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Ir a Hel y volver: el reino de la diosa nórdica del inframundo

Ir a Hel y volver: el reino de la diosa nórdica del inframundo



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De lejos, los hijos más conocidos de Loki son los que tuvo con la giganta Angurboda. Estos incluyen al lobo Fenrir, la serpiente de Midgard Jormugandr y la diosa Hel. Las leyendas dicen que los niños nacieron en una cueva oscura en Jotunheim y los dioses los vieron como símbolos de dolor, pecado y muerte. Los Aesir temían tanto el potencial de los tres hijos de Loki que ataron a Fenrir, arrojaron a Jormugandr al gran mar y desterraron a Hel al inframundo. Una vez allí, Hel gobernó el reino y el propio Odin le otorgó poder sobre los nueve mundos.

"Los hijos de Loki" (1920) de Willy Pogany.

El camino a Hel

También se pensaba que la diosa Hel tenía poder sobre todos los muertos, excepto los elegidos asesinados que fueron llevados al Valhalla. Similar hasta cierto punto a Svartalfheim, el reino de Hel también tenía viviendas subterráneas y se podía llegar a él después de viajar por un camino frío y accidentado a través de las regiones oscuras del lejano norte.

La leyenda dice que incluso Hemrod tuvo que montar en Sleipnir durante nueve largas noches para llegar a la entrada del reino ubicado más allá del río Gjoll. Originario del manantial Hvergelmir en Niflheim, el río Gjoll fluía a través de Ginnunga Gap y luego hacia los otros mundos.

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Hel, la diosa nórdica del inframundo. (Archivista / Adobe Stock)

En Hel (Helheim), el río fluye cerca de la puerta del inframundo, actuando como un límite. Gjoll también representa el nombre de la roca a la que está atado Fenrir. En cuanto al río en sí, se dice que está helado y tiene cuchillos que lo atraviesan.

La única forma de cruzar el río es por el puente Gjallarbru, un puente de cristal arqueado con oro, que se cuelga de un solo cabello. Se dice que el puente tiene un guardián permanente, el esqueleto femenino Modgud. Para que los espíritus pasen, cada uno debe pagarle un peaje de sangre. En " Valhalla”, J. C. Jones describe el puente de la siguiente manera:

El puente de cristal colgaba de un pelo
Lanzado sobre el río terrible, -
El Gioll, límite de Hel.
Ahora aquí estaba la doncella Modgud,
A la espera de pasar factura a la sangre,
Una doncella horrible a la vista,
Sin carne, con mortaja y pálido camisón.

Para cruzar el puente, los espíritus utilizaron los carros y caballos que habían sido quemados junto a ellos en la pira funeraria. Además, los cuerpos de los muertos siempre estaban equipados con zapatos Hel, un fuerte par de zapatos especialmente diseñados para proteger sus pies durante todo el viaje por el camino accidentado que conduce a Hel.

Después de cruzar el puente Gjallar, los espíritus llegaron a Ironwood, un bosque con árboles de hojas de hierro. Desde aquí, tuvieron que continuar hasta llegar a la puerta de Hel. La puerta estaba custodiada por el perro feroz Garm. Garm vivía en la oscura cueva de Gnipa y la única forma de apaciguarlo era ofrecerle un Hel-cake. Según la leyenda, estos pasteles nunca fallaron a quienes habían dado pan a los necesitados durante su vida.

"Hemrod antes de Hel" (1909) de John Charles Dollman.

¿Cómo es Hel?

Después de entrar por la puerta principal en el frío y la oscuridad, se pudieron escuchar varios sonidos. Estos eran los sonidos de Hvergelmir, de los arroyos de Hel y del rodar de los glaciares en Elivagar. Los arroyos de este reino incluían Leipter, donde se realizaban juramentos solemnes, y Slid, el río con espadas dentro de sus aguas.

El gran salón de la diosa Hel llevaba el nombre de Elvidner que significa "miseria". Se decía que su plato era Hambre, su cuchillo era Codicia, su hombre era Ociosidad, su doncella era Pereza, su cama era Dolor, su umbral era Ruina y sus cortinas eran Conflagración. J. Jones describe el salón de Hel de la siguiente manera:

Elvidner era el salón de Hela.
Barras de hierro, con muro macizo;
¡Horrible ese palacio alto!
El hambre era su mesa vacía;
Desperdicio, su cuchillo; su cama, cuidado afilado;
La Angustia Ardiente extendió su festín;
Huesos blanqueados cubrían a cada invitado;
Plaga y Hambre cantaron sus runas,
Mezclado con las ásperas melodías de Despair.
Miseria y Agonía
¡Estarás en la morada de Hel!

Hel tenía diferentes moradas para diferentes personas que ingresaron al reino. Los que iban a Hel después de la muerte incluían criminales, perjuros, aquellos que tuvieron la mala suerte de morir antes de tener la oportunidad de derramar sangre, los que murieron de vejez y los que murieron de enfermedad. La muerte por vejez o por enfermedad solía llamarse "muerte de paja", ya que las camas de la época estaban hechas de paja.

Hel (Carl Ehrenberg, 1882) y el perro Garm.

El más allá en Hel’s Realm y Nastrond

Los inocentes y aquellos que habían vivido una vida buena y compasiva fueron tratados con amabilidad en Helheim. Se puede decir que incluso disfrutaron de un tipo de dicha negativa. Sin embargo, los hombres y mujeres nórdicos prefirieron vivir y morir como guerreros y unirse a los elegidos asesinados de Odin en Valhalla. Cuando se trataba de los muertos impuros, como adúlteros, asesinos y violadores de juramentos, sus espíritus fueron desterrados a Nastrond.

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Este lugar tenía una cueva de serpientes y corrientes heladas de veneno. Desde este lugar, el manantial Hvergelmir los llevó a Niflheim, donde el dragón Nidhoggr solía roer constantemente la raíz del gran árbol del mundo, Yggdrasil. El dragón supuestamente haría una pausa en su tarea para masticar los cuerpos de los desafortunados muertos impuros. La traducción de Thorpe de " Edda de Saemund ”Describe Nastrond de la siguiente manera:

Un pasillo de pie
Lejos del sol
En Nastrond;
Sus puertas están orientadas hacia el norte,
Caen gotas de veneno
En por sus aberturas;
Entrelazado está ese salón
Con espaldas de serpientes.
Ella vio vadear
Los arroyos lentos
Hombres sedientos de sangre
Y perjuros,
Y a quien el oído engaña
De la esposa de otro.
Allí Nidhog apesta
Los cadáveres de los muertos.

La cosecha y el regreso de los muertos

Se creía que la mayoría de los muertos viajaban a Hel, pero se decía que a veces a la propia diosa Hel le gustaba ir a recoger a los muertos mientras montaba en su corcel blanco de tres patas. De manera similar, en otros mitos europeos se dice que la Parca viaja de un lugar a otro en un caballo blanco. Incluso en la mitología cristiana, la muerte monta un caballo pálido como uno de los cuatro jinetes del Apocalipsis.

Durante los períodos de hambruna o pestilencia, cuando los habitantes de cierto lugar murieron en grandes cantidades, pero algunos sobrevivieron, las leyendas dicen que Hel usó un rastrillo para cosechar a los muertos, mientras que en los casos en que pueblos enteros fueron despoblados, la diosa del inframundo supuestamente los cosechó. usando una escoba.

"Heimdallr desea el regreso de Iðunn del inframundo" (1881) de Carl Emil Doepler.

Los escandinavos también creían en el regreso de los muertos como fantasmas por varias razones. En la mayoría de estos casos, se creía que el fallecido solía regresar para transmitir ciertos mensajes.

Además, había una creencia común sobre el hecho de que la alegría o la tristeza de los vivos podían influir en los muertos. El danés " Balada de Aager y Else ”Proporciona un ejemplo con un amante muerto que regresa como un fantasma para pedirle a su amada que deje de llorar. En la traducción de Longfellow, el pasaje dice así:

¡Escuche ahora, mi buen señor Aager!
Querido novio, todo lo que anhelo
Es saber como va contigo
En ese lugar solitario, la tumba.

Cada vez que te regocijas,
Y eres feliz en tu mente
¿Son los recovecos de mi tumba solitaria?
Todo con hojas de rosas forradas.

Cada vez que, amor, te entristeces,
Y derramas la inundación salobre,
¿Son los recovecos de mi tumba solitaria?
Lleno de sangre negra y repugnante.

Por lo tanto, el reino de Hel y sus habitantes continuaron influyendo en el mundo de los vivos. La diosa y su hogar vivieron mucho tiempo en las leyendas nórdicas.


Familia

En la mitología nórdica, el padre de Hel era el dios tramposo Loki y su madre la giganta Angrboda. Loki y Angrboda tuvieron tres hijos: el lobo Fenrir, la serpiente Jörmungandr y Hel, su única hija.

Hel nació con los huesos de la mitad de su cuerpo completamente expuestos y, por lo tanto, a menudo se la representa como un monstruo mitad negro y mitad blanco. Creció con Fenrir y Jörmungandr en Jotunheim, la tierra de los gigantes, hasta que Odin, gobernante de los Aesir, decidió que deberían vivir en Asgard, de donde venía su padre.


Ir a Hel y volver: el reino de la diosa nórdica del inframundo - Historia

Hel es uno de los aspectos de la Diosa más incomprendidos y mal interpretados de la historia. Ha sido enormemente pervertida a través de los años por la dominación patriarcal y finalmente utilizada por la iglesia cristiana primitiva como una táctica atemorizante para asustar a las masas en actos `` justos ''. Para obtener la historia real, tenemos que volver a los primeros pueblos nórdicos y mirar a la cara a esta Diosa de la muerte.

Según la tradición nórdica, Hel es uno de los tres hijos de Loki, el tramposo, y Angrboda, la giganta. Su cuerpo y rostro fueron descritos como mitad en la luz y mitad en la oscuridad. Estaba medio muerta y medio viva. Su rostro era a la vez hermoso a la vista y horrible en su forma. Sus hermanos eran Fenrir, el lobo que destruiría Asgard durante Ragnarok, y Jormungand, la serpiente de Midhgard que yace en el fondo del océano envuelto alrededor del mundo con la cola en la boca (es él quien mantiene unido al mundo). (6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 16, 19, 21, 23)

Hel es arrojado al inframundo y se convierte en el gobernante de ese inframundo al que partirán las almas que no hayan muerto en la batalla. Como agradecimiento por convertirla en su gobernante del inframundo, Hel le hace un regalo a Odin. Ella le da dos cuervos, Huginn y Muninn (Pensamiento y Memoria). Los cuervos son mensajeros entre este reino y el siguiente, abriendo caminos hacia el reino de la muerte. (1, 4, 5, 6, 23)

Su reino lleva su nombre, Hel o Helheim. Debido a que acepta todo a Helheim, también se convierte en el juez para determinar el destino de cada alma en el más allá. Los malvados muertos son desterrados a un reino de muerte helada (un destino que los nórdicos encontraron mucho peor que un lago de fuego) y tortura. Este aspecto particular del reino de Hel fue la base del `` infierno '' judeocristiano al que los pecadores son desterrados y torturados por la eternidad. A diferencia del concepto judeocristiano, Helheim también sirvió como refugio y lugar de reunión de las almas para reencarnar. Hel vela por aquellos que murieron pacíficamente de vejez o enfermedad. Se preocupa por los niños y las mujeres que mueren durante el parto. Ella guía a aquellas almas que no eligen el camino de la guerra y la violencia a través del círculo de la muerte hasta el renacimiento (3, 6, 8, 10, 22).

Debido al papel especial de Hel en las muertes de madres durante el parto y de niños de todas las edades que mueren, se ha convertido, según algunas fuentes, en la guardiana especial de los niños. Se cree que Mother Goose se basa en Frau Holle o Frau Holda, una anciana amable y sabia, aunque un poco horrible, que recompensa a los trabajadores y castiga a los perezosos. El aspecto de ganso proviene de una tradición legendaria que dice que la nieve es el resultado de Frau Holda sacudiendo la ropa de cama. (11, 12, 14, 15, 19)

Una de las historias que involucran a Hel es la llegada de Balder a Helheim. Loki arregló la muerte de Balder engañándolo para que participara en una competencia amañada. Debido a que el concurso se llevó a cabo en Asgard, Balder no pudo regresar a ese lugar en la muerte. Su reubicación lo envió al único otro reino para los muertos, el dominio de Hel. Su llegada a Helheim fue recibida con banquetes y festivales, prueba de que no todo el reino de Hel fue tortuoso. (5, 23)

Hel gobierna el mundo más allá del de los vivos. En magia, adelgaza el velo entre los mundos. Seidhr [SAY-theer] o chamanes nórdicos invocan Su protección y usan el helkappe, una máscara mágica, para hacerlos invisibles (como el yelmo de invisibilidad de Hades) y permitirles pasar a través de la puerta de entrada al reino de la muerte y el espíritu. En adivinación, Su símbolo especial es Hagalaz, granizo: La encarnación del reino helado que Ella gobierna. Hel se encuentra en la encrucijada del juicio de las almas que pasan a Su reino. En eso, Ella está vinculada a Osiris e Isis, así como a Hécate. (2, 3, 13, 17, 20, 22)

Hel ha caído de su posición privilegiada como guardiana y gobernante tras años de ser representada como una entidad malvada y fea que espera devorar y torturar a las almas perdidas. La ignorancia la usó como un medio para asustar a niños y adultos en un camino supuestamente recto (en lugar de permitir que el libre albedrío guíe sus acciones para hacer lo correcto). Que aprendamos y disipemos las calumnias de los años al verla como protectora, juez y guía que ella representó originalmente.

Otras posibles denominaciones&erio Otras diosas asociadas con Hel

Hela: otra versión del nombre Hel. También Helle.

Hécate: guardián de la encrucijada y patrón de las brujas.

Holle: Frau Holle es la amable amante que protege a los que no mueren en la batalla. Los sostiene en preparación para la reencarnación.

Holda - Dame Holda es una precursora de Mother Goose. Ella es la guardiana de los niños que mueren. Sacude su colchón de plumas para que nieve.

Idunna - Aspecto de la diosa cuyas manzanas alimentan a los dioses y les dan inmortalidad (muy parecido a la ambrosía griega).

Isis: protectora especial y cuidadora de los muertos. Se sienta con Osiris en juicio de almas.

Kali - Aspecto de la Diosa de la Muerte. Destructor y portador de vida. Kali permite la reencarnación y la vida al destruir lo viejo. Hel representa este aspecto severo de la Diosa.


"Hel"
James Alexander

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Magia

Propósito: Viajar en el plano astral o contactar a los que han pasado antes.
Este ritual debe realizarse en luna nueva o menguante. Es un maravilloso ritual de Samhain. Vístase de blanco o negro, o vaya vestido como el cielo. Tenga un espacio cómodo creado para este ritual.

Necesitar:
Velas: blancas y negras
Incienso: jazmín, cedro, salvia, mirra, hierba dulce, cítricos.
Flores: cualquier flor blanca o pétalos de flores blancas
Piedra lunar, cristal de cuarzo transparente, obsidiana, lágrima de Appache u ónix (casi cualquier piedra blanca o negra que resuene con usted funcionará).
Varita: rama de madera oscura desnuda o cristal de cuarzo - círculo fundido.
Representación de la runa Hagalaz colocada en el altar.
Esquema:
Luz de las velas.
Purifica con incienso.
Transmitir círculo / Invocar direcciones
Tierra: protección y resistencia a tierra
Aire: conocimiento y comunicación
Fuego: pasión por la vida y el sentimiento.
Agua - paz y movimiento / fluir
Espíritu - antepasado [específico o general]
Invocar - "Aquellos que se han ido antes llevan la sabiduría del pasado. Que nosotros / yo aprendamos las lecciones de los ancianos mientras contactamos / me pongo en contacto con los espíritus esta noche".
Cuerpo: tome algunos pétalos o flores blancas y la piedra blanca o negra que elija. Piense en el antepasado o espíritu con el que desea contactar. Si hay un problema o pregunta específica que tenga, concéntrese en esa pregunta y cante:
"Lady Hel, quien guarda y guía a todos los que pasan antes que nosotros a través del velo, nosotros / yo la llamo para protegernos / a mí en nuestro / mi viaje".
Coloque los pétalos o las flores en un círculo a su alrededor y sostenga la piedra en su mano no dominante.
Concentre su energía en un círculo blanco. Imagina que la luz blanca te rodea en un capullo protector.
Meditación: relájese en una posición cómoda. Concéntrese en las velas. Siéntete arrastrado por el aire calentado por la llama. Te sientes fluyendo como volutas de niebla. Hay un borde, como una cortina, que se interpone entre usted y el plano astral. Sienta cómo empuja contra esta membrana y finalmente se desliza, como un bebé hacia el mundo. Te encuentras en un campo amplio. ¿Qué aspecto tiene el campo? Usted no está solo. Quien esta aqui contigo Puede ser un antepasado que necesita decirte algo. Puede ser algún espíritu que quiera compartir algún regalo contigo. Puede ser un reflejo de una encarnación anterior que quiere desvelarle un recuerdo. Camine con ellos a lo largo del avión. Sepa que está protegido. Estás bajo las alas de Hel, guardián de este reino. Ella te está protegiendo. Pronto, sentirás Su llamado. Es hora de que te vayas. Agradezca a su acompañante y salga de ellos. Camina de regreso al velo. Ábrete paso a través de la cortina y ve tu cuerpo envuelto en luz esperando tu regreso. Sienta cómo fluye de regreso a su cuerpo: sus brazos, sus piernas, su espalda contra el suelo. Tu has regresado. Ruede lentamente a su lado y siéntese.
La conexión a tierra es muy importante en este ritual para asegurarse de que está firmemente de regreso en este plano. Come. Interactúe con familiares y amigos vivos. Beber agua.
Si está haciendo esto como un ritual grupal, comparta abrazos o tómese de la mano en el círculo antes de abrirlo.
Tu piedra ha sido cargada. Si desea volver a ponerse en contacto con su antepasado o guía espiritual de este ritual, puede meditar en una llama y sostener la piedra en su mano no dominante. Mantener la piedra junto a tu cama cuando duermes también puede revelar una sabiduría importante del plano astral.

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En el mito nórdico, Hel es un lugar y una persona, como el Hades griego. La palabra hola significa & # 8220hidden, & # 8221 vinculado a hylja, & # 8220 para cubrir & # 8221. Lindow especula que puede haberse referido a la tumba al principio, ya que allí es donde viven los muertos (171). Tanto él como Rudolf Simek (138) parecen pensar que Hel era solo una personificación del lugar, tal vez porque, a diferencia de Hades, tiene muy poco mito adjunto.

Si ella fuera solo una personificación, es vívida. Un lado de su cuerpo se parece a una hermosa doncella, pero el otro se parece a un cadáver en descomposición, y sus dos hermanos son la Serpiente del Mundo y el Lobo Fenris. La Serpiente del Mundo yace en el mar, rodeando la tierra. (Los nórdicos vieron la tierra como un disco plano con el océano a su alrededor.) El Lobo Fenris se tragará el sol en Ragnarök, y los Aesir lo obligaron a evitar que lo devorara todo ahora.

Los tres, en otras palabras, ponen límites a la creación: el mundo-serpiente marca el límite en el espacio, el lobo limita el tiempo, ya que cuando se libere el mundo se acabará, y Hel nos espera después de la muerte.

Los tres pertenecen a los gigantes, ya que sus padres son el dios tramposo Loki y la giganta Angrboda. (Su nombre significa & # 8220 el que trae dolor & # 8221, así que sabemos qué esperar). Como dios embaucador, Loki se especializa en cruzar o romper fronteras, pero sus tres hijos establecen límites firmes.

& # 8220Los hijos de Loki & # 8221 (1920) de Willy Pogany. Wikimedia.

¿Lugar o Persona?

La palabra griega Ayudantes, & # 8220todo-receptor & # 8221 o & # 8220hidden & # 8221, referidos tanto a los dioses como a su reino. De la misma manera, Hel era tanto el lugar como la persona. En un artículo llamado & # 8220Hel in Early Skaldic Poetry & # 8221, Christopher Abrams trató valientemente de distinguir cuál era cuál.

Se le ocurrieron solo dos usos del nombre Hel para significar la diosa en la poesía Eddic, y solo uno inequívoco, de Grimnismal:

31. Tres raíces crecen en tres direcciones
Bajo las cenizas de Yggdrasill
Hel vive bajo uno, bajo el segundo, los gigantes de hielo,
el tercero, la humanidad.

También hay una referencia en Völuspá que parece que podría leerse de cualquier manera, excepto que parece estar estableciendo un contraste entre el reino de Odin & # 8217s arriba y Hel & # 8217s abajo:

43. Cuervo de peinado dorado para los Aesir,
despierta a los guerreros en el Señor de los Ejércitos & # 8217
y otro cuervos abajo de la tierra,
un gallo de color rojo oscuro en los pasillos de Hel.

Por otra parte, Vsp. 47, mencionando & # 8220roads to Hel & # 8221, parece referirse al lugar, y Severo. 28 nombra los ríos que desembocan en Hel. Vafthrudnismal (43) también menciona a Hel como el destino de los muertos. Entonces parece que ambos significados existieron uno al lado del otro. (La idea de un camino a Hel también ocurre en Baldr & # 8217s Sueño, Brynhild & # 8217s Hel-Ride, y la historia del viaje de Hermod a Hel.)

Puede leer dos referencias más a Hel de cualquier manera:

55. Éramos cuatro hermanos cuando perdimos a Budli,
ahora Hel tiene la mitad de nosotros, dos yacen cortados aquí.

21. & # 8220Tu consejo es dado, | pero iré yo
Al oro en el brezo escondido
Y, Fafnir, tú | con la muerte peleas,
Tumbado donde Hel debe tenerte. & # 8221

Valquiria de los muertos sin gloria

Ya mencioné como Völuspá 43 establece la sala de Hel & # 8217s contra Odin & # 8217s. La idea parece haber atraído también a otros escritores, en particular a Snorri Sturluson. En su libro El camino a Hel Davidson observa de pasada que:

ciertas mujeres sobrenaturales parecen haber estado estrechamente conectadas con el mundo de la muerte, y fueron representadas como dando la bienvenida a guerreros muertos, por lo que la imagen de Snorri de Hel como una diosa bien podría deber algo a ellas. (84)

Snorri Sturluson, quien escribió el Prosa Edda, describe a Hel como una inversión de Valhalla, el lugar donde los guerreros iban después de la muerte. A diferencia de Valhalla, un salón en Asgard celestial, Hel se encuentra & # 8220 hacia abajo y hacia el norte & # 8221 (Gylfaginning, cap. 49) y es un lugar miserable:

Hel él [Odin] arrojó a Nifhelheim y le dio autoridad sobre nueve mundos, de modo que ella tiene que administrar comida y alojamiento a todos los que vienen a ella, y eso es a los que mueren de enfermedad o vejez. Tiene grandes mansiones y sus muros son excepcionalmente altos y las puertas grandiosas. Su salón se llama Eliundnir, su plato Hambre, su cuchillo Hambre, el sirviente Ganglati, la sirvienta Ganglot, su umbral por donde entras en Tropezar, su cama Lecho de enfermo, sus cortinas Paca reluciente. Ella es mitad negra y mitad color carne & # 8211, por lo que es fácilmente reconocible & # 8211 y bastante abatida y de aspecto feroz.
(Gylf. ch. 34)

Valhalla, por otro lado, es hermoso y reluciente, con hermosas valquirias que sirven bebidas que fluyen constantemente mientras la comida se renueva interminablemente.

¿Era la muerte sexy?

Lindow basa su argumento de que Hel era originalmente un lugar en el hecho de que en la poesía más antigua se dice que la gente está & # 8220in & # 8221 Hel en lugar de Hel. Tanto él como Simek señalan que la versión de Hel de Snorri está fuertemente influenciada por las ideas cristianas, y yo rastrearía el contraste de Valhalla-Hel con el mismo conjunto de ideas. (La idea de echar a Hel en un pozo, Hel, tiene un paralelo cristiano obvio con Lucifer).

Pero la idea de Valhalla vino antes del cristianismo, y habría resonado con guerreros y asaltantes: comida y bebida gratis, combates sin consecuencias, mujeres atractivas que no interfieren en los placeres de uno. La degradación de Hel probablemente comenzó con el desprecio de estos hombres por aquellos que murieron una & # 8220 muerte de paja & # 8221 (en sus camas).

Pero Hel va más allá de las valquirias en un poema, el Ynglingatal, que describe la historia de los reyes suecos de la dinastía Yngling. Principalmente registra cómo muere cada uno, que si creemos que el poeta estuvo en cualquier lugar menos en sus camas. (Tiene la impresión de que morir de una manera normal, en lugar de ahogarse en una tina, o ser llevado a una montaña por un enano malvado, era su versión de una muerte vergonzosa).

El poeta Thjodolf de Hvin le da un giro erótico a sus muertes:

Hel tiene el cadáver de Dyggvi en gamni & # 8216 para su placer "(Ynglingatal 7,4), y como Loka mær "Hija de Loki" tiene de leikinn (tanto "destruido" como "lucido con") allvald Yngva þjóðar "El único gobernante de la nación de Yngvi" (Ynglingatal 7, 9-12)
(McKinnell: 72)

McKinnell parece ver esto como parte de un mito de rey sagrado, pero fácilmente podría ser un caso de bravuconería guerrera frente a la incertidumbre y el miedo que rodea a la muerte. Otros escaldos, en particular Bragi Boddason y Egil Skallagrimsson, también hablan de unirse a la compañía de la hermana del lobo o de esperar a Hel, pero sin ninguna implicación sexual. (Abram: 13) Parece más probable que esta fuera la toma personal de Thjodolf & # 8217, no compartida por otros poetas.

& # 8220The Dises & # 8221 (1909) de Dorothy Hardy. Wikimedia.

Hel y el Disir

Las disir, al igual que las valquirias, eran un colectivo de poderes femeninos, en este caso generalmente ligados a una familia o persona. Son difíciles de definir, pero parecen haber estado relacionados con la fertilidad y el culto a los antepasados.

Dos diosas, Skadi y Freyja, son conocidas por el título dis: Skadi es el esquídis, mientras que Freyja es el dis de los Vanir. Uno de los kennings en Ynglingatal parece llamar a Hel Jódís, que Abram traduce como & # 8220-diosa-caballo & # 8221 (jór, caballo, y dÍs, diosa).

(Los disir aparecer a caballo en la saga Þiðranda þáttr ok Þórhalls, donde los que están en caballos negros intentan matar a Þiðrandi, mientras que los vestidos de blanco, en caballos blancos, lo salvan.)

El verso en Ynglingatal dice así (traducción de Abram):

No digo ningún engaño, pero la diosa de Glitnir tiene el cadáver de Dyggvi por placer, la hermana [jódís] del lobo y Narfi tuvo que elegir un rey-hombre. La hija de Loki ha tomado al gobernante del pueblo de Yngvi.
(Yng 7)

La hija de Kennings Loki y la hermana del lobo [Fenris] y Narfi [otro de los hijos de Loki] son ​​bastante sencillas, pero la diosa de Glitnir es desconcertante. Glitnir es un lugar en Asgard, propiedad de Forseti. Sin embargo, Abram nota que una lista de nombres de caballos en el Prosa Edda incluye el nombre Glitnir, así que presumiblemente eso es lo que Thjodof quiso decir. (La mayoría de los demás se refieren a ella mencionando su nombre solo, o en un kenning que involucra a su padre o hermanos).

No hay ningún otro registro de que Hel esté asociado con caballos, pero dada la otra referencia a los caballos en el verso, parece ser lo que Thjodolf pretendía.

Por supuesto, hay muchas cosas que no sabemos sobre Hel y su reino. Tenemos muy poco, incluso sobre las diosas más importantes, y una diosa de la muerte precristiana habría sido un tema aún más arriesgado que el resto de ellas. Quizás deberíamos estar agradecidos por lo que tenemos, por ambiguo o difícil de entender que sea.

Referencias y enlaces
La Edda Poética, Carolyne Larrington (trad.) Oxford UP, 1996.

Abram, Christopher 2006: & # 8220Hel in Early Norse Poetry, & # 8221 Escandinavia vikinga y medieval 2: 1-29. (Brepols)
Clunies Ross, Margaret 1994: Ecos prolongados: viejos mitos nórdicos en la sociedad medieval del norte, vol. 1, la sociedad vikinga vol. 7, Odense UP.
Lindow, John 2001: Mitología nórdica: una guía de dioses, héroes, rituales y creencias, OUP, Nueva York y Oxford.
McKinnell, John 2005: Conocer al otro en el mito y la leyenda nórdicos, DS Brewer.
Quinn, Judy 2006: & # 8220 "El género de la muerte en la cosmología eddica", en La religión nórdica antigua en perspectivas a largo plazo: orígenes, cambios e interacciones, ed. Anders Andrén, Kristina Jennbert y Catharina Raudvere, Vägar til Midgård 8, Nordic Academic Press: 54-57. (academica.edu)
Simek, Rudolf (trad. Angela Hall) 1996: Diccionario de mitología del norte, D. S. Brewer, Cambridge.

Grumpy Lokean Anciano (enlaces a más fuentes en Hel)
Mujeres y muerte en el mundo nórdico (tesis, pdf aquí)


Dominio

Los dioses habían secuestrado a Hel y sus hermanos del salón de Angrboda. La arrojan al inframundo, donde distribuye a los que le son enviados a los malvados ya los que murieron de enfermedad o de vejez. Su salón en Helheim se llama Eljudnir, hogar de los muertos. Su sirviente es Ganglati y su sirvienta es Ganglot (que ambos pueden traducirse como & # 8220tardy & # 8221). Ella tiene un cuchillo llamado & # 8220Famine & # 8221, un plato llamado & # 8220Hunger & # 8221, una cama llamada & # 8220Disease & # 8221, y cortinas de cama llamadas & # 8220Misfortune & # 8221.


HEL, DIOSA NÓRDICA DE LOS MUERTOS

El nombre Hel significa literalmente "el que se esconde" o "el que cubre". Si lo mira como si fuera la raíz real de un nombre, podría descubrir que parece haber una gran cantidad de lugares que posiblemente hayan recibido su nombre, como Holanda, Helsinki, Holstein, Helvetia y Holderness.

Las Eddas en prosa ofrecen la descripción más utilizada del origen de la diosa Hel. Había una vez una giganta llamada Angrboda, que vivía en un lugar conocido como Giantland. En un momento de su vida, Angraboda entabló una relación con el semidiós Aesir, Loki, y fue de esa unión que tuvieron tres hijos. El primer niño fue el devorador Lupin, Fenrir (Fenris) -Wolf, el segundo niño fue el wyrm, Iormungard, la serpiente Midgard del océano que rodeaba la Tierra, mientras que el tercer niño era simplemente conocido como Hel. Estos tres niños habían pasado gran parte de su infancia creciendo en Giantland.

En el Reino Aesir de Asgaard, se habían transmitido varias profecías a los dioses, advirtiéndoles que aparecerían tres hermanos únicos que traerían un desastre tan terrible, que nada más que mal saldría de ello.

Cuando los dioses se enteraron por primera vez de los niños, se dieron cuenta casi de inmediato de que podrían ser los mismos niños de los que habían sido advertidos. Al principio, optaron por creer que se debía simplemente a la terrible naturaleza de su madre. Luego, después de haberlo considerado por un tiempo, se dieron cuenta de que los niños eran los mismos que se mencionan en las profecías, sin embargo, no era por quién era su madre, lo que les causaba tanta preocupación, sino por quién. su padre era. Su padre era Loki, conocido por causar gran destrucción y maldad. Loki también resultó ser el hermano de Odin, el líder de los Aesir, que era una tribu patriarcal y guerrera de dioses y diosas nórdicos.

Como no había duda de que los niños eran de Loki, Odin decidió que lo mejor que podía hacer era encontrar a los niños y luego traerlos de regreso a Asgaard. De esa forma serían criados como Aesir. Para lograr eso, Odin ordenó a los dioses viajar a Giantland, encontrar a los niños y luego traerlos de regreso a Asgaard. Los dioses hicieron lo que Odin deseaba, y cuando regresaron de Giantland, los tres niños estaban con ellos.

Lamentablemente, la niña cuyo nombre era Hel había nacido con los huesos en un lado de su cuerpo, completamente expuestos. Eso hizo las cosas extremadamente difíciles para Hel, porque su apariencia hizo que los otros dioses se sintieran tan incómodos que evitaban tener nada que ver con ella. Ser visto como una rareza, ser evitado y no tener amigos era muy difícil de manejar para Hel. Estaba extremadamente infeliz y llena de gran soledad y desesperación. Después de mucha deliberación, Hel tomó una decisión importante. Fue a Odin y le explicó lo difícil que era su vida allí, y luego le pidió permiso para dejar Asgaard. Odin simpatizaba con Hel, por lo que le concedió su deseo. Mucho más importante, también le dio el Mundo de Niflheim, uno de los Nueve Mundos de la Mitología Nórdica, para gobernar. Incluso llegó a nombrar ese lugar en su honor, llamándolo Helheim o Hel. Así fue como Hel se convirtió en la Diosa de los Muertos.

A cambio de darle Niflheim, Odin le dio a Hel ciertas responsabilidades que tenía que llevar a cabo en ese reino. Él la encargó de cuidar las almas de las personas que habían muerto por enfermedad o vejez, y por las almas de cualquier otra gente cuya muerte no hubiera ocurrido por la violencia o en la batalla.

Cuando los guerreros murieron en la batalla, sus almas se dividieron equitativamente entre la Diosa Freyja y Odin. Freyja tuvo el privilegio de tomar la primera mitad de las almas de esos guerreros que habían sido asesinados en batalla, mientras que las almas restantes de los guerreros muertos pertenecían a Odin.

Hel se instaló en su Reino, y cuando las almas de los muertos llegaron allí, fue ella quien las juzgó. También fue ella quien decidió si sus almas eran buenas o malas, y en qué medida. Luego, después de que Hel había hecho su evaluación, le dio a cada alma su justa recompensa. 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.


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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, y 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.


Ver el vídeo: To Hell and Back (Agosto 2022).