have to check your link. Quickly looking, I guess it was sort of the early 1800s doctors without borders. You have an amazing breadth of knowledge. Even though it was about 300 years too late for the Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, and North American people, it still sounds awesome and humanitarian on first skim.
I loved that term psychopomp too. The word-to-learn for 1/1/2012.
Oh, no. Hades is much more benign. All that six-sigma crap is definitely located in Hell.
I've heard the Balmis Expedition compared to the Apollo program. It really is amazing for its time. No refrigeration? No problem, we'll use orphans! Almost as amazing as the fact that Madagascar was settled by Austronesians from Borneo 4,000 miles to the east, circa 300 BCE.
Those Austronesians were amazing. Actually, humans have done amazing things long before we had Steve Jobs.
I'm really glad Hades doesn't have 6-sigma. But now I know what Satan looks like.... she's about 5'4" tall, wears comfortable shoes, loose dresses, .... well I better not go there.
I saw that about the Balmis orphans. Oliver with scabs. I bet they were really happy to be of service.
Hey, at least the orphans weren't ground into a vaccine paste. Could've been worse.
And humans have been amazing for millennia. Steve Jobs just patented it. I admire a lot of what Apple has done, but it really has become a cargo cult for far too many people. Their hell, of course, being the Windows registry. Or possibly the PC BIOS.
Holy crap, some people have vivid imaginations! I wonder if those that thought-up these tortures were sadists and loved the thought of torturing people.
I'm amazed to learn that Buddhism had hells, and extremely amazed at how horrible they are. I know very little about Buddhism, but had assumed it was just a relatively benign philosophy, because a number of ex-Mormons I know brag on it. I've never been impressed with any philosophy that didn't have scientific evidence to back-up it up, and so was never interested in studying any including Buddhism. Today, after reading your post about their hells, I'm inclined to think Buddhism is as repulsive as most religions.
I was a Mormon for 55 years and so will explain the Mormon ideas of hell. Mormon hells are not cut & dried because different Mormon prophets often contradict each other, and doctrine keeps changing through the years. However, I'll give it a shot.
Mormons believe that when we die, we go to a temporary spirit prison if we were basically bad, or temporary spirit paradise if we were basically good, while waiting for judgment. Spirit prison can be considered hell because those that go there are extremely fearfully waiting for the judgment they know they deserve for their unrighteousness. They will be in the spirit prison for up to 1000 years, depending on how evil they were.
After judgment, people are assigned to one of 6 places to live forever. The top 3 are for the righteous. The next one down are for the unrighteous that weren't horrible. It can be considered hell because those that go there will forever regret that they can't have what the righteous have. The next one down are for the horribly unrighteous and will be a worse hell because they will have a lot more regrets. The bottom place is for the evilest of evil people, and will be a place of eternal darkness. It's of course, the worst hell.
There will be no fire & brimstone or no one torturing you except yourself.
I think there are a zillion versions of Buddhism, so this is not intended to be comprehensive, just a tour of hell from various religious perspectives that I can find. I haven't done the Hindu hell yet, but influences are seen on Buddhist hell. Which makes since, given that Buddhism originated in India. However, as Buddhism spread around East Asia, it was mutated and combined with other local beliefs, so the Chinese buddhism was different from the Vietnamese, and those were different from Tibetan buddhism. I think most American Buddhists are closer to Zen, which I suspect has no hell and no life at all after death, but we will have to explore that later.
Thanks for enlightening us on the Mormon afterlife. It's much better to get it from someone who has lived the religion, instead of an autodidact like me. It's not what I expected - I actually thought there was no Mormon hell. Do they suggest where the Mormon afterlifes are located? I heard that good Mormons got their own planets.
Thanks also for reading and commenting! It is great to know there is interest in understanding what religions teach and where they come from.
I don't remember ever hearing where the hells are located, so it's probably not stated where in the Mormon doctrine.
The most righteous people will live on the earth for a while. The earth will be changed to a crystal ball that they can peer into to learn anything they want. (I think that's correct, it's been a while). Eventually they become Gods and create their own planets and populate them with their offspring, just like God our Father did.
That's the way I was taught, but I see that the present prophet of the church is trying to change the weird doctrine that was taught by Brigham Young, that God was once like us, and we can become like him if we are righteous enough.
Now that I think about it, the righteous will not only live on this planet for a while, but forever. The best of them will create and populate other planets, but this will be their home.
As an aside, a crystal ball planet never did sound very homey to me. I love green growing things. :)
Doesnt seem very pleasant to me either. Also kind of a juvenile fairy tale concept. I think Mormonism would have made for some great sci fi, however, and wonder if the Battlestar Galactica series had some inspiration there.