Who and why is Hel the Goddess of Death?
Death is inevitable. It’s powerful and scary. This mysterious phenomenon has always been thought of as supernatural; one that is divine and cannot be comprehended. Bigger than life phenomenon, in ancient times were considered acts of God. Every powerful thing was either god or act of god. Various living and non-living things, being majestic and powerful, were taken as deities or divine beings. It resulted in the creation of hundreds of gods, each being more powerful than the other and having the ability to fulfill the wishes and desires. This has not stopped even in the 21st century; the era of science and technology.
Who is Hel?
Hel, the goddess of death is considered a holy figure in Norseman mythology. She is considered the goddess of the abode of the dead. This particular part of the world is not visible to the living eyes and only gods and gifted people can see it. It has its own rules and is ruled by the death queen who punishes and tortures people the way she pleases.
Hel is the daughter of a very cunning god Loki of the same mythology. Hel’s kingdom was all about darkness and resembled death. This world had many sections: one for the adulterers, murderers and the other for committers of serious sins where they were punished with the most toxic and poisonous serpents’ venom. According to the believers of this mythology, there existed nine worlds once and the world of death was one of them. The only one left was situated deep under the ground and was ruled by Hel the goddess of death, where the sinners were punished and found no escape. Hel, daughter of Loki was merciless and practiced true cruelty in her reign.
Why is Hel the goddess of Death?
It is believed that soon after her birth, Odin cast Hel out of Asgard; the house of gods. God Odin threw Hel down to Niflheim, the domain of cold, haziness and demise situated under a gigantic mythical tree Yggdrasil. He made her the ruler of all the devilish and hopeless spirits who had died because of sickness or aging.
8 Interesting Facts about Hel
Hel – Loki's awful girl and goddess of the place that is known for Dead is one of three awful offsprings of the cheat god Loki. She is a giantess, goddess of death and a leader of Niflheim, a dull home for the dead and one of the Nine Universes of an immense mythical tree, Yggdrasil. Here are 8 interesting facts about Hel.
1. The Awful goddess Hel Is half-dead and half-alive
Hel had a fearsome appearance. One part of her body was greenish dark and the other was white, with her bones mostly shown on the outside of her body. Some of the tissues of her body appeared as if decaying like that of a cadaver. Hel's face was vile and desolate. The goddess was portrayed as half dead and half alive. It was said that the time she was conceived, illness came into existence.
Masked harlequin who appeared in Commedia dell’ Arte, might have been inspired by the appearance of Hel, the goddess of death.
2. Vikings feared her appearance
Vikings were considered the most feared because they would target anyone who would come in their way. They targeted monasteries, raided the town and brutally killed. Since Vikings were from the Norse Mythology, they believed in Hel and feared her for her cruelty and appearance and were wary of Niflheim; the land of the dead.
3. Hel’s Residence
Hel's royal residence was called Eljudnir where two servants Ganglati and Ganglot attended to her needs. She ate the dish named Hunger with a fork called Famine.
Amidst all the catastrophes and plagues, Hel would leave her melancholy domain to wander the Earth on her three-legged white pony, "Hel horse". She would gather the souls and rake them down to her underground kingdom.
4. Hel Is More Powerful Than Odin
Even though all the divine beings glared at her with disgust, Hel undeniably had more power than the incomparable Odin. She was the most powerful and without her authorization, no spirit could leave her kingdom to come back to the land of the living.
5. The Famous expression “Go to Hell”
The expression “go to hell” now makes sense. When someone is told to go to hell, it means going to Hel, the goddess of death. Niflheim is the exact opposite of what we call hell today. It is an icy cold place instead of a fire pit. Niflheim is a place where the residents are continuously wailing, where the walls are built with human bones and worms; a place that is situated beneath the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil.
6. Hela from Marvel Comics
If you love to see fiction movies, you might want to know that the fictional villainess Hela from American comics “Marvel Comics” is based on the famous goddess of death; Hel. She has also taken the role of an antagonist in the webcomic “The order of the stick” where she wants to destroy the entire world.
7. An Eye of Fire
Although the word Hel means hidden, there was nothing that anyone could hide from Hel. Her eye of fire could see everything, especially the truth.
8. The Queen of the Dead
Hel, the third born and only daughter of god Loki and giantess Angrboda was sent to Niflheim by god Odin. She ruled the land of dead. She would mercilessly sweep through town and cities and bring with herself plague. She used rake and broom for destruction. The use of rake was less destructive as when she she used broom, nothing survived.
Takeaways from Hel: How Death Teach You about Life
Death teaches us several lessons. I'd like to share with you three lessons I've learned.
1. Do Not take anything for granted
When we think about death, it encourages us to get our needs straight. We start asking ourselves questions like, "Am I doing what I need to do with my life? What if I kick the bucket tomorrow? Would I regret the decisions I've made in life?"
Our decisions change our lives every day. We can decide to live on auto-pilot or take control and make rational decisions on a daily basis to live a more productive life and with definitive aims in life.
Do what your heart desires, be assertive and mindful and stop living an artificial life.
2. Practice Self Care
The only thing we forget doing is taking care of ourselves. Life happens and nothing can stop what is destined for you. All you need to do is, amidst the entire crisis, take good care of yourself. When you got your first car, you must have thought that since you will replace it one day, there was no need to take care of it. What is someone told you this would be the only car you will have, you undoubtedly would have cared more for it.
Same goes for life, you only get to live once and you know it, so love it while you still have it.
There is a lot you can do to make your life better. Preventive self-care is much better than the cure. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy, doing exercise and keep your soul healthy with a meaningful life.
3. Be productive even after death
Someone told me that a woman they knew died during a medical procedure. Her demise was unfortunate but she made sure that something good comes out of her untimely death. She donated her organs which were in phenomenal condition because she took good care of herself. Death is a reality and takes us by surprise when it is least expected. Organ donating is the best gift you can give even after your passing. There is a fair chance for everyone to become productive during their lifetime but a few will be considerate enough to contribute to society even when they are not part of it.
Whether you believe in gods and goddesses or not, they have remained and will remain part of the lives of several. As powerful as they are considered, they can affect your life for sure but only if you have faith in them. Hel, the goddess of death would collect only those souls who died a death without honor. Martyrs who died on the battlefields defending their lands and homes will go to the Paradise of Valhalla and get to spend eternity with Odin. Only those who died because of any illness or old age will be taken to Niflheim; the cold, misty and darkest land of the dead where the death lady Hel rules.