Saturday, December 24, 2011


Hel ("the Hidden" from the word hel,"to conceal") is the Norse goddess of the dead, ruler of the nine worlds of the Land of Mist, Niflheim or Niflhel, located in the far north-- a cold, damp place that is home to frost giants and dwarves. The name Hel was applied both to the Queen of the Underworld and the land itself, and it is thought that the land gave the Queen Her name. In the late Christianized form of the myth, when Hel became Hell, she was said to be the daughter of Loki, who was equated with Lucifer.
In appearance She is said to be a fearsome sight: She is described as being piebald, with a face half-human and half blank, or more usually, half alive and half dead. It is told that when She was born, disease first came into the world. She was said to sweep through towns and cities bringing plague: if she used a rake, some would survive; if a broom, none would.
When the beloved Baldar was killed through Loki's treachery, the entire world begged Her to release him from death. Hel agreed, but only if every creature on earth truly mourned for him. So beloved was Baldar that everything--gods, humans, animals, trees, stones--wept for him. All except an old giantess, called Thokk, who was Loki in disguise.
Hel in a reading can represent a time of simultaneous endings and beginnings, the point at which the circle is completed. She can also indicate integrity, as opposites unite to form a stronger whole.
Alternate spellings: Hella
FROM: Hel ( *ahem* anyway)


In Norse mythology, Hel (sometimes Anglicized or Latinized as Hela) is the queen of Hel, the Norse underworld.
In the Gylfaginning, she is described as the daughter of Loki and Angrboða – a giantess (gýgr, see jotun) – and thus sister of the Fenrisulfr and the sea serpent Jörmungandr. Since her father is often described as a god, although both his parents were giants, the same might be said of Hel.
When Odin became aware of the existence of Loki's children, he banished them to remote places. Hel he cast down to her realm in the underworld and gave her authority over all those in the nine worlds who do not die gloriously in battle but of sickness or of old age.
Hel builds the ship Naglfar from the nail clippings of the dead, to be used against the Æsir at Ragnarök.

Hon á þar mikla bólstaði ok eru garðar hennar forkunnar hávir ok grindr stórar. Éljúðnir heitir salr hennar, Hungr diskr hennar, Sultr knífr hennar, Ganglati þrællinn, Ganglöt ambátt, Fallandaforað þresköldr hennar er inn gengr, Kör sæing, Blíkjandaböl ársali hennar. Hon er blá hálf en hálf með hörundarlit, því er hon auðkend ok heldr gnúpleit ok grimmlig.
She has great possessions there; her walls are exceeding high and her gates great. Her hall is called Sleet-Cold; her dish, Hunger; Famine is her knife; Idler, her thrall; Sloven, her maidservant; Pit of Stumbling, her threshold, by which one enters; Disease, her bed; Gleaming Bale, her bed-hangings. She is half blue-black and half flesh-color (by which she is easily recognized), and very lowering and fierce.
—Brodeur translation

The path to Hel is known as the Helveg and their gates Helgrindr or Nágrind ("Corpse Gate"). Here Garm is fastened, Hel's watchdog, who is bloody both on chest and neck.
Heimskringla relates that she procured herself a spouse by having the Swedish king Dyggve die a natural death.
Her name is the source of the English word hell.
FROM: Hel (being) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Hel was the daughter of the trickster God Loki. Her siblings were the Fenris wolf and Jormungand the serpent. Hel is described as being half alive, and half corpse (or sometimes simply as half white and half black). In many ways, she is similar to the Greek goddess, Hecate. Hel is called upon for magick, divination and she was the guardian of the crossroads.
Though the Christian version of the underworld gets its name from this Norse Goddess, the realm that she actually ruled was quite different from the fire & brimstone Hell. The underworld of Norse myth was actually called Niflheim and there went the souls of those who died, but not in battle (usually of old age, accident or disease). Hel ruled here from her own hall, Helheim. Sometimes the names Niflheim and Helheim are used interchangeably, and then her hall is called Sleet-Den.
Though her role might seem unpleasant, she was happy when given the Underworld as her kingdom. In thanks, it was Hel who gave Odin his pair of ravens, Huginn and Muninn.
Due to her remote and lonely home, she was not part of many Norse myths and therefore has little detail surrounding her.
FROM: Hel - Norse Goddess

from Goddesses and Heroines
Exerpt from Goddess & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

The goddess who gave her name to the Christian place of eternal punishment was the Scandinavian ruler of the misty world under the earth. Her name means the "one who covers up" or the "one who hides," and the ones Hel hid in her nine-circled realm were those who died of disease or old age. Those who died heroically, in battle or by other violence, were carried off by the Valkyries to the heavenly halls of Freya or Odin.
Hel was the daughter of the giant woman Angerboda and was thought to be an ugly pinto woman, half black and half white, who rode up to earth to enfold the dying in her horrible arms and to rest her drooping head against theirs. Down in her nine-ringed realm, where the inhabitants kept up a constant wail, Hel lived in a miserable palace called Sleet-Cold, where the walls were built of worms and human bones. She ate with a knife and fork called Famine from a plate named Hunger. Her slave, Senility, served her, as did her maidservant, Dotage. When she slept, it was on her cot, Bedridden, covered by curtains named Woefully Pale.
The entry to her queendom was guarded by the hell-hound, Garm; before you reached the threshold you had to travel to Helvig ("Troublesome Road") to Hel, past the strange guardian maiden, Modgud. Some scholars say the conception of Hel is more ancient than the heroic myth of Valhalla, the hall of dead heroes.

"Thaukt will wail With dry tears Baldur's bale-fire. Let Hela keep her own." (from The Death of Baldur)
In Norse mythology, Hel (also known as Hell, Hela or Hella) is the ruler of Helheim, the realm of the dead. She is the youngest child of the God Loki (Loki is a giant who became a member of the Aesir when Odin made Loki His blood brother. Loki is the god of mischief, a trickster, and very cunning.) and the giantess Angurboda. Hel has two brothers: Fenrir (Fenris-wolf) and Jormungand (Midgard serpent). Hel is usually described as a horrible hag, half alive and half dead, with a gloomy and grim expression. Her face and body are said to be those of a living woman, but Her thighs and legs are those of a corpse, mottled and moldering. Other descriptions of Her say She is half white and half black The other Gods feared the offspring of Loki and had abducted Hel and Her brothers from Angurboda's hall. They then had cast Hel into the underworld. She now resides in Helheim ("house of Hel"). This cold, dark and misty abode of the dead is located in the world of Niflheim, on the lowest level of the Norse universe. It is in this land that Hel distributes those dead who are sent to Her, the dead referred to as the 'dishonored dead'. The dead who die of old age or disease and those not killed in battle go to Helheim - while those who die bravely on the battlefield go to Valhalla. Once they enter Helheim, not even the Gods can leave the place, because the impassable river Gjoll flows from the spring Hvergelmir and encircles Helheim. The entrance to Helheim is guarded by Garm, a monstrous hound, and Modgud. The giant Hraesvelg ("corpse eater") sits at the edge of the world, overlooking Helheim. Hraesvelg has the form of an eagle and with his flapping wings he makes the wind blow. Hel built Her hall called Eljudnir (misery) in Helheim. She is tended in Her hall by a manservant and maidservant named Ganglati and Ganglot, both of who's names mean 'tardy'. They are so slow that no one can tell that they are moving. On Her table sits Hel's plate which is called Hunger, Her knife which is called Famine. In Her hall is Her bed named Sick Bed and Her bed hangings are called Glimmering Misfortune. Hel will make Her last stand at the twilight of the Gods when She brings Her hoard of dead up and out of Nifilheim to join Her father and the other giants in the final battle of Ragnarok. FROM: Hel, Ruler of Helheim


Hel is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted Goddess aspects in history. She has been greatly perverted through the years by patriarchal domination and ultimately used by the early Christian church as a scare tactic to frighten the masses into “righteous” acts. To get the real story, we have to go back to the early Nordic people and look this death Goddess in the face.
According to Norse tradition, Hel is one of three children born to Loki, the trickster, and Angrboda, the giantess. Her body and face were described as half in light and half in darkness. She was half dead and half alive. Her face was at once beautiful to look upon and horrific in form. Her siblings were Fenrir, the wolf who would destroy Asgard during Ragnarok, and Jormungand, the Midhgard serpent who lies at the bottom of the ocean wrapped around the world with his tail in his mouth (it is he that holds the world together).
Hel is cast into the netherworld and becomes the ruler of that underworld to which souls who have not died in battle will depart. As thanks for making Her ruler of the netherworld, Hel makes a gift to Odin. She gives him two ravens, Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory). Ravens are messengers between this realm and the next, opening pathways to death’s realm.
Her realm is named for her, Hel or Helheim. Because She accepts all to Helheim, she also becomes the judge to determine the fate of each soul in the afterlife. The evil dead are banished to a realm of icy cold death (a fate that the Nordic people found much worse in telling than a lake of fire) and torture. This particular aspect of Hel’s realm was the basis for the Judeo-Christian “hell” to which sinners are banished and tortured for eternity. Unlike the Judeo-Christian concept, Helheim also served as the shelter and gathering place of souls to be reincarnated. Hel watches over those who died peacefully of old age or illness. She cares for children and women who die in childbirth. She guides those souls who do not choose the path of war and violence through the circle of death to rebirth.
Because of Hel’s special role in the deaths of mothers in childbirth and children of all ages who die, She has become, according to some sources, the special guardian of children. Mother Goose is believed to be based on Frau Holle or Frau Holda who is a kindly and wise, if slightly horrific crone who rewards the industrious and punishes the lazy. The goose aspect is from a legend tradition that says that snow is a result of Frau Holda shaking out her bed linens.
One of the stories involving Hel is the decent of Balder into Helheim. Loki arranged for Balder to die by tricking him into a rigged contest. Because the contest was hosted in Asgard, Balder could not return to that place in death. His relocation sent him to the only other realm for the dead, Hel’s domain. His arrival to Helheim was welcomed with banquet and festival, proof that not all of Hel’s realm was torturous.
Hel governs the world beyond that of the living. In magic, she makes thin the veil between worlds. Seidhr [SAY-theer] or Nordic shamans call upon Her protection and wear the helkappe, a magic mask, to render them invisible (like Hades helm of invisibility) and enable them to pass through the gateway into the realm of death and spirit. In divination, Her special symbol is Hagalaz, hail: The embodiment of the icy realm She rules. Hel stands at the crossroads in judgment of souls who pass into Her realm. In that, She is linked to Osiris and Isis as well as Hecate.
Hel has fallen from her privileged position as guardian and ruler through years of being represented as an evil, ugly entity waiting to devour and torture lost souls. Ignorance as used Her as a means of scaring children and adults into a supposedly righteous path (instead of allowing free will to guide their actions to do what is right). May we learn and dispel the slander of years by seeing Her for the protector, judge, and guide that She originally represented.
FROM: Hel has other info too. Symbols, associations. And notations from the sources of their info.
Other sites: And two threads about her:

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