In every culture there is an isolated world where the souls of the dead are forced to dwell. In Norse mythology those who die heroically or in battle are taken to Valhalla. The heroes prepare for the upcoming battle that would end the world. Those who died as a coward or took their own life were sent to Nifetheim, known as the world of darkness and ice. Nifetheim is the prison for these souls and Hel the Goddess of Death, is their warden.
Birth of A Goddess
Hel is the daughter of Loki the God of mischief and chaos. Her mother is the giantess Angrboda. She has two siblings the giant wolf Fenrir and the mudguard serpent called Jörmungandr. Hel is a woman who is half dead and half alive. She is a woman that is half black and the other half is white a play on the concept of a person caught in the void between worlds. Hel was raised with her siblings and mother in the land of the giants until she was summoned before Odin and imprisoned.
Ruler of The Underworld
Odin, The King of the Gods, was informed of the three children of Loki and the fear that surrounded them. Many feared the chaos and destruction created if left to wonder free. Odin ordered the other Gods to capture the three children and bring them before him. The Midgard Serpent was trapped beneath the sea, the giant wolf Fenrir was changed up to the gates of Nifetheim, and Hel was imprisoned within its walls.
Odin ordered that within her halls should be a resting place for those that died from old age or sickness. She is also the warden ensuring souls don’t escape that are there due to a non-heroic death. Her brother Fenrir keeps the gates to Nifetheim sealed until Raganok. Raganok is a battle between the Gods, the Warriors of Valhalla, the giants of fire and ice, and the children of Loki will take part in a war that will destroy the world.
I have always been fascinated with the Gods and Goddess of the dead and how they are described in the ancient culture surrounding it. Hel is a woman that is given respect by the other Gods despite being forced into a situation against her will. Odin and the other Gods assumed she would be trouble alongside her siblings because her father was Loki.
Instead of giving her a chance to prove otherwise, she is locked up to prevent chaos from being born. They allow her to rule over the souls sent to her realm as a nice distraction hoping to make her forget that she is a prisoner and ruler of a world created in ice and darkness cut off from the other Gods.
Furthermore, little is known about Hel besides her play in the Raganok War when she fights the Gods alongside her father and siblings. Her role as the keeper of souls is important yet she is barely mentioned in legends and fables only mentioned in a few Norse poems. She is simply described as a domestic but fierce woman being the Queen of her frozen wasteland.
Hel is the only child of Loki that doesn’t rebel or try to escape her prison seeing it as an opportunity to create her own army of the dead. Knowing that during the last battle her family will be depending on her to help them gain vengeance on those that fear them seeing them as nothing more than chaotic monsters.
Now, shush, I’m trying to read,