Goddess of Death
Animals- Dark Horses
Colours- Black and Dark Blue
Runes- Eihwaz, Haglaz and Iso
“ Hel he cast into Nifilheimr, and gave to her power over nine worlds, to apportion all abodes among those that were sent to her: that is, men dead of sickness or of old age. ”-Prose Edda.
Hel is the Norse Goddess of Death and her name means ‘Hidden’, she was cast by Odin down into Helheimr to rule over it and collect the souls and provide lodging to anyone who dies of old age or sickness known as a straw death. She is thought to linger around a person just before this type of death. Another way she collects the dead is with her horse, the legendary Helhest or “Hel Horse,”, which has three legs and carries Hel and pulls a wagon to the place of death.
She is described as half dead and half alive, beautiful and at the same time harrowing, Being part Jotun she is very tall and wears a long robe of black or grey. Her mother is the Jotun Angrboda which means “foreboding” and the trickster god Loki, and she is the sister of both Fenrir and Jormungandr.
“Angrboda was the name of a certain giantess in Jotunheimr, with whom Loki gat three children: one was Fenris-Wolf, the second Jormungandr--that is the Midgardr Serpent,--the third is Hel. But when the gods learned that this kindred was nourished in Jotunheimr, and when the gods perceived by prophecy that from this kindred great misfortune should befall them; and since it seemed to all that there was great prospect of ill--(first from the mother's blood, and yet worse from the father's)-then All-father sent gods thither to take the children and bring them to him. When they came to him, straight way he cast the serpent into the deep sea, where he lies about all the land; and this serpent grew so greatly that he lies in the midst of the ocean encompassing all the land, and bites upon his own tail. Hel he cast into Nifilheimr.”-Prose Edda
She rules over the realm of Helheimr and the journey to her hall is treacherous. Firstly Helheimr itself is surrounded by a great fence called Nagrindr or “Corpse Fence”, this is guarded by Garmr, the great watchdog of Hel who lives in the cave Gnipahellir from there you must travel down Helvergr, “The Road to Hell,” where you will come to a river and bridge. The River is called Gjoll or “Loud Noise,” and the bridge is called Gjallarbru, “The Bridge over Gjoll”. Guarding this bridge is the Jotun Modgudr or “Furious Battle,” and after stands the great Hall of Eljudnir, or “Sprayed with Snow” which is the Hall of Hel. It has a threshold called Follandaforad or “Falling to Peril,” an actual Pitfall. Within these halls Hel feasts with the honoured souls who in life gave more than they took. The others are left in the freezing wastes of Helheimr. Beyond the hall is the wastes of Niflhel where the very worst souls linger and the area known as Nastrond or “The Corpse Shores,” where resides the Dragon Nidhoggr who eats the corpses of the honour less dead such as Oath breakers and Murderers. The rest will float in an acid lake for eternity.
Hel herself has a few treasures or possessions, her bed Kor meaning “Sick bed” has curtains around it called Blikjandabol or “Gleaming Disaster.” Her dish is called Hungr or “Hunger” and her knife is called Faemin or “Famine.” Hel has two servants called Ganglati and Ganglot Meaning “Idle” and “Lazy” respectively. Her throne where she sits in judgement of the dead is called Sotte Bed.
She plays host to Baldr and Hodr during Ragnarok essentially keeping them safe until they can re emerge. Making her more of a friend to Asgardr than a foe.
“'Then Hermodr rode on till he came to Hel-gate; he dismounted from his steed and made his girths fast, mounted and pricked him with his spurs; and the steed leaped so hard over the gate that he came nowise near to it. Then Hermodr rode home to the hall and dismounted from his steed, went into the hall, and saw sitting there in the high-seat Baldr, his brother; and Hermodr tarried there overnight. At morn Hermodr prayed Hel that Baldr might ride home with him, and told her how great weeping was among the Aesir. But Hel said that in this wise it should be put to the test, whether Baldr were so all-beloved as had been said: 'If all things in the world, quick and dead, weep for him, then he shall go back to the Aesir; but he shall remain with Hel if any gainsay it or will not weep.' Then Hermodr arose; but Baldr led him out of the hall, and took the ring Draupnir and sent it to Odin for a remembrance. And Nanna sent Frigg a linen smock, and yet more gifts, and to Fulla a golden finger-ring.”-Prose Edda.