Helheim | Norse Mythology


Helheim, also called Hel, Old Norse Helheimr, is the realm of the goddess of the dead Hel. Presumably she is the eponym for the English word "hell" (German "Hölle"). Translated Hel means as much as "hidden, concealed" (compare the verb "to conceal").

Hel is the daughter of the god Loki and the giantess Angrboda. Her eponymous realm is dark and cold. It lies at the lower end of Yggdrasil, the world tree.

Here come all those who have died the "straw death" (old age, disease). In a part of Helheim called Náströnd, perjurers, murderers and adulterers are punished. The realm also accepts deceased gods such as Baldr. There is no return from this realm.

In the process, Helheim underwent a revaluation. At first, it was intended as a place for all the dead. Probably under the influence of Christianity, the idea of a place of punishment and suffering developed and later corresponded to the Christian idea of hell.

Helheim is surrounded by the fence Helgrind, also called Nágrind or Valgrind. One must enter the realm of the dead through a gate guarded by the hellhound Garm, who welcomes the deceased with his loud barking.

Through this opening also flows the river of the dead, Gjöll, over which spans the bridge of the dead, Gjallarbrú. This bridge is guarded by the maiden giantess Modgudr.

Hel's residence is called Eljudnir (misery), her table Hungr (hunger), her knife Sultr (disgrace) and her doorstep Fallandaforad (falling danger). Kor (coffin) is the name of her bed and Blikjandabol (blinking doom) that of her bed curtain.

Her servants are the maid Ganglot (carrying step) and the servant Ganglati (slow step).