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The Goddess Hel

Forums ► Norse Paganism ► The Goddess Hel

The Goddess Hel
Post # 1

Hel .

Hel is a Norse goddess. She is the daughter of Loki, and the Giantess, Angrboda. The other two are Fenrir ,and Jormungand(The Midhgard Serpent).Hel didn't have a great life. Being depicted as a woman whose bones were exposed on one half of her body, her appearance disgusted many others, so much so that other Gods wanted nothing to do with her. She was seen as an oddity, a freak, and grotesque. Hel was filled with great lonliness and despair. She then asked Odin if she could leave Asgaard.
Hel was then cast down into the Netherworld and became the ruler of the Underworld. She gave Odin two ravens(Huginn and Muninn) in return for making her ruler of the Netherworld. Hel's name is named after her, Helheim. She determines the fate of those in the afterlife. Helheim also serves as a place where souls can wait to be reincarnated.
Nordic Shamans call upon her for protection and wear a helkappe, which is a mask that makes them invisible so they can slip into the realm of death. In divination her symbol is hail, which is an embodiment of the realm she rules. She is often linked to Isis, Osiris, and Hekate. Hel has been muddled over the years by ignorance as being depicted as an ugly entity waiting to eat children.

SOURCES: Hel: Ruler of Underworld, Guardian of the Undead by Rowen Saille
Hel, Norse Goddes of the Dead by angelfire.com

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Re: The Goddess Hel
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 2
"Long ago, before the dismemberment of Ymir and the creation of Midgard and Asgard, the underworld was named Jormungrund. It was populated by the dead souls of Jotnar, and some live ones as well--Jotnar are particularly good at travelling to the Deathlands. As far as we can tell, it was looked after by a goddess named Hel, but she was not the Hel who lives there today. Both the name and the job title seem to be something that is passed on. Apparently someone needs to take on the important (and fairly powerful) job of looking after the Dead, and someone is chosen from one of the races when the last Hel retires.
Jotun legend has it that when the old Hel died, the Dead roamed the nine worlds for seven years, as there was no one to keep them in check. Every race hoped to have one of its members chosen for this crucial task, which would create an unlimited power-base for whoever was allied with Death, if Death could be persuaded to side with its native race. Collective breaths were held across the Nine Worlds... and then Angrboda, the Hagia of the Iron Wood, had a daughter by her consort, the infamous Loki. When the girl-etin was barely walking, it is said, she took on her shapeshifting form, and it was that of a rotting corpse. This was the signal that she was the inheritor of the name and the title, and she as immediately named Hel, or Hela in the Jotun-tongue (the Alfar call her Leikin), and raised to claim the rulership of the Land of the Dead.
Various rumors went around that Loki and Angrboda had done some dark magic to make sure that their child would be the Death Goddess; other rumors said that they had merely forseen that it would be so, and married in order to bring it about. Whether it came about by chance or planning, it was a great disappointment to the other races, who had hoped to pull the Deathlands out of the control of Jotun hands. Odin promptly put a "banishing-spell" on the tiny Hela, which basically banned her from ever entering Asgard, and indeed she has never set foot there.
When Hela came of age, she took over Jormundgrund and entirely recreated it, renaming it Helheim. Instead of caves and dankness, she opened it to the black sky and planted orchards,and grass grew over the stony burial mounds. She built the castle Elvidnir and swore that no matter how many the Dead, she would find a way to feed them all, if only sparingly. She redesigned Helheim in such a way as to bring maximum peacefulness to those who reside in it; instead of dank caves, it is subtly ever-changing tapestry of hills and fields and colorful autumn woods."
Excerpt from Jotunbok - Raven K.

I'll add my personal thoughts about how Hel looks. How she looks is not exactly a definitive answer. To each person who sees her or imagines her she looks different. But one thing can be certain, she definitely has an aspect of death to her looks. Even down to her essence, feeling, energy, etc. Hel has been depicted to be half-and-half. Rotted on one side and whole on the other. (A more left and right theme.) It is said that she will only offer her "living" hand to the dead, but for all others she offers her skeletal-rotten hand - which is often told to be a test to determine how you truly feel about death and her looks on death. To be frightened by this half is not necessarily bad. But it's a matter of whether you accept it or not. It is also said to be that her upper body from the waist up is a fair beautiful woman; whereas, her loser half is skeletal. It's even been told that Hela goes through the phases of life and death - being that her body is whole entirely of flesh and blood and morphs through from rotting to skeletal and then back to whole. She is said to be slow moving, yet graceful, with a limp because of her skeletal-half rotted side. It seems that no matter the appearance she always seems to give off the energy and feeling of death, even the cold chilling feeling that is associated with death. Another sign associated with Hela is the smell of death. Death has a unique scent of its own that also seems to be a part of Hela's essence.
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Re: The Goddess Hel
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 3
This thread has been moved to Misc Topics from General Info.
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Re: The Goddess Hel
Post # 4

It's apparently a magic mask worn by shamans so they can slip unnoticed into Helheim. I'm not sure if that statement is exactly true, but it was interesting.

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Re: The Goddess Hel
Post # 5
Can you give some mor informations about Helkappes?
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Re: The Goddess Hel
Post # 6
Or better,how is made one?
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Re: The Goddess Hel
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 7

I mentioned this elsewhere, but I will mention it here as well:

In regards to the Helkappe.

I have seen one or two helkappe: which is essentially a mask (though sometimes in the form of a helmet or cap) that is said to make the wearer invisible when crossing into Helheim.(It is not unlike other magickal Norse helmets: Grimhelm, Hildgrim and Hade's Helm of Invisibility in Greek tradition). The general idea behind it is that it would provide safer travel through Helheim, and allow the shaman or pathwalker to journey more. However.. Some would say it is unwise to use it as it could be seen as deceitful. Personally, I've never put much thought into it. Hel is known as a Goddess to whom "all is seen", so I would find no use for it, as it would do you no good if you were traveling through her lands.

I have, however, known of some who use the halkappe in a mask form when doing a ritual, but in those cases it is made to be more symbolic of Hel (her appearance) and does not serve the same purpose.

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Re: The Goddess Hel
Post # 8

Hel, is a very interesting Norse Goddess. I find her very intriging.

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Re: The Goddess Hel
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 9
I've always been interested in Hel. Her image has intrigued me since I was a child. Has anyone here actually encountered her personally? I would love to hear personal experiences.
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Re: The Goddess Hel
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 10

I've done some really in-depth work with her, though it's always been strange for me. Whenever I work with her, I get certain feelings that are a bit offsetting. I'll shoot you a mail with some of that. I believe Vanitys has experience with her as well.

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