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Odlazak u Hel i natrag: Carstvo nordijske božice podzemlja

Odlazak u Hel i natrag: Carstvo nordijske božice podzemlja



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Daleko najpoznatija Lokijeva djeca su ona koja je imao s velikanom Angurbodom. Tu spadaju vuk Fenrir, midgardska zmija Jormugandr i božica Hel. Legende kažu da su djeca rođena u mračnoj špilji u Jotunheimu i da su ih bogovi vidjeli kao simbole boli, grijeha i smrti. Esiri su se toliko bojali potencijala trojice Lokijeve djece da su vezali Fenrira, bacili Jormugandra u veliko more i protjerali Hel u podzemni svijet. Kad je tamo stigao, Hel je vladao carstvom, a Odin joj je sam dao moć nad svih devet svjetova.

"Lokijeva djeca" (1920.) Willyja Poganyja.

Put u Hel

Također se smatralo da božica Hel ima moć nad svim mrtvima, osim izabranih ubijenih koji su odvedeni u Valhallu. Slično u određenoj mjeri kao i Svartalfheim, Helino područje imalo je i podzemne stanove, a do njega se moglo doći nakon što je prošao hladnom i grubom cestom kroz mračna područja krajnjeg sjevera.

Legenda kaže da je čak i Hemrod morao jahati Sleipnir devet dugih noći da bi stigao do ulaza u carstvo koje se nalazi iza rijeke Gjoll. Podrijetlom iz izvora Hvergelmir u Niflheimu, rijeka Gjoll je tekla kroz Ginnunga Gap, a zatim u druge svjetove.

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Hel, nordijska božica podzemlja. (Arhivar /Adobe Stock)

U Hel (Helheim), rijeka teče blizu vrata podzemnog svijeta, djelujući kao granica. Gjoll također predstavlja ime stijene za koju je vezan Fenrir. Što se tiče same rijeke, za nju se kaže da je ledeno hladna i da kroz nju teku noževi.

Jedini način za prijeći rijeku je preko mosta Gjallarbru, kristalnog mosta zasvođenog zlatom, koji je obješen na jednu kosu. Kaže se da most ima stalnog čuvara, ženski kostur Modgud. Da bi duhovi prošli, svaki joj mora platiti putarinu. U “ Valhalla”, J. C. Jones opisuje most na sljedeći način:

Stakleni most visio je o kosi
Strašno bačen na rijeku, -
Gioll, granica Hel.
Ovdje je stajala djevojka Modgud,
Čekajući da uzme danak krvi, -
Djevo užasna za pogled,
Bez mesa, sa omotačem i palicom.

Da bi prešli most, duhovi su koristili vagone i konje spaljene pored njih na pogrebnoj lomači. Također, tijela poginulih uvijek su bila opremljena Hel cipelama, snažnim parom cipela posebno dizajniranih za zaštitu nogu tijekom cijelog putovanja po neravnom putu koji vodi do Hel.

Nakon što su prešli most Gjallar, duhovi su stigli do Ironwooda, šume s drvećem s lišćem željeza. Odavde su morali nastaviti sve dok nisu stigli do vrata Hel. Vrata je čuvao žestoki pas Garm. Garm je boravio u mračnoj špilji Gnipa i jedini način da ga umiri bio je ponuditi Hel-kolač. Prema legendi, ovi kolači nikada nisu iznevjerili one koji su za života dali kruh potrebitima.

"Hemrod prije Hela" (1909.) Johna Charlesa Dollmana.

Kakav je Hel?

Nakon ulaska kroz glavna vrata u hladnoći i mraku, mogli su se čuti različiti zvukovi. To su bili zvukovi Hvergelmira, potoka Hel i valjanja ledenjaka u Elivagaru. Potoci ovog područja uključivali su Leipter, gdje su položene svečane prisege, i Slid, rijeku s mačevima u svojim vodama.

Velika dvorana božice Hel nosila je ime Elvidner što znači "bijeda". Govorilo se da joj je jelo Glad, nož pohlepa, muškarac besposličarstvo, sluškinja lijenčina, krevet Tuga, prag Ruševina, zavjese Požar. J. Jones ovako opisuje Helovu dvoranu:

Elvidner je bio Helina dvorana.
Željezna rešetka, s masivnim zidom;
Užasno visoka palača!
Glad joj je bila gola;
Otpad, njezin nož; njezin krevet, oštra njega;
Goruća tuga proširila je njezinu gozbu;
Izbijeljene kosti poredale su svakog gosta;
Kuga i glad pjevali su svoje rune,
Pomiješano s oštrim melodijama Očaja.
Bijeda i agonija
E’er u Helinom prebivalištu bit će!

Hel je imao različita boravišta za različite ljude koji su ušli u carstvo. Oni koji su nakon smrti odlazili u Hel bili su kriminalci, krivokletnici, oni koji nisu imali sreće umrijeti prije nego što su imali priliku proliti krv, oni koji su umrli od starosti i oni koji su umrli od bolesti. Smrt starosti ili bolesti nekad su se nazivali "smrću od slame" jer su tadašnji kreveti bili napravljeni od slame.

Hel (Carl Ehrenberg, 1882.) i pas Garm.

Zagrobni život u Helovom carstvu i Nastrondu

U Helheimu su se ljubazno odnosili prema nevinima i onima koji su živjeli dobro i suosjećajno. Može se reći da su čak uživali u vrsti negativnog blaženstva. Međutim, norveški muškarci i žene radije su živjeli i umirali kao ratnici i pridružili se Odinovom izabranom ubijenom u Valhali. Kad su u pitanju nečisti mrtvi, poput preljubnika, ubojica i prekršitelja zakletve, njihovi su duhovi protjerani u Nastrond.

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Ovo mjesto imalo je špilju zmija i ledeno hladne struje otrova. S ovog mjesta, izvor Hvergelmir ih je sprao u Niflheim, gdje je zmaj Nidhoggr znao neprestano gristi korijen velikog svjetskog stabla, Yggdrasil. Zmaj bi navodno tada pauzirao svoj zadatak kako bi žvakao tijela nesretnih nečistih mrtvaca. Thorpeov prijevod „ Saemundova Edda ”Opisuje Nastrond na sljedeći način:

Dvorana stoji
Daleko od sunca
U Nastrondu;
Vrata su mu okrenuta prema sjeveru,
Kapljice otrova padaju
U kroz svoje otvore;
Ta dvorana je isprepletena
Sa zmijskim leđima.
Tamo je vidjela močvaru
Tromi potoci
Krvoločni muškarci
I krivokletnike,
I onoga koga uho zavodi
Tuđe žene.
Tamo Nidhog sisa
Leševi mrtvih.

Žetva i povratak mrtvih

Uglavnom se vjerovalo da su mrtvi putovali u Hel, ali pričalo se da je ponekad i sama božica Hel voljela ići žnjeti mrtve dok je jahala na svom tronogom bijelom konju. Slično, u drugim europskim mitovima kaže se da Grim Reaper putuje s jednog mjesta na drugo na bijelom konju. Čak i u kršćanskoj mitologiji, smrt jaše na blijedom konju kao jedan od četiri jahača apokalipse.

U razdobljima gladi ili kuge, kada su stanovnici određenog mjesta umirali u velikom broju, ali su neki preživjeli, legende kažu da je Hel grabuljama žnjeo mrtve, dok ih je božica podzemlja navodno žnjela u slučajevima kad su cijela sela bila prazna pomoću metle.

"Heimdallr želi Iðunnov povratak iz podzemlja" (1881.) Carla Emila Doeplera.

Nordijci su također vjerovali u povratak mrtvih kao duhova iz različitih razloga. U većini ovih slučajeva vjerovalo se da se pokojnik vraćao kako bi prenio određene poruke.

Također, postojalo je uvriježeno mišljenje da bi radost ili tuga živih mogla utjecati na mrtve. Danski “ Balada o bijesnom i drugom ”Daje primjer s mrtvim ljubavnikom koji se vraća kao duh da zamoli svoju voljenu da prestane tugovati. U Longfellowovom prijevodu odlomak glasi ovako:

Slušajte sada, moj dobri Sir Aager!
Najdraži zaručniku, sve za čim žudim
Treba znati kako to ide s tobom
Na tom usamljenom mjestu, grobu.

Svaki put kad se raduješ,
I budi sretan u svom umu,
Jesu li udubljenja mog usamljenog groba
Sve s obloženim lišćem ruža.

Svaki put kad, ljubavi, tuguješ,
I hoćeš li proliti slanu poplavu,
Jesu li udubljenja mog usamljenog groba
Ispunjena crnom i gnusnom krvlju.

Tako su Helino područje i njegovi stanovnici nastavili utjecati na svijet živih. Božica i njezin dom dugo su živjeli u nordijskim legendama.


Obitelj

U nordijskoj mitologiji, Helin otac bio je bog varalice Loki, a njezina majka velikanka Angrboda. Loki i Angrboda imali su troje djece: vuka Fenrira, zmiju Jörmungandra i Hel, njihovu jedinu kćer.

Hel je rođena s kostima na polovici tijela potpuno otkrivenim, pa se stoga često prikazuje kao napola crno i napola bijelo čudovište. Odrasla je s Fenrirom i Jörmungandrom u Jotunheimu, zemlji divova, sve dok Odin, vladar Aesira, nije odlučio da bi trebali živjeti u Asgardu odakle im je otac.


Odlazak u Hel i natrag: područje nordijske božice podzemlja - povijest

Hel je jedan od najnerazumijevanijih i pogrešno protumačenih aspekata Božice u povijesti. Ona je godinama bila jako izopačena patrijarhalnom dominacijom i na kraju ju je ranokršćanska crkva koristila kao taktiku zastrašivanja kako bi zastrašila mase u "pravedna" djela. Da bismo dobili pravu priču, moramo se vratiti ranim Nordijcima i pogledati ovoj Božici smrti u lice.

Prema nordijskoj tradiciji, Hel je jedno od troje djece koje su rodili Loki, prevarant, i Angrboda, velikanka. Njezino tijelo i lice opisani su kao napola u svjetlu, a pola u mraku. Bila je napola mrtva, a napola živa. Lice joj je odjednom bilo lijepo za gledati i užasne forme. Njezina braća i sestre bili su Fenrir, vuk koji će uništiti Asgarda tijekom Ragnaroka, i Jormungand, midhgardska zmija koja leži na dnu oceana omotana oko svijeta s repom u ustima (on je taj koji drži svijet na okupu). (6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 16, 19, 21, 23)

Hel je bačen u podzemni svijet i postaje vladar tog podzemnog svijeta u koji će otići duše koje nisu umrle u bitci. U znak zahvale što ju je učinila vladaricom podzemlja, Hel čini dar Odinu. Ona mu daje dva gavrana, Huginna i Munina (Misao i sjećanje). Gavrani su glasnici između ovog carstva i sljedećeg, koji otvaraju puteve do carstva smrti. (1, 4, 5, 6, 23)

Njeno carstvo je dobilo ime po njoj, Hel ili Helheim. Budući da sve prihvaća Helheimu, ona postaje i sudac koji će odrediti sudbinu svake duše u zagrobnom životu. Zli mrtvi protjerani su u carstvo ledeno hladne smrti (sudbinu koju su nordijski ljudi ispričali mnogo gore od ognjenog jezera) i mučenja. Ovaj poseban aspekt Helinog carstva bio je temelj judeo-kršćanskog "pakla" u koji su grešnici protjerani i mučeni vječno. Za razliku od judeo-kršćanskog koncepta, Helheim je također služio kao sklonište i okupljalište duša za reinkarnaciju. Hel bdije nad onima koji su mirno umrli od starosti ili bolesti. Brine se o djeci i ženama koje umiru pri porodu. Ona vodi one duše koje ne biraju put rata i nasilja kroz krug smrti do ponovnog rođenja. (3, 6, 8, 10, 22)

Zbog Heline posebne uloge u smrti majki pri porodu i djece svih dobi koje umiru, postala je, prema nekim izvorima, posebna skrbnica djece. Vjeruje se da se Majka guska temelji na Frau Holle ili Frau Holdi koja je ljubazna i mudra, iako pomalo užasna kruna koja nagrađuje marljive i kažnjava lijene. Aspekt guske potječe iz legende koja kaže da je snijeg posljedica toga što je Frau Holda istresla svoju posteljinu. (11, 12, 14, 15, 19)

Jedna od priča o Helu je pristojnost Baldera u Helheimu. Loki je dogovorio da Balder umre prevarivši ga u namještenom natjecanju. Budući da je natjecanje bilo organizirano u Asgardu, Balder se nije mogao vratiti na to mjesto smrću. Njegovo preseljenje poslalo ga je u jedino drugo područje mrtvih, Helino područje. Njegov dolazak u Helheim dočekan je gozbom i festivalom, dokazom da nije sve Helino carstvo mučno. (5, 23)

Hel upravlja svijetom izvan svijeta živih. U magiji, ona tanji veo između svjetova. Seidhr [SAY-theer] ili nordijski šamani pozivaju je na zaštitu i nose helkappe, čarobnu masku, kako bi ih učinili nevidljivima (poput hadskog kormila nevidljivosti) i omogućili im da prođu kroz vrata u carstvo smrti i duha. U proricanju, njezin poseban simbol je Hagalaz, tuča: Utjelovljenje ledenog carstva Ona vlada. Hel stoji na raskršću u presudi duša koje prelaze u Njeno područje. U tome je Ona povezana s Ozirisom i Izidom kao i Hekatom. (2, 3, 13, 17, 20, 22)

Hel je pala sa svog privilegiranog položaja čuvara i vladara kroz godine predstavljanja kao zao, ružan entitet koji čeka da proždire i muči izgubljene duše. Neznanje koje ju je koristilo kao sredstvo za plašenje djece i odraslih na navodno pravedan put (umjesto da dopusti slobodnoj volji da vodi njihove postupke da učine ono što je ispravno). Možemo li naučiti i otkloniti klevetu godina gledajući je za zaštitnicu, sudiju i vodiča kojeg je Ona izvorno predstavljala.

Ostale moguće žalbe& pojačalo Ostale božice povezane s Hel

Hela - druga verzija imena Hel. Također Helle.

Hekata - čuvarica raskršća i zaštitnica vještica.

Holle - Frau Holle je ljubazna ljubavnica koja čuva one koji ne poginu u bitci. Ona ih drži u pripremi za reinkarnaciju.

Holda - Dame Holda preteča je Majke guske. Čuvarica je djece koja umiru. Odmahuje madracem od perja da padne snijeg.

Idunna - aspekt božice čije jabuke hrane bogove i daju im besmrtnost (slično grčkoj ambroziji).

Izida - Posebna zaštitnica i njegovateljica mrtvih. Sjedi s Ozirisom na sudu duša.

Kali - aspekt Božice smrti. Razarač i donositelj života. Kali omogućuje reinkarnaciju i život uništavajući staro. Hel predstavlja ovaj oštri aspekt božice.


"Hel"
James Alexander

Natrag na izbornik

Magija

Svrha: Putovati astralnim planom ili kontaktirati one koji su već prošli.
Ovaj ritual treba izvesti u opadajućem ili mladom mjesecu. To je prekrasan Samhain ritual. Nosite bijelo ili crno ili budite skyclad. Napravite ugodan prostor za ovaj ritual.

Potreba:
Svijeće: bijele i crne
Tamjan: jasmin, kedar, kadulja, smirna, slatka trava, citrusi
Cvijeće: bilo koje bijelo cvijeće ili bijele latice cvijeća
Mjesečev kamen, prozirni kvarcni kristal, opsidijan, suza Appache ili oniks (djelovat će gotovo svaki crni ili bijeli kamen koji odjekuje s vama).
Štapić: ogoljena grana tamnog drveta ili kružni kvarcni lijevani krug.
Predstava rune Hagalaz postavljena na oltaru.
Nacrt:
Zapalite svijeće.
Pročistite tamjanom.
Emitiranje kruga/Pozivanje uputa
Zemlja - zaštita i uzemljena čvrstoća
Zrak - uvid i komunikacija
Vatra - strast za životom i osjećaj
Voda - mir i kretanje/tok
Duh - predak [specifičan ili općenit]
Pozovite - "Oni koji su već prošli nose mudrost iz prošlosti. Neka naučimo lekcije starijih dok ove noći kontaktiramo s duhovima."
Tijelo - Uzmite bijele latice ili cvijeće i odabrani bijeli ili crni kamen. Pomislite na pretka ili duha s kojim želite stupiti u kontakt. Ako imate određeno pitanje ili pitanje, usredotočite se na to pitanje i pjevajte:
"Gospođo Hel, koja čuva i vodi sve one koji prolaze prije nas kroz veo, pozivamo vas/ja da nas/mene zaštitite na našem/mom putovanju."
Postavite latice ili cvijeće u krug oko sebe, a kamen držite u nedominantnoj ruci.
Usmjerite svoju energiju u bijeli krug. Zamislite bijelo svjetlo koje vas okružuje u zaštitnoj čahuri.
Meditacija - Opustite se u udobnom položaju. Usredotočite se na svijeće. Osjetite kako lebdite uz zrak zagrijan plamenom. Osjećate kako tečete poput pramena magle. Postoji granica, poput zastora, koja stoji između vas i astralnog nivoa. Osjetite kako se gurate uz ovu membranu i konačno klizite, poput bebe u svijet. Naći ćete se na širokom polju. Kako polje izgleda? Nisi sam. Tko je ovdje s vama? Možda je to predak koji vam mora nešto reći. Možda je to neki duh koji želi s vama podijeliti neki dar. To može biti odraz prethodne inkarnacije koja vam želi otkriti sjećanje. Hodajte s njima duž aviona. Znajte da ste zaštićeni. Vi ste pod okriljem Hel, čuvaru ovog carstva. Ona vas štiti. Uskoro ćete osjetiti Njezin poziv. Vrijeme je da odete. Zahvalite svom pratiocu i učinite svoj odlazak od njih. Vratite se do vela. Gurnite se kroz zavjesu i ugledajte svoje tijelo obavijeno svjetlom koje čeka vaš povratak. Osjetite kako se vraćate u svoje tijelo: ruke, noge, leđa naslonjena na pod. Vratili ste se. Polako se prevrnite na bok i sjednite.
Uzemljenje je vrlo važno u ovom ritualu kako biste bili sigurni da ste se čvrsto vratili u ovu ravninu. Jesti. Interakcija sa živom obitelji i prijateljima. Piti vodu.
Ako to radite kao grupni ritual, podijelite zagrljaje ili se držite za ruke u krugu prije nego što ga otvorite.
Vaš kamen je napunjen. Ako želite ponovno kontaktirati svog pretka ili duhovnog vodiča iz ovog rituala, možete meditirati na plamenu i držati kamen u svojoj nedominantnoj ruci. Držanje kamena uz krevet dok spavate također može otkriti važnu mudrost s astralnog nivoa.

Natrag na izbornik

U nordijskom mitu Hel je mjesto i osoba, poput grčkog Hada. Riječ hel znači “skriven, ” povezan s hylja, “ do korice ”. Lindow nagađa da se u početku mogao odnositi na grob jer tu žive mrtvi (171). Čini se da i on i Rudolf Simek (138) misle da je Hel samo personifikacija mjesta, možda zato što za razliku od Hada, za nju je vezan vrlo malo mita.

Ako je samo personifikacija, ona je živopisna. Jedna strana njezina tijela nalikuje prekrasnoj djevojci, ali druga nalik trulom truplu, a njezina dva brata su Zmija svijeta i Vuk Fenris. Svjetska zmija leži u moru, okružujući zemlju. (Nordijci su vidjeli Zemlju kao ravan disk s oceanom oko sebe.) Vuk Fenris progutat će sunce u Ragnaröku, a Aesir ga je vezao kako ga sada ne bi proždirao.

Sve tri, drugim riječima, postavljaju granice stvaranju: svjetska zmija postavlja granicu u prostoru, vuk ograničava vrijeme, jer kad se oslobodi svijet će završiti, a Hel nas čeka nakon smrti.

Sva trojica pripadaju divovima, budući da su im roditelji bog varalice Loki i velikanka Angrboda. (Njezino ime znači "onaj koji donosi tugu"#8221, pa znamo što možemo očekivati.) Kao bog prevaranta, Loki se specijalizirao za prelazak ili rušenje granica, ali njegovo troje djece postavlja čvrsto granice.

“Djeca Lokija ” (1920) Willyja Poganyja. Wikimedia.

Mjesto ili osoba?

Grčka riječ Pomoćnici, “svi prijemnik ” ili “skriveni ”, odnosi se i na bogove i na njegovo područje. Na isti način, Hel je bio i mjesto i osoba. U radu pod nazivom “Hel in Early Skaldic Poetry, ” Christopher Abrams hrabro je pokušao razlikovati što je koje.

On je smislio samo dvije upotrebe imena Hel za označavanje božice u edičkoj poeziji, i samo jednu nedvosmislenu, iz Grimnismalno:

31. Tri korijena rastu u tri smjera
Pod pepelom Yggdrasilla
Hel živi pod jednim, pod drugim, mraznim divovima,
treće, čovječanstvo.

Postoji i referenca u Völuspá što se čini kao da bi se moglo pročitati u svakom slučaju, osim što čini da postavlja kontrast između Odinovog područja##8217s gore i Hel ’s ispod:

43. Zlatno češljani vranci za Esira,
budi ratnike kod Gospodara nad vojskama ’
i drugi vrišti ispod zemlje,
čađavocrveni pijetao u hodnicima Hel.

S druge strane, Vsp. 47, koji spominje “puteve do Hel ”, čini se da se odnosi na mjesto, i Mrgodan. 28 imenuje rijeke koje se ulijevaju u Hel. Vafthrudnismal (43) također spominje Hel kao odredište mrtvih. Stoga se čini da su oba značenja postojala jedno pored drugog. (Ideja o putu do Hel također se javlja u Baldr ’s Dream, Brynhild ’s Hel-Ride, i priča o Hermodovu putovanju u Hel.)

U svakom slučaju možete pročitati još dvije reference za Hel:

55. Kad smo izgubili Budlija, bilo nas je četvero braće,
sada nas Hel ima pola, dvije su ovdje posječene.

21. “Daje se vaš savjet, | ali otići ću
Do zlata u vrijesku skriveno
I, Fafnir, ti | sa smrću se bori,
Ležiš tamo gdje će te Hel imati. ”

Valkira neslavnih mrtvih

Već sam spomenuo kako Völuspá 43 seta Hel ’s dvorana protiv Odina ’s. Čini se da se ideja svidjela i drugim piscima, osobito Snorri Sturluson. U njenoj knjizi Put u Hel Davidson usput primjećuje da:

Čini se da su neke natprirodne žene bile blisko povezane sa svijetom smrti, te su zamišljene kao dobrodošlice mrtvim ratnicima, tako da bi Snorrijeva slika Hel kao božice mogla njima nešto dugovati. (84)

Snorri Sturluson, koji je napisao knjigu Proza Edda, prikazuje Hel kao inverziju Valhalle, mjesta gdje su ratnici odlazili nakon smrti. Za razliku od Valhalle, dvorane u nebeskom Asgardu, Hel leži “dolje i sjever ” (Gylfaginning, CH. 49) i to je bijedno mjesto:

Ako je [Odin] bacio u Nifhelheim i dao joj vlast nad devet svjetova, tako da ona mora upravljati pansionom i smještajem za sve koji joj dođu, a to su oni koji umiru od bolesti ili starosti. Ima sjajne vile i zidovi su joj izuzetno visoki, a vrata sjajna. Njena dvorana zove se Eliundnir, njeno jelo Glad, nož Glad, sluga Ganglati, sluškinja Ganglot, njen prag gdje ulazite u Spoticanje, njezin krevet Bolesnički krevet, zavjese Blistava bala. Napola je crna, a napola tjelesne boje – pa je lako prepoznatljiva – i prilično spuštena i žestokog izgleda.
(Gylf. CH. 34)

S druge strane, Valhalla je lijepa i blistava, s prekrasnim valkirijama koje poslužuju stalno tekuće piće dok se hrana beskrajno obnavlja.

Je li smrt bila seksi?

Lindow zasniva svoj argument da je Hel izvorno bio mjesto na činjenici da se u starijoj poeziji kaže da su ljudi više “in ” Hel nego s Hel. I on i Simek ističu da je Snorrijeva verzija Hel-a pod snažnim utjecajem kršćanskih ideja, a ja bih pratio kontrast Valhalla-Hel istom skupu ideja. (Ideja bacanja Hel u bunar, Hel, ima očitu kršćansku paralelu s Luciferom.)

No ideja o Valhali došla je prije kršćanstva i odjeknula bi s ratnicima i napadačima na besplatnu hranu i piće, borbu bez posljedica, privlačne žene koje se ne miješaju u jedno zadovoljstvo. Snižavanje Helsa vjerojatno je počelo s tim muškarčevim prijezirom prema onima koji su umrli smrću od slame ” (u svojim krevetima).

No Hel ide dalje od valkira u jednoj pjesmi, Ynglingatal, koja iznosi povijest švedskih kraljeva iz dinastije Yngling. Uglavnom se bilježi kako svaki umire, što je, ako vjerujemo, pjesnik bio bilo gdje osim u njihovim krevetima. (Dobivate dojam da je smrt na uobičajen način, za razliku od utapanja u kadi ili odlaska zlog patuljka u planinu, njihova verzija sramotne smrti.)

Pjesnik, Thjodolf iz Hvina, stavlja erotski završetak u njihovu smrt:

Hel ima Dyggvijevo mrtvo tijelo u gamni ‘ za njeno zadovoljstvo ’(Ynglingatal 7,4), i kao Loka mær 'Kćer Loki' ima od leikinna (i "uništeno" i "nosilo se s") allvald Yngva þjóðar ‘Jedini vladar Yngvijeve nacije’ (Ynglingatal 7, 9-12)
(McKinnell: 72)

Čini se da McKinnell ovo vidi kao dio svetog mita o kralju, ali isto bi tako lako mogao biti slučaj ratničke hrabrosti pred neizvjesnošću i strahom oko smrti. Drugi skaldi, osobito Bragi Boddason i Egil Skallagrimsson također govore o pridruživanju društvu sestre vuka ili čekanju Hel, ali bez ikakvih seksualnih implikacija. (Abram: 13) Čini se vjerojatnijim da je to bio Thjodolfov osobni stav, koji nisu dijelili drugi pjesnici.

“The Dises ” (1909) autorice Dorothy Hardy. Wikimedia.

Hel i Disir

Disir je, poput valkira, bio skup ženskih moći, u ovom slučaju obično povezan s obitelji ili osobom. Teško ih je definirati, ali čini se da su povezani s plodnošću i kultom predaka.

Dvije božice, Skadi i Freyja, poznate su po naslovu dis: Skadi je skija-dis, dok je Freyja dis Vanira. Jedan od kenninga u Ynglingatal čini se da zove Hel Jódís, što Abram prevodi kao “boginja konja ” (jór, konj i dÍs, Božica).

(The disir pojavljuju se na konju u sagi Þiðranda þáttr ok Þórhalls, gdje oni na crnim konjima pokušavaju ubiti Þiðrandija, dok ga oni odjeveni u bijelo, na bijelim konjima, spašavaju.)

Stih u Ynglingatal ide ovako (prijevod Abram):

Ne govorim nikakvu prijevaru, ali Glitnirova božica ima radi zadovoljstva Dyggvijev leš, sestra [jódís] vuka i Narfi morali su izabrati kralja-čovjeka. Lokijeva kći uzela je vladara Yngvijevog naroda.
(Yng 7)

Keneri Lokijeve kćeri i sestre vuka [Fenrisa] i Narfija [još jednog od Lokijevih sinova#8217] prilično su jednostavne, ali boginja Glitnir zbunjujuća je. Glitnir je mjesto u Asgardu, u vlasništvu Forsetija. Međutim, Abram primjećuje da je popis imena konja u Proza Edda uključuje ime Glitnir, pa je vjerojatno na to mislio Thjodof. (Većina drugih govori o njoj spominjući samo njezino ime ili u priči o njezinu ocu ili braći.)

Nema drugih zapisa da je Hel povezan s konjima, ali s obzirom na drugo spominjanje konja u stihu, čini se da je to ono što je Thjodolf namjeravao.

Naravno, nema mnogo toga što ne znamo o Hel i njezinom carstvu. Imamo vrlo malo o čak i najvažnijim božicama, a pretkršćanska božica smrti bila bi još podložnija tema nego ostale. Možda bismo trebali biti samo zahvalni na onome što imamo, koliko god to bilo dvosmisleno ili teško razumljivo.

Reference i veze
Pjesnička Edda, Carolyne Larrington (prev.) Oxford UP, 1996.

Abram, Christopher 2006 .: “Hel u ranoj nordijskoj poeziji, ” Viking i srednjovjekovna Skandinavija 2: 1-29. (Brepols)
Clunies Ross, Margaret 1994: Produženi odjeci: staro nordijski mitovi u srednjovjekovnom sjevernom društvu, sv. 1, Društvo Vikinga sv. 7, Odense UP.
Lindow, Ivan 2001: Nordijska mitologija: Vodič za bogove, heroje, rituale i vjerovanja, OUP, New York i Oxford.
McKinnell, John 2005: Susret s drugim u nordijskom mitu i legendi, DS Brewer.
Quinn, Judy 2006: “‘Spolni prikaz smrti u eddičkoj kozmologiji ’, u Stara nordijska religija u dugoročnim perspektivama: podrijetlo, promjene i interakcije, ur. Anders Andrén, Kristina Jennbert i Catharina Raudvere, Vägar til Midgård 8, Nordic Academic Press: 54-57. (academica.edu)
Simek, Rudolf (prev. Angela Hall) 1996: Rječnik sjeverne mitologije, D. S. Brewer, Cambridge.

Mrzovoljni Lokean Elder (veze do više izvora na Hel -u)
Žene i smrt u nordijskom svijetu (teza, pdf ovdje)


Domena

Bogovi su oteli Hel i njezinu braću iz dvorane Angrboda. Bacili su je u podzemni svijet, u koji distribuira one koji su joj poslati zli i one koji su umrli od bolesti ili starosti. Njezina dvorana u Helheimu zove se Eljudnir, Dom mrtvih. Njezin je sluga Ganglati, a sluškinja Ganglot (oboje se može prevesti kao “tardy ”). Ona ima nož zvan “Famine ”, tanjur zvan “Gunger ”, krevet zvan “Disease ” i zavjese za krevet zvane “Misfortune ”.


HEL, NORSE BOGINJA MRTVIH

Ime Hel, doslovno znači "onaj koji se skriva" ili "onaj koji pokriva". Ako pogledate kao da je to stvarni korijen imena, mogli biste otkriti da se čini da postoji mnogo mjesta koja su vrlo vjerojatno mogla biti nazvana po njoj, kao što su Nizozemska, Helsinki, Holstein, Helvetia i Holderness.

Prozne edde nude najčešće korišteni opis podrijetla božice Hel. Nekada je postojala velikanka po imenu Angrboda, koja je živjela na mjestu poznatom kao Giantland. U jednom trenutku svog života, Angraboda je ušla u vezu s polubogom Aesir, Lokijem, i iz te su zajednice dobili troje djece. Prvo dijete bio je proždirući Lupin, Fenrir (Fenris) -Vuk, drugo dijete je wyrm, Iormungard, midgardska zmija oceana koja je okruživala Zemlju, dok je treće dijete jednostavno bilo poznato kao Hel. Ovo troje djece provelo je velik dio svog djetinjstva odrastajući u Giantlandu.

U Aesirskom kraljevstvu Asgaard, bogovima je predano nekoliko proročanstava, upozoravajući ih da će se pojaviti tri jedinstvena brata i sestre koji će donijeti tako strašnu katastrofu, da iz toga neće izaći ništa osim zla.

Kad su Bogovi prvi put saznali za djecu, gotovo su odmah shvatili da su to možda ista djeca na koja su upozoreni. Isprva su odlučili vjerovati da je to jednostavno zbog užasne prirode njihove majke. Zatim su, nakon što su to neko vrijeme razmatrali, shvatili da su djeca ista ona koja se spominju u proročanstvima, međutim, nije ih zbog toga tko im je majka izazvala toliko veliku zabrinutost, nego zbog toga tko je njihov otac je bio. Otac im je bio Loki, koji je bio poznat po izazivanju velikih razaranja i zla. Loki je također bio brat Odina, vođe Esira, koji je bio patrijarhalno i ratno pleme nordijskih bogova i božica.

Budući da nije bilo sumnje da su djeca Lokijeva, Odin je odlučio da je najbolje pronaći djecu i potom ih vratiti u Asgaard. Na taj način bi bili odgojeni kao Aesir. Da bi to postigao, Odin je naredio Bogovima da otputuju u Giantland, pronađu djecu, a zatim ih vrate u Asgaard. Bogovi su učinili kako je Odin želio, a kad su se vratili iz Giantlanda, troje djece bilo je s njima.

Nažalost, dijete po imenu Hel rođeno je s kostima s jedne strane tijela, potpuno otkrivenim. Hel je to iznimno otežalo, jer je njezin izgled uzrokovao da se drugi Bogovi osjećaju toliko neugodno da su izbjegavali imati bilo kakve veze s njom. Hel se jako teško nosio s tim da se na njega gleda kao na neobičnost, da se izbjegava i da nema prijatelja. Bila je izuzetno nesretna i ispunjena velikom usamljenošću i očajem. Nakon dugog razmišljanja, Hel je donio važnu odluku. Otišla je do Odina i objasnila mu koliko joj je život tamo težak, a zatim je zatražila njegovo dopuštenje da napusti Asgaard. Odin je suosjećao s Hel pa joj je udovoljio. Mnogo važnije, dao joj je i svijet Niflheima, jedan od Devet svjetova nordijske mitologije, da vlada. Čak je otišao toliko daleko da je nazvao to mjesto po njoj, nazvavši ga Helheim ili Hel. Tako je Hel postala božica mrtvih.

U zamjenu za to što joj je dao Niflheim, Odin je Helu dao određene odgovornosti koje je morala izvršavati u tom području. Optužio ju je da se brine za duše ljudi koji su umrli od bolesti ili starosti, te za duše svih drugih ljudi čija smrt nije nastupila nasiljem ili u borbi.

Kad su ratnici poginuli u bitci, njihove su duše bile ravnomjerno podijeljene između božice Freyje i Odina. Freyja je imao privilegiju uzeti prvu polovicu duša onih ratnika koji su poginuli u bitci, dok su preostale duše mrtvih ratnika pripadale Odinu.

Hel se smjestio u njezino Carstvo, a kad su duše mrtvih stigle tamo, ona im je presudila. Ona je također odlučila jesu li njihove duše dobre ili zle i u kojoj mjeri. Zatim, nakon što je Hel dao svoju procjenu, svakoj je duši dala svoju pravednu nagradu. Depending upon how they had been judged, the souls of the dead were settled into one of the nine levels of Helheim, which ranged from what might be seen as a form of heaven, all the way down to the dark horrors of Neostrand (Nastr nd), the abode of punishment, where snakes constantly dropped venom upon the wicked, and which appeared, in many ways, to be quite similar to the concept of Hell, that the Christians have always appeared to be so fond of.

Hel was frequently thought of as a Dark Mother Goddess, and she was known by other names and titles including the Goddess of Death and the Afterlife, the Underground Earth Mother, the Ruler of the Realm of the Dead known as Helgardh, and Nefele, the Goddess of Shadows. She was also worshipped in Denmark, as the Hyldemoer, or Elder Mother.

Other stories exist regarding the Goddess Hel. One of them is an Icelandic creation myth, which described how in the beginning, all that existed was a great chasm known as Ginnungagap, which led to Hel's fiery womb of regeneration deep within the Earth. On one side of the chasm were fiery volcanoes, while on the other side there was nothing except for cold water and ice. It was for that reason that Hel became known as the Mountain Mother, who dwelled deep within the Earth where the fire and the ice meet.

While the Prose Eddas describe Hel as having been born with one side of her skeleton showing, a variety of other descriptions exist as well. Hel s physical description is, to say the least, unique. Some descriptions claim that she was half-black and half-white, half-rotting, similar to that of a corpse, or half dead, and half alive, with a grim expression on her face, and a sinister appearance of gloom.

It is interesting to note that Hel's appearance is believed, by some, to be the origin of the masked harlequin, which has frequently appeared as a standard character in Commedia dell'Arte, with a black side of a face, and a white side. In fact, Hel's physical description, much like that of the harlequin mask, exhibits the duality that exists in the world, which is inherent to both life and death.

Legend tells us that Hel had an eye of fire, which could only see that which was true, thereby making it impossible for anyone to hide anything from her. Looking at this in a different light, Hel may actually have been challenging the world to find the courage necessary to look behind the mask that was her appearance, so they might see her as she truly was inside.

The Vikings, however, refused to do that. Instead, they looked upon Hel's appearance as something to be feared, and they believed that nothing good would come of her. Indeed, the Vikings looked upon Hel's home as a horrible place, similar to the Christians idea of Hell. But Niflheim was in no way similar to the Christian's burning place of fire and brimstone. Rather, it was seen as being icy cold and filled with slush, cold mud and snow.

The Prose Eddas described the nine-ringed realm of Hel, as a place where the inhabitants kept up a constant wail. It described her palace as a miserable place known as Damp with Sleet, where the walls had been built with human bones and worms. They also claimed that Hel ate with a knife and fork called Famine, from a plate known as Hunger, and that her two servants were both named Slow-Moving. Her bed was known as a Sickbed, and the stone at the entrance to her hall was referred to as Drop-to-Destruction.

The Prose Eddas continued, by saying that the entryway to Hel's Realm was guarded by the hellhound named Garm, and that before you could reach the threshold, you first had to travel the Helvig, or troublesome road to Hel, past the strange guardian maiden named Modhgudh.

While the Vikings may have feared her, which appears to be quite evident from the Eddas, the Dutch, Gauls and Germanic people who were known, in comparison to the Vikings, as the common people, viewed Hel in a somewhat less frightening manner. They saw her as a gentler and kinder form of death and transformation, and they did not believe that Helheim was a place of punishment at all.

They tended to see Hel as an earth mother deity known as Mother Holle, who consisted of pure nature. It was in that role that Hel was believed to have great maternal aspects, and that she was known to help people in their times of need. Hel, however, also had another side to her, and she was quite capable of becoming vengeful, whenever it became necessary, towards anyone who might attempt to interfere with, or stop, the progression of natural law.

Some myths describe Hel as a Dark Goddess, similar in some ways to the Hindu Goddess Kali, but more frequently then not, she was thought of as the Nehellenia, which means the Nether Moon. Numerous altars and artifacts relating to her worship have been found throughout Germany, and they date as far back as approximately the Second Century, C.E. Evidence also exists that her worship spread from Holland, all the way to New Zealand, as late as the Fourteenth Century, C.E., and it was in that particular aspect that Hel was believed to grant safe passage to seafarers.

When someone died, and entered Hel s realm, it was almost impossible, for anyone on Earth to get them back. That was the subject of one of the most well known of the Norse myths: The Story of Baldur.

The Goddess Frigg was Odin's second wife. She lived in the Hall known as Fensalir, or Marsh Halls, in Odin's Heavenly Kingdom of Asgaard, and together, she and Odin had two sons. One of their sons was the fair and beautiful Baldur, the God of Light, who Frigg had always been protective of, while their other son was Hoder, the Blind God of Darkness.

One day, Frigg happened to learn that her son, Baldur, had begun to have dreams in which his life was in danger. Frigg knew, through her gift of the "sight," that it was more then just a bad dream so, to be on the safe side, she traveled across the Earth, asking each and every thing in the world to refrain from harming her beloved son.

The other Gods refused to take the threat of danger seriously so they all began to throw weapons at Baldur, and they even shot arrows at him, just for sport. It really didn't matter what they did to him, because everything that they hurled at him was simply deflected away.

When Loki learned what Frigg had done, he dressed himself in the guise of an elderly woman, and then tricked Frigg into confiding in him. From that conversation, Loki learned that Frigg had made one exception to her plea, and that she had allowed a young sprig of mistletoe to refrain from taking the vow, swearing that it would not kill Baldur.

That gave Loki all the ammunition that he needed, in order to do what he did best, which was cause trouble. He immediately went out and gathered up a sprig of mistletoe, and then he returned to where the Gods were still hurling objects at Baldur. It was then that Loki tricked Hoder into using the shaft of mistletoe as an arrow, and when Hoder shot the arrow it hit Baldur, killing him at once.

Frigg desperately wanted to have her beloved son returned to her from the land of the dead, so she asked if there was anyone among the Aesir who would go to Hel for her, find Baldur, and then give Hel a ransom, so that Baldur would be allowed to return home. She also promised that whoever brought Baldur back would remain in her good graces forever.

It was Odin's son, Hermod the Bold, who volunteered to go to Hel and try and convince her that Baldur should be allowed to return home. Hermod traveled down the road that led to Helheim until there, before him, stood its tall and mighty gates. Getting over the gates to Hel was a difficult task, but Hermod knew exactly what had to be done. First, he dismounted from his steed. Then he struck his horse in its stomach, so that he might reduce the horse s bloating, and then he tightened the saddle s girth, until it was quite tight. Once that had been accomplished, he re-mounted, and then he spurred the horse so hard, that it simply jumped right over the tall gates.

When Hermod reached Hel's hall he dismounted, and there in front of him was Baldur, seated in the seat of honor. Hermod spent much of that evening visiting with Baldur, and when morning arrived he was granted an audience with Hel. It was then that Hermod begged Hel to allow Baldur to return home with him, telling her that every single one of the Aesir felt great sorrow because of Baldur's death.

Hel, however, was not very easily persuaded, so she told Hermod that she had to learn for herself whether all of the Aesir actually did love Baldur. For that purpose, Hel devised a test that was to be given to every one of the Aesir, to find out if Baldur truly was as beloved as Hermod had claimed him to be. The test was comprised of saying the words to each and every thing in the world, as follows: "And if all things in the world, alive and dead, weep for him, then he shall go back to the Aesir, but be kept with Hel if any objects or refuses to weep."

Hermod quickly returned to Asgaard, and informed the Gods of Hel's decision. The Gods, in turn, immediately sent out messengers to every part of the land, requesting that every living thing in the world weep for Baldur, and they all agreed that they would do so. Then, when the messengers were returning home, they came upon a cave in which a giant woman named Thoekk happened to live, and it was she who refused to weep for Baldur. Because of Thoekk's refusal to weep for him, Baldur was remanded to Helheim until Ragnarok. Little did the Gods know, at that time, that the giantess Thoekk was actually Loki in disguise, and that he had added a few words to those of the messengers, saying "Let Hel keep what she has!"

Some time later, Loki became so drunk at a feast held by the Gods, that he admitted to having taken on the form of the giantess Thoekk, thereby condemning Baldur to spend eternity in Hel's realm until Ragnarok. Loki's drunken admission began the beginning of the end, which will eventually lead to the final world battle between good and evil known as Ragnarok.

While the Vikings, who considered themselves to be strong and fearless, may have viewed Hel s realm as a place of punishment and despair, others usually did not see it in that light, nor did they believe the Viking-influenced Eddas, and their dire description of Helheim. Unlike the Christian's Hell, which had been named after her, Hel's Realm was, in reality, nothing more then an Otherworld or Underworld, or a new and different plateau of existence. It was also a place of renewal, rather then a place of punishment and despair. The only ones to fear her were those who had good reason to. It was only they, who referred to her realm as Hell.

Hel has been described in a variety of different ways. There are those who claim that she is a destroyer which in a way she actually is. However, when she does destroy something, she does so in it own proper time. That is why Hel can be looked upon, much like the Greek God Chronos, as a deity of time. As a Goddess of time, Hel takes on the role of entropy itself, and everything within the universe evolves towards a state of inert uniformity, which is a normal and completely natural event. When it comes right down to it, sooner or later everything will come to an end, which is exactly what should happen, as a part of its own cosmic destiny.

The Norse looked upon Hel as the supreme and inescapable ruler of fate and, much like the weaving Greek Fates, or the spinning and weaving Norns and Disir, not only did the Gods have no control over her, neither were they immune to her. That placed Hel in a very unique position.

Hel was not some form of death deity, who had specifically been created to rule over the Land of the Dead, nor did she gain her decaying visage when she became the ruler of that realm. She had simply been born with the bones on the left side of her body exposed. It had not been created purposely, nor had it been done out of contempt, or as a means of punishment. It simply happened. When Odin brought Hel to Asgaard, its inhabitants found themselves extremely uncomfortable because of her appearance. They were weak when they should have been strong, and they were, quite unfortunately, extremely insensitive to Hel s feelings so much so, that they made her feel alone and ostracized, which was, indeed, an extremely great tragedy.

It was for that reason that Odin gave Hel, Niflheim, to be her own and for her to rule over. By Odin giving her Niflheim, Hel finally found a place where she could feel comfortable, just being herself a place where no one would see her as anything other then what she truly was. That was a very wise decision on Odin s part, and it also showed, surprisingly enough, that good can occasionally come out of patriarchy, which has been known, all too often, to do the opposite especially when it comes to placing women in positions of great power.

Hel is a Goddess who was given a home and a job to do, and she did her job exceptionally well. She took her responsibility, that of judging people s souls, quite seriously and then, after she had judged them, she granted them the type of existence within her realm that she felt they deserved which might have been anything from a heaven-like Otherworld, all the way down to the horrors of a Christian type of Hell. Hel is a Goddess who should be respected and admired, rather then feared. Unless, of course, you have done something unworthy, which might give you reason to fear her. But that s not really Hel's problem, is it? It is yours.


Going to Hel and Back: The Realm of the Norse Goddess of the Underworld - History

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." If you look at it as if it was the actual root of a name, you might discover that there appears to be a great many places which quite possibly may have been named after her, such as Holland, Helsinki, Holstein, Helvetia and Holderness.

The Prose Eddas offer the most frequently used description of the Goddess Hel's origin. There once was a giantess named Angrboda, who lived at a place known as Giantland. At one point in her life, Angraboda entered into a relationship with the Aesir demigod, Loki, and it was from that union that they produced three children. The first child was the devouring Lupine, Fenrir (Fenris)-Wolf, the second child was the wyrm, Iormungard, the Midgard serpent of the ocean that encircled the Earth, while the third child was simply known as Hel. These three children had spent much of their childhood growing up in Giantland.

In the Aesir Kingdom of Asgaard, several prophecies had been handed down to the Gods, warning them that three unique siblings would appear who would bring such terrible disaster, that nothing but evil would come of it.

When the Gods first learned about the children, they realized almost immediately that they might be the same children that they had been warned about. At first, they chose to believe that it was simply because of the terrible nature of their mother. Then, after they had considered it for a while, they came to realize that the children were the same ones mentioned in the prophecies however, it was not because of who their mother was, that caused them such great concern it was actually because of who their father was. Their father was Loki, who was known for causing great destruction and evil. Loki also happened to be the brother of Odin, the leader of the Aesir, which was a patriarchal and warlike tribe of Norse Gods and Goddesses.

Since there was no doubt that the children were Loki's, Odin decided that the best thing to do was find the children and then bring them back to Asgaard. That way they would be raised as Aesir. To accomplish that, Odin ordered the Gods to travel to Giantland, find the children, and then bring them back to Asgaard. The Gods did as Odin desired, and when they returned from Giantland the three children were with them.

Sadly, the child whose name was Hel had been born with the bones on one side of her body, fully exposed. That made things extremely difficult for Hel, because her appearance caused the other Gods to feel so uncomfortable that they avoided having anything to do with her. Being seen as an oddity, being avoided, and having no friends was very difficult for Hel to deal with. She was extremely unhappy, and filled with great loneliness and despair. After much deliberation, Hel made an important decision. She went to Odin and explained to him how difficult her life was there, and then she asked for his permission to leave Asgaard. Odin sympathized with Hel, so he granted her wish. Much more importantly, he also gave her the World of Niflheim, one of the Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology, to rule. He even went so far as to name that place after her, calling it Helheim or Hel. That was how Hel became the Goddess of the Dead.

In return for giving her Niflheim, Odin gave Hel certain responsibilities that she had to carry out in that realm. He charged her with caring for the souls of people who had died from sickness or old age, and for the souls of any other people whose deaths had not occurred through violence or in battle.

When warriors died in battle, their souls were split evenly between the Goddess Freyja and Odin. Freyja had the privilege of taking the first half of the souls of those warriors who had been slain in battle, while the remaining souls of the dead warriors belonged to Odin.

Hel settled into her Realm, and when the souls of the dead arrived there, it was she who judged them. It was also she who decided whether their souls were good or evil, and to what degree. Then, after Hel had made her assessment, she gave each soul it’s just reward. Depending upon how they had been judged, the souls of the dead were settled into one of the nine levels of Helheim, which ranged from what might be seen as a form of heaven, all the way down to the dark horrors of Neostrand (Naströnd), the abode of punishment, where snakes constantly dropped venom upon the wicked, and which appeared, in many ways, to be quite similar to the concept of Hell, that the Christians have always appeared to be so fond of.

Hel was frequently thought of as a Dark Mother Goddess, and she was known by other names and titles including the Goddess of Death and the Afterlife, the Underground Earth Mother, the Ruler of the Realm of the Dead known as Helgardh, and Nefele, the Goddess of Shadows. She was also worshipped in Denmark, as the Hyldemoer, or Elder Mother.

Other stories exist regarding the Goddess Hel. One of them is an Icelandic creation myth, which described how in the beginning, all that existed was a great chasm known as Ginnungagap, which led to Hel's fiery womb of regeneration deep within the Earth. On one side of the chasm were fiery volcanoes, while on the other side there was nothing except for cold water and ice. It was for that reason that Hel became known as the Mountain Mother, who dwelled deep within the Earth where the fire and the ice meet.

While the Prose Eddas describe Hel as having been born with one side of her skeleton showing, a variety of other descriptions exist as well. Hel’s physical description is, to say the least, unique. Some descriptions claim that she was half-black and half-white, half-rotting, similar to that of a corpse, or half dead, and half alive, with a grim expression on her face, and a sinister appearance of gloom.

It is interesting to note that Hel's appearance is believed, by some, to be the origin of the masked harlequin, which has frequently appeared as a standard character in Commedia dell'Arte, with a black side of a face, and a white side. In fact, Hel's physical description, much like that of the harlequin mask, exhibits the duality that exists in the world, which is inherent to both life and death.

Legend tells us that Hel had an eye of fire, which could only see that which was true, thereby making it impossible for anyone to hide anything from her. Looking at this in a different light, Hel may actually have been challenging the world to find the courage necessary to look behind the mask that was her appearance, so they might see her as she truly was inside.

The Vikings, however, refused to do that. Instead, they looked upon Hel's appearance as something to be feared, and they believed that nothing good would come of her. Indeed, the Vikings looked upon Hel's home as a horrible place, similar to the Christians’ idea of Hell. But Niflheim was in no way similar to the Christian's burning place of fire and brimstone. Rather, it was seen as being icy cold and filled with slush, cold mud and snow.

The Prose Eddas described the nine-ringed realm of Hel, as a place where the inhabitants kept up a constant wail. It described her palace as a miserable place known as Damp with Sleet, where the walls had been built with human bones and worms. They also claimed that Hel ate with a knife and fork called Famine, from a plate known as Hunger, and that her two servants were both named Slow-Moving. Her bed was known as a Sickbed, and the stone at the entrance to her hall was referred to as Drop-to-Destruction.

The Prose Eddas continued, by saying that the entryway to Hel's Realm was guarded by the hellhound named Garm, and that before you could reach the threshold, you first had to travel the Helvig, or troublesome road to Hel, past the strange guardian maiden named Modhgudh.

While the Vikings may have feared her, which appears to be quite evident from the Eddas, the Dutch, Gauls and Germanic people who were known, in comparison to the Vikings, as the common people, viewed Hel in a somewhat less frightening manner. They saw her as a gentler and kinder form of death and transformation, and they did not believe that Helheim was a place of punishment at all.

They tended to see Hel as an earth mother deity known as Mother Holle, who consisted of pure nature. It was in that role that Hel was believed to have great maternal aspects, and that she was known to help people in their times of need. Hel, however, also had another side to her, and she was quite capable of becoming vengeful, whenever it became necessary, towards anyone who might attempt to interfere with, or stop, the progression of natural law.

Some myths describe Hel as a Dark Goddess, similar in some ways to the Hindu Goddess Kali, but more frequently than not, she was thought of as the Nehellenia, which means the Nether Moon. Numerous altars and artifacts relating to her worship have been found throughout Germany, and they date as far back as approximately the Second Century, C.E. Evidence also exists that her worship spread from Holland, all the way to New Zealand, as late as the Fourteenth Century, C.E., and it was in that particular aspect that Hel was believed to grant safe passage to seafarers.

When someone died, and entered Hel’s realm, it was almost impossible, for anyone on Earth to get them back. That was the subject of one of the most well known of the Norse myths:

The Story of Baldur

The Goddess Frigg was Odin's second wife. She lived in the Hall known as Fensalir, or Marsh Halls, in Odin's Heavenly Kingdom of Asgaard, and together, she and Odin had two sons. One of their sons was the fair and beautiful Baldur, the God of Light, who Frigg had always been protective of, while their other son was Hoder, the Blind God of Darkness.

One day, Frigg happened to learn that her son, Baldur, had begun to have dreams in which his life was in danger. Frigg knew, through her gift of the "sight," that it was more than just a bad dream so, to be on the safe side, she traveled across the Earth, asking each and every thing in the world to refrain from harming her beloved son.

The other Gods refused to take the threat of danger seriously so they all began to throw weapons at Baldur, and they even shot arrows at him, just for sport. It really didn't matter what they did to him, because everything that they hurled at him was simply deflected away.

When Loki learned what Frigg had done, he dressed himself in the guise of an elderly woman, and then tricked Frigg into confiding in him. From that conversation, Loki learned that Frigg had made one exception to her plea, and that she had allowed a young sprig of mistletoe to refrain from taking the vow, swearing that it would not kill Baldur.

That gave Loki all the ammunition that he needed, in order to do what he did best, which was cause trouble. He immediately went out and gathered up a sprig of mistletoe, and then he returned to where the Gods were still hurling objects at Baldur. It was then that Loki tricked Hoder into using the shaft of mistletoe as an arrow, and when Hoder shot the arrow it hit Baldur, killing him at once.

Frigg desperately wanted to have her beloved son returned to her from the land of the dead, so she asked if there was anyone among the Aesir who would go to Hel for her, find Baldur, and then give Hel a ransom, so that Baldur would be allowed to return home. She also promised that whoever brought Baldur back would remain in her good graces forever.

It was Odin's son, Hermod the Bold, who volunteered to go to Hel and try and convince her that Baldur should be allowed to return home. Hermod traveled down the road that led to Helheim until there, before him, stood its tall and mighty gates. Getting over the gates to Hel was a difficult task, but Hermod knew exactly what had to be done. First, he dismounted from his steed. Then he struck his horse in its stomach, so that he might reduce the horse’s bloating, and then he tightened the saddle’s girth, until it was quite tight. Once that had been accomplished, he re-mounted, and then he spurred the horse so hard, that it simply jumped right over the tall gates.

When Hermod reached Hel's hall he dismounted, and there in front of him was Baldur, seated in the seat of honor. Hermod spent much of that evening visiting with Baldur, and when morning arrived he was granted an audience with Hel. It was then that Hermod begged Hel to allow Baldur to return home with him, telling her that every single one of the Aesir felt great sorrow because of Baldur's death.

Hel, however, was not very easily persuaded, so she told Hermod that she had to learn for herself whether all of the Aesir actually did love Baldur. For that purpose, Hel devised a test that was to be given to every one of the Aesir, to find out if Baldur truly was as beloved as Hermod had claimed him to be. The test was comprised of saying the words to each and every thing in the world, as follows: "And if all things in the world, alive and dead, weep for him, then he shall go back to the Aesir, but be kept with Hel if any objects or refuses to weep."

Hermod quickly returned to Asgaard, and informed the Gods of Hel's decision. The Gods, in turn, immediately sent out messengers to every part of the land, requesting that every living thing in the world weep for Baldur, and they all agreed that they would do so. Then, when the messengers were returning home, they came upon a cave in which a giant woman named Thoekk happened to live, and it was she who refused to weep for Baldur. Because of Thoekk's refusal to weep for him, Baldur was remanded to Helheim until Ragnarok. Little did the Gods know, at that time, that the giantess Thoekk was actually Loki in disguise, and that he had added a few words to those of the messengers, saying "Let Hel keep what she has!"

Sometime later, Loki became so drunk at a feast held by the Gods, that he admitted to having taken on the form of the giantess Thoekk, thereby condemning Baldur to spend eternity in Hel's realm until Ragnarok. Loki's drunken admission began the beginning of the end, which will eventually lead to the final world battle between good and evil known as Ragnarok.

While the Vikings, who considered themselves to be strong and fearless, may have viewed Hel’s realm as a place of punishment and despair, others usually did not see it in that light, nor did they believe the Viking-influenced Eddas, and their dire description of Helheim. Unlike the Christian's Hell, which had been named after her, Hel's Realm was, in reality, nothing more than an Otherworld or Underworld, or a new and different plateau of existence. It was also a place of renewal, rather than a place of punishment and despair. The only ones to fear her were those who had good reason to. It was only they, who referred to her realm as Hell.

Hel has been described in a variety of different ways. There are those who claim that she is a destroyer which in a way she actually is. However, when she does destroy something, she does so in it own proper time. That is why Hel can be looked upon, much like the Greek God Chronos, as a deity of time. As a Goddess of time, Hel takes on the role of entropy itself, and everything within the universe evolves towards a state of inert uniformity, which is a normal and completely natural event. When it comes right down to it, sooner or later everything will come to an end, which is exactly what should happen, as a part of its own cosmic destiny.

The Norse looked upon Hel as the supreme and inescapable ruler of fate and, much like the weaving Greek Fates, or the spinning and weaving Norns and Disir, not only did the Gods have no control over her, neither were they immune to her. That placed Hel in a very unique position.

Hel was not some form of death deity, who had specifically been created to rule over the Land of the Dead, nor did she gain her decaying visage when she became the ruler of that realm. She had simply been born with the bones on the left side of her body exposed. It had not been created purposely, nor had it been done out of contempt, or as a means of punishment. It simply happened. When Odin brought Hel to Asgaard, its inhabitants found themselves extremely uncomfortable because of her appearance. They were weak when they should have been strong, and they were, quite unfortunately, extremely insensitive to Hel’s feelings so much so, that they made her feel alone and ostracized, which was, indeed, an extremely great tragedy.

It was for that reason that Odin gave Hel, Niflheim, to be her own and for her to rule over. By Odin giving her Niflheim, Hel finally found a place where she could feel comfortable, just being herself a place where no one would see her as anything other then what she truly was. That was a very wise decision on Odin’s part, and it also showed, surprisingly enough, that good can occasionally come out of patriarchy, which has been known, all too often, to do the opposite especially when it comes to placing women in positions of great power.

Hel is a Goddess who was given a home and a job to do, and she did her job exceptionally well. She took her responsibility, that of judging people’s souls, quite seriously and then, after she had judged them, she granted them the type of existence within her realm that she felt they deserved which might have been anything from a heaven-like Otherworld, all the way down to the horrors of a Christian type of Hell. Hel is a Goddess who should be respected and admired, rather then feared. Unless, of course, you have done something unworthy, which might give you reason to fear her. But that’s not really Hel's problem, is it? It is yours.


Hvala vam!
ॐ Namasté - Blessings!
"Life is an echo, what you send out comes back."
© 2008-2021 crystalwind.ca. Sva prava pridržana.

Hel, Queen of the Underworld

Hel (Hella) is the Norse Goddess of the dead and underworld, ruler of the Land of Mist. Her name is thought to mean ‘hidden’, ‘to conceal’, or ‘to cover up’. To say to “go to Hel” is to die, as described in the ancient Norse manuscripts, Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, i Heimskringla.

Hel is the youngest daughter of the trickster god Loki and the jötunn (giant) Angrboda. Her other siblings were the wolf Fenrir and the serpent Jörmungandr. Because she was born of a God and a Giantess, some say Hel is a half-goddess, who have higher standing then their half-god counterparts.

Hel was sent by Odin to the remote land Niflheimr/Helheimr, the lowest of the Norse Nine Worlds along the world tree Yggdrasil. Those who were killed in battle went to Odin’s hall in Valhalla or Freya’s hall in Fólkvangr, however the rest, including those that died from old age or illness, went to Hel’s court.

The Norse ‘Hel’ is not the same as the Christian concept of ‘Hell’. The lowest of the Norse Nine Worlds is alternately called Niflheimr, Niflhel, or Helheimr, thought to be a land of mist, snow and ice in the far north. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Múspellsheimr in the south was a land of fire and heat. Some divide the lowest worlds into Niflheimr, land of arctic cold and mist, and Helheimr/Niflhel, realm of the dead. Hel’s hall is called Elivdnir, meaning ‘Sleet Cold’, whose gates are guarded by Garnr the watch dog.

In the Christian ‘Hell’, the sins of man are punished. But in Niflheimr/Helheimr, Hel would determine the fate of the souls who entered her realm. The dead would transition through nine different stages of death, and seers and shamans from other worlds would journey there to consult with them.

Hel is described as having a gloomy appearance, being half alive, half dead. Also seen as half black, half white, representing both sides of the life spectrum. She is thought to have brought disease and plague to the world.

Although Hel is Queen of the Underworld and banished from Asgard, other Gods respected her judgement. In one case, the beloved God Baldr was killed by Loki’s treachery. Hel agreed to let Baldr return to the land of the living if all creatures on earth mourned for his death. All the world mourned for Baldr, except the giantess Thokk, who was really Loki in disguise. Due to this, Baldr was not released from the land of the dead.

In several pagan traditions, Hel represents the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess. She is seen as strong, powerful and fierce, full of wisdom and knowledge. However, her loneliness has made her hard and vindictive, unwilling to change and be compassionate towards others.


Goddess and Gods

Hel is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted Goddess aspects in history. She has been greatly perverted through the years by pat riarchal domination and ultimately used by the early Christian church as a scare tactic to frighten the masses into “righteous” acts. To get the real story, we have to go back to the early Nordic people and look this death Goddess in the face.

According to Norse tradition, Hel is one of three children born to Loki, the trickster, and Angrboda, the giantess. Her body and face were described as half in light and half in darkness. She was half dead and half alive. Her face was at once beautiful to look upon and horrific in form. Her siblings were Fenrir, the wolf who would destroy Asgard during Ragnarok, and Jormungand, the Midhgard serpent who lies at the bottom of the ocean wrapped around the world with his tail in his mouth (it is he that holds the world together).

Hel is cast into the netherworld and becomes the ruler of that underworld to which souls who have not died in battle will depart. As thanks for making Her ruler of the netherworld, Hel makes a gift to Odin. She gives him two ravens, Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory). Ravens are messengers between this realm and the next, opening pathways to death’s realm.

Her realm is named for her, Hel or Helheim. Because She accepts all to Helheim, she also becomes the judge to determine the fate of each soul in the afterlife. The evil dead are banished to a realm of icy cold death (a fate that the Nordic people found much worse in telling than a lake of fire) and torture. This particular aspect of Hel’s realm was the basis for the Judeo-Christian “hell” to which sinners are banished and tortured for eternity. Unlike the Judeo-Christian concept, Helheim also served as the shelter and gathering place of souls to be reincarnated. Hel watches over those who died peacefully of old age or illness. She cares for children and women who die in childbirth. She guides those souls who do not choose the path of war and violence through the circle of death to rebirth.

Because of Hel’s special role in the deaths of mothers in childbirth and children of all ages who die, She has become, according to some sources, the special guardian of children. Mother Goose is believed to be based on Frau Holle or Frau Holda who is a kindly and wise, if slightly horrific crone who rewards the industrious and punishes the lazy. The goose aspect is from a legend tradition that says that snow is a result of Frau Holda shaking out her bed linens.

One of the stories involving Hel is the decent of Balder into Helheim. Loki arranged for Balder to die by tricking him into a rigged contest. Because the contest was hosted in Asgard, Balder could not return to that place in death. His relocation sent him to the only other realm for the dead, Hel’s domain. His arrival to Helheim was welcomed with banquet and festival, proof that not all of Hel’s realm was torturous.

Hel governs the world beyond that of the living. In magic, she makes thin the veil between worlds. Seidhr [SAY-theer] or Nordic shamans call upon Her protection and wear the helkappe, a magic mask, to render them invisible (like Hades helm of invisibility) and enable them to pass through the gateway into the realm of death and spirit. In divination, Her special symbol is Hagalaz, hail: The embodiment of the icy realm She rules. Hel stands at the crossroads in judgment of souls who pass into Her realm. In that, She is linked to Osiris and Isis as well as Hecate.

Hel has fallen from her privileged position as guardian and ruler through years of being represented as an evil, ugly entity waiting to devour and torture lost souls. Ignorance as used Her as a means of scaring children and adults into a supposedly righteous path (instead of allowing free will to guide their actions to do what is right). May we learn and dispel the slander of years by seeing Her for the protector, judge, and guide that She originally represented.