Once upon a time, being sent to Hel may have been inevitable, but it wasn’t perceived as punishment: Hel, daughter of Angerboda and Loki, rules the Norse realm of the dead. She is the keeper of the souls of the departed. Those who die at sea or in battle have other destinations; everyone else goes to Hel, who welcomes them into her home, Helhaim, regardless of whether they were good, bad, sinful, or saintly while alive.
Hel’s realm is not a sulphurous, fiery torture chamber. Rather it is a kind of inn or way station for the dead, although once checked in, one can never check out. Helhaim is a bleak, gray, damp, misty realm: the concept of heat as punishment was imported from hotter, southern climes alongside Christianity. Lack of warmth with no hope of Spring was the Norse equivalent of desolation. That said, some regions of Helhaim are more comfortable than others: Hel judges and decides exactly where each individual soul is directed.
Hel’s name may derive from the Old German halja, meaning “covering.” She may or may not be the same spirit as Hulda (Holle). Hel and her brothers, a wolf and a snake, were raised by their mother, the witch Angerboda, in the Iron Wood. Prophecy suggested that the siblings would someday lead a Host of Destruction against the Asir and so Odin had them “brought” to Asgard, where each was ultimately entrapped. Odin personally seized Hel and flung her as far as he could: she landed in the Realm of Death and became its Queen. She lives in a great hall, Eliudnir, within Helhaim. She remains destined to lead an uprising of rebellious spirits and ghosts.
This candle and herbs were designed to help establish a connection with Hel.