All  

Underworld

‘Ariadne in Naxos’ (1877) by Evelyn De Morgan.

The Descent of Ariadne: Minoan Queen of the Dead to Mistress of the Labyrinth?

"Mistress of the Labyrinth", "the Great Goddess", "The Potnia ." These three terms have long been used, somewhat interchangeably, to describe the original forms of Ariadne, a Cretan princess who has...
The Fomorians as depicted by John Duncan, 1912.

The Fomorians: Destructive Giants of Irish Legend

Bloodthirsty, warrior giants which came from far across the sea? Or was it the underworld? Perhaps they were more like monsters with a single leg, arm, and eye? No, it was heads of goats they had…or...
Detail of a bronze statuette of Pazuzu, circa 800 BC - circa 700 BC. Pazuzu was an Assyrian evil spirit believed to frighten away other evil spirits - protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes.

Mesopotamian Ghostbusters: The Evil Acts of Assyrian Ghosts and How They Were Vanquished

Assyria, like Mesopotamia in general, has always excited the Western imagination. Assyrian beliefs about the spiritual world are no exception. The Assyrians believed that ghosts could return from the...
A modern depiction of the hellhound Cerberus.

Gate to Hell Guardians Were Used to Ward People Off Deadly Cave

The Gate to Hell, also known as Pluto’s Gate, was the Greco-Roman entrance to the Underworld. When archaeologists found an example of this sacred site in Turkey they also discovered two guardians who...
Inside one of the tunnels under Valetta, Malta.

Just for Waste and Water…Right? The Knights of Malta and Their Secret Tunnels

Hordes of tourists visit the Mediterranean island of Malta each year to enjoy the above ground attractions the country has to offer such as breath-taking sandy beaches, historical buildings, and...
Squirrels – ancient messengers from the underworld (Public Domain) and squirrel tracks

Squirrel! Fuzzy Messengers from the Ancient Underworld? The Little-Known Archetype in Mythology

When it comes to archetypal spirit guides, often the focus is upon ferocious guardians and large, intimidating beasts. However, one of the most important, yet overlooked animals in world mythology is...
Kukulkan temple pyramid is being surveyed with multiple imaging technologies

Hidden Passage Discovered Underneath Chichén Itzá

After two months of investigations using state of the art non-invasive imaging equipment, as well as the good old-fashioned technique of crawling through tight spaces on hands and knees,...
Naughty ghost statue, in the ghost city Fengdu

Fengdu Ghost City: Testing Your Soul in the Domain of the Chinese King of Hell

Numerous shrines, temples and monasteries pepper Fengdu Ghost City. But all of them are dedicated to the afterlife. Legends link the site to the King of the Underworld. Would you dare to enter his...
Detail of ‘Sisyphus’ by Antonio Zanchi.

Sisyphus: King Cheats Death, Annoys Zeus, and Receives Never-ending Punishment in the Greek Underworld

Doomed to forever roll a huge boulder up a steep hill, Sisyphus is a figure in Greek mythology who represents an impossible task. As his punishment in the Greek Underworld, each time Sisyphus neared...
Alexander Dmitrievich Litovchenko (1835 - 1890) "Charon carries souls across the river Styx."

Journeys to the Underworld – From Ancient Greece to Holywood

Paul Salmond / The Conversation The success of Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman , depicting warring Olympians and Amazons, continues to stoke moviegoer interest in Greek mythology. Wonder Woman is the...
Detail of two ancient Egyptian 'gate spells'. On the top register, Ani and his wife face the ‘gates of the House of Osiris'. Below, they encounter the 'mysterious portals of the House of Osiris in the Field of Reeds'. All are guarded by unpleasant underworld protectors.

Through the Twelve Chambers of Hell: The Afterlife in Ancient Egypt

Death, the ancient Egyptians believed, was not the end of our struggles. They believed in an afterlife and that the worthy would go on to paradise, but their dead didn’t simply pass over to the other...
The Spirit of the Dead Keeps Watch’ (1892) by Paul Gauguin.

Ghost Beliefs in Polynesia: When Spirits Return and Possess

A belief in ghosts is held by many cultures (both modern and ancient) around the world. Some of these ghost beliefs are well-known, whilst others, such as those held by the Polynesians, are less so...
Figurines representing three of the ten judges of Diyu and Red Maw

Journey to Hell, Featuring Torture and Never-ending Bureaucracy: Understanding the Underworld in Chinese Mythology

“Each of the criminals is bound to an iron pillar and the ox-headed demon is in the process of administering punishment—using iron or copper blades he peels the skin of the person's face, just as a...
Statue of Persephone, circa 525 BC and painting The Deluge

Hell on Earth? Is the REAL location of the Ancient Underworld Right in Front of Us?

The myth of the underworld, much like the myth of the lost paradise and the worldwide deluge, is a universal one. Cultures from all across the world, past and present, widely separated and with...
Santa Compaña: A Procession of Souls That Spreads Fear Through the Villages of Iberia

Santa Compaña: A Procession of Souls That Spreads Fear Through the Villages of Iberia

Picture a group of the dead passing down the street next to your house. They sing out deathly stories and spread a creepy energy that makes you feel your skin crawl. You want to escape, but you can’t...
The Descent of Inanna into the Underworld: A 5,500-Year-Old Literary Masterpiece

The Descent of Inanna into the Underworld: A 5,500-Year-Old Literary Masterpiece

The Descent of Inanna (known also as ‘Inanna’s Descent to the Netherworld / Underworld’) is a piece of work in the literary corpus of ancient Mesopotamia. This story, which was originally written in...

Pages