Norse 101, Part 9
Happy Freyja’s Day, everyone! Yes, it’s been a minute since my last post. The holiday season was incredibly busy, and I ended up taking a brief, unplanned hiatus. But I’m back and ready to continue my introductions. In my last post, I wrote about Fenrir, one of Loki’s sons with Angrboda. This week, I would like to introduce Hel, the Norse Goddess of the Dead.
Hel is the daughter of Loki and Angrboda, sister of Fenrir and Jormungandr, and ruler of the realm of Helheim. Although Her name and realm do sound similar to the Christian ‘hell,’ that is where the similarities end. Hel is by no means evil, nor is Helheim a place of eternal suffering. It is simply a place for souls who didn’t die in battle to spend their afterlife. Some people, like myself, see it as a place where we wait for reincarnation.
Hel is a Goddess of Death and the Dead. She is described as appearing with half of Her body living and half of Her body either mummified or skeletonized. While some people think of Her as cold and detached, many others encounter Her as direct and to-the-point. I personally experience Her to be quite matter-of-fact, but very caring nonetheless. She won’t sugar-coat things or spare feelings. She will tell you things as they honestly are. This is why some people believe that She is cold and uncaring. But telling someone the truth and allowing them to face things as they are is, in fact, quite loving and merciful. After all, death itself isn’t bright, shiny, and fluffy, is it? When it comes to facing hard truths about yourself and inspecting what is dead and decaying in your life, Hel is a wonderful Goddess to call upon. Finding the courage to let go of old ways and laying them to rest is Hel’s domain.
Helheim is described in lore as being dark and cold. There is some speculation that the realm of the dead was once ruled by someone other than Hel, before She was born and given Her position in the realm. Some scholars believe that the name Hel may be a title rather than a proper name. People that have recently astral-traveled to Helheim or have seen it in visions or dreams found that the landscape has changed from the lore description. These people have described it as more bright, a bit warmer, with quaint villages and orchards where the dead now reside. Helheim seems a much more pleasant place under Hel’s rule.
Some appropriate offerings to Hel would include dried and pressed flowers, sugar skull-themed items, tending graves or cemeteries, or composting. I also associate snowflake obsidian with Her. The crystal’s black-and-white appearance reminds me of Her, as do the metaphysical properties it holds. Snowflake obsidian is great for drawing unnecessary or outgrown things to the surface so they can be let go and transformed. I keep one on my altar for Her specifically for this reason. So while some people shy away from Her, I have much love and respect for Her.
That’s all for today, lovelies! I’ll see you again next Freyja’s Day! Have a fabulous weekend and New Moon in Capricorn!