Most religions and mythologies that come to us from antiquity have one element in common: the existence of an underworld. This can be terrible and governed by an evil being like the Christian hell or simply the place where the souls of the dead go and which is divided into sections to receive them, according to their behavior in life. The mythology of the northern peoples also has that world that it calls Helheim, the underworld of Norse mythology . Join us to meet him.
What could there be After the Death , if there is anything, is one of the main issues that humanity has raised. In Supercurioso we approached a while ago the experience of the young Ben Breedlove whose heart stopped him 3 times before he died and you can read in the post: How is the beyond? Ben Breedlove describes it and also to testimonies that Dr. Kübler-Ross collected . The myths that come to us about Helheim they are nothing more than an attempt to answer that question that most of us worry about.
Helheim, the hell of Norse mythology
Norse mythology makes them exist nine worlds which are distributed in the tree called Yggdrasil. These worlds are Asgard, Midgard, Helheim, Niflheim, Muspellheim, Svartalfheim, Alfheim, Vanaheim and Jötunheim. They inhabit different beings such as humans, gods, elves, giants of two types or vanir. Helheim It is the land occupied by the dead and is located in one of the three roots that Yggdrasil has. It is part of Niflheim, the world of darkness, but it is different from it. In addition to Helheim is also known simply as Hel.
As in all the underworld there is a being who governs them with a strong hand. In this case it is a female deity called Hela and is the goddess of death. She is the daughter of Loki and the giantess Angrboda and in some myths she is described as half human and half skeleton. Odin made her governor Helheim , one of the nine worlds. In him the deceased find lodging and the goddess has a great house with enormous walls and doors. Inside the house there is a large living room and Hela is served by a servant and a slave.
TO Helheim those who have died due to illness or old age go to stop and it is not possible to escape since it is surrounded by Gjöll, an impassable river. In some myths, Hel is going to stop the "evil beings", but in most it is a common place for the deceased who do not go to Valhalla. The culprits of murder, adultery and traitors who break their oaths, the worst crimes for the ancient Nordics, would end up in another area of Niflheim where a dragon lives Níðhöggr who will chew their corpses for all eternity.
The entry of Helheim is protected by a dog named Garm that closely resembles the Cerberus that protects the entrance to the Greek underworld. It is a blood-stained dog that will have a very important role when the Ragnarock arrives as it will face Týr who is the god of duels and the glory of the heroes.
To get to Helheim , according to the Eddas, a "undead" will take nine days on horseback through deep and dark valleys and ravines. You must also cross a golden bridge over the river Gjöll that the deceased are also obliged to pass. To cross it, he will have to answer the questions that Móðguð will ask the guardian of the bridge. These questions will be about his name and the clan he belongs to. Once crossed, you must continue "down and to the north" and in that direction you will find the path that leads to Helheim . When entering Helheim , according to some myths, you see two armies that face eternally. They are formed by two groups of fighters who died dishonorably and in that endless struggle they purge their sin for all eternity.
One of the events that will signal the start of the Ragnarock is the appearance of three roosters. One of them, of intense red color, will come from Helheim . In many ways Hel is similar to the Greek underworld or other cultures, it is not a place only the "wicked" go to, but there is room for the souls of the deceased who have not died honorably in combat. . Depending on your behavior, you will end up in one place or another in Helheim. Did you know the Nordic underworld? Do you have more information about him? Share it with us! If you want to know other curious stories of Norse mythology, we invite you to read:
- Jörmundgander | The terrible serpent of Norse mythology
- Líf and Lífthrasir, the couple that will survive the Ragnarök | What will happen?
- Idun | The legend of the guardian of the apples of eternal youth