10 DEITIES OF THE UNDERWORLD
All the major religions have their different views about what will happen after an individual passes away. There are some that teach that it leads to a life full of blessings and pleasure while others describe afterlife as a place of torment and misery run by unjust underworld gods. These religions have their own representative of the underworld.
THE NORSE GODDESS HEL
Hel was never really a goddess until Odin has cast her to rule Niflheim, a part of the underworld to thwart the end of the world which Norse mythology calls as Ragnarok of Twilight of the Gods. The reason why Odin did this was that the goddesses of fate have declared that Hel and her siblings would cause the demise of the great gods of the Norse mythology. Afraid of this fate, Odin threw them to the place to prevent that to happen.
Hel is one of Loki’s children and has been described as having grisly features and had surrounded herself with horrible things like hunger, starvation and sickness. Those people who died of sickness, old age and corruption are those who exist in Hel’s portion of the underworld.
She was able to avenge their fate when Balder, one of Odin’s sons, died of poison. Hel refused to relinquish Balder’s should despite Odin’s plea. There was nothing that Odin could do sine her power in the underworld is absolute.
YAMA- THE UNDERWORLD GOD OF THREE RELIGIONS
As we all know, both Buddhism and Shintoism has its roots from Hinduism which makes the latter’s underworld god their god as well. It is believed that Yama is the king of the underworld on these religions. The only difference is how he is portrayed on each of them.
According to the legends of Hinduism, Yama used to be a man and had a sister named Yami. Since he didn’t have intercourse to her sister, he died without a child. Since he didn’t have any children, he wasn’t able to have himself reborn again and simply remained in the underworld to be its ruler.
Buddhism portrayed Yama as a terrifying yet fair god of the underworld. He created different levels within the eight hells that is part of the Buddhist belief. The soul who dies stay in one level then is brought to another to pay for another sin. He was cruel and terrifying but remaine just to those who are there. There were times when he would release souls from hell, one of them was a person who could turn his world into a lotus pool which is the reason why he had to release him just to maintain the state of his domain.
There were also times that Yama also suffered torments although it is unknown if he had afflicted this to himself. The story goes that molten copper
In some texts, Yama himself is subject to eternal torments. One story has him being followed by a cauldron of molten copper. It is said that he is fastened down by one of his own men, his mouth opened with a hook, and the molten copper poured down his throat. Whether this torment was decreed by Yama unto himself is unclear, but it certainly shows the belief that even the king of hell is subject to karma.
MICTANTECUHTLI: AZTEC’S DEITY OF DEATH
Mictantecuhtli lives in Mictlan which is considered as the Aztec’s hell. Mictlan means “Place of the Fleshless” which describes this deity since he is depicted as nothing but a skeleton wearing a necklace made out of human eyeballs.
It was believed that this deity consumed the dead and those who died in vain would live again as weasels and beetles who consumes the scabs and drinks the pus of others. Aztecs dreaded that their loved ones might be consumed so they will sacrifice other people’s life just so they’ll be eaten first before their loved ones. There has also been evidence that these human sacrifices to the deity are somehow cannibalistic in nature though this was never proven.
There are a few members, though, who worshipped this deity since he is also considered as a healer and a god of childbirth. There were instances that he is portrayed as a skeleton with a liver, the organ believed by the Aztecs to contain the soul of humans. Other explanations about his feature explain that this deity is fleshless since he is suffering his health for his followers.
ERLIK- THE ALTAIC’S DEVIL
The story of this deity of the Altai Regions is said to be similar to the story about the story of Satan in the Bible. According to the legend, Erlik was hurled down to the Earth after offending the Creator God and led other evil entities like him.
The story goes that he tempted the first woman ever created and the only difference of the story is that he is the first man. He was cast down to earth and led the other demons. It is said that Erlik was the one responsible for the creation of women and her tempers and moods when Erlik came and played the flute to her ears.
THE SEMITIC DEITY MOT
There is another deity whom the Semitic race has considered as the god of the underworld. Unlike the other deities, Mot does not have followers which is sometimes a question to scholars.
According to Semitic belief, the underworld where this deity rules is muddy and very dark. Other deities were warned to stay away from him since this deity has a huge appetite that has no satisfaction. Of course, there are still those who dared defy this warning about this deity.
Mot is Baal’s rival, another familiar deity to both the Jews and Christians since Baal is one of those who deity written in the Bible. It is said that Baal feared Mot since he was trying to achieve supremacy over the other gods.
According to legends, Baal lost and was avenged by his wife who killed Mot. Both Baal were reborn. There was another battle between the two gods but Mot retreated due to the intervention of another god.
INCAN DEITY SUPAY
Aside from being the god of minerals and worshipped by miners, Supay is also the deity who guards the underworld. It is to Supay that the Incas would offer children on top of the mountains. He would demand about a hundred children a year as sacrifice.
The Spaniards who came to conquer the Incas compared Supay to Satan. Of course, the Incas weren’t used to ignoring this deity which led to confusion. When the Incas later learned about the motive of the Spaniards, they considered them as the Children of Supay.
ERESHKIGAL AND THE ROAD OF NO RETURN
The underworld was known as the land of no return ruled by a goddess named Erashkigal. Unlike the other underworlds, it is believed that the place of death for the Mesopotamians has no judgment and everything is equal whether they are human or gods.
The underworld was a place with seven gates where the dead would get stripped off whatever they have, even their own clothes since they should have nothing once they enter the realm.
This deity is known to be vengeful. A story goes that there was a feast given by the god and since this Erashkigal can’t attend, it has been agreed that her messenger would come to the feast to get her portion. However, Nergal who is known as the god of disease didn’t greet her messenger.
Erashkigal was enraged and the deity planned to kill Nergal. When Nergal visited her, she offered her gifts containing poison but the god of death refused it. When she failed to kill him, she threatened everyone that she will raise the dead back if Nergal wasn’t brought back.
Nergal indeed returned with demons behind him. Erachkigal was overpowered by the deity and married Nergal to spare her life. The couple then became the ruler of the underworld.
THE DEMON GOD BATARA KALA
The story of Batara Kala came from Javanese mythology. He ruled the underworld with Setesuyara who is his consort. He was created when the semen of the creator deity Batara Guru spilled into the ocean and was consumed by fish that gave birth to the Batara Kala. It was Uma, the creator god’s consort who took care of Batara Kala when was brought down to the world.
Batara Kala was described as a deity that resembles an ogre. He has a huge appetite that he even consumes inedible things. Batara Kala also consumes human which his father allows on certain individuals.
SUSANOO AND SHINTO’S MYTHOLOGY
Susanoo is another deity who rules the underworld. His sister is the sun goddess while the creator god is his father who banished him on earth after offending them. He went down to the underworld after walking around the Earth and became the ruler over it.
This deity is known for his cruelty, especially to his son Okuninushi. When the latter descended to Susanoo’s realm, the god of the underworld have set him to undergo torturous test like being locked in a room with wasps as well as casting him to a pit of snakes. The only one who saved him is his wife.
He was still a subordinate to the sun goddess despite his power. He failed to tame the land and gives the job to the descendants of the sun goddess whom she sent to do the task of bringing order to the Earth.
THE GREEKS AND HADES
Hades is the counterpart of the Roman God Pluto though the latter really originated from the Hellenistic influence to Rome. He wasn’t described much as a fearful God since he was considered good for giving wealth to human beings. This deity is not only god of the underworld but he also has power over other things like soil and other metals. He is at times depicted as a god pouring wealth to the humans.
He, along with his brothers, defeated Kronos and along with his brothers have drawn lots to determine where each one will rule. Zeus cheated Hades which is the reason why Hades was the one who was cast down to rule the underworld.
Hades, along with Persephone whom he had abducted and married ruled the underworld. There were times that they showed compassion as to release soul from the underworld. One of the famous stories is about Orpheus to whom they felt sorry and allowed him to retrieve his beloved’s soul. However, the musician failed to resurrect her after failing the test given by Hades.