Legends of the Afterlife
*Article reproduced from http://jazmaonline.boards.net/thread/186/legends-afterlife with permission from the author.
Below, I am going to share with you many different perspectives on the afterlife, which is something that is going to be mysterious until we experience it ourselves. The details can be anything that we can imagine and more. Let me take you to another realm of existence for a short while and invite you into the fold…
The word afterworld is described by the online dictionary as, “the future world, especially the world after death.” It is perceived as many separate realities of a continued existence from which we belong. It seems to have come from our personal karma and perceptions. The word itself was brought into existence at the end of the fifteenth century, although the spiritual plane was theorized to exist before this.
Because of the speculation of the details of this place, there are often many psychics, prophets or religious leaders who theorize its location and lifestyle. So many different stories and visions have come of it. It is a good way to ease a troubled mind or to convince a person to change or identify with a large group of believers.
Whatever the future may hold, we can still connect to these realms with each other here in the world of living. At least in our consciousness, they will be real. Our souls gravitate naturally to certain people and places, so too may they in another world. Or, perhaps none of it even matters at all…
Al-Jannah is the final abode of the righteous and the Islamic believers but, also the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Hawwa dwelt. This cosmology commonly depicts seven layers of heaven analogous to the seven layers of hell. It is guarded by angels at eight main gates and each level is split into 100 degrees. The highest level is called Firdaus.
In the Qur'an, this paradise is richly inhabited by gorgeous maidens, jewels, food, material possessions and eternal supplies of water. The heart will feel no more negative emotions and will only know joy. It is meant for the most righteous of people.
One day in this land is the same as one thousand years on Earth. There will be others there as well, whom you have shared past life with, so long as they are worthy. There are four rivers which flow through here and none shall surpass Sidrat al-Muntaha, a Lote tree which marks the boundaries of the Heaven, where no creation may cross.
This land is a heavenly paradise where Osiris, the Egyptian god of death in the Ogdoad tradition dwells. It is known as the Egyptian reed fields. He was traditionally displayed as a green-skinned deity with a pharaoh's beard, wearing a crown with two ostrich feathers and holding a crook and flail. In myth, the Ogdoad are eight primordial deities worshipped in Hermopolis during the late Period (664 BC to 332 BC).
In this culture, when a soul leaves the Earthly realm, they will be sent through to stand before 42 divine judges, as written about in the ancient book of the dead. This will be the chance to redeem oneself for any wrongdoings. If one successfully navigates into the next chapter, they will then find themselves at Duat.
In the mythical realm of Duat, each human heart is weighed on a giant scale against a feather. Those souls which balance the scales are allowed to start a long and perilous journey to Aaru, where they will exist in pleasure for all eternity. Hearts which are heavy with evil will tip the scale and fall into the crocodilian jaws of the demon Ammit. After this "second death", the soul is doomed to restlessness. The souls who pass this are sent onto a long journey and face many perils before reaching Aaru and once they arrive, they enter through a series of gates.
Elysium is defined by the online dictionary as, “the abode of the blessed after death in classical mythology.” Admission was reserved for mortals only related to the gods and other heroes or those most favored, the righteous and the heroic. After life, they could live here and still carry out their passions from the previous time.
According to Eustathius of Thessalonica, the word "Elysium" (Ἠλύσιον) derives from ἀλυουσας (ἀλύω, to be deeply stirred from joy) or from ἀλύτως, synonymous of ἀφθάρτως (ἄφθαρτος, incorruptible), referring to a souls' life in this place. It is shared by each soul with grace. The most honorable connect with each other.
Virgil's Elysium knows perpetual spring and shady groves, with its own sun and lit by its own stars: solemque suum, sua sidera norunt. Many authors and poets have gone on to theorize its endless beauty and atmosphere. For even the energy can be felt in the wind.
Epic of Gilgamesh
This epic poem is from Mesopotamia and is known it to be one of the oldest texts alive. Some of the best artifacts were rediscovered in the library ruins of the 7th-century BC Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. Others are still yet lost in history.
Buried in tombs, libraries or long forgotten, the story reaches us today. It involves the main characters Gilgamesh, king of Uruk and Enkidu. After a beginning of sexual initiation, Enkidu travels to the city to challenge this leader to gain reputation and strength. The king still wins but it makes them friends, as they are in tune with each other.
From here on, a journey begins through the Cedar Forest, where they slay a terrible guardian and to cut down the sacred tree. For the next time, Ishtar sends the Bull of Heaven to punish Enkidu for his many misdeeds. His sentence is death.
Because of the distress about Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh is inspired to search for immortality. He eventually learns that "Life, which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands".
The definition of Heaven is portrayed by the online dictionary as, “a place regarded in various religions as the abode of God (or the gods) and the angels and of the good after death, often traditionally depicted as being above the sky.” It’s an ethereal image which speaks of air and the color is blue. It remains for those who are good.
It is also known as, “a state of being eternally in the presence of God after death.” For this is where beings of this level can relate and be like one entity. They will feel the same, think similar and be like each other. They are filled with peace and forgiveness.
A similar notation is, “the sky, especially perceived as a vault in which the sun, moon, stars, and planets are situated.” This is a celestial castle for which glorious light survives eternally. Tales of entities leaving here is widely known by the story of Lucifer, the most famous angel who took leave here to rule the world saved for evil below.
The best explanation for hell is, “a place regarded in various religions as a spiritual realm of evil and suffering, often traditionally depicted as a place of perpetual fire beneath the earth where the wicked are punished after death.” It is a land of terror and torture, where demons flourish and partake in every sin imaginable in order to imprison the dead. It sends fear through the masses.
Other traditions, which do not conceive of the afterlife as a place of punishment or reward, merely describe Hell as an abode of the dead, the grave, or a neutral place which is located underneath the surface of Earth. It is known in many different cultures by several names. It projects an image of flame and heat. However, Buddhist descriptions of Hell feature an equal number of hot and cold settings.
This contrast of Heaven and Hell is meant to teach the importance of the way we treat others. If we were all caring and compassionate beings, then we would truly have happiness and we would never suffer. If we were to exist in a negative space, with where there are equally as horrible souls, then we would eternally suffer.
In ancient Sumerian texts, Inanna is described as the “Queen of Heaven.” She can bestow the dead with special rewards in the afterlife. Her sister, Ereshkigal, rules the underworld. She was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. She was also associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star.
During the post-Sargonic era, she became one of the most popular deities in the Sumerian pantheon, with temples all across Mesopotamia. She appears in more legends than any other goddess. Her cult practiced sacred prostitution rites and rituals. In this sexual element, she overtakes all others with passion.
Inanna is the enforcer of divine judgement. She closely relates to the sign of Libra. Where she also has a duality about her but, ultimately it is a cosmic revolution which propels her to greatness. She is a symbol for all the pleasures of the world which can heal us and not just be stigmatized.
The world describes Purgatory as, “an immediate state after death, according to Catholic Church doctrine, in which those destined for heaven undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joys of Heaven.” In this area, the soul may become lost, traumatized and forsaken. It is a time of great healing at a lower mental state.
Various texts go on to describe that “Only those who die in the state of grace but, have not yet fulfilled the temporal punishment due to their sin can be in purgatory and therefore, no one in purgatory will remain forever in that state nor go to hell.” It is meant as a situation for absolution and purification. Almost certainly breakthroughs will occur.
Alternatively, we read that “Although denying the existence of purgatory as formulated in Roman Catholic doctrine, the Anglican and Methodist traditions along with Eastern Orthodoxy, affirm the existence of an intermediate state, Hades and thus pray for the dead.” In essence, we will become complete. Where we go does not determine the outcome of a permanent situation.
According to the Wiccans and other small pagan groups, the Summerland is the pinnacle of righteous achievement in the afterlife. C.W. Leadbeater, a Theosophist, taught that those who were good in their lives went to this destination in between incarnations. When they have mastered the state of compassion and emotion then they will be permitted to stay.
Each person that comes through here wills it differently. Depending upon the acts of your life, it changes your perceptions and ultimately alters this world. Even the wicked will come here and be provided a resting place yet, it will reflect the path that they chose. It is best to live a life of love than to reside here in one of these states.
Because Wicca is such a diverse religion, some beliefs on this vary from person to person. There are many different branches of Wicca. Although there is no belief in a hell there is the idea of punishments that may manifest in the form of karma. In turn, it is meant to be used as a learning lesson and not as something one should feel helpless about.
Xolotl stands for lightning and death. He is a God of the Aztec culture. The Aztec culture is popularly known for their reputation as blood thirsty. They typically performed human sacrifice on top of elaborate temples. The soul would go through the top of the pyramid and enter another dimension. One of these places is known as the Underworld.
Tales tell how this god and a dog will lead the people to their destination. He is the dark personification of Venus, the evening star, and was associated with heavenly fire and therefore shows us his celestial position in the sky. It is a royal occasion, much like becoming dead. His job is to protect the sun from the dangers of the underworld.
The Underworld is the land where souls go upon dying in the Earthly realm. It is deeply engrained into several different cultures. It was typically thought of as a high honor to be given to the Gods. Much cultural respect was placed on these events. It was considered to be good luck for your afterlife to be sacrificed.
Legends of the Afterlife
Many other cultures have imagined what it will be like when we finally depart this world. Some have speculated that we will be amongst the stars, which seem to be reborn and changed as well. Popular myths point to nature taking us by Earth, by mirrors and even by levitation. There have even been such tales written in fantasy about it in movies, film and books.
Because it is such a natural thing to speculate about, every culture has imagined what it will be like. There are similar thoughts, views and ideas in religion yet, also they are very different. The amount of detail seems to paint a much more elaborate vision. There are ultimately choices that we can make that will lead us on…
In conclusion, the Legends of the Afterlife are made for our human consumption for serenity. Where our souls go and what they will become echoes from many different ideas of several voices of the people in our world. There is nothing more precious than the moments that we have right now to change, forgive and grow.
I hope that everyone finds happiness who works for it and even those who may not deserve it: may they be in peace…