A Month of Devotional Thought — Haides, Day 9

When we discuss any of the Theoi in the current era, we run into misconceptions about them and Haides is no exception. Two of the most common ones are that Haides is ONLY the Lord of the Dead, and that Haides is evil.

As has been discussed in the last two posts, when I looked at his alternate names and his epithets, he was the also the lord over the wealth of the earth and as such a giver to humanity. These epithets that connect him to the fertility of the earth and his marriage to Persephone, and historic sources connecting him to the Eleusinian Mysteries, show that his duties in the Cosmos extended beyond his Lordship over the Land of the Dead.

The other misconception is the one that bothers me more though. It is the misconception of Haides as evil. This is likely due, at least in part, to early Christian writers painting the Hellenic (and other) Theoi as being demons in their quest to elevate the God of Abraham above all others. It also is partially due to the fear many people have of dying — and therefore going to the Underworld — because of the fear of being punished for their misdeeds during life. The way that the Christian faith portrayed the afterlife was that it was split into two areas. One was Heaven, where the “blessed” would enjoy a happy afterlife with the Christian God. The other was Hell, which was equated with the realm of Haides. This was where the “damned” (read evil/non-Christian) souls would be eternally punished along with having demons who would torment them. These were “evil” spirits, who at the end of time would also be punished for the crime of rebelling against the Christian God. This led to Haides being considered in the popular mind with the Devil.

This could not be farther from the truth, as non of the Theoi are evil — even if they do not always treat mortals in ways that we like or understand. Haides, is the Hospitable One rather than a torturer of souls. He is the one who brings the souls to a place where they potentially have the chance for rebirth — and with rare exceptions — even allows souls in Tartarus (the place of Punishment) to achieve redemption in the afterlife instead of having to pay eternally for mortal actions.

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