Saturday, October 12, 2013



In Norse mythology, Helheim, the location, shares a name with Hela, a Goddess associated with the location, which is different than the Christian Hell.  To avoid confusion, a number of literary texts often called this underworld Helheim (from Norse heima or heimr, "home" "region" "abode").  The word Hel is found in Norse words and phrases related to death such as Helför ("Hel-journey," a funeral) and Helsótt ("Hel-sickness," a fatal illness).

Helheim is one of the nine worlds of Norse mythology.  It is ruled by Hela or Hel, the daughter of the trickster God Loki.

This cold, dark and icy abode of the dead is located by the world of Niflheim, on the lowest level of the Norse universe.  No one can ever leave this place, because of the impassable river that flows and encircles Helheim.  Once they enter Helheim, not even the Gods can leave.  Those who die of old age or disease, and others not killed in battle, go to Helheim while those who die bravely on the battlefield go to Valhalla or Freya's Field.

The entrance to Helheim is guarded by Garm, a monstrous hound.  Garm guards the gateway into Helheim and keeps souls of the dead from escaping the underworld.  Garm is often equated with the wolf Fenrir.  It can also be compared with Cerberus, the Greek guardian of the underworld.

Once spirits were through the gates, Hela judged them and decided whether their soul was good or bad and to what degree. Then, after Hela had made had 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 paradise, all the way down to the dark horrors of Nastrand and Nidhogg. Nastrand was the house or level for criminals. Nidhogg was a dragon that devoured the corpses of evil-doers, meaning no Ragnarok or visiting love ones. 

Hela and her army of the dead do play a role at the start Ragnarok.

Hail to Helheim,

Teach us to praise loss and death
And the passing of all things,
For from this flux,
We know your blessings flow.



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