Top 10 Mythological Gods Of The Underworld



Top 10 Mythological Gods Of The Underworld

VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
These underworld gods are not to be messed with. For this list, we'll be ranking the various deities associated with the land of the dead from various mythologies. Our countdown includes Osiris, The Devil, Hades, and more!

Top 10 Underworld Gods

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Underworld Gods.

For this list, we'll be ranking the various deities associated with the land of the dead from various mythologies.

Did we leave any out? Let us know in the comments!

#10: The Devil [aka Satan aka Lucifer]

What self-respecting list of underworld gods would be complete without the Christian man downstairs, Old Scratch himself, the freakin’ DEVIL? He's inspired some of the coolest heavy metal album covers of all time, been the subject of songs by The Rolling Stones, appeared in an Adam Sandler film and spawned a DC comics character and TV series! Call him Satan, call him Lucifer, the Christian Devil is perhaps the most easily personified when conjuring up a mental image of the underworld. Big horns, a pointed tail and burning red with all those deadly sins he’s holding onto, The Devil has permeated nearly every form of media in some way, shape, or form.

#9: Sedna

The history behind the goddess Sedna varies, but there's at least one major creation myth that deems her ruler of the Inuit Underworld. The Inuit are a group of Indigenous Peoples who live in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Although there are different versions of her legend, the main gist of the story stays consistent. Her father throws her into the sea for one reason or another and her fingers somehow end up severed--usually at his hand. (Is this a bad time for a pun?) Sedna sinks to the underworld and her fingers become the seals, walruses, and other marine life the Inuit will later hunt. Sailors are well-advised to offer tributes to this ill-tempered queen, less their ships suffer grave consequences.

#8: Nergal

The area once known as Mesopotamia includes the modern day regions of Turkey, Iran, Kuwait and Syria. Within Mesopotamia’s ancient mythologies was an infamous god known by the name Nergal. He was a warrior-type deity, known for his fierceness in battle as well as his representation of the summer sun - which could damage crop growth. Myths tell the tale of the underworld being bestowed upon him by his parents, where he would rule alongside his consort Ereshkigal. Nergal may not be the most famous of the Mesopotamian gods, but archeological evidence of entire cults dedicated to him prove that his name was more than fairly well-known at the time.

#7: Baron Samedi

If you're looking for a good time, call Baron Samedi. This guy’s full of personality--he and his wife both! Samedi and his wife Maman Brigitte are underworld spirits called loa, who are associated with traditional Haitian voodoo. Baron Samedi likes to hang out at the crossroads between life and death, which means he’s usually the one welcoming souls in the land of the dead. Both Samedi and Brigitte are known for their foul mouths, tailored clothing and fondness for both tobacco and alcohol. In other words, they know how to party! All joking aside, Samedi is a striking visual presence, and is even willing to barter with humans if they have something he desires. Just remember: the house always wins.

#6: Yanluo Wang

Chinese mythology possesses a world of interesting figures, such as Yanluo Wang. Unlike Meng Po, the goddess of forgetfulness who awaits souls in the realm of the dead, Yanluo Wang has an excellent memory as well as faithful minions. That’s because this deity is the judge of souls entering the underworld, and his court knows the exact time of death for every soul thanks to a special book, so that none may enter without his prior knowledge. Yanluo Wang's ultimate decisions can range from reincarnation and revival to eternal pain and suffering, but most, if not all, mythologies also praise him for his wisdom, so the pure of heart and soul need not fear their fate.

#5: Xolotl

The afterlife is a complete mystery for the living, so it helps to have a guide out there in the far beyond. That's where Xolotl comes in, the Aztec god of fire and lightning who also runs that all-important first tour for souls entering Mictlan, the Aztec underworld. He's usually depicted as a man with a canine head, although he's prone to shape-shifting at a moment's notice. Some myths also place Xolotl's importance alongside Quetzalcoatl, as a pair who control the sun's rise in the morning and setting in the evening. Fittingly enough, it's Xolotl who's responsible for what is understood as the “death” of the setting sun. He leads it through Mictlan every night so it can be reborn by Quetzalcoatl in the morning.

#4: Yama

Our next god has been worshiped by both Hindus and Buddhists as a lord of the underworld and a judge of the dead. Yama is often depicted as a dark-skinned man, using a buffalo for transportation and capturing lost souls as he goes. His personality differs depending on the text, with Hinduism often portraying him as a just judge, while Buddhist text sometimes stresses his wrathful anger. In Sikhism, he isn’t so much a god as a minion of the supreme god, Vaheguru, who has been appointed to the duty of deciding whether a dead being goes to heaven or hell. Yama is known across many countries and in many mythologies, including East Asian and Iranian.

#3: Hel

The Norse pantheon kept things relatively simple with its definition of the underworld. Hel is both the place, and the name of its ruler. Hel (the being) is the daughter of Loki and, as is only fitting, was appointed as ruler of Hel (the place) by Odin himself. Hel’s siblings are equally fearful creatures: the wolf Fenrir and the World Serpent, Jörmungandr. Odin, as it turns out, had plans for each of them, but it was Hel who he entrusted with the nine worlds. Hel is also a notable member of this list for her apparent crossover with other mythologies, specifically the Old English Gospel of Nicodemus, where a version of Hel engages the Christian Devil in a war of words. We smell a rap battle!

#2: Osiris

One can't make mention of the Egyptian underworld without first referring to at least two deities: Osiris and Anubis. While the latter is a god with a wolf - previously described as a jackal - head that’s associated with the traditional process of mummification, Osiris - his father - serves as Egypt's judge of the dead. The dead person’s heart will be weighed against the feather of the goddess Ma'at. Should a heart fail the test, the soul is devoured by Ammit, devourer of the dead. Should it pass, however, the person will be invited into the kingdom of Osiris. Creation myths also associate Osiris with mummy wraps. The story goes as follows: after his brother, Set, kills him and dismembers his body, Osiris’ wife Isis manages to collect the parts and wraps him up, giving him the ability to resurrect himself.

Before we name our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions!

Batara Kala
Underworld God Worshipped in Java & Bali

The Ferryman of Hades

Leads Departed Egyptian Pharaohs Into the Afterlife

#1: Hades

Like Hel, Hades shares his name with the place he rules. His consort Persephone helps him govern the ancient Greek underworld, but we’ll spare you that whole story for another video. Hades, along with his siblings, Zeus and Poseidon are the most powerful of the Greek pantheon. Although he’s known for this quality, Hades isn’t actually an evil being per se, but a grim one; a stately ruler over the dominion of the dead. With Zeus governing the sky and Poseidon gifted the sea, we can understand why Hades might be a little bitter. They basically locked the poor guy in the basement! By all accounts, Hades is a fair ruler, but make no mistake: never, ever try to cheat him out of a soul that's rightfully his.