Hel, Norse Goddess of the Dead and the Underworld You cannot separate light from its shadow. While this site provides the ultimate online introduction to the topic, my book The Viking Spirit provides the ultimate introduction to Norse mythology and religion period. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr. The god Hermóðr volunteers and sets off upon the eight-legged horse Sleipnir to Hel. As the children's birth were one of the catalysts for Ragnarök, she and her brothers were placed under careful watch, with Hel becoming queen of the dishonorable dead. She has a knife called “Famine”, a plate called “Hunger”, a bed called “Disease”, and bed curtains called “Misfortune”. Her manservant is Ganglati and her maidservant is Ganglot (which both can be translated as \"tardy\"). Pesch, Alexandra. ", Hel may also be alluded to in Hamðismál. Simek states that the allegorical description of Hel's house in Gylfaginning "clearly stands in the Christian tradition," and that "on the whole nothing speaks in favour of there being a belief in Hel in pre-Christian times. A section from Ynglingatal follows, describing that Eystein "fared to" Hel (referred to as "Býleistr's-brother's-daughter"). The final stanza of the poem contains a mention of Hel, though not by name: In the account of Baldr's death in Saxo Grammaticus' early 13th century work Gesta Danorum, the dying Baldr has a dream visitation from Proserpina (here translated as "the goddess of death"): The following night the goddess of death appeared to him in a dream standing at his side, and declared that in three days time she would clasp him in her arms. Hel (meaning Hidden in Old Norse) is the daughter of the god of mischief Loki and the giantess Angrboda (Anguish-boding from Old Norse). When Balder, beloved son of Odin and Frigg, is slain in a game, thanks to the machinations of Loki, Balder finds himself in Helheim. Hel is a legendary being in Norse mythology who is said to preside over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Hel was one of three children born to Loki and Angrboða. However, her personality is little-developed in what survives of Old Norse literature. Lehmann, Winfred, A Gothic Etymological Dictionary (1986). In particular the bracteates IK 14 and IK 124 depict a rider traveling down a slope and coming upon a female being holding a scepter or a staff. Translated by Angela Hall. But Hel wouldn’t give up her prize so easily. ", The Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, an account of the life of Saint Bartholomew dating from the 13th century, mentions a "Queen Hel." p. 84. Devastated by the loss, Odin and Frigg send Hermod, another of the Aesir gods, to Helheim in order to ask Hel, as goddess of the underworld, to allow Balder to return to the world of the living. Updated on September 11, 2020. " He also draws a parallel between the personified Hel's banishment to the underworld and the binding of Fenrir as part of a recurring theme of the bound monster, where an enemy of the gods is bound but destined to break free at Ragnarok. Every single person who dies from an illness, age, or is considered a coward or dishonorable by the Gods and Goddesses will end up in her realm called Helheim. "Queen Hel" is not mentioned elsewhere in the saga. Upon their arrival, Odin threw Jörmungandr into "that deep sea that lies round all lands," Odin threw Hel into Niflheim, and bestowed upon her authority over nine worlds, in that she must "administer board and lodging to those sent to her, and that is those who die of sickness or old age." The beloved god Baldur was slain by none other than Hel’s father, Loki, and the gods sent an emissary named Hermod to Hel in hopes of retrieving Baldur. Hel, also known as Hella, Holle or Hulda, was the Norse and Teutonic Goddess, Queen and Ruler of the Underworld, which was known as Niflheim, or Helheim, the Kingdom of the Dead. The name Hel, quite literally means "one that hides" or "one who covers up." Davidson adds that, on the other hand, various other examples of "certain supernatural women" connected with death are to be found in sources for Norse mythology, that they "seem to have been closely connected with the world of death, and were pictured as welcoming dead warriors," and that the depiction of Hel "as a goddess" in Gylfaginning "might well owe something to these.". Davidson posits that Snorri may have "earlier turned the goddess of death into an allegorical figure, just as he made Hel, the underworld of shades, a place 'where wicked men go,' like the Christian Hell (Gylfaginning 3)." Her father was Loki, and her siblings were the Fenrir wolf and the serpent Jörmungandr. Hel is a goddess of Norse mythology.Her father is Loki, and her mother is Angrboða, a giantess.Her siblings are Jörmungandr and Fenrir.Her task is to reign over the realm of the dead, also called Hel or Neifelheim, where the dead peacefully go to in the afterlife to wait until Ragnarok, the end of the gods and Asgard. Hel is a goddess of Norse mythology.Her father is Loki, and her mother is Angrboða, a giantess.Her siblings are Jörmungandr and Fenrir.Her task is to reign over the realm of the dead, also called Hel or Neifelheim, where the dead peacefully go to in the afterlife to wait until Ragnarok, the end of the gods and Asgard. The goddess and her home lived long in Norse legends . Hel is the Norse goddess of death. In a later work (1998), Davidson states that the description of Hel found in chapter 33 of Gylfaginning "hardly suggests a goddess." Her power had been greatly weakened since belief in her faded, but she … Death is periphrased as "joy of the troll-woman" (or "ogress") and ostensibly it is Hel being referred to as the troll-woman or the ogre (flagð), although it may otherwise be some unspecified dís. The name Hel, quite literally means "one that hides" or "one who covers up." The Anglo-Saxon and Norse Goddess of the Underworld is honored annually on the Day of Hel (July 10th) with prayers, the lighting of black candles, and offerings of … heathentemple: “ Hel or Hela is the goddess of the underworld in Norse mythology and ruler over the dead who do not go to Valhalla. Her name’s meaning of “Hidden” surely has to do with the underworld and the dead being “hidden” or buried beneath the ground. 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