It might seem to be an odd topic for the PBP, since most Pagans I know state they do not believe in any place called hell & that it is a construction of the Christians.
While it is true that Hell is most often seen/heard in a Christian context, it is not wholly a Christian notion. Most ancient cultures, whether Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Norse or Celtic, have a "hell". It simply is not synonomous with the Christian "hell". In many other cultures, the Afterlife, Underworld, Hades or Summerland was the place the soul went to rest after death, in preparation for being reborn. There are few instances of a "heaven v. hell" scenario that I am aware of. Most of these cultures believed in reincarnation, which today's Christians do not.
So, here are some of my beliefs as they relate to the existence of hell.
I do not believe in a devil that tempts us to do evil. I believe we each have that capacity within ourselves, and it is up to us what choices we make in our daily lives and how we choose to live.
I do not believe that if we royally screw up in this life, we are destined to eternal damnation in some fiery pit of despair. Nor do I believe that if we are perfect, will pass through some shiny pearly gates guarded by angels. I do not think we only get one chance to "get it right". There is too much to learn, too much to experience for that to be a fair expectation of us. No god I believe in would be so harsh.
I do believe that when we die, our souls or spirits or what-have-you will travel to a resting place of some sort, whether it is the Greek Hades, Egyptian Afterlife, Celtic Summerland or somewhere else entirely. This is where we will wait and prepare for our next incarnation.
I do believe in reincarnation. I think that each soul has and will experience many, many lifetimes in order to learn all the lessons required to transcend to a higher plane of existance. I believe there are a few individuals in our history who many have achieved this already; Jesus is one, and Mother Teresa is another. They way they lived their lives indicates that they had perfected all the lessons required to release selfishness, and to truly love their fellow people and be able to truly serve the world.
I have seen this in my own children. The first time I looked into my son's eyes, I had the overwhelming sense that he is an "old soul". This was verified by things he said or expressed later as a toddler. He would suffer night terrors, and I would get strong images that seemed to be of the 2nd World War concentration camps. He also would frequently say to me "Remember when you were my age and I was your age..." and proceed to describe something that sounded straight out of the 1700's. He also went through a phase of being terrified of water, and I got the distinct impression that he was tried and convicted of witchcraft during the burning times, and was executed by drowning in a river. His most recent life, he lived until he was a very old man, and he brought vestiges of that antiquity into his new life. I often thought he looked like an old man in the first few weeks before the veil was fully drawn.
My daughter, on the other hand, has a younger soul. I do not know how old their souls are compared to mine, but I get the sense that my daughter has not had the same tramatic experiences in her past lives as my son was subjected to.
I do not believe that everyone gets to be Cleopatra or Elvis. :)
I do not believe in the brimstone and fire of the Christian hell. However, I do believe that if we are awful people in this life, we will not just get away with it. There will be some form of punishment in the afterlife as we are preparing for our next life. This may be described as a personal hell of our own making; though I really have nothing to back up this theory. Punishment may also come in the form of Karma, "what goes around comes around", or the Threefold Law (however you interpret that; I'm leaving that for a later post).
I do not believe that anyone else can tell me where I'm going to end up when I die. It is not their place to judge me, my action, or my life. I do not believe I can determine where anyone else is going, either.
I do believe that we have alot of say in howwe experience the afterlife, simply by making conscious choices during this incarnation.
If you stuck with me this long, thank you for reading. I hope something of what I said here makes sense to someone other than just me.