Re-claiming Hel, the All Mother.
I’m part way through a month of deep diving into the rune (younger futhark) “rei” and the Goddess Hel.
I sat down to explore my reflections on Hel and Helheim using colour. I pulled all my iciest blue pencils and start to sketch and colour. I see Helheim as being deeply connected to the primal ice of Niflheim, yet as I laid the blues and purples down, I realised how different this is to my experience. My experience of visiting Hel is always coloured by the richest of reds and golds. By warmth, opulence, feasting- with not a hint of the icy blues my left brain was telling me to associate with Hel and Helheim.
Hel is considered the place we go to after death, if we are not gathered instead by either Odin or Freya.
With Hel being born with a face that was both half dead, and half alive I am left wondering whether she was born for this role (as Vidar was born to avenge his father). Or maybe she has always had this role, and re-incarnated as Loki’s daughter to continue this role. Mere supposition on my behalf, because she feels so old as a deity.
I see Hel as the “All Mother” sitting deep in the roots of Yggdrasil, with Odin the “All father” sat on his high seat at the top. I cannot help but wonder whether she was not banished to Hel, rather Odin struck a bargain with her that suited them both very well indeed. She feels like an equal of Odin, rather than a mere child to be sent away. And when Balder died it was his parents that beseeched Hel to let him leave her realms, and she was quite able to say “no” to Odin. To keep her boundaries clear, and I wonder whether Balder was content to rest awhile in Hel’s halls, knowing that in time he would be reborn- but that the rest and reflection was much needed.
She is the All-Mother because all of us currently in physical form have sat awhile with her in her halls- Hel is the resting place after death and before birth, a pause in this journey of re-incarnation. She has mothered and birthed each one of our souls. I don’t associate any judgement with Hel, no punishment or weighing of souls. Rather an honesty, a compassion, a place to rest and reflect, to gather together with lost loved ones.
It is so easy in our physical form to see death as a cliff edge, an ending. Yet all around us life runs in cycles. We trust that after the shortest day the sun will regain his strength and the days will lengthen. We trust that as the leaves drop at Autumn- the trees are simply following their natural cycle, and so Sprig will come round again, and the leaves will grow again.
So, Hel and Helheim, is one part of our journey, our wheel of life. The pause before re-birth.
And that gold and red, the feasting, the gathered loved ones in the darkest of times. It has a reflection of Yuletide. A time of light and love in the dark mid-winter- just as Helheim can be a time of light and love in a journey between lives