The belief in an everlasting place of damnation is a powerful image that has been an integral part of the spiritual mythology of the world since the days of the earliest Christian philosophers around 1,800 years ago.
While it is a much more recent idea compared to the many beliefs of heavens and spiritual paradise of ancient non-Christian belief systems, the horrendous images of torture, fire, pain and fear evoked along with the threat of Hell have made it a major focal point for many Christian writers, preachers and systems.
Even today, around the world, literally tens of thousands of Christian preachers regularly evoke the threat and the horror of Hell into the minds of their parishioners as part of their sermons. Far from a fading idea, the concept of Hell has enjoyed a revival of sorts at the end of the 20th Century with great concern towards the concept of “Armageddon” and “Final Days”.
So where does the idea of Hell actually come from? Why? And what does it mean for people in the future?
Origin of word (Etymology)
The word Hell is not a Christian invention, but an appropriation of a pre-existing God of Northern Europe. Hell in Old English comes from the Cthonic underworld goddess Hel(l) worshipped in Germanic and Nordic (Icelandic) communities from around 200 BCE to 300 CE.
Hell was believed to be the daughter of Loki and the giantess Angrboda and the sibling of both the Midgard worm who will cause the sea to flood the world with the lashings of his tail and of Fenrir, the phantom world who will swallow the Sun at Ragnarok.
She is Queen of the otherworld, also known as Hel(l) and she takes command of all who die, except for heroes slain in battle, who ascend to Valhalla. In some religious histories she is depicted as half black half white.
The word Hell itself appears to come from a much older Proto-Germanic word “khalija "one who covers up or hides something”.
It is her role of Queen of the lost souls and her universal appeal across several key European nations including Britain that attracted her as a concept to be “Christianized”.
Development of the modern image of Hell
Before the word Hell became popularized as the place of eternal damnation through the publishing of one of the most famous books in English, the King James Bible in 1611, the words Hades and Gehenna were used to describe the essential Christian concept of misery and torment.
Christianity holds the record for being the first and most successful religion in history to use both theoretical torment and physical torment and misery as a recruitment tool for followers.
Before the advent of Christianity and the wholesale destruction of the ancient world, religion had retreated to a mostly part-time affair for most people. Simply, the improved standard of living for individuals living across the Roman Empire had lowered peoples reliance on supernatural beliefs.
The same can be said for modern western society since the 1960’s and the significant improvements in the standards of living.
However, an ingenious new plan emerged around 300 CE to not only grow the religion by dominate the ancient world.
Firstly, the esoteric writings of John, the last true apostle, which we know as the Book of Revelation suddenly became an extremely important text. For it connected the concept of a Christian End of Days with a place of damnation and misery for eternity unless individuals pledged total obedience to Christianity.
Secondly, hell was going to be created on Earth through the systematic destruction of society by Christianized leaders- a physical example of what people could expect for “eternity” if they didn’t become loyal followers of Christianity, the religion created by Paul of Tarsus and the House of Ananus, the Jewish High Priests.
Christianity succeeded in creating its first Armageddon under the reign of Justinian around 540 CE having spent over two hundred years systematically destroying every piece of knowledge, every practitioner of skill, every ancient temple and structure dedicated to wisdom. They had succeeded in halting all public works, all medical care, all education so that free flowing public fountains stopped, sewers became blocked, cities became vreeding grounds for new diseases and death and eventually the greatest relative loss of human life in all of history.
At least half of the world’s population died thanks to the Christian obsession in bringing about the end of the world under Justinian by the end of the 6th Century. Yet it was not the first, nor the last Christian induced “End of Days” for in the centuries to follow, more plagues and death through Christian promoted war has caused even more death.
A spiritual hell
Contrary to Christian doctrine, there is no evidence that such a singular place of pain exists. However, there is ample evidence that individual and small collective hells exist.
Individuals that fail to resolve regrets and unfinished business appear to carry these problems over to the next world. So powerful are human emotions of regret and guilt that it appears it can cause a mind to be suspended between this world and the next-a kind of hell.
Similarly, individuals who have lost their lives in war and tragedy also appear to struggle with peace until they have worked through the regrets of life cut short and lost love.
Hell on earth
All evidence to the existence of hell points to the human mind decision to make life on earth a living hell. Humans over time have done their best to make life misery, from war, from ill-thought building design and slums, from slavery, torture and sacrifice. Now to modern cities of grey and dull, and lifeless oblivion.
What is exceptional about the history of humanity making life on Earth a living hell is that is can be traced back as an unbroken line of greed, messiahs, religions, kinds, power, lust to the very first civilizations of humanity. At no point through our existence have we stopped and thought it even possible that life on Earth could be otherwise hell.
Belief in Hell is the belief that War in Heaven
A wisdom rarely revealed is that a belief in Hell is in fact a belief in War in Heaven . That like on Earth, there is no peace in Heaven. For the very central characters of Hell are those that were exiled, those that fought against Heaven and were cast aside.
And so much of our belief in this war is manifest in the belief in demons, in the capturing and imprisonment of souls as slaves, in the light of angels and the darkness of those that would cast evil.
And so hell and the concepts that surround it are to be feared.
The hell of regrets and unfinished business
But to think that such a place of exile and torment is purely for those souls who have disgraced humanity and cast great darkness, then we are sadly misguided. For hell is the hell of regrets, the hell of a life unjustly taken, for the guilt of taking lives unjust, for the curse uttered in life, for the fear and control of other spirits who entrap us.
Hell is not simply some place of torment, some "maximum security" spiritual prison for the very worst inmates, it is a state of mind of every soul who feels wronged or regrets the wrongs of their life that remain trapped and isolated. And there are many millions of these sad souls.
Do you really think all the souls of Auschwitz of all the people who worked and died there have found a state of peace and heaven? How many do you think are still in a state of hell? still in a state of anger for their lives unjustly taken?
And what about all the young soldiers that have every died on the battlefields of war? Do you fell they all feel at peace, that all unfinished business has been put to rest?
Or what about places of great torture and evil? Do you feel that the souls who unjustly lost their lives in great pain and torment have happily moved on?
Hell is far greater and far more complex and far more resilient than some organized prison network for "maximum cursed" souls.
The United States of Spirits, One Heaven
The United States of Spirits, also known as One Heaven is the first time in history where a dedicated, unified structure is proposed to not only end once and for all the concept of hell, but systematically locate and redeem every single higher order spirit.
That eventually, not one single soul shall be damned, shall be cursed, shall exist in a state of hell.
This is the covenant, the final testament of the universe to the human race.