She was not an Aesir god, but one of the secondary Vanir gods. Who is Hel? ", Jacob Grimm theorized that Hel (whom he refers to here as Halja, the theorized Proto-Germanic form of the term) is essentially an "image of a greedy, unrestoring, female deity" and that "the higher we are allowed to penetrate into our antiquities, the less hellish and more godlike may Halja appear. Hel (Old Norse Hel, “Hidden”) is a giantess and/or goddess who rules over the identically-named Hel, the underworld where many of the dead dwell. It actually translates to “one who hides”. In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, Hel's realm is referred to as the "Halls of Hel. As her name somewhat suggests, Hel was the Norse goddess of the dead. The god Hermóðr volunteers and sets off upon the eight-legged horse Sleipnir to Hel. Gylfaginning, chapter 34. In addition, Grimm says that a wagon was once ascribed to Hel, with which Hel made journeys.  The feminine noun *halja-rūnō(n) is formed with *haljō- 'hell' attached to *rūno 'mystery, secret' > runes. "Frauen und Brakteaten - eine Skizze" in. Some sources have claimed that Hel was located within the realm of Niflhel or Niflheim (“the place of mists”). The gods had abducted Hel and her brothers from Angrboda's hall. In Norse mythology, Hel is the queen of the realm of the dead. Davidson adds that "yet this is not the impression given in the account of Hermod's ride to Hel later in Gylfaginning (49)" and points out that here Hel "[speaks] with authority as ruler of the underworld" and that from her realm "gifts are sent back to Frigg and Fulla by Balder's wife Nanna as from a friendly kingdom." " In stanza 31 of Grímnismál, Hel is listed as living beneath one of three roots growing from the world tree Yggdrasil. Two of the figures are understood to be Baldr and Odin while both Loki and Hel have been proposed as candidates for the third figure. Davidson explains that "whether this personification has originally been based on a belief in a goddess of death called Hel is another question," but that she does not believe that the surviving sources give any reason to believe so. Lehmann, Winfred, A Gothic Etymological Dictionary (1986). Looking for more great information on Norse mythology and religion? Her name’s meaning of “Hidden” surely has to do with the underworld and the dead being “hidden” or buried beneath the ground. 1993. " In chapter 51, High describes the events of Ragnarök, and details that when Loki arrives at the field Vígríðr "all of Hel's people" will arrive with him. All rights reserved. The word has cognates in all branches of the Germanic languages, including Old English hell (and thus Modern English hell), Old Frisian helle, Old … Hel (meaning Hidden in Old Norse) is the daughter of the god of mischief Loki and the giantess Angrboda (Anguish-boding from Old Norse). , Hel is also etymologically related–although distantly that time–to the Old Norse word Valhöll 'Valhalla', literally 'hall of the slain', and to the English word hall, both likewise deriving from Proto-Indo-European *ḱel- via the Proto-Germanic root *hallō- 'covered place, hall'. "Egils saga" as collected in various (2001). Hel ("the Hidden" from the word hel, "to conceal") is the Norse Goddess of the dead, ruler of the Land of Mist, Niflheim or Niflhel located in the far north--a cold, damp place that is home to frost giants and dwarves.  This makes her part of a highly dangerous and disreputable family. Get on your knees, mortals, for now, it is time to talk about Hel,Continue reading … " He also draws a parallel between the personified Hel's banishment to the underworld and the binding of Fenrir as part of a recurring theme of the bound monster, where an enemy of the gods is bound but destined to break free at Ragnarok.  In chapter 50, Hel is referenced ("to join the company of the quite monstrous wolf's sister") in the skaldic poem Ragnarsdrápa.. p. 84. Regarding Seo Hell in the Old English Gospel of Nicodemus, Michael Bell states that "her vivid personification in a dramatically excellent scene suggests that her gender is more than grammatical, and invites comparison with the Old Norse underworld goddess Hel and the Frau Holle of German folklore, to say nothing of underworld goddesses in other cultures" yet adds that "the possibility that these genders are merely grammatical is strengthened by the fact that an Old Norse version of Nicodemus, possibly translated under English influence, personifies Hell in the neutral (Old Norse þat helvíti). Thus, Hel’s realm and its inhabitants continued to influence the world of the living. A section from Ynglingatal follows, describing that Eystein "fared to" Hel (referred to as "Býleistr's-brother's-daughter"). , The Old English Gospel of Nicodemus, preserved in two manuscripts from the 11th century, contains a female figure referred to as Seo hell who engages in flyting with Satan and tells him to leave her dwelling (Old English ut of mynre onwununge). " However, Simek also cites Hel as possibly appearing as one of three figures appearing together on Migration Period B-bracteates. The next morning, Hermóðr begs Hel to allow Baldr to ride home with him, and tells her about the great weeping the Æsir have done upon Baldr's death. As the children's birth were one of the catalysts for Ragnarök, she and her brothers were placed under careful watch, with Hel becoming queen of the dishonorable dead. Hel is a goddess of Norse mythology.Her father is Loki, and her mother is Angrboða, a giantess.Her siblings are Jörmungandr and Fenrir.Her task is to reign over the realm of the dead, also called Hel or Neifelheim, where the dead peacefully go to in the afterlife to wait until Ragnarok, the end of the gods and Asgard.  Rudolf Simek theorizes that the figure of Hel is "probably a very late personification of the underworld Hel," and says that "the first scriptures using the goddess Hel are found at the end of the 10th and in the 11th centuries." , In January 2017, the Icelandic Naming Committee ruled that parents could not name their child Hel "on the grounds that the name would cause the child significant distress and trouble as it grows up"..  In chapter 46, King Eystein Halfdansson dies by being knocked overboard by a sail yard. Her hall in Helheim is called Eljudnir, Home of the Dead. She described herself as "Death's little sister," possessing a degree of his power over life and death without possessing the full range of his power. Goddess of … Hel is a goddess of Norse mythology.Her father is Loki, and her mother is Angrboða, a giantess.Her siblings are Jörmungandr and Fenrir.Her task is to reign over the realm of the dead, also called Hel or Neifelheim, where the dead peacefully go to in the afterlife to wait until Ragnarok, the end of the gods and Asgard. This Goddess is Queen of the underworld and despite her banishment the other Gods have to respect her judgement as shown when she refuses to let Baldr return to the living. Hel (Old Norse Hel, “Hidden;”  pronounced like the English word “Hell”) is the most general name for the underworld where many of the dead dwell. Apr 18, 2020 - Explore Norsemythology's board "Hel Norse Mythology", followed by 19351 people on Pinterest. Hel is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Her hall in Helheim is called Eljudnir, Home of the Dead. Hermóðr arrives in Hel's hall, finds his brother Baldr there, and stays the night. , Michael Bell says that while Hel "might at first appear to be identical with the well-known pagan goddess of the Norse underworld" as described in chapter 34 of Gylfaginning, "in the combined light of the Old English and Old Norse versions of Nicodemus she casts quite a different a shadow," and that in Bartholomeus saga postola "she is clearly the queen of the Christian, not pagan, underworld. Occasionally, it’s also referred to as “Helheim,” “The Realm of Hel,” although this is much more common in the secondary literature than in the Old Norse primary sources. It stems from the Proto-Germanic feminine noun *haljō- 'concealed place, the underworld' (compare with Gothic halja, Old English hel, Old Frisian helle, Old Saxon hellia, Old High German hella), itself a derivative of *helan- 'to cover > conceal, hide' (compare with OE helan, OF hela, OS helan, OHG helan). Her power had been greatly weakened since belief in her faded, but she … I’ve also written a popular list of The 10 Best Norse Mythology Books, which you’ll probably find helpful in your pursuit. 70-71. It’s presided over by a fearsome goddess whose name is also Hel. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. (1882). In addition, she is mentioned in poems recorded in Heimskringla and Egils saga that date from the 9th and 10th centuries, respectively. (2002). Welcome! In all the stories from Norse mythology, the goddess of death plays her most important role in the death of Balder. Hel, Norse Goddess of the Dead and the Underworld You cannot separate light from its shadow. The Anglo-Saxon and Norse Goddess of the Underworld is honored annually on the Day of Hel (July 10th) with prayers, the lighting of black candles, and offerings of … Ellis, Hilda Roderick. Davidson posits that Snorri may have "earlier turned the goddess of death into an allegorical figure, just as he made Hel, the underworld of shades, a place 'where wicked men go,' like the Christian Hell (Gylfaginning 3)." "Naming committee stops parents from naming daughter after goddess of the underworld". It was her job to determine the fate of the souls who entered her realm. The goddess and her home lived long in Norse legends . Hel is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. They cast her in the underworld, into which she distributes those who are sent to her; the wicked and those who died of sickness or old age. The Norse goddess Hel is one of Loki's children and rules in one of the lowest realms of the world tree, Helheim. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr. In Norse mythology, Hel features as the goddess of the underworld. Learn about her place in Norse mythology in this myth series. In chapter 49, High describes the events surrounding the death of the god Baldr. Very few friends. 5. By Valda Roric . In chapter 17, the king Dyggvi dies of sickness. Hermod pleaded with Hel, telling her how every living thing was in sorrow over the loss of Baldur. Welcome to the online shrine of Hela (or Hel), the Goddess of Death and Lady of the Underworld in Norse/Germanic mythos. Only one giantess, who was probably Loki in disguise, refused. un-witi 'foolishness, understanding', OE witt 'right mind, wits', OHG wizzi 'understanding'), with descendant cognates in Old Norse hel-víti 'hell', Old English helle-wíte 'hell-torment, hell', Old Saxon helli-wīti 'hell', or Middle High German helle-wīzi 'hell'. A poem from the 9th-century Ynglingatal that forms the basis of Ynglinga saga is then quoted that describes Hel's taking of Dyggvi: In chapter 45, a section from Ynglingatal is given which refers to Hel as "howes'-warder" (meaning "guardian of the graves") and as taking King Halfdan Hvitbeinn from life. ", Hel may also be alluded to in Hamðismál. Top image: Hel is the Norse goddess of the underworld. Because of how sparsely-defined her character is, many scholars view Hel as more of a late literary personification of the grave than a goddess who was actually worshiped or appeased in her own right. She seems perfectly suited to Halloween and all of its' traditional images. , Davidson further compares to early attestations of the Irish goddesses Badb (Davidson points to the description of Badb from The Destruction of Da Choca's Hostel where Badb is wearing a dusky mantle, has a large mouth, is dark in color, and has gray hair falling over her shoulders, or, alternatively, "as a red figure on the edge of the ford, washing the chariot of a king doomed to die") and The Morrígan. She haunts the battlefield or cremation ground and squats on corpses. Updated on September 11, 2020. In the underworld she is supposed to sit in judgment on souls. But Hel wouldn’t give up her prize so easily. In the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, and Heimskringla, Hel is referred to as a daughter of Loki.  Grimm says that Hel is an example of a "half-goddess;" "one who cannot be shown to be either wife or daughter of a god, and who stands in a dependent relation to higher divinities" and that "half-goddesses" stand higher than "half-gods" in Germanic mythology.  Due to the lack of conclusive evidence either way, this must remain an open question. Hermod and the other gods went around and got almost everything in the cosmos to weep for Baldur. Located in the cold, dark north, Hel was surrounded by sturdy walls and a river that gave off the sound of clanging swords. High describes Hel as "half black and half flesh-coloured," adding that this makes her easily recognizable, and furthermore that Hel is "rather downcast and fierce-looking.". Who Were the Indo-Europeans and Why Do They Matter. In Norse mythology, Hel’s father was the trickster god Lokiand her mother the giantess Angrboda. In addition, she is mentioned in poems recorded in Heimskringla and Egils saga that date from the 9th and 10th centuries, respectively. According to the thirteenth-century Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson, Hel is the daughter of Loki and the giantess Angrboda (Old Norse Angrboða, “Anguish-boding”), and therefore the sister of the wolf Fenrir and the world serpent, Jormungand. The Road to Hel: A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature. Source: selenit /Adobe Stock . , The Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, features various poems that mention Hel. See more ideas about norse mythology, norse, mythology. Simek, Rudolf. Hel's royal residence was called Eljudnir where two servants Ganglati and Ganglot … However, her personality is little-developed in what survives of Old Norse literature. p. 138. After the death of Baldr at her father's hands, she agreed to resurrect him only if all living things cried for the fallen god. The two races fought in the past and Freya was sent to live in Asgard the word of Aesir gods as a hostage. © Daniel McCoy 2012-2019. Death is periphrased as "joy of the troll-woman" (or "ogress") and ostensibly it is Hel being referred to as the troll-woman or the ogre (flagð), although it may otherwise be some unspecified dís. “Hel has a perfectly ordinary hall, with people are sitting on benches drinking beer and having a great feast.  The Old Irish masculine noun cel 'dissolution, extinction, death' is also related.  It derives, ultimately, from the Proto-Indo-European verbal root *ḱel- 'to conceal, cover, protect' (compare with Latin cēlō, Old Irish ceilid, Greek kalúptō). 1968. Hermod pleads with Hel, explaining that Balder is the most beloved being in the Nors… The Old Norse feminine proper noun Hel is identical to the name of the entity that presides over the realm, Old Norse Hel. Hel was one of three children born to Loki and Angrboða. But because of that one refusal, the terms of Hel’s offer weren’t met, and Hel kept Baldur in her cold clutches. While this site provides the ultimate online introduction to the topic, my book The Viking Spirit provides the ultimate introduction to Norse mythology and religion period. In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim.  Snorri Sturluson. All but a giantess (Loki in disguise) wept for him, so he will stay dead until Ragnarök. Scardigli, Piergiuseppe, Die Goten: Sprache und Kultur (1973) pp. They cast her in the underworld, into which she distributes those who are sent to her; the wicked and those who died of sickness or old age. It was no idle vision, for after three days the acute pain of his injury brought his end. , Some B-class bracteates showing three godly figures have been interpreted as depicting Baldr's death, the best known of these is the Fakse bracteate. , Hel is referred to in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Her name’s meaning of “Hidden” surely has to do with the underworld and the dead being “hidden” or buried beneath the ground. Devastated by the loss, Odin and Frigg send Hermod, another of the Aesir gods, to Helheim in order to ask Hel, as goddess of the underworld, to allow Balder to return to the world of the living. 2003. , Hilda Ellis Davidson (1948) states that Hel "as a goddess" in surviving sources seems to belong to a genre of literary personification, that the word hel is generally "used simply to signify death or the grave," and that the word often appears as the equivalent to the English 'death,' which Davidson states "naturally lends itself to personification by poets." The downward slope may indicate that the rider is traveling towards the realm of the dead and the woman with the scepter may be a female ruler of that realm, corresponding to Hel.  Hel says the love people have for Baldr that Hermóðr has claimed must be tested, stating: If all things in the world, alive or dead, weep for him, then he will be allowed to return to the Æsir. Staff A (2017). ", The Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, an account of the life of Saint Bartholomew dating from the 13th century, mentions a "Queen Hel." Like Snorri's Hel, she is terrifying to in appearance, black or dark in colour, usually naked, adorned with severed heads or arms or the corpses of children, her lips smeared with blood. This in relation to the Viking Age, meant if you didn’t die in battle you would simply just go to Hel. Pesch, Alexandra. Snorri describes her appearance as being half-black, half-white, and with a perpetually grim and fierce expression on her face.. Davidson concludes that, in these examples, "here we have the fierce destructive side of death, with a strong emphasis on its physical horrors, so perhaps we should not assume that the gruesome figure of Hel is wholly Snorri's literary invention. To see more Viking articles, click here. , Other related early Germanic terms and concepts include the compounds *halja-rūnō(n) and *halja-wītjan. Hel is generally presented as being rather greedy, harsh, and cruel, or at least indifferent to the concerns of both the living and the dead. , High says that Odin sent the gods to gather the children and bring them to him. Hel is the Norse goddess of death. The saga attributes the poem to 10th century skald Egill Skallagrímsson, and writes that it was composed by Egill after the death of his son Gunnar. Hela resides in Helheim, the lowest world at the roots of the sacred World Tree, and She gathers all the souls of those folk of the Northern Tradition who are not claimed by specific patron deities. , Later in the chapter, after the female jötunn Þökk refuses to weep for the dead Baldr, she responds in verse, ending with "let Hel hold what she has. She has a knife called \"Famine\", a plate called \"Hunger\", a bed called \"D… She was sent by Odin to Helheim/Niflheim to preside over the spirits of the dead, except for those who were killed in battle and went to Valhalla. Her manservant is Ganglati and her maidservant is Ganglot (which both can be translated as \"tardy\"). In the Heimskringla book Ynglinga saga, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, Hel is referred to, though never by name. Hel is a legendary being in Norse mythology who is said to preside over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel's potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th-century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name. Hel also has two brothers from the same union – the giant wolf and slayer of Odin Fenrir and the world serpent and killer of Thor, Jörmungandr. 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. Davidson continues that: On the other hand, a goddess of death who represents the horrors of slaughter and decay is something well known elsewhere; the figure of Kali in India is an outstanding example. The beloved god Baldur was slain by none other than Hel’s father, Loki, and the gods sent an emissary named Hermod to Hel in hopes of retrieving Baldur.  In Fáfnismál, the hero Sigurd stands before the mortally wounded body of the dragon Fáfnir, and states that Fáfnir lies in pieces, where "Hel can take" him. In chapter 34 of the book Gylfaginning, Hel is listed by High as one of the three children of Loki and Angrboða; the wolf Fenrir, the serpent Jörmungandr, and Hel. Davidson (1999:II 356); Grimm (2004:314). Loki and Angrboda had three children: the wolf Fenrir; the serpent Jörmungandr; and Hel, their only daughter. The final stanza of the poem contains a mention of Hel, though not by name: In the account of Baldr's death in Saxo Grammaticus' early 13th century work Gesta Danorum, the dying Baldr has a dream visitation from Proserpina (here translated as "the goddess of death"): The following night the goddess of death appeared to him in a dream standing at his side, and declared that in three days time she would clasp him in her arms. Hecate is Goddess of crossroads, the night, magic, fields, and ghosts. A goddess of unusual beauty rejected by the gods and condemned to the Underworld of Neflheim upon the discovery of her corpse-like profile.. Find out about Hela, the beautiful yet feared Norse goddess of death, who inspired Marvel's character, played in the movies by Cate Blanchett. p. 156, 168. Suffice it to say that Hel is a part of a rather dysfunctional and maligned family. Her manservant is Ganglati and her maidservant is Ganglot (which both can be translated as “tardy”). Of this we have a particularly strong guarantee in her affinity to the Indian Bhavani, who travels about and bathes like Nerthus and Holda, but is likewise called Kali or Mahakali, the great black goddess. Translated by Angela Hall. Her father was Loki, and her siblings were the Fenrir wolf and the serpent Jörmungandr. Hel’s Residence. The goddess Frigg asks who among the Æsir will earn "all her love and favour" by riding to Hel, the location, to try to find Baldr, and offer Hel herself a ransom. The Old Norse Language and How to Learn It, The Swastika – Its Ancient Origins and Modern (Mis)use. Scudder, Bernard (Trans.) Dogs and snakes are her's as well. She has a knife called “Famine”, a plate called “Hunger”, a bed called “Disease”, and bed curtains called “Misfortune”. This is highlighted in Watkins (2000:38). The name Hel, quite literally means "one that hides" or "one who covers up." ", Grimm theorizes that the Helhest, a three legged-horse that roams the countryside "as a harbinger of plague and pestilence" in Danish folklore, was originally the steed of the goddess Hel, and that on this steed Hel roamed the land "picking up the dead that were her due." Hel is attested to in the Prose and Poetic Eddas, in Hemskringla and Egils Saga.She is mentioned in the Gesta Denorum, and her name appears on bracteates (metal disc jewelry) from the Viking period, in Skaldic poetry, and on the Setre Comb, a 6th century artifact.  In chapter 47, the deceased Eystein's son King Halfdan dies of an illness, and the excerpt provided in the chapter describes his fate thereafter, a portion of which references Hel: In a stanza from Ynglingatal recorded in chapter 72 of the Heimskringla book Saga of Harald Sigurdsson, "given to Hel" is again used as a phrase to referring to death.. She’s mostly mentioned only in passing. "Mál nr. Davidson adds that, on the other hand, various other examples of "certain supernatural women" connected with death are to be found in sources for Norse mythology, that they "seem to have been closely connected with the world of death, and were pictured as welcoming dead warriors," and that the depiction of Hel "as a goddess" in Gylfaginning "might well owe something to these.". Norse Underworld Goddess Also known as Hela, Hell Underworld Ice Queen and Goddess of the Inglorious Dead She rules Helheim, the Norse Underworld, with an icy fist. The Icelanders' saga Egils saga contains the poem Sonatorrek. In the story, a devil is hiding within a pagan idol, and bound by Bartholomew's spiritual powers to acknowledge himself and confess, the devil refers to Jesus as the one which "made war on Hel our queen" (Old Norse heriaði a Hel drottning vara). The only surviving myth in which she features prominently is that of The Death of Baldur. When Balder, beloved son of Odin and Frigg, is slain in a game, thanks to the machinations of Loki, Balder finds himself in Helheim. first centuries AD) feature depictions of Hel. Grimm, Jacob (James Steven Stallybrass Trans.) An episode in the Latin work Gesta Danorum, written in the 12th century by Saxo Grammaticus, is generally considered to refer to Hel, and Hel may appear on various Migration Period bracteates. The gods had abducted Hel and her brothers from Angrboda’s hall. In particular the bracteates IK 14 and IK 124 depict a rider traveling down a slope and coming upon a female being holding a scepter or a staff.  In Atlamál, the phrases "Hel has half of us" and "sent off to Hel" are used in reference to death, though it could be a reference to the location and not the being, if not both. Superpowers: Owns a hellish underworld.Weaknesses: Susceptible to sulking. She told Hermod – in a taunting way, we can imagine – that she would only consent to release Baldur if every last thing in the universe wept for him. Hel is a legendary being in Norse mythology who is said to preside over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Hermod asks if they can have Balder back again and Hel [the goddess who presides over the realm of the same name] says they can – under certain conditions.” The Old Norse divine name Hel is identical to the name of the location over which she rules. This office, the similar name and the black hue [...] make her exceedingly like Halja. 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. , It has been suggested that several imitation medallions and bracteates of the Migration Period (ca. "Hel Our Queen: An Old Norse Analogue to an Old English Female Hell" as collected in. , Scholars have assumed that Saxo used Proserpina as a goddess equivalent to the Norse Hel. Simek states that the allegorical description of Hel's house in Gylfaginning "clearly stands in the Christian tradition," and that "on the whole nothing speaks in favour of there being a belief in Hel in pre-Christian times. If anyone speaks against him or refuses to cry, then he will remain with Hel.