Archive | November, 2019

The Seventh Circle of Hell

10 Nov

Something a little different but perhaps appropriate for the season, coming on the heels of Hallowe’en and at the beginning of November, known to Anglo-Saxons as Blotmonath or ‘the month of blood’ – a post about Hell! In religion and folklore, Hell is an afterlife location in which evil souls are subjected to punitive suffering, often torture as eternal punishment after death. 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. 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. Hell is often depicted in art and literature, perhaps most famously in Dante’s Divine Comedy. 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’. From illustrations in The Far Side comics and TV’s South Park, to centuries-old works like Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno, humanity has always wanted answers about hell. Lots of people have theories, some based in fact and some based on fiction.

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