Well, dear reader, it’s been a while and I thought what better time to come and greet you again than as Halloween approaches and, more importantly, as the publication of my second novel – Tales From a Scarygirl – approaches. Shameful plug, I know, but we writers have to do what we can to make you readers aware of our work……
Why the ‘gates of hell’, I hear you ask. I can sum it up in one word – Supernatural. Now, we all know and love Sam and Dean and their battle last season was to find the demon tablet, so they could close the ‘gates of hell’ forever. Well, as you can imagine, this got me to wondering whether the ‘gates of hell’ actually exist and so I did a little digging and this is what I found out…
The ‘gates of hell’ can be found in various locations around the world, usually in regions of unusual geological activity. Examples of such areas are volcanic regions, lakes, caves and even mountains. These gates, legend has it, provide an entrance to the underworld.
In Roman and Greek legend, there are stories of mortals who have entered or been abducted into the ‘netherworld’, through the ‘gates of hell’.
One such legend, tells how Hades kidnapped Persephone from a field in Sicily and led her to the underworld, through a cleft in the earth, just so that he could marry her. Another tells of Orpheus, who is believed to have travelled to the Greek underworld to find Eurydice, by entering a cave at Taenarum. Hercules is also rumoured to have entered the underworld at this same place.
Another entrance is thought to lie in the middle of the Roman Forum. This gate is named Lacus Curtius, after the Roman soldier who is believed to have ridden his horse through, successfully closing it, but perishing in the process.
Mount Etna, on the beautiful island of Sicily, was considered to be an entryway to hell in medieval times and, at this time, the Icelanders believed that Mount Hekla was also a gate. The most famous medieval gateway, though, is St Patrick’s Purgatory in Lagh Derg, County Donegal, Ireland.
These ‘gates to hell’ are not just limited to the areas discussed above. Indeed, they are quite widespread. Fengdu, in China, has a long Taoist tradition of being a portal to hell, and Hellam Township in York, Pennsylvania has the very troubling reputation of being the home of the ‘seven gates of hell’.
So, how did this topic come into being in popular culture? What was it that put it on the radar and sparked the latest storyline for the Supernatural boys?
In August 2010, the History Channel premiered a show – The Gates of Hell – which visited caves and volcanoes in Nicaragua, Belize, Greece, Iceland, Ireland and Ethiopia, to examine the origins of the myths.
A book called ‘Weird NJ’, features a large tunnel, referred to by urban legends as ‘The Gates of Hell.’ This storm drain is in Clifton, New Jersey. Keeping the book theme, Dan Brown, in his novel, Inferno, describes Manila as the ‘gates of hell’.
And then, of course, we have Supernatural and the belief that by passing the tests depicted on the demon tablet, the boys could close the gates of hell forever, banishing demons from the earth. But, did they go through with it? Did they succeed? Unfortunately, we will have to wait until next season to find out….
So, given the geography of our planet and, taking into account the description above for ‘unusual geological activity’, I’d say we have a multitude of portals to hell on this earth. But, would we really want to close them?
Personally, I’d say not. For, dear reader, does it not make the world a more mysterious and interesting place when you just don’t know if the stranger you are smiling at over the bar is human or demon?
May fear protect you when the darkness comes.
Til next time.