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The White Moon Gallery Presents

a project by Rowen Saille

© All original material in this site is under copyright protection
and is the intellectual property of the author.

Hel by Hrana Janto

©Hrana Janto , used by permission of the artist.

Background Story Magic Divination Correspondences

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Hel is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted Goddess aspects in history. She has been greatly perverted through the years by patriarchal domination and ultimately used by the early Christian church as a scare tactic to frighten the masses into “righteous” acts. To get the real story, we have to go back to the early Nordic people and look this death Goddess in the face.

According to Norse tradition, Hel is one of three children born to Loki, the trickster, and Angrboda, the giantess. Her body and face were described as half in light and half in darkness. She was half dead and half alive. Her face was at once beautiful to look upon and horrific in form. Her siblings were Fenrir, the wolf who would destroy Asgard during Ragnarok, and Jormungand, the Midhgard serpent who lies at the bottom of the ocean wrapped around the world with his tail in his mouth (it is he that holds the world together). (6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 16, 19, 21, 23)

Hel is cast into the netherworld and becomes the ruler of that underworld to which souls who have not died in battle will depart. As thanks for making Her ruler of the netherworld, Hel makes a gift to Odin. She gives him two ravens, Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory). Ravens are messengers between this realm and the next, opening pathways to death’s realm. (1, 4, 5, 6, 23)

Her realm is named for her, Hel or Helheim. Because She accepts all to Helheim, she also becomes the judge to determine the fate of each soul in the afterlife. The evil dead are banished to a realm of icy cold death (a fate that the Nordic people found much worse in telling than a lake of fire) and torture. This particular aspect of Hel’s realm was the basis for the Judeo-Christian “hell” to which sinners are banished and tortured for eternity. Unlike the Judeo-Christian concept, Helheim also served as the shelter and gathering place of souls to be reincarnated. Hel watches over those who died peacefully of old age or illness. She cares for children and women who die in childbirth. She guides those souls who do not choose the path of war and violence through the circle of death to rebirth.(3, 6, 8, 10, 22)

Because of Hel’s special role in the deaths of mothers in childbirth and children of all ages who die, She has become, according to some sources, the special guardian of children. Mother Goose is believed to be based on Frau Holle or Frau Holda who is a kindly and wise, if slightly horrific crone who rewards the industrious and punishes the lazy. The goose aspect is from a legend tradition that says that snow is a result of Frau Holda shaking out her bed linens. (11, 12, 14, 15, 19)

One of the stories involving Hel is the decent of Balder into Helheim. Loki arranged for Balder to die by tricking him into a rigged contest. Because the contest was hosted in Asgard, Balder could not return to that place in death. His relocation sent him to the only other realm for the dead, Hel’s domain. His arrival to Helheim was welcomed with banquet and festival, proof that not all of Hel’s realm was torturous. (5, 23)

Hel governs the world beyond that of the living. In magic, she makes thin the veil between worlds. Seidhr [SAY-theer] or Nordic shamans call upon Her protection and wear the helkappe, a magic mask, to render them invisible (like Hades helm of invisibility) and enable them to pass through the gateway into the realm of death and spirit. In divination, Her special symbol is Hagalaz, hail: The embodiment of the icy realm She rules. Hel stands at the crossroads in judgment of souls who pass into Her realm. In that, She is linked to Osiris and Isis as well as Hecate. (2, 3, 13, 17, 20, 22)

Hel has fallen from her privileged position as guardian and ruler through years of being represented as an evil, ugly entity waiting to devour and torture lost souls. Ignorance as used Her as a means of scaring children and adults into a supposedly righteous path (instead of allowing free will to guide their actions to do what is right). May we learn and dispel the slander of years by seeing Her for the protector, judge, and guide that She originally represented.

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Hela - another version of the name Hel. Also Helle.

Hecate - Guardian of the crossroads and patron of witches.

Holle - Frau Holle is the kindly mistress who guards those who do not die in battle. She holds them in preparation for reincarnation.

Holda - Dame Holda is a precursor to Mother Goose. She is guardian of children who die. She shakes her feather matress to make it snow.

Idunna - Goddess aspect whose apples feed the gods and give them immortality (much like the Greek ambrosia).

Isis - Special protector and caregiver for the dead. Sits with Osiris in judgment of souls.

Kali - Death Goddess aspect. Destroyer and bringer of life. Kali enables reincarnation and life by destroying the old. Hel represents this harsh Goddess aspect.

James Alexander

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Susan Seddon Boulet
Goddesses Knowledge Cards

Purpose: To travel on the astral plane or to contact those that have passed before.
This ritual should be performed in the waning or new moon. It is a wonderful Samhain ritual. Wear white or black, or be skyclad. Have a comfortable space created for this ritual.

     Candles: white and black
     Incense: jasmine, cedar, sage, myrrh, sweetgrass, citrus
     Flowers: any white flowers or white flower petals
     Moonstone, clear quartz crystal, obsidian, Appache tear, or onyx (almost any black or white stone that resonates with you will work).
     Wand: denuded dark wood branch, or quartz crystal - cast circle.
     Representation of the rune Hagalaz placed on the altar.
     Light candles.
     Purify with incense.
     Cast circle/Invoke directions 
         Earth - protection and grounded strength
         Air - insight and communication
         Fire - passion for life and feeling
         Water - peace and movement/flow
         Spirit - ancestor [specific or general]
     Invoke - "Those who have gone before carry the wisdom of the past. May we/I learn the lessons of the elders as we/I contact the spirits this night."
     Body - Take some white petals or flowers and your chosen white or black stone. Think of the ancestor or spirit that you wish to contact. If there is a specific issue or question that you have, focus on that question and chant:
         "Lady Hel, who guards and guides all those who pass before us through the veil, we/I call you to protect us/me on our/my journey."
     Place the petals or flowers in a circle around you, and hold the stone in your non-dominant hand.
     Focus your energy into a white circle. Imagine white light surrounding you in a protective cocoon.
     Meditation - Relax in a comfortable position. Focus on the candles. Feel yourself drift up with the air heated by the flame. You feel yourself flowing up like wisps of mist. There is a border, like a curtain, that stands between you and the astral plane. Feel yourself push against this membrane and finally slip through, like a baby into the world. You find yourself on a wide field. What does the field look like? You are not alone. Who is here with you? It may be an ancestor that needs to tell you something. It may be some spirit that wants to share some gift with you. It may be a reflection of a prior incarnation that wants to unveil a memory to you. Walk with them along the plane. Know you are protected. You are under the wings of Hel, guardian of this realm. She is protecting you. Soon, you feel Her calling. It is time for you to go. Thank your companion and make your departure from them. Walk back to the veil. Push your way through the curtain, and see your body enveloped in light awaiting your return. Feel yourself flowing back into your body: Your arms, your legs, your back against the floor. You have returned. Slowly roll to your side and sit up.
     Grounding is very important in this ritual to make sure that you are firmly back in this plane. Eat. Interact with living family and friends. Drink water.
     If you are doing this as a group ritual, share hugs or hold hands in the circle before opening it.
    Your stone has been charged. If you want to contact your ancestor or spirit guide from this ritual again, you can meditate on a flame and hold the stone in your non-dominant hand. Keeping the stone by your bed when you sleep can also reveal important wisdom from the astral plane.

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Moonstone Runeset
Rowen Saille

Hel is a northern Goddess aspect. As such, the divination most closely associated with her is casting runes. Runes are an ancient alphabet system that was used for communication on the physical and spiritual realm. Traditionally runes consist of 24 characters which make up the "Futhark." The 24 runes are broken up into three 8-character groups called aetts. Later, a 25th blank rune was added to represent fate or Wyrd. Runes can be made of wood, bone, stone, or even paper. Traditionalists believe that bone is the most authentic material. However, choice of material is largely a matter of resonance with the caster.

Casting Runes

(1, 3, 21, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29)

Runes can be places in a bag or cup much like dice. Shake them around, and pour them out onto a diviner's cloth (a white cloth that may have a map or design to indicate areas of concern).

Another method is to place all the runes face-down on a surface or leave them in their bag, and choose the number for the reading by holding your hand over the runes and sensing whether they feel hot or cold.

The number of runes you choose depend on the spread and the question being asked. Rune spreads can be as simple as a single rune or as in depth as the 25-rune "Gate of Heaven" cast. The important part is focusing on the question or issue and asking the divine to reveal advice to you.

Like any divination tool, it requires some practice and natural resonance. The runes you choose for yourself are important, too. Eventually, making a set for yourself is the best option, but for those without time, buying a set is fine as long as you charge it for yourself. It is easy to do. Just purify them with sage or cedar incense. Then keep them on your person as much as possible. Using the runes also charges them with your energy. Be sure to purify your runes again if you have been experiencing a lot of negative energy in your life.

Some good books and rune resources are given in the sources section.

Haegl from Rune Oracle
Nigel Jackson
The Rune Oracle

Patricia Monaghan

I hear
you invoked
every day
by those ignorant
of your power:
Mighty Hel,
Oh Hel.

Thus doe she endure,
the forgotten goddess,
never far from us,
never quite erased,
Oh Hel,
dark mother,
we always
come back
to you,

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Colors: white and black
Moon phase: dark/new
Animals: owls, ravens
Herbs/Flowers: Jasmine, evergreens, any white flower
Stones: moonstone, quartz crystal, onyx, hematite, obsidian
Aspects: change, compassion, death, reincarnation, just rule
Wheel of the Year: Samhain and Yule
Rune: Hagalaz - hail

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  1. Arcarti, K. (1994). Runes: A beginner's guide. London: Hodder & Stoughton
  2. Aswynn, F. (1998). Northern Mysteries and Magic. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
  3. Aswynn, F. (2000). Principles of Runes. London: Thorsons/HarperCollins.
  4. Babcock, M. Goddesses: Knowledge cards (illus.: Susan Seddon Boulet). Hong Kong: Pomegranate.
  5. Bulfinch's Mythology, The Age of Fable - Chapter 38 Northern Mythology Valhalla, The Valkyrior, Thor, Loki
  6. Bulfinch's Mythology, The Age of Fable - Chapter 40 The Death of Baldur, The Elves, Runic Letters, Skalds, Iceland
  7. Cotterell, A. (1997). Norse Mythology: The myths and legends of the Nordic Gods. New York, NY: Lorenz Books.
  8. d'Aulaire, I. & d'Aulaire, E. P. (1967). D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants. New York: Doubleday.
  9. Davidson, H. R. E. (1969). Scandinavian Mythology. London: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd.
  10. Encyclopedia Mythica - Article Hel
  11. Encyclopedia Mythica - Article Helheim
  12. Encyclopedia Mythica - Article Holle
  13. Encyclopedia Mythica Norse Mythology
  14. Fitch, E. (1990). The Rites of Odin. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
  15. Frau Holle -  
  16. Gnames - not active)  
  17. Hel - (link not active)
  18. Hel - Hades: Comparison of Norse and Greek Mythos - (Link not active)
  19. Heroes and Other Characters of Mythology - (link not active)  
  20. HOLLE -
  21. Jackson, N. & RavenWolf, S. (1996). The Rune Oracle. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
  22. Loki's children -  
  23. Meadows, K. (1996). Rune Power: The secret knowledge of the wise ones. Boston, MA: Element Books, Inc.
  24. Northern Europe (Germanic) Gods-Goddesses from The Book of Gods, Goddesses, Soul, Death and Rebirth (link not active)
  25. Peschel, L. (1989). A Practical Guide to The Runes: Their uses in divination and magick. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
  26. The Poetic Edda. Hollander, L. M. (trans.). (1962). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
  27. Thorsson, E. (1998). Northern Magic: Rune mysteries and shamanism. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
  28. Thorsson, E. (1999). Runcaster's Handbook: The well of wyrd. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc.
  29. Thorsson, E. (1987). Runelore: A handbook of esoteric runology. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc. 
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