Norse God: Hel

The Norse Gods may be a concept of pagan myth but their influence affects the world we live in today. For example, the seven days of the week are named after these gods and the ideals that they are said to have believed in:

  • Monday - Moon's Day 
  • Tuesday - Tyr's Day
  • Wednesday - Woden's Day (Anglicised into Odin)
  • Thursday - Thor's Day
  • Friday - Freyja's Day
  • Saturday - Saturn's Day
  • Sunday - Sun's Day - Hel Image

Hel, the goddess of death, the dead, the underworld and is therefore considered the Norse counterpart of the Greek god Hades. She is also known as Hella, Hulda and Holle. The goddess received her name from the land she governs. Her realm is located in Niflheim/Helheim. Niflheim is known as the mist world or the world of fog. Hel is in charge of determining the fate of her visitors. She is often portrayed in an unattractive light, with her half her body being bare bone, and then the half rotted flesh. She is said to portray the spectrum of the people who arrive in her care - some being mostly alive, while others are decomposed or degraded beyond recognition...

Hel is the daughter of the trickster god Loki and the giantess Angrboda. This makes Hel half-goddess and half-giantess; which is often forgotten in Norse mythology. Therefore, she is not fully divine like the other gods and goddesses. Hel is also the youngest of her siblings. Her siblings are Fenrir, the wolf, and Jormungand, the serpent of the human world. Since the three children shared Loki’s blood, there was a fear among the gods that his children would also prove to be trouble makers, so there was discussion amongst the gods to figure out what to do with them. A decision is made and Odin takes Hel along with the rest of her siblings away from Loki as a form of punishment for Loki’s evil and trickster ways - and out of fear. As a result of this punishment, Hel is placed in charge of the the Underworld. Other stories suggest that Hel and her siblings were taken by Odin and the other gods to be raised in Asgard as Aesir gods so that they would not be tempted by the ways of their father Loki. Even though this was all done with good intentions, Hel felt excluded in the world of Asgard because she was not as beautiful as the other gods - as she was born with her bones fully exposed on one side of her body. In an attempt to make Hel feel better about herself, Odin granted her the land of Niflheim, which he renamed Hel as a way to make the world more attached to the young goddess who just wanted to be able to fit in. It is also said that Hel has an eye of fire, making it impossible for anyone to hide anything from her during their time of judgement once they enter the underworld and are under her domain. The origin of Hel has many different interpretations but in all of them, she was not born from the world, but gifted and handed the underworld for her to rule.