Hela: Goddess of Death
Hela is the Norse Goddess of Death. She is one of three children to her Father, Loki, the Trickster God, and the Giantess Angrboda. Her siblings are Fenrir, the Wolf, and Jormungandr, the Midgard Serpent. She is the ruler of Helheim, or the former Underworld, Jormungrund. You may be wondering how she took on such a role, to do that we must look in on her history, starting from the very beginning.
The former Underworld was known as Jormungrund, and was rules by a woman named Hel. However, this is not the Hel that we know now. The name and title seem to be passed down. It is extremely important to take on this duty as Keeper of the Underworld, and someone from one of the races must be chosen for it when the previous Hel retires. Legend says that when the previous Hel died, the dead roamed the Nine worlds for Seven years, because no one was there to look after them. People hoped someone would take on this task, because Death was powerful, to have it on your side ensured you unlimited power if Death sided with you. Finally someone came to take on the title.
Angrboda gave birth to a baby, fathered by the infamous Loki. The etin girl in her shape-shifting form would appear half-decayed. This was an immediate sign that she would be the one. Therefore she was given the name Hel, or Hela [The Alfar call her Leikin] .
Rumors spread that Angrboda and Loki had done 'dark magick' to make sure their daughter would be the one to rule; while others stated that they had merely foreseen it. Either way, it was a great disappointment, because they wanted Death to be out of Jotun hands. Odin placed a "Banishing Spell" on the little Hela that would keep her from stepping foot in Asgard. And she never went there. However, for this, she gave Odin Huginn and Muninn, his ravens.
As Hela came of age, she took over Jormungrund, she completely recreated it. This is how her realm, Helheim was created. Mimir [consort of the former Hel] left it in her care and left to go live with the Aesir. Instead of the caves and dankness, she opened them to the black skies and planted orchards. Grass grew over the stony burial mounds. She created beautiful autumn landscapes, and it would never be morning. She built the castle Elvidnir, and swore that she would feed all of the dead, even if only sparingly. She created a peaceful land for those who rested in Helheim.
Hela is fiercely protective over the dead. She tends to them, and does not like work that bothers the dead. She does allow Seidhr workers who respect her boundaries to come to the gate and talk to the dead that are willing.
How is Hela Depicted?
Hela has been depicted in many many ways. My opinion is that it varies from person to person. And how she wants you to see her. Most of the time she will be rotted or skeletal in some way. However, she has been seen either decayed from the waist down, or directly down the middle. She may have long pale hair, or black/dark hair. Sometimes she may be a black mist, other times she may be an old woman. I believe she does appear as whole to some people, but not all the time, mainly because she is close to death and wants to force respect for the dead upon you by appearing in that form.
Working with Hela
Hela is very interesting to work with. If you feel she is your deity, make a connection with her. Believe in her. Respect the dead and NEVER EVER come to her with a disgust or dislike for death. She will hand her skeletal hand to you, and you will take it and kiss it. This is her test to see if you respect death or not. She will only offer her Living hand to the Dead.
Hela likes as offerings things like preserved flowers [Like Roses] , Blood, Good quality Chocolates, Coffee beans, Teas, Apples [since she has an orchard herself] , Good wine, Meat, Bread, Soup. Meals that your ancestors would have liked.
Her Colors are Black and White, so if you want to make an altar to her, I would suggest having a half black and half white altar cloth [I used red velvet, but am planning on getting a black and white cloth] . Black and white Candles, Bones, Skull shaped objects, Day of the dead Skull images, Red roses, Dried Roses, Plantain leaves, Rue, Wormwood, Yarrow, or Yew. Runes such as Halagaz or Ear, and just anything relating to death. I would definitely have an offering bowl.
One option for honoring Hela is a dedication jar. You simply need a mason jar, and fill it with any sort of offerings you like that I have listed. Occasionally you may 'feel' like your intuition wants to add something, add it. I added some of my Father's ashes, for example. Then you decorate it however you see fit, I sealed it with Black and White candle wax and a little bit of red. Once you're done you can place it on your shelf, or on her altar [if you decided to make one to her] .
Hela likes hard work, and dedication. Also include her in your daily life, whether it's a prayer every so often, an offering, etc. Make a bond with her. Let her know you care about her and care about death. She may seem cold when you first start working with her, and by no means is she a maternal, loving, passionate goddess, but she does care. She is a very mature and understanding Goddess. Good ways to know that she is there during ritual or work with her, is you feel a Coldness in the room, and smell either Rotting or Damp Earth/Decaying leaves. You will know when she is there. Sometimes she may make you feel like there is a cold mist in the room, other times she will feel like pressure. I personally believe it varies from person to person, as each will have their own unique relationship with her. She can also be described by an eerie stillness within the room. Too still, so still that she is almost like a statue. Occasionally she will move, but not often.
My experiences with Hel and Knowledge on her.