The Secret Meaning of Hell: A Journey through Dante, Milton, and the Brain
"The mind is its own place and in itself, can make Heaven of Hell a Hell of Heaven." - John Milton
“Him the Almighty Power Hurled headlong naming from the ethereal sky, With hideous ruin and combustion, down To bottomless perdition ; there to dwell In adamantine chains and penal fire" - John Milton
For most people when they conceive of Hell they visualize an actually real physical place. They envision Hell as lakes of fire where sinner's souls are tormented for eternity. With this opinion piece I hope to dispel of that Hell, as merely mythological. Hell is real, but it is very different from what most imagine. I believe that the great writers Dante Alighieri, and John Milton who wrote on the subject better than anyone were very aware of Hells actual location, but they disguised it in allegorical language most likely out of fear of persecution; however, they left valuable clues imbedded for us in their literature to be later discovered by others when a safer time was right. I believe now during the Age of Aquarius the time is right. I also believe I have discovered some of these clues, but before I elaborate on what I believe I uncovered I would like to address our common notion of Hell, and for that matter Satan, and try to place it in a historical context. Just where did the idea of Hell originate? Let us see if we can trace it back in time, and find its origins and what about Hell has survived from the past to be a part of our Christian inspired Western culture today. What may shock some folks is that many of our ideas of Hell and the Devil are not even rooted in Christianity at all.
Hell as depicted in the Middle Ages.
Hell as we know it is not really mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible which we also know as the Jewish Torah. The Jews it seems did not believe in a Hell, as we currently understand it. In fact they did not really believe in a Heaven as we know it either, instead what we see is that they did believe in an afterlife called Sheol. Sheol did not discriminate it was a place where everyone went to when they died, both sinners and the righteous alike. There were no burning flames, or lakes of fire in Sheol. The New Testament of the Bible does mention a hot fiery Hell, but not all the gospels make it a focal point. The popularity of Hell was picked up much later by Christians as a way to evangelize. Many point to the valley of Gehenna located in Jerusalem, that was at one time used as a fiery dump for garbage and disposable corpses, as the inspiration for Hell. Most historians believe the idea of a hot fiery Hell goes back even further to a lesser know faith called Zoroastrianism. The Zoroastrians were famous for their affinity for fire. Zoroastrianism was founded by a prophet named Zoroaster from which it gets its name, and the religion most likely originated in Persia in the fifth century B.C.
Fire as a tormenter, but also as a purifier. The concept of a hot fiery Hell predates Christianity, as it most likely originated with Persian Zoroastrianism.
The Bible, or New Testament owes much to Zoroastrianism because its from them where we also get the ideas of dualism, or good versus evil. The good were represented by the spirit Ahura Mazda, and the evil followed the spirit Angra Mainyu. The Zoroastrians believed that the righteous and wicked would battle each other in a final battle. This is of course where we get the idea of Armageddon from. It is also from them where we get the idea of a burning Hell where the wicked would be punished. During the Middle Ages the Christian Church focused on the torments of a burning Hell in order to win parishioners who of course would line their pockets with financial indulgences, as well as more fanatical soldiers for war. It is interesting that the Church would use the fear of Hell to win converts in a way very similar to how Islam would use the joys of a Paradise filled with virgins to win theirs. Different approaches but the same results.
Though Zoroastrianism gets credit for this idea of dualism, and the forces of good and evil duking it out, like most things I come across the idea of dualism seems to have already existed much earlier in Egypt. The Egyptians believed in a righteous god linked to Osiris and Horus and an evil god linked to Set and Apep. It just so happens that Apep was a serpent. Like the Jews the Egyptians did not believe in a eternal Hell of torturous suffering, an afterlife yes, a Hell as we understand it, no. In the afterlife your heart, or soul was judged by the resurrected god Osiris. Osiris would have the dog headed Anubis (an important figure) weigh your heart on the scales, and the Ibis headed Thoth would write your name into the book of life. In order to be granted access your heart had to be as light as a feather. Those who did not get access into the Egyptian Afterlife where simply eaten by Ammit, but there was no eternal suffering.
Osiris though a resurrected Egyptian hero was the god of the underworld assisted by the dog headed Anubis. Anubis weighs your heart Thoth writes your name in the book of life. Our legal system today gets both the scales of judgement/Maat, as well as the 12 judges excluding the gods Osiris/Horus from this famous scene.
Greek culture owes much to the Egyptians. It was the Greek philosopher Solon who was told by the Egyptians that they the Greeks are but young children. The Greeks to their credit were excellent students and record keepers, so as we explore Hell let us see what Greece had to say. When one reads the New Testament in Greek we do not see the word Hell we see the word Hades. So who was Hades? Like the Egyptian Osiris Hades was the Greek god of the underworld, or what we come to know as Hell. Hades like Osiris had a three headed dog named Cerberus who assist him in Hell much like Anubis did Osiris.
The Greek god of the underworld Hades with pitchfork and hell hound Cerberus.
The dog who assisted Osiris was called Anubis. I am not sure why dogs are linked to Hell but they have been since the earliest times. Some say it is the good senses of the dogs that would smell the deceased corpses and dig them up, so the Egyptians wanted these canines on their side in the afterlife. The Greeks being students of the Egyptians most likely adapted and transferred Anubis into Cerebus. Hades was famous for having a pitchfork.
Hades pitchfork and Poseidon's trident would become symbols for the Devil. Why Poseidon's trident because the ocean was also symbolic of the underworld.
It is the pitchfork of Hades that would morph, and become the devils pitchfork. another source for the pitchfork may also be the trident of Poseidon who was the Greek god of the ocean, this would make since because when compared to our sky the ocean is an underworld of sorts. The red color we associate with the Devil most likely comes from the Egyptian god Set who was the god of Egypt's red desert, as opposed to the black Kemet. It must be stated that hell hounds, pitchforks, and red Devils are found no where in the Bible at all.
The popular image of the Devil caricaturized here as the Sun Devil of ASU complete with his pitchfork, horns, and color red. Nowhere is this Devil found in the Bible it is; however, a hodgepodge of pagan symbols such as Pan's horns, Poseidon and Hades pitchfork, and of course the Egyptian Set's red color.
Duke's Blue Devil mascot with all the popular symbols, but why blue? In Dante's Comedy and Milton's Paradise Lost Hell is icy and cold because it is distant from god, and the Devils wings blow cold wind. In many early paintings of the Devil Christians painted him blue before the popular red we are use to.
Royal Caribbean's celebrated cruise line uses an interesting logo, an anchor combined with a trident. Could the anchor represent the underworld, and the trident the pitchfork of Poseidon, Hades, and Lucifer. Anchor is also linguistically linked to the Egyptian Ankh. Here you have death and life linked in one symbol.
The three writers that we associate mostly with Hell are Virgil, Dante Alighieri, and John Milton. I want to specifically focus on Dante Alighieri and John Milton who wrote the classics Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost. Dante's Divine Comedy was written first, and presents 9 layers of Hell divided into 3 sections. I find it interesting that his work is called a Comedy. We are told it is called a Comedy because it ultimately results in a good ending in heaven; however, I am skeptical of this explanation that seems somewhat shallow. I believe the reason he calls it a Comedy is because the joke is after reading the Divine Comedy most people still have no idea as to what he is talking about, and it seems to even have alluded academics. I know of none that have purposed anything that I have mentioned here. For Dante and Milton, Hell is not some far off distant place, but is located right in your brain, and I don't mean this in an abstract sense, I mean it literally in an anatomical sense. In my opinion a major clue that Dante is talking about the brain is he divides hell into 3 sections (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso) of 33 Cantos. Why then 33? 33 is the number of vertebrae in the spine that lead to the brain, and the 33rd vertebrae is actually called Atlas. If your not familiar with the story of the Greek strong man Atlas the Greeks imbedded it with allegory.
Dante's Hell or Inferno has 33 Cantos much like Atlas holding up the Earth is a metaphor for the 33 vertebrae in the spine. For Dante as is for Atlas, Hell it seems is in the brain.
The world that Atlas is holding up is really his brain. He is strained because our thoughts are heavy. Further clues are that Atlas has 7 daughters. These 7 daughters represent the 7 chakras that go up our spine, for Dante the 7 daughters or 7 chakras have become the 7 deadly sins. The Divine Comedy is a comedy because the joke is Hell is in us already, and we are not aware of it. Its not some far off and away mysterious place. One can further argue this notion out by saying if Hell is in your mind then heaven is too.
There should be two obelisk. The Temple of Luxor now with only one obelisk the other was moved to France at La Place de la Concorde. The two Egyptian obelisk represented the sun and the moon, or the masculine and the feminine. the Egyptian gods were always linked in pairs. The Egyptians were taught the mystery of man and his relationship to the cosmos secretly in the temples. Alternative thinkers like Schwaller de Lubicz and John Anthony West even believe that certain parts of the temple taught about certain parts of the body most likely including the mysteries of the brain and pineal gland.
A reimagined image based on the remains of paint residue show how the Karnak-Luxor complex would have looked. According to some scholars the ancient mysteries of the universe were taught inside. As above so below was not just a concept based on architecture aligned to stars, but man was a mirror of heaven as well. It is proven that the same carbon that is in stars from the first explosion are also in us.
Let us look at John Milton's Paradise Lost for a minute and compare it to Dante's work. I have provided a map of John Milton's Hell, so you can fully understand my point. You will notice in John Milton's Paradise much like in Dante's Hell you enter through a gate that looks like two pillars. What is the origin of the two pillars one might ask? Like always I like to joke but say with dead seriousness that we must now return once again to Africa the land of the pharoahs. The origin for the Gates of Hell's mystery lies in the pair of obelisk that stood in front of the Egyptian Temples of Luxor and Karnak. The twin obelisk represent the sun and moon the masculine and feminine. Inside the Egyptian temples mysteries were taught about the cosmos, and its relationship to man. These teachings were eventually learned by Greeks like Plato and Pythagoras and Jews like Moses. I must say Jewish culture seems to borrow about as much from Egypt and Africa as Greece does.
King Solomon's Temple with the two pillars in the front representing strength and beauty, or the masculine and feminine which creates an establishment and foundation. This idea was obviously Egyptian and was blended into the Jewish faith. All religions have a way of overlapping.
This is the Freemason's United Grand Lodge of England in London notice the twin pillars. Are you entering a temple or is it the "temple"of the brain.
The two giant minarets in Mecca very similar to the twin pillars in front of Solomon's Temple, and even still the older Egyptian Temple of Karnak and Luxor. It is quite surprising how it all blends together. One wonders that Kaaba sounds as if it is linguistically connected to the Jewish mystic Kaballah which deal in twin pillars as well in the sefirot tree. I wonder is there a relationship between Kaballah, Kaaba, and the Egyptian Ka and Ba somehow? Or is this all coincidence?
Two towers, Notre Dame, Paris. It is interesting to mention that Paris is short for house of Isis. Isis at one time was worshipped in Paris some say she still is in the guise of the Black Madonna. The two obelisk inspired Gothic towers is not the only thing France borrowed from Egypt.
King Solomon's Temple was modeled very much like an Egyptian temple. Instead of two obelisk in front of King Solomon's Temple you had two pillars given the names Jachin and Boaz. Jachin is the right pillar and Boaz is the left pillar an important fact that will make sense later. It just so happens that these are the same two pillars that were also adopted by freemasonry. We are told that Jachin stood for establishing and Boaz stood for strength, and here lies the clue. What we are talking about here is the brain and blending the masculine with the feminine.
The right and left brain correspond to masculinity (left) and femininity(right) true balance comes from the unification of both sides.
The human brain has both a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere. The left hemisphere is associated with masculinity logic and reason, and the right hemisphere is associated with femininity, expression and creativity. It just so happens that the pair of Egyptian obelisk that stood in front of their temples on the Nile River were associated with the sun and the moon and the masculine and feminine principal. The sun has always been associated with masculinity (Ra, Osiris, Horus) and the moon (Isis) with femininity. The two pillars of Dante's and Milton's Gates of Hell then represent not our descent into a mythological Hell, but our descent into the brain that also has two pillars as well known as the two hemispheres of the brain. Now you see why Dante called it a comedy.
Auguste Rodin's interpretation of Dante Alighieri Gates of Hell. You enter Hell through the pillars. The pillars though are a gateway into your brain where the real battle takes place.
On top of Auguste Rodin's Gates of Hell is the famous "Thinker." This is the ultimate clue to my argument that Hell is in our thoughts and mind.
The above image is a map of John Milton's Hell. Pay close attention to the entrance of the Gates of Hell with the two pillars. These two pillars symbolize entrance into the two hemispheres of the brain. Also please note the four rivers which are also very important for understanding the argument put forth. Attention should be paid to the Lake of fire at the center of Melton's Hell.
I dare say that the four rivers in Dantes and Miltons Hell are the four ventricles in the brain that brain fluid flows from and the lake of fire is the brain fluid that surrounds the pineal gland at the brains center.
I wish I could stop now but there is more, and all of this is truly ingenious in its conception. In both the Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost as we descend into Hell we pass four rivers. One might ask what does four rivers have to do with our brain, and I'm shocked that no one ever identified this before. The four rivers of Hell listed as Acheron, Styx, Phlegethon, and Cocytus are none other than the four ventricle found in our brain. The ventrical system consist of the 2 lateral ventricles as well as the 3rd ventricle and 4th ventricle, and the rivers are the brain fluid that flow through them all. The lake of fire at the center of the brain is none other than the pineal gland surrounded by more brain fluid. The fiery lake is the brain fluid that surrounds the pineal gland.
The largest statue (bust) of Shiva in the world notice the pineal gland at the center of the forehead. This is where the true battle takes place. Also notice the cobra on the shoulder that spits venom that burns like fire.
Here we see Shiva again with the pineal gland clearly identified, as well as water coming from the head. We are told this is the water of the Holy River Ganges, but could it also be the water from the cerebrospinal fluid in the brain carrying the released dimethyltryptamine (DMT) of the pineal gland that allows one to achieve a god consciousness. The cobra/kundalini then is the coiled snake that rises through the spine, and chakras to the lake of the pineal gland toward the self mastery of the venom/fire just like the Egyptian pharoahs uraeus symbolized.
The Hindus were aware of this, and this is why they say Shiva has fire come out of his brain, as well as water (brain fluid?) The Egyptians had a cobra in their uraeus that sat on the forehead of the Pharoah exactly where the pineal gland is located. I remember growing up hearing the phrase fire in the minds of men, now I believe I truly have found the meaning to that phrase. The fire is your thoughts that can be poisonous like venom, and hot like fire. The pharoah must master this fire.
The Pharoah with the cobra at the level of the pineal gland. The Egyptian symbolism when compared to the Hindus is striking. Which came first I have no idea, but my guess is the Egyptians their ancient monuments bear witness. Many esoteric historians believe the soul of consciousness, and thought is in the brain's pineal gland. This is the true meaning of the lake of fire. The pineal gland is bathed in brain fluid. The pharoah like the cobra has mastery over the venom that burns like the lake of fire in the brain.
The venom the cobra spits that can burn the eyes is the metaphorical fire in our brain. I also find it curious that Jesus Christ was crucified at a place called Golgotha which translates as the skull. Most believe that the hill was shaped like a skull, so this is what the name alludes too, but I wonder does this allude to much more.
They say Christ was crucified at a place called Golgotha which translated means skull. People search in and around Jerusalem for the hill that looks like a skull, but what if this is also an allegory. What if the real crucifixion is the thoughts in your brain. Not every Christian reads the Bible literally some Christians known as Gnostics looked for deeper allegories buried in the words of Christ. Christ dies at age 33 parallels the 33 vertebrae in Atlas spine as well as Dante's 33 cantos, and the Kundalini cobra in India and Egypt that wraps around the spine, and rises up through the chakras and endocrine system. Everything has a way of overlapping.
Our thoughts/brain/skull because they weigh heavy can determine our heaven, or hell. It is all based on the decisions we do, or do not make. Hell is also very personal, one persons heaven can be another persons hell. In fact it is Milton himself who calls Hell a penal fire. "Penal Fire," which for me is a strange choice of words. Did Milton really mean a "pineal fire?" It seems like there is most likely an etymological connection between the words penal and pineal. The pineal gland can actually be a prison if you think about it, in that it is in the center of the brain actually surrounded by fluid, and imprisoned by the rest of the brain. Also on another level we can be imprisoned by our thoughts whatever those thoughts maybe. Depending on your belief system you create your own hell. Another point that stood out to me is how the brain is constantly referred to in zoological terms which I'm shocked no one focused on before at least not in this way. We have a cerebrum and a cerebellum this sounds a lot like the canine, or hell hound the Greek Cerberus who I view as the younger cousin of the other famous hell hound which is the Egyptian Anubis. Basically the hell hound is encoded in the language we use for our brain. Also the cerebellum is often referred to as the hind part of the brain which seems like an odd choice of words to me; however if you look at a dog we often note that it sits on the hind parts of their back legs.
Known as the Pharoah Hound because it looks like the Egyptian God Anubis. The canine sits on the hind parts of its legs. It just so happens that the cerebellum is located in the hind part of the brain.
The cerebellum sits in the hind of the brain the way a dog sits on hind legs. Cerebellum also sounds a lot like the Greek hell hound Cerberus.
One is free to believe whatever one wants, but I think none of this is a coincidence. It was all cleverly hidden in allegory by Dante and Milton, but I believe these ideas can be traced as far back as the mystery and wisdom religions found in Egypt and India. The famous horns of the devil most people believe that they come from the Greek nature god Pan, and I'm not saying that Pan was not influential, but I believe only part influential. Back to the word cerebrum/cerebellum, the word actually means horn, which to me stands out as another strange zoological term. If you look at the two lateral ventricles they actually look like devil horns when one imagines the devil when depicted with rams horns.
The famous Devil horns are already in your brain. The 2 lateral ventricles are shaped just like Devil horns and when you view the posterior horns they also curve up. Dante is right this truly is a Divine Comedy. Master your thoughts you master the Devil, but everyone's Devil is different. I believe the artist William Blake picked up on certain sentiments men like John Milton as well as Galileo and others may have had, and that is the Devil was really those who opposed free thought.
Devil on a tarot card with the ram horns, but the horns are really the 2 curved lateral and posterior ventricals, brain fluid, and pineal gland that encompasses the brain you must master.
The actually devil horns are right in your own brain "think" about that for a minute. Is this why the artist Rodin has a carving of the famous Thinker above his Gates of Hell because Hell is actually the thoughts in your own mind not a place out yonder.
One final "thought" on Hell, and since we were on the topic of dogs. I recently gave in and purchased a pet dog for my two sons who have desperately wanted a pet dog for a while now. My 12 year old son mostly ignores the animal in favor of video games (fortnite) but my five year old son is rambunctious as he innocently annoys the poor animal. I try to save the poor puppy by putting him in his cage for which he hates, for him he would rather be out and about not realizing that he is causing his own hell. My point is hell is self induced, and both Dante and Milton were aware of this. Shockingly in Dante's Comedy the worst part of Hell is the 9th layer. It is this 9th layer of Hell that is cold not hot at all in fact Hell is quite icy. The cold ice is caused by the flapping wings of Lucifer that create a chill as he tries to escape. Lucifer did not realize that he could easily escape hell if he could only learn to mentally let go (easier said than done) a lesson the Buddhist also teach about human suffering. For the philosopher Hell is also when you are not free to think. When thoughts are in prison you can say your thoughts are trapped in the penal/pineal system. Is this Milton's penal fire or pineal fire? This is the true meaning behind the often repeated but misunderstood phrase "Hell is a state of mind." I believe for men like John Milton, Galileo, and Giordano Bruno Hell is when some authority robs you of the ability to think freely. Atlas Daughters guarded the golden apples of knowledge which symbolize free thought. In one story Hercules actually steals the golden apple as his "11th" labor. The number 11 can be broken down as 1 +1=2, which could be seen as the 2 hemispheres of the brain.
The character 11 from Stranger Things using her power by possibly uniting the 2 hemispheres of the brain to its maximum potential. Her life is a living Hell wouldn't you say? The character Eleven is also called "El" for short, as in Elohim.
On the hit Netflix television show Stranger Things of which I am a fan, the character known as "11" has the power of telekinesis and telepathy. Her name choice of 11 is most likely based on the 2 hemispheres of the brain. The word Hell also is made of two "ll." Hell was originally spelled with one "l" as in "Hel," it is a Scandinavian word; however, by adding two "ll' you have the number "11" and again back to 2 hemispheres of the brain. This is all about the brain folks. It is interesting too that Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden among the Tree of Knowledge. You can only receive true knowledge with the ability to have free thought, which goes hand and hand with choice. It always struck me as strange that in the Bible the quest for knowledge came with punishment. Was not the Greek god Prometheus punished for stealing fire, and giving it to men? Fire, knowledge, and free thought in a way are all connected in that they all form a Hell if you think about it. The real Hell, is that you must now take on for yourself the tremendous pressure of trying to live a life grounded in some form of morality (however you define it) while at the same time having the knowledge that punishment in a physical Hell with a fiery torturous lake does not really exist.
Oliver Cromwell of Ely Visits Mr. John Milton, by David Dalhoff Neal, 1883. Notice the dog is that Anubis, Cerberus, or Cerebellum?
Milton Visiting Galileo When a Prisoner of the Inquisition, by Solomon Alexander Hart, 1847. Is this Milton the Puritan, or Milton the free thinker? If you look close you can almost make out what looks like a dog hidden in the foot of the chair.
This last painting is a mystery. A blind man with the Puritan collar with a small dog in his lap. It is an untitled painting by John Riley. Is this John Milton?
If I can I like to blend Hip-Hop with some of the concepts I write about, but only if it truly aligns. Conscious Hip-Hop led me to Afrocentrism, and "Egyptology" in the 80s and 90s. This in turn led me to alternative bibliographies that pushed me in the direction of the occult, arcane, and the new age movement. This all placed me in an anticipatory position for the current new age of Aquarius that we are currently living in. One love, one race, one religion, one humanity.
Me having fun with "The Thinker" at the Philadelphia Rodin Museum in 2017.