Hel

October 26th, 2007 by sabrina

Hey, that sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?¬† Where do you think they got the word?

Hel is the Norse Goddess of the dead. She is the daughter of the trickster god Loki and the giantess Angrboda. When Odin learned of her existence, he flung her down to Niflheim, the realm of cold and darkness. He gave her dominion over the underworld, which came to be called Hel after her. Hel is the final destination for those who die of illness or old age, and those who were wicked in life. Only those who died heroically are taken to Valhalla, the Hall of the Slain. Hel’s realm is composed of nine levels, ranging from fairly comfortable to truly horrible, and it was she who decided to which level the dead would go. In the ninth level, Nastrond, the roof is made up of serpents, who drip poison on the dead below. The inhabitants are given only goat’s urine to drink.

Hel herself is a sight to behold. She is half alive and half dead–in some representations, her face and body are alive, but her legs are decaying; in others, her right side is the color of healthy flesh and her left side is black with death. One of her eyes is made of fire, and with it she can see the true soul of a person, enabling her to judge them well. It is also said that there was no disease in the world until Hel was born, and that she had the power to bring plague to the towns that she passed through. Variations on her name, which means “she who hides”, include Hela, Hella, Hell, Holle, Halja, and Haljon.

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