Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning

Page: 224

Some souls wandered in vast forests between Tartarus and Elysium, not good enough for one, or bad enough for the other. Some were purified from their sins by exposure to searching winds, others by being submerged in deep waters, others by passing through intense fires. After a long period of probation and suffering, many of them gained the Elysian Fields. This belief is handed down to our day in the Roman Catholic idea of Purgatory.

A belief in the existence of the soul after death was indicated in all periods of history of the world, by the fact that man was always accustomed to address prayers to the spirits of their ancestors.[389:1]

These heavens and hells where men abode after death, vary, in different countries, according to the likes and dislikes of each nation.

All the Teutonic nations held to a fixed Elysium and a hell, where the valiant and the just were rewarded, and where the cowardly and the wicked suffered punishment. As all nations have made a god, and that god has resembled the persons who made it, so have all nations made a heaven, and that heaven corresponds to the fancies of the people who have created it.

In the prose Edda there is a description of the joys of Valhalla [Pg 390](the Hall of the Chosen), which states that: "All men who have fallen in fight since the beginning of the world are gone to Odin (the Supreme God), in Valhalla." A mighty band of men are there, "and every day, as soon as they have dressed themselves, they ride out into the court (or field), and there fight until they cut each other into pieces. This is their pastime, but when the meal-tide approaches, they remount their steeds, and return to drink in Valhalla. As it is said (in Vafthrudnis-mal):

'The Einherjar all
On Odin's plain
Hew daily each other,
While chosen the slain are.
From the frey they then ride,
And drink ale with the Æsir.'"[390:1]

This description of the palace of Odin is a natural picture of the manners of the ancient Scandinavians and Germans. Prompted by the wants of their climate, and the impulse of their own temperament, they formed to themselves a delicious paradise in their own way; where they were to eat and drink, and fight. The women, to whom they assigned a place there, were introduced for no other purpose but to fill their cups.

The Mohammedan paradise differs from this. Women there, are for man's pleasure. The day is always serene, the air forever pure, and a soft celestial light clothes all things in transfigured beauty. Majestic groves, verdant meadows, and blooming gardens vary the landscape. There, in radiant halls, dwell the departed, ever blooming and beautiful, ever laughing and gay.

The American Indian calculates upon finding successful chases after wild animals, verdant plains, and no winter, as the characteristics of his "future life."

The red Indian, when told by a missionary that in the "promised land" they would neither eat, drink, hunt, nor marry a wife, contemptuously replied, that instead of wishing to go there, he should deem his residence in such a place as the greatest possible calamity. Many not only rejected such a destiny for themselves, but were indignant at the attempt to decoy their children into such a comfortless region.

All nations of the earth have had their heavens. As Moore observes:

"A heaven, too, ye must have, ye lords of dust—
A splendid paradise, poor souls, ye must:
[Pg 391] That prophet ill sustains his holy call
Who finds not heavens to suit the tastes of all.
Vain things! as lust or vanity inspires,