Hel: Anthology and Correspondences
Hel is the Norse Goddess of the Underworld (her name means ‘hidden’), psychopomp and ruler, with celebrations at Samhain and Yule. Her zodiac ruler is Scorpio and thus ruled by Pluto (also by Mars, it is said that Pluto is the higher octave of Mars). It is in the darkness, such as the final closing of one’s eyes in bodily form, is where we find her ready to guide us.
Plants/Trees: Cedar, Elder, Elm, Juniper (berries too), Myrrh
Animals: Raven, Dog, Serpent, Wolf
Stones: Jet, Obsidian, Black Agate, Onyx
Lineage: Father – Loki, Mother – Angrboða
Siblings: Jörmungandr and Fenrir
There are many in the Norse community who do not believe Hel to be a goddess, but a place for the dead who had not met their fates in battle. Others, due to her parental lineage, believe that she cannot be a true goddess. Semantics aside, we can turn to 9th and early 10th century texts, sagas, and poems from the likes of Þjóðólfr and Bragi Boddason to find references to Hel as a Goddess of death and the underworld prior to the Christian conversion era (Abram, 2003). While most of what we have comes from The Eddas, Abram (2003) outlines how some of these stories were impacted by the incoming Christian doctrine and led to the likes of Snorri making changes to the myths if only to make them more palatable.
Hel was brought to Odin, along with her siblings once the Gods found out of their existence. It had been foretold that the offspring of Loki would bring about destruction. Odin shackled Jörmungandr and Fenrir, while casting Hel away to Niflheim as the ruler of the place of her name (Hel). Or so the stories have claimed.
Passed down through the lens and voices of men, of those who won wars and could write history as they saw fit, they neglected to mention she took her throne in The Great Hall at her time of choosing.
She then gave Odin his Ravens, Huginn and Munnin, giving Odin the ability to see deeply between the worlds of thought and memory (Billinghurst, 2021). She became the Queen of the Castle, of the Great Hall, and a warm hostess for those who died of illness and old age. She is a Goddess in and of herself, she is ruler and psychopomp, hostess and judge, warmth in the coldest place, both living and dying at the same time. As we all are.
Her magic is in transformation, of letting go to allow space for what inevitably is required of us to evolve. Something must die for something to live, it is the great pattern of nature. She is the guide who can walk us through the darkness of release and bring the warmth that allows something else to thrive in its place.
Ivy’s experience with Hel
When Hel made her desire to be the first monthly focus Goddess apparent, I don’t think Kaycee or I had any idea what was in store. When I was calling her in on the 1st, I felt a distinct energy shift. One unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
Many will lead you to believe that healing trauma “isn’t that difficult, or that painful”. That is merely surface healing. Deep healing, to become truly sovereign, to heal ancestral lines, is something wholly different. There are thing I have spent the whole month with. Now, I speak them.
Deep, truthful, long-lasting healing isn’t wine, roses and sweet song birds.
As I traversed the path to reach the entrance to the underworld and her hall, I was not alone. The landscape was beautiful, but desolate. The journey was filled with shifting shadows. Birds were high up in the barren trees and I caught glimpses of the wolves that watched my every step.
The road to healing, the truth, redemption whatever you wish to call it is littered, not with wine and roses, but blood, tears, bones, the lies we’re told, and the parts of ourselves we have cast into the aether. The violence inflicted upon women can leave us locked in a validation seeking prison of the mind.
You are enough. You always have been.
Seeking out like-minded people isn’t weakness. We live in a socially driven society. If someone is trying to discourage you from seeking connection, which can move our collective consciousness forward, they aren’t thinking about what is best for you. Only their own ego and the acceptance they seek.
Hel has taught me, over the last month, just how strong these connections can be. While she does take the dead who don’t die in battle, it is not only the elderly and infirm. Nor is it “the lazy”. I want you to ask yourself one simple question. What actually defines a battle? It isn’t just taking up arms, running onto a battlefield, and shedding blood. We all fight battles every day. From our mental health to the struggles of just existing in a patriarchal society.
Hel is a protectoress of women and children.
As you know, we called her in on the 1st, then spent weeks building that relationship. Everything at our disposal was utilized in that quest. The incense, oil, meditation, sigils, devotional altars, sacred black candles, were all part of that process. Each time I walked the path to Yggdrasil and down into her realm, my heart felt more at ease.
Two weeks ago, tragedy struck. I won’t go into the details, those that know me know what they are. From one careless act, a boy was left without his mother, a mother without her daughter, a woman without her sister, and a partner without his love. The ripple effect was as breathtaking as it was horrifying. This, too, is a battle.
Kaycee and I worked together that night to cast of web of protection. I then made my oh-so-familiar journey. My heart was so, so heavy. I was coming to her to ask for her to protect this child. As soon as I entered Hel’s hall, she motioned me to her. She knew my worries, she knew why I had come.
When her hand stretched toward me, I gave her this small, glowing ember that I didn’t even realize was in my palm. It was the protection spell I had cast earlier. Once it was free from my grasp, a weight lifted, but the worries remained.
My own mortality was staring me in the face. I am a mother, a Mimi, a wife, a daughter, an aunt, the thought of leaving my family so tragically was enough to give anyone pause. Those thoughts sat with me for days before I could finally let it go. They now sit in the deep darkness.
That family that is forever changed? Hel keeps silent watch. Their grief is a battle. One that will take a lifetime to heal. She has my gratitude for the wisdom she has taught me. I am a warrior, but I am one of her warriors.
Abram, C. (2003). Representations of the pagan afterlife in medieval Scandinavian literature. Doctoral thesis. University of Cambridge.
Billinghurst, F. (2021). Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms. Moon Books – John Hunt Publishing.
Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences
To read more of our posts about Hel and the work we did this month, you can find a bit of a compendium here.