Hell, in many cultures and religious traditions, is a location where humans who are deemed to have been less than righteous during life are doomed to an eternity of severe punishment, brutal torture, and a far from pleasant time in general. In cyclic religions, hell is regarded as an unbearable intermediate period between lives, rather like regular periodic visits to the DMV. In linear religions, hell is considered to be the ultimate unending finality of a sinful person's existence, rather like working at the DMV. Typically these religions locate hell under the physical surface of the Earth or in New Jersey. Other afterlife destinations include Heaven, Purgatory, Valhalla, and Australia.
Still other traditions refuse to label the afterlife as punishment or reward, and instead describe hell as physical location where the dead can simply hang around and play shuffleboard, waiting for their loved ones to join them. Modern understandings tend to depict hell as an abstract state of loss rather than literal flaming torture, although the flaming torture approach is still practiced in extreme cases such as rowdy teenage hooliganism. Hell is often described as being populated with demons, goblins, imps, and all other manners of beasts who enjoy the scent of singed flesh and the sight of a good pitchfork in the bum. Many are ruled by a death god such as Hades or the Devil, while others practice a more representative government based on democratic elections and human-eating contests. (Full article...)