Hel's Well

Hel's Well'

Perhaps you have followed a root—a line of tree stumps—from the tree Ygdrasil and now you are standing beside this well.

If you dig in the sand right down to the bottom you will see a both beautiful and disgusting picture! It is the goddess of the dead herself, Hel, that you are looking at.

The well is called Hvergelmir and it is the entrance to the kingdom of death. Here all is ice cold, dark, wet and foggy. The dead who come here are those who have died an ordinary death due to illness or ripe old age.
We say they died in sickbed.

In the world of the Vikings this was not a good way to die. No, men should die bravely and with honour and then go to Valhalla as Odin's soldiers. Here they will eat and drink and fight in the proper Viking way until their strength is required for the final battle against the giants when the old world perishes in Ragnarok.

No, the weaklings who just die an ordinary death can expect nothing good. First they have to pass the dragon 'Nidhogg' which sucks all the blood out of them so that they arrive in the kingdom of Hel as pale ghosts.

Here they are met by Hel who looks quite frightening—one side of her body is very beautiful but the other side is rotten and dark purple and stinking.

She is the daughter of Loki and the giant woman Angrboda and she is the sister of Jormungand and the wolf Fenrir. So she _is_ rather frightening.

It is not nice to be in Hel's domain. The river the dead have to cross is called Slid, the house is called Rainwet, the threshold Stumblestep, the bowl is called Hunger, the knife is Famine, and Lethargy and Laziness are her thralls.

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