Ancient Apocalyptic Mythology, Fables and Legends


botticelli map of hell


In the Christian tradition, Armageddon is where the final battle will take place between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. The battle, in which evil will finally be defeated, will be followed by the Day of Judgment. On that day, all souls will be judged by Christ, who will decide whether to send them to heaven or to hell. Armageddon is mentioned just once in the Bible, in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Revelation.
The term Armageddon means "hill of Megiddo," which was an ancient town in what is now northern Israel. Megiddo stood at the crossroads of military and trade routes that connected Egypt, Israel, Phoenicia, Syria, and Mesopotamia*. Numerous battles were fought at Megiddo because of its strategic location. Over time, the word Armageddon began to be used to mean any great battle.

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The Sorcerer's Apprentice

The poem begins as an old sorcerer departs his workshop, leaving his apprentice with chores to perform. Tired of fetching water by pail, the apprentice enchants a broom to do the work for him – using magic in which he is not yet fully trained. The floor is soon awash with water, and the apprentice realizes that he cannot stop the broom because he does not know how.
The apprentice splits the broom in two with an axe, but each of the pieces becomes a whole new broom and takes up a pail and continues fetching water, now at twice the speed. When all seems lost, the old sorcerer returns and quickly breaks the spell. The poem finishes with the old sorcerer's statement that powerful spirits should only be called by the master himself.

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