HEL: Norse goddess of death and the underworld
Spiritual growth theme: the end of a cycle, major transitions, completions, inevitable change
Symbols: ravens and crows, black crystals, rune symbol ‘Hagalaz’, spirals
Who is Hel?
Hel is a ‘soul midwife’ who dwells in the Norse underworld. She brings spiritual renewal to those who have died from disease or old age. She has a special role in caring for the souls of women and babies who die in childbirth.
Like other mysterious goddesses, Hel’s powers have been universally feared by patriarchy and her true nature misunderstood. In Norse mythology, the gods confined her to Niflheim, the icy realm of death, which existed beneath the roots of the world tree, Yggdrasil.
Both the Norse gods and the Vikings were wary of Niflheim and deeply uncomfortable with Hel’s appearance. The medieval Christian church named their ‘hell’, a place of eternal punishment and suffering, after her.
Hel is a soul-healer
To understand Hel, it’s necessary to transcend these negative and narrow perceptions. In goddess spirituality, she’s a profound feminine soul-healer who holds open the gateway between the earthly and spiritual dimensions. She helps us see that death and endings are a natural part of existence. Her wisdom supports the process of physical, emotional and spiritual release, easing our fears about letting go.
What are her key themes and lessons?
Hel can guide us through periods of inevitable change, transitions and endings. She represents the two constants in life: the dying of the old and rebirth of the new. Her energy can be likened to the Death card in the Tarot, which symbolises the end of a major cycle, relationship, life stage or pattern. Rather than being portent of physical death, Hel helps us to accept endings as a precursor to new beginnings.
How can Hel help you?
If Hel appears in your life, perhaps in an oracle card reading, meditation or through other signs from the universe, it could signify that an important experience has now come to completion. A part of your life is definitely coming to a close. Remember though, that endings herald physical and spiritual renewal. Hel brings news of a big transformation up ahead – but first, it’s time to let go of what’s no longer needed.
To prepare for transformation, you may go through a shedding of skins to purge old identities, patterns and roles. Hel can help you through many of life’s major transitions, such as a child leaving home, a relationship ending, retirement from a job or even getting married or becoming a parent.
You can call on Hel to support you even if you’re not going through an ending, as she helps you to release anything that’s no longer serving you, making space for new energy to enter.
Letting go of the past
Letting go of what ‘was’ can be hard. Our tendency can be to cling to the familiar and to the past. Embracing endings and honouring our past is one of the most powerful healing acts. Opening our arms to the natural surfacing of emotions such as sadness, grief and loss can be important. These feelings are just energy that wants to be acknowledged and released. Expressing emotions such as loss or sadness in a safe setting can help enormously with moving through a period of deep transition.
Goddess Hel is a skilled guide to help us accept what’s ready to leave or reach completion in our lives so we can open to a rich new chapter.
Hel’s Walking Spiral meditation
The following meditation calls upon Hel’s healing spiral of light to ritually mark the end of a cycle or consciously let go of the old energy in your life.
- Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths.
- Bring the image of Hel into your mind’s eye.
- Imagine yourself standing at the top of a spiral pathway.
- Step onto the path.
- As you walk along the Spiral of Life pathway with Hel, think about how far you’ve already walked.
- Notice how your body and emotions feel. Bless all your past experiences and memories.
- When you reach the end of the spiral, see yourself in Hel’s ‘underworld’, a place of spiritual release and regeneration.
- Visualise a spiral symbol over your heart centre.
- Call to mind a situation that’s completing, or recently ended.
- Think about where one door is closing in your life. Take a moment to reflect on what this situation, role or relationship has brought you.
- When you’re ready, say ‘thank you’ for the soul lessons and gifts. As you say goodbye, notice if any energy cords dissolve or symbolic garments or objects drop away from you.
- Visualize yourself opening a brand-new door. Ask your heart to show you something about what’s waiting for you on the other side. Be open to any feelings or impressions.
- Take a deep breath and walk through this new door now. How does it feel?
- Hold this fresh energy in your heart as you make your way back along the spiral pathway.
- To complete this ritual, give thanks to Hel. Take some energising breaths and come back into the room in your own time.