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Hel

Hel ("the Hidden" from the word hel, "to conceal") is the Norse Goddess of the dead, ruler of the Land of Mist, Niflheim or Niflhel located in the far north--a cold, damp place that is home to frost giants and dwarves. The name Hel was applied both to the Queen of the Underworld and the land itself, and it is thought that the land gave the Queen Her name. In the late Christianized form of the myth, when Hel became Hell, She was said to be the daughter of Loki, Who was equated with Lucifer.

In appearance She is said to be a fearsome sight: She is described as being piebald, with a face half-human and half blank, or more usually, half alive and half dead. It is told that when She was born, disease first came into the world. She was said to sweep through towns and cities bringing plague: if She used a rake, some would survive; if a broom, none would.

When the beloved Baldr was killed through Loki's treachery, the entire world begged Hel to release Him from death. She agreed, but only if every creature on earth truly mourned for Him. So beloved was Baldr that everything--Gods, humans, animals, trees, stones--wept for Him. All except an old giantess called Thokk, Who was Loki in disguise.

Hel in a reading can represent a time of simultaneous endings and beginnings, the point at which the circle is completed. She can also indicate integrity, as opposites unite to form a stronger whole.

Alternate spellings: Hela, Hella



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