Hel - Goddess of Norse Mythology

In Norse mythology, Hel (or Hela) which translated from old Norse means "that which hides" is the goddess of the dead, but she is not assigned to either the Æsir or Vanir gods, but the giants. She is the daughter of Loki and giantess Angrboða (old Norse "she who offers sorrow") and sister of Fenrir (Fenris-Wolf) and Jörmungand (Midgard serpent.)

Hel is portrayed as fierce-looking, grim and sinister, her skin is half normal, and half blue-black that seems to be rotting like that of a corpse, indicating that she is half-dead and half-alive at the same time. Depending on the source she is a vengeful goddess or a gentle one and she has been described as if half plunged into the darkness of death and the other half in the light of life.

Hel, together with her siblings, Fenrir and Jörmungand were brought to Asgard by the Æsir because they were afraid of the danger that they represented to the gods. Fenrir was bound with the shackle Gleipnir (a magical chain that is impossible to break), Jörmungand was hurled into the great ocean that encircles Midgard, and Hel was banished to the underworld but bestowed goddess of the dead over all those whom Valhalla did not accept.

Accompanied by Garmr (old Norse "Rag") a ferocious hellhound that guards the gates of the underworld, Móðguðr (Modgud, old Norse "Furious Battler") a giantess who guards the bridge to the underworld, and many servants, Hel resides as a gatekeeper and ruler of the underworld (Helheim) also referred to as "Hel" or "Halls of Hel" where she receives those that die of old age or illness and can not enter Valhalla.

During the onset of Ragnarok ("Fate of the Gods") the day when a great battle would be fought by the Norse gods and their enemies. The bounds created by the gods are destined to break freeing Hel and her siblings, and on which day the dead will return from the underworld to fight in a great battle. However, no known surviving texts mention Hel taking part in the fighting.



Name Gender Group God of
Baduhenna Goddess war and storms
Baldur (Baldr, Balder) identified with the Old English bealdor = 'lord' or 'prince' God Æsir beauty, love, purity, peace, righteousness
Beyla a younger form of Old Norse Baunila = 'little bean' Goddess earth
Bil Goddess Ásynjur waining moon
Borr (Bor, Bör, Bur, Burr) God Other
Bragi (Brage) connected with Old Norse Bragr = 'poetry' God Æsir knowledge, poetry, eloquence, and the patron of skalds
Buri (Búri, Bori, Bure) God Other gods
Byggvir Old Norse = 'barley' God
Dellingr (Delling) Old Norse = 'luminous' or 'shining one' God Æsir personification of dawn
Eir (Eil, Eira, Eyr, Eyra) Old Norse = 'protection' or 'help' Goddess Ásynjur healing
Eostre (Eastre, Ostara) Goddess spring, rebirth, and protectress of fertility
Forseti (Forsete) Old Norse = 'presiding one' God Æsir justice
Freyja (Freya, Freja, Frey'a, Gefion, Horn, Mardal, Mardoll, Menglad, Menglod, Moertholl, Sessrymner, Syr, Vanadis) Goddess Vanir fertility, love, beauty, magic, war, and death
Freyr (Frey, Fraig, Fro, Fricco, Ingun, Ingunnar-Frey, Ingvi-Frey, Sviagod, Yngri, Yngvi) God Vanir agriculture, prosperity, life and fertility
Frigg (Frigga, Frig, Fri, Frija, Frygga, Frea, Fria, Frige, and Holda) Old Norse = 'to love' Goddess Ásynjur love, marriage, fertility, family, civilization, and a prophetess
Fulla (Abundantia, Abundia, Habone, Vol, Vola, Volla) Goddess Ásynjur
Gefjon (Gefjun, Gefion) Old Norse = 'the giving one' Goddess knowledge
Gersemi (Gersimi, Gerseme) Old Norse = 'gem' Goddess Ásynjur love
Gerda (Gerd, Gerdhr, Gerðr) Goddess Vanir
Gna (Gná, Gnaa) Goddess Ásynjur
Gullveig (Gollveig, Gulveig, Golveig-Heid, Gulveig-Hoder, Angerboda, Angerbohda, Aurboda, East Wind Hag, Heid, Heidr, Ljod, Midgard, Orboda, The Volva) Goddess Vanir
Henir (Hoeni, Hœnir, Hone, Honer, Honir) God Æsir
Hariasa Goddess war
Heimdall (Heimdal, Heimdallr, Heimdalr, Heimdali) God Æsir guardian
Hel (Heimdal, Heimdallr, Heimdalr, Heimdali) Goddess the dead
Hermod (Hermóðr, Heremod) Old Norse = 'war spirit' God Æsir messenger of the gods
Hlin (Hlín, Hlina) Old Norse = 'protectress' Goddess Ásynjur
Hodr (Höðr, Hod, Hothenus, Hodar, Hoder, Hodhr, Hodir, Hodur) Goddess Æsir
Idun (Iðunn, Iduna, Idunn, Idunna, Ithun, Ydun) Goddess Ásynjur spring and rejuvenation
Irpa Old Norse = 'brown' Goddess Other earth
Lofn Old Norse = 'the comforter' Goddess Ásynjur love
Lodurr (Lóðurr, Lodur, Lóður, Lódurr, Lódur, Lóthurr, Lóthur, Lódhurr, Lódhur, Lodur, Lothurr, Lothur, Lodhurr, Loðurr, Loður, Lodhur) God Æsir life
Loki (Fjalar, Loder, Lodur, Loke, Lokkju, Lopter, Lopti, Sagloki, Suttung, Thok, Utgard-Loki) God Æsir fire, magic, shape-shifting, trickster, chaos
Mani (Máni, Mane) God Æsir personification of the moon
Mimir (Mim, Mímir, Mimar, Mime, Mimer-Nidhad, Baugreginn Jotunn, Hodd-Dropnir, Hodd-Mimer, Hoddrofnir, Naddgofugr) Goddess Other wisdom
Meili Old Norse = 'the lovely one' God Æsir
Nanna Old Norse name deriving from Ancient Germanic nanþi = 'daring' Goddess Ásynjur
Nerthus (Nertous) Goddess Vanir lakes and springs
Njord (Njörðr, Njörd, Niördr Niord, Njorth, Nordur) God Vanir the sea, the wind, fertility, patron saint of fishermen and sailors
Njorun (Njörun, Niorun) Goddess Ásynjur
Odin (Alfdaur, Alfadir, Bileygr, Glapsuidir, Othinn, Wodan, Wotan, Othin, Othinn, Othinus, Ouvin, Votan, Wode, Wodemus, Wodhen, Woden, Wodin, Wotam, Woutan, Wuotan) Goddess Æsir wisdom, war, magic, poetry, prophecy, victory and death
Odr (Óðr, Od) Goddess Vanir
Ran Old Norse Rán = 'theft' Goddess Ásynjur the sea and death
Saga Old Norse Sága = 'seeing one' Goddess Ásynjur wisdom and treasure
Sandraudiga Goddess
Sif Old Norse = 'wife' Goddess Ásynjur harvest and land
Sigyn (Siguna) Goddess Ásynjur earth
Sinthgunt Goddess
Sjofn (Sjöfn, Sjofn) Goddess Ásynjur relationships, love, and marriage
Skadi Old Norse Skaði = 'death' Goddess Vanir hunting and winter
Snotra Old Norse = 'clever' Goddess Ásynjur wisdom
Sol (Sól, Sunna) Goddess personification of the sun
Syn Old Norse = 'refusal' Goddess Ásynjur defense and truth
Thor (þórr, þunor, Thunaer, Donar, Thur, Tor, Tror) God Æsir strength, protection, war, storms, thunder and lightning
Thrud (þrúðr, Thrúd, þrúðr) Goddess
Thorgeror Holgabruor (þorgerðr Hölgabrüðr) Goddess Other
Tyr (Týr, Tiw, Tig, Ziu, Teu, Thingsus, Tiwaz, Ty, Tyw, Zio, Ziv, Ziw) God Æsir war, justice in battle, victory and heroic glory
Ullr (Auler, Holler, Oller, Ollerus, Uller, Ullerus, Ullr, Wuldor) Goddess Æsir justice and winter
Vali Old Norse Váli = 'the slain' Goddess Æsir vengeance
Var (Vár, Vara, Vór) Goddess Ásynjur
Ve (Vé) God Æsir earth
Vili God Æsir earth
Vor Old Norse Vör = 'the careful one' Goddess Ásynjur wisdom
Zisa (Cisa) Goddess harvest