by Foo Sek Han
There are many religious faiths and mythologies which teach that the End of the World will come at a certain or uncertain point in the future. Most of these myths maintain that when the world as we know it ends, a new incarnation of the world will be created or the world will be refreshed. This mythology appears to be the ultimate metaphor for the cyclic nature of change that can be seen in the rotations of day and night, the seasons, and the chains of life and death. Or, it can simply be a very depressing and jaundiced view of the world itself.
In fact, more often than not, only the really optimistic or self-centric mythologies/cultures are spared the End of the World scenario in their sacred books. Apocalyptic retellings are so abundant that even cults, such as Aum Shinrikyo and Falungong, have their own version of the events. Crazy ones like the infamous Heaven’s Gate world end involve the Halley’s Comet and astral projection. Even the celebrity-laden Scientology is rumored to have its very own version of the Apocalypse (Battlefield Earth).
The human race seems to be pretty much obsessed with the world ending. Remember the Y2K scare, with everyone hoarding cans of food and hiding in hurricane shelters only to watch an uninterrupted telecast of the Times Square celebration? How about the number of forwarded messages showing a “true Nostradamus prediction about the END OF THE WORLD” during 9/11? Snopes.com proved the email was not only false, but also written by a student to prove Nostradamus was a flake.
Nevertheless, let us check up on how the many ancestors of humanity imagined what would eventually be in store for the human race…
Christianity Judgment Day
As described in the Book of Revelations, the rise of the Antichrist as a political ruler marks the beginning of the Apocalypse. Before this, the world will be hit by an unending series of wars, famines, and natural disasters as signs of the oncoming crisis. Backed by a religious leader, named as the False Prophet, the Antichrist will establish a unified social, economic and religious system that dominates the world. The Beast is also said to appear during then, and though it is not described in great detail, it is suggested that it might be a metaphor for oppression.
During this time of darkness, the only opposing party will be the people of God and two prophets called the Witnesses, who appear in Jerusalem to speak out against the Antichrist.
In the end, the Antichrist is overthrown by the people, but the world is still met with judgments and plagues. The Earth will be hit with asteroids and the water changed to blood. The dead will rise, initiating the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, who will return as a glorious warrior on a white horse. The followers of Christ will then be led to heaven in the Rapture, to a new world where suffering and pain do not exist.
Judaism - Acharit hayamim
During the End of Days, various tumultuous events will befall the world, and a New World Order will be created, in which every single individual will recognize God as the one who rules over everyone and everything in the Universe. Here the Jewish Apocalypse and the Christian Apocalypse are almost similar. The exiles will gather in Israel, the dead will rise, the enemies of Israel will be overthrown, and so on.
The Jewish Messiah will be anointed the King of Israel, and will divide the Jews in Israel into their original tribal portions in the land. Gog, King of Magog, will launch a war on Israel, which causes a lot of death until God intervenes to save the Jews and banish all evil from human existence.
In the Seventh Millennium, the Olam Haba (Future World) will be revealed, where the people will know God directly and live a spiritual life of tranquility and peace.
Aztec Mythology The Legend of Five Suns
The End of the World in Aztec mythology is heavily based on the Legend of the Five Suns, in which each Sun is a period of peace and life. However, once a Sun dies, the world is destroyed by the Gods to be renewed for the next Sun. Each Sun is destroyed in their own special way:
||Sun of Precious Stones
||Sun of Darkness
||Sun of Fire
||Rain of fire
||Sun of Water
||Sun of Movement, Tonatiuh the Rising Eagle
At its present state, the world is now under the Fifth Sun, which the Aztecs predict will end in 52 years’ time, when the world will be torn apart by an earthquake.
Egyptian Mythology Prevention
While the Egyptians never had a definitive End of the World scenario in their mythology, they did have a consideration as to how the world may end, and the ways to prevent it.
The Sun God Ra sent out his eye in the form of the goddess Hathor, as a means to destroy those who neither worshiped nor believed in his name. Ra’s intention was to destroy the evil in mankind, but due to his badly-worded instructions, Hathor slaughtered many and waded in blood. Seeing his mistake, Ra created a flood of barley beer dyed red. Hathor mistook the beer for blood and instantly became drunk, forgetting her thirst for mankind’s blood and thus the World was saved (until the next time Ra got overenthusiastic in ridding the world’s sins, again).
Hindu Mythology The Man on the Horse
In Hindu mythology, the universe ends in a term of cycles, where upon the death of one world another is reborn. The Story of Avatars further emphasizes the metaphor of cycles, in which Vishnu second member of the Hindu Trimurti/Trinity, the Preserver of Order saves mankind by assuming the form of one of the ten avatars during a time of chaos.
Out of the ten avatars that Vishnu has taken form of, he has only completed nine a fish, a turtle, a boar, a lion-man, a dwarf, a Brahmin, the epic hero Rama, the god Krishna, and Siddhartha the Buddha.
His final form is Kalki, the Man on the Horse, who will destroy the world when he comes upon it in this avatar.
Norse Mythology Ragnarok
Possibly the most popular End of the World scenario, after the Christian/Judaism versions, Ragnarok involves an epic battle of the gods and the futility of it all.
As the world approaches its end, there will be three consecutive winters in Midgard, and the human world will lose order forever. Everything that is right and moral will be destroyed and pulled down for the Last War of the Gods.
The wolves, Skoll and Hati, will swallow the Sun and the Moon; and the Great Wolf Fenris, son of Loki, will kill and devour the All Father Odin. Odin’s son Vidar will avenge his father’s death by tearing Fenris apart. Thor, who battles the Midgard serpent, will succeed in slaying it but at the cost of his life. Finally the sky will tear apart into a pit of flames, and the earth will sink into the sea.
Only Lif and Lifthrasir, who seek shelter under the branches of the Great Tree Yggdrasil, survive the War. The earth will rise renewed out of the sea, and they will repopulate it with their offspring and their descendants. Odin’s sons and brothers, Vili and Ve, will reconcile with the other surviving gods on the Plain of Ida and reign over the new world.
About | Contact | Submit | Advertise | Donate | Archives | Staff