Ancestors-Hel

No, not like the Christian hell.

Goddess-Hel
not how I see her but I do enjoy the sweetness of this picture

She is definitely one of the Goddesses that gets little attention, and when she does people tend to think of her as evil. Why? Because people think anything associated with death is evil, except Death is the absolute Neutral. Personally in pagan religions, I don’t really see “evil” as a thing (in reference to Gods, people can definitely be evil). There is light and dark. Both need to be worked with or there is no balance. But that’s getting off topic.

Hel (means Hidden in Old Norse), the Goddess of the dead, daughter of Loki and Angrboda, born in the Ironwood.

She is known as Hel, Hela, Halja, or (some say) Leikin (the name the Alfar call her, not sure on that one though). The Goddess to whom “all is seen”.

There isn’t much in the way of information about her in the lore. The most prominent story is that of her involvement in the story of Baldur’s death.

Following the death of Baldur, the goddess Frigga sends Hermóðr to offer Hel ransom. Hermóðr begs Hel to allow his brother to return home, because Baldur is so loved by the gods of the Æsir. Hel tells him only if all things in the world, alive or dead, weep for him, then he will be allowed to return to the Æsir. A female jotun refused so He stayed.

The prominence to this (though most only pay attention to the Loki part) is that even the Gods are not above Death.

She has the wolf Garm who resides in Gnipahellir, sometimes used interchangeably with Her brother Fenrir (which my belief is He doesn’t guard Helheim like Garm but does work with His sister), as one of the gaurds. The other being Modgud.

Garm is a new one to me. Most of what I see really equates him with Fenrir so I am pretty iffy about Him. They say to appease him you give him a piece of cake, but only after you have already given bread to the poor.

Modgud, called the Guardian Goddess, gaurds the bridge (Giallarbru) over the river Gjoll which leads to Helheim. Not finding much on Her so far.

I also see Hel as having a nature aspect. In modern times (especially for pagans) we have a romanticized view of nature. We see it as this sort of beautiful thing. Nature is beautiful, yes, but it is also dangerous, unfeeling and always renewing itself. I think of Hel having a nature aspect in the death of things to make room for the new. Animals die, rot in the earth to provide nutrients for new life. The forest fires that clear out the dead from the forest floor and enriches the soil for new growth. Death is a very important part of the cycle in Life. It is a necessity.

hel2

I do not by any means think I am any kind of expert on the Lady of Death.  I don’t really even have a working relationship with Her at the moment. I’m doing what I always do. Research.

Why am I including Her in the Ancestor series? Because She is the one that cares for Them.

There is this romanticized notion in the Heathen community that we all want to go to Valhalla. That really isn’t realistic, especially in modern times. Our ancestors, before Christianization (which the Christian ancestors are a different story and will be touched on a later post) didn’t all die in battle and most likely didn’t get claimed by a certain God to take to Their hall. That leaves only Helheim, where Hel cares for them.

Here is a little information. This will probably be updated as I find out more, still in early stages of research. Keep in mind I didn’t create this list.

  • Colors: Black, white
  • Symbols: Skull, red roses, dried roses, bones, “Day of the Dead”-type skeleton images
  • Altar suggestions: Skulls, skeleton images, grave rubbings, skeletal hands, bones, dried roses, black shrouds, black mirror, black and white candles, plantain leaves, rue, wormwood, yarrow, yew, the runes Ear (sometimes combined with Raido for the Helroad) and Hagalaz, sometimes Othala. It is not uncommon for a Hel altar to be an ancestor harrow as well, with pictures of and offerings to one’s own beloved Dead.
  • Food and drink: Tea, good wine, apples (Hel has an orchard of Her own); meat, bread, soup, meals that your ancestors would have liked, blood; good quality chocolate, coffee beans. Hel likes dried, well-preserved flowers, especially dried roses. She also likes blood, as do all the Death deities. Some people offer her tea, or food that can sit on an altar and rot. (Don’t take it away until it is entirely desiccated, no matter what happens.) Don’t approach her altar with an unhealthy attitude toward death and decay.

images

When I am finally able to set up my Ancestor Altar (money is the issue on buying stuff for it), Hel will definitely have a special place.

She will be touched on more as I go through this series, and I maybe even start up a relationship with Her.

I’ve met Her once. I see her as being half pale and half blue-black (think frostbite), the pale half having darker dirty blonde hair and the blue-black half with almost white hair. She is quite beautiful, but forces you to look at the not so beautiful aspects of Death right in the face.

If any of you have more information (or if anything you see here is inaccurate) please share.

Hail the Goddess of the Dead.

Until next time loves!

Advertisements

Ancestors – A little inspiration

So before everything started getting expensive and time consuming here, I was originally planning on starting to do some ancestor work (or at least attempt). I mean this is the perfect time to do it. Then I got distracted. A blog over yonder got me started on it again. I really like the Dyslexic Witch’s stuff. Go check her out.

Anywho.

Ancestor shrine! Duh.

A little background on me.

As I’ve mentioned before, my real life last name is Norris. Means “from the North”. Obviously a tie to my Norse heritage. From my father’s side it is mostly Welsh (which that traces back if you dig deep enough to Scandinavian ancestry) and Cherokee. Then on my mother’s side Cherokee, Irish and German.

There is a book that has completely disappeared (to my dismay) on my father’s side of the family (Norris). On the cover of it was a Viking long ship. I was able to get a few little tidbits from those who have seen the book. Apparently a whole branch of my family tree disappears in Salem (yea, that Salem), Sir Henry Norris (Charles Henry Norris is a big name in my family, the name of both my grandfather and my father) is an ancestor of mine. He was a friend of Anne Boleyn, and one of the ones accused of having an affair with her and was executed because of this. That is about all I got. Not sure how it all fits together which is rather frustrating.

And I know even less about my mother’s side of the family. Really only that my grandfather on my mother’s side was a full blood Cherokee.

So plan on using as many pictures of grandparents and such as I can find, and symbols of the origins of my family. Means research time for me!

If anyone has any suggestions on cheap ways (incredibly limited on money) I can find out more about both sides of my family will be much appreciated.

The plan is, to do a series on this. As y’all might have noticed already every time I attempt a series it goes in the crapper for one reason or another, so we shall see what happens.

Until next time loves!

We are the future Ancestors

“I respect traditional people – they have the eyes which see value in the tarnished. This is a gift in itself. Tradition requires a wealth of discipline in order to be adhered to, hence it is rarely found in youth.”
Criss Jami

So when I get on here everyday, the first thing I do is look at the blogs I follow and catch up on their new posts. Sometimes I get some good inspiration. I went over the Stormwise Raven’s and something really popped out at me.

He was commenting on a post about the hate mail that is being sent over to the new Heathen temple in Reykjavik about their acceptance of same sex marriage. That is not something I’m going to comment on because frankly, I’ll just end up making myself angry. What I am going to get into is the little snippet “those who will come to call us ‘ancestors’ in the future“. Really got me thinking.

As Heathen we believe in honoring our ancestors, its really integral to the path. But I don’t know how many of us think about being ancestors that are worth honoring. I know I haven’t thought about it much.

Sure most of think about being good parents if you have kids or are having kids. Some probably about being good grandparents (mostly those that already have kids, especially ones older in age) but what about great grandkids that you might not ever see, or great great grandkids. What kind of legacy will you leave for them.

It is something a little hard to actually wrap your brain around, trying to predict the impression that you will leave on people you haven’t met and don’t know anyone that has met you. They would have to go based on stories that are passed down, or even lack there of. They may never end up having an opinion of you or hear of you. The child might find out about you because of a school project where they have to make a family tree.

You can try to take actions now. You can try to pass your beliefs on and make them family tradition (if it isn’t already). You can push the importance of family and remember your ancestors. You can try to do great things that will leave impressions in the family. There is simply no promise of being remembered.

I don’t have children of my own (yet). Not so much worried about being honored, but for those who will know me and remember me, I would like to be remembered as doing good for my family. I will concentrate more on making sure my mother is remembered, my father, my grandmother and grandfather. There is only so much you can do, but you can affect the generations that come about during your lifetime.