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  • Hel Viking Goddess of Death : History and Legends

    October 12, 2020 3 min read

    Hel Viking Goddess of Death

    In Norse mythology, Hel is the goddess and ruler of Helheim, the realm of the dead. Hel is the youngest child of the evil god Loki and the giantess Angrboda. She is usually depicted as a horrible witch, half alive and half dead (half black-blue and half flesh), with a gloomy and sinister expression.

    Her face and body are those of a living woman, but her thighs and legs are those of a corpse, mottled and molded. Hel was cast into the underworld after being abducted by the gods. His hall in Helheim is called Eljudnir, the House of the Dead, and has high walls. These two servants are Ganglati and Ganglot her servant.


    Hel mythology

    There was a time when being sent to Hel might have been inevitable, but it wasn't seen as a punishment: Hel, daughter of Angerboda and Loki, rules the Scandinavian kingdom of the dead. She is the guardian of the souls of the deceased. Those who die at sea or in battle have other destinations; all others go to Hel, who welcomes them into his home, Helheim, whether they were good, bad, sinners, or saints while alive.

    The realm of Hel is not a sulphurous, fiery torture chamber. It's more of a sort of inn or station for the dead, although once checked in you can never get out. Helheim is a dark, gray, damp and misty realm: the concept of heat as punishment was imported from the hot southern climates along with Christianity. Spring's hopeless lack of warmth was the Scandinavian equivalent of desolation. That said, some areas of Helheim are more comfortable than others: Hel judges and decides exactly where each individual soul will be headed.

    Hel and Fenrir

    Hel and her brothers, the wolf Fenrir and the serpent Jormungandr, were raised by their mother, the witch Angerboda , in the Ironwood. The prophecy suggested that the two brothers and their sister would one day lead an army of destruction against the Aesir. Odin, knowing the prophecy therefore "brought" them to Asgard, to trap them and prevent the prophecy. Odin took Hel personally and threw her as far as he could: she landed in the realm of death and became its queen. She lives in a great hall, Eliudnir, within Helheim.

    She remained destined to lead an uprising of rebellious spirits and ghosts. Hel manifests in dreams, the most famous of which is that of Balder, the son of Odin. She appeared to him three days before his death, advising him (accurately) that in three days she would take him in her arms. As his father (Loki) contributed to Balder's death by poisoning him, it is unknown exactly how much inside information Hel possessed prior to his prediction.

    Hel Viking Goddess Of Death

    The Norse goddess of death, Hel, is also known by other names such as Hella and Hela, among others. Even under her many names and forms, Hel remains an important figure in Norse mythology. She is often seen as the owner of Niflheim (darkness), where the dead reside whose lives have not been honored.

    She is described as having a pale complexion from having lived so long in darkness, with a pox mark on her cheek. For these reasons, his presence can be seen as both mysterious and intimidating.

    However, over time, many people have grown fond of this powerful yet misunderstood figure, due to her connection to our own mortality.

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