All of you will die someday (you, not us-we're having our brains frozen) and many of you believe in some kind of afterlife.
Unfortunately, depending on which religion you believe in, you can get totally screwed on Judgment Day based on a number of arbitrary technicalities. For instance:
#5. Zoroastrians: Judged by Their Bridge-Crossing Ability
Zoroastrianism used to be a big deal. For a thousand years (from 600BC to around 600AD) it was the official religion of Persia, where it was practiced by legions of men in baggy pants who spent their adult lives jumping over gaps and running across wobbly floors.
But now there are barely a quarter of a million followers worldwide, which means that for every Zoroastrian, there are two tree-hugging Wiccans. It doesn't get much sadder than that. Zoroastrians believe there is one God, Ahura Mazda who created the world, and who also patrons a questionable line of Japanese cars.
Zoroastrians' afterlife is similar to Christianity's idea of believe in the concept of there being two afterlives, one super place full of happiness where you never miss your favorite TV programs and the local stores always have those Ice-Cold coke machines outside, and another place of misery, gloom and suffering.
So What's the Problem?
Judgement is decreed by the individual's ability to cross the Bridge of Chinvat, the account keeper (a St. Peter type person). Cross the bridge and you're in paradise, sitting on your golden stool in Mazda's house of songs. Fall off and you're dropping to hell.
The Bridge, which was made by Mazda, is different for each person depending on how wholesome and wonderful they were. Lead a good life and the bridge is wide. Lead a bad one and it's narrow, and possibly wobbly and slicked with irregularly spattered dog shit. And here's a part we thought was wonderful: if you've lead a great life, you get a really hot chick (or dude if you're a woman) to accompany you. If you're a nasty person, your guide is dog-ugly and probably shouts at you as you try and get across.
So basically if you're a clumsy idiot, or have clubfoot, or are wheelchair bound and you've got a wobbly rear wheel, you can go tumbling off even a fairly wide bridge. Zoroastrian hell is probably filled with the souls of generous, caring people who just happened to have an inner-ear problem.
The other end of the scale isn't any better; if you've lead a bad life, the bridge is very, very thin (how thin, we're not sure, but let's imagine a sliding scale between the width of a small child's hips if you spent your youth taunting blind people, to the width of a standard dress loafer if you robbed a bank). Either way, if you're a capable balancer, or even have a modicum of control over your flapping extremities, you could probably get across that bridge with no problems.
Basically if you wind up in Zoroastrian heaven, avoid the tightrope walkers.
#4. The Aztecs: It All Depends on How You Die
If you mention religion and Aztecs to some people, they will probably picture comely maidens in chains being hauled up to mountaintop altars by burly men dressed in leather. Then, if you ask someone who isn't a pervert, they'll probably tell you the Aztecs liked sacrificing people as offerings to their Gods. Particularly women and kids.
There was, however, more to Aztec religion than just gods who demanded the regular offing of children. According to experts, the Aztecs believed there were three different afterlives, one hell-like realm called Mictlan and two places which are quite nice, Tlalocan, and Tonatiuh.
So What's the Problem?
The Aztecs did not believe your fate was based on whether or not you lived a moral life. Instead, they believed that whichever of the three afterlives you got depended largely on your role in society and the manner of your death. So you could be a total shit who spent their adult life breaking into blind people's houses to move their furniture around, and depending on how you died, you could still find yourself sitting by the side of some god in the late afternoon sun, eating cheese and drinking wine with your feet in the pool.
To end up in the hellish realm of Mictlan, you had to die either from old age or from a disease (with a couple of exceptions). So, if your syphilitic Grandpa kicked the bucket, he'd be cremated along with a dog, which would serve as his guide along the dangerous, treacherous, four-year path to Mictlan.
However, to reach the decidedly nicer realm of Tlalocan, a region of abundance, eternal spring and cuddles, you'd need to be taken out either by lightning or drowning or one of the few diseases which wouldn't take you to Mictlan (pustules, dropsy or gout).
Finally, there's a celestial paradise which is ruled over by the sun god, Tonatiuh. This last afterlife is reserved for warriors or sacrifices who died in the Sun God's name, as well as women dying in childbirth (pregnant women were considered warrior-like in Aztec culture).
This is one of the good ones.
All this leaves a rather pressing question - what happened to those who don't die of old age, disease or combat, but instead expired about ten seconds after betting their mate they could jump across that chasm over there? No one is sure, but we like to think they basically hung around a waiting room until they finally decided to just tell the gods they died in a war.
#3. Rastafarians: If You're Good, You Go To Ethiopia
Rastafarianism is a relatively recent religious movement, dating from the 1930s. It haled from Jamaica, where, in what probably came from a pot-induced impulse at 4 AM, they decided that the emperor of Ethiopa (Haile Selassie I) was God Incarnate. He died in 1975 but they didn't let that get in the way.
Part of this belief is that Africa, and particularly Ethiopia, is their heaven.
So What's the Problem?
Are you familiar with Ethiopia at all?
As slaves the Rastafarians were taken from their homeland in Africa and dispersed around the world (particularly Jamaica and the Caribbean). Hence, Jamaica is considered to be a hell on earth. Now, we think that's a bit harsh. We've seen Cool Runnings - Jamaica doesn't look that bad.
But of course what's stranger is the presence of "Ethiopia" and "heaven" in the same string of thought. It's nothing against the people who live there, but it's fallen on some pretty hard times. Let us explain with this handy comparison:
Yeah, when Belinda Carlisle sang "Heaven is a Place On Earth", we don't think she was picturing Ethiopia. We can't imagine how it must feel to work hard all your life and live a good, moral existence, then to die peacefully, secure in the knowledge that you're heading to a better place, and then find yourself on the streets of Addis Ababa.
Couldn't they have declared someone like Morgan Freeman to be their deity, as seen in Bruce Almighty? If nothing else, it'd have been a lot easier because he was born in Memphis, and air fares from Jamaica to Memphis start at a spiritually affordable $554.
#2. Tribal Ancestor Worship: It's All About Your Skull
Ancestor Worship, or Ancestor Veneration if you're one of those rolling cuntwagons who write Wikipedia articles, is the belief that all deceased members of your family still hang around and haunt you forever (though not necessarily in a bad way).
Ancestor Worship is another one that used to be extremely widespread but is rapidly dying off. For many sub-Saharan African tribes though, Ancestor Worship is still a way of life, along with their somewhat dickish way of determining your eternal fate.
A lot of African tribes believe that part of the soul will just hang around the family home or village Patrick Swayze style, causing trouble or giving out advice, helping family members or just hanging around, knocking the hats off of passing Gentlemen until some passing Whoopi Goldberg wannabe manages to convince the ghost to fuck off.
So What's the Problem?
For some tribes, the souls of the deceased just mill around in a happy state, so long as the skulls or bodies they previously belonged to were looked after. Basically if you had a family who was good at looking after your skull, times were good. If your offspring were lazy assholes who turned your skull into a bong, then you were in for a pretty tough time
If your skull was improperly looked after, you could make various members of your family ill, infertile or even kill them, but it's never clear how far an ancestral ghost can reach - they only really hung around the family home, close to where their skulls was, so if your offspring moved, and forgot to take your skull with them, all you can do is stamp about your old house in an impotent rage, watching as local rodents crapped all over your skull.
#1. Ancient Egyptians: Basically Based on How Nice Your Funeral Was
Ancient Egyptian religions were polytheistic, with as many as two thousand deities, ranging from such luminaries as Geb (the God of the earth who appeared as a man with a goose on his head), and Amun (the King of the Gods, who has a splendid hat based on Marge Simpson's hairdo) to somewhat less significant deities such as (and these are real) Amsit , the God of embalmed livers, and Kebechsenef , the God of things below the waist and above the knees. More often than not, their Gods were half-human, half-animal, making their civilization a prime example of what might happen if Furries get their way.
Egyptians believed death was temporary, and that life would resume if one was faithful to the gods. That's why the body was preserved through mummification and they had a load of great shit chucked into their tomb upon death.
So What's the Problem?
The Egyptians believed that mummification was an essential part of a journey towards a good afterlife, and mummification was expensive. It took seventy days, and after that, you had to be buried in a tomb which was acceptable in the eyes of the Gods. Which was, again, expensive. Basically, if you were a horrible little poor person, the Gods extended a middle finger in your direction and packed you on your way to eternal oblivion.
Even if you could afford all of that, you could still get screwed by their complicated-as-hell judgment process. The following picture details what happens in the Hall of Two Truths, where the souls are judged.
Firstly, the deceased heart is weighed on the scales - it's there on the left. On the right is a feather, the Shu feather of Truth and Justice, taken from the headdress of the goddess Ma'at . If the heart weighed less than the feather, then the soul was deemed to have lived a good life. If it was heavier, then it was full of sin. The heart, and the heart's owner, we then devoured by the Demon Ammit, a part-hippo, part-crocodile, part-lion and the complete Furry wet-dream. She's there under the scales.
We don't think we need to tell you about the unfairness of this, but we will. The average human heart weighs in at about ten ounces. A feather (depending on species of bird) is about 0.02 ounces. You don't have to be an ivy league mathematician to realize you're fucked. In some pictures though, the Goddess Ma'at herself sits on the tray, instead of a feather. That's Ma'at's head on the crown of the scale. Even if that's to, er, scale, she's probably a fair bit heavier than the heart and in those cases, you're good to go.
So, if you're lucky enough to have Ma'at on the scales, you're presented to Osiris, who's there on the throne to the right, wrapped up in white with a KKK-esque hat. He, along with the sexually aroused fourteen judges at the top, decide your ultimate fate, even though Ma'at's feather is supposed to have done that. Perhaps Osiris just works out how much your mummification and tomb cost.
Basically it appears to be a bureaucratic clusterfuck designed so that they could pretty much let in whoever they damned well pleased. If you find yourself in the Egyptian afterlife, we suggest having a bribe ready.
For a look at the terrifying things they do with the part of you that stays here on earth, check out The 5 Creepiest Death Rituals From Around the World. Or find out another way death can be a huge hassle and why Filming a Suicide Note Can be Such a Pain in the Ass.