Last week, I published an eBook (free download HERE) about Goddess Hel. Today I’m going to be talking about connecting with the Goddess Hel. The aforementioned eBook contains some channelled material, along with musings on how to walk the path of Helvegr among the living. So if you have come here because you are interested in connecting with Hel, I highly recommend you take advantage of the free download.
Since going back over the material (all written in 2010), two things happened. Firstly, I felt that a debt had been repaid and I had closure. Secondly, and quite unexpectedly, I felt a renewed desire to reconnect with Her.
It shouldn’t have been completely unexpected, considering that during all my spiritual wanderings, I have always been drawn to work with the Dark Goddess. I have got to know her by name names and in many different guises throughout the years. For a while, I formed bonds with her via Nephthys and later on via Hekate. But even when I was trapped in the dogma of Christianity, I was always looking for her. In the Christian tradition, she came to me as the Black Madonna.
A Mother to the Motherless
When I first got to know Hel more than 20 years ago, there was an instant kinship. She was an outcast and she had to rule her realm without support or guidance. All she had was her dog (I’m a dog person!). This resonated deeply because of early childhood abandonment and abuse. Becoming a mother when not knowing what it was like to have one was the most difficult thing I’ve had to manage.
To me, Hel seemed more approachable than the other Dark Goddesses. The first energetic connection I formed with her was that of mother and child. Here was a mother that I felt I could finally trust–one who, unlike my own mother, would always be there for me. One who would definitely be there for me as I draw my final breath. We all return to her. Even those who eventually make their way to Valhalla have to pass through her realm first.
Not Snorre’s Hel
Even back in 2010 when I first got to know Hel, I instantly felt she was very different from how she was described by Snorre Sturlasson in the Prose Edda. He describes her and her realm as cold and grim. What I got from her was warmth and compassion. Sure, she could be stern but never overly harsh. She always seemed fair and incredibly strong to me.
Listening to this short audiobook (about one hour) about how Hel (goddess and realm) was Christianised so that the Church could sell their merch, it all made sense. She went from being the beautiful sun-facing goddess who greeted all of Heimdallr’s kin with warmth when they passed on to the terrifying guardian of an icy realm. Want to escape her clutches? Turn to Christ! But maybe the author of this book was right… Maybe Snorre was leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for us to follow. He could have been writing in code to help future generations see how Hel was vilified. The jury is still out for me whether or not this is the case…
‘Tis the Season
Either way, the reconnection couldn’t have come at a better time in the Wheel of the Year. We are in the week leading up to Samhain/Halloween. Yesterday, I spent most of the day connecting to the disir and the norns. These female spirits all point to Her as our Great Mother. If you want to connect with ancestral spirits and the weavers of the web, you cannot bypass Hel. She is there, at the center of the great web. For from her we all come and to her we all return.
Even in the Christian faith, this fact is acknowledged in the expression ‘From dust to dust.’ But ‘dust’ is not just dust. It is the dark matter/matrix from which all of creation springs. This matter is as much part of us as is the light of the father. And this is the season to dive deep into the divine mother’s womb/cauldron.
One way to do just that might be to try this excellent Dark Goddess meditation I came across earlier today.
Connecting with the Goddess Hel through Signs
All black birds are connected with Hel though most would probably think of birds from the Corvid family, such as crows and ravens. However, for me, it’s always been the blackbird. When I lost my baby to T18 in 2010, it was a blackbird that showed up for me in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep at the hospital where they performed the abortion after she died in utero.
Earlier this morning, I went for a run and got no less than three signs of Hel’s presence within 10 minutes. First the blackbird, then the bones. The latter came in the form of an intact spine of a rabbit that my dog picked up on the path (or I might have missed it). Finally, there was an apple, a perfectly shaped crabapple on the middle of the path. All three are signs associated with Hel. Oh, and by the way, the number three is also connected with Hel, so the fact that there were three signs is significant!
Other traditional signs that Hel uses are anything rotten or rotting, mould, hoods, dark and liminal places, tombs, grave mounds, black horses, brooms, disease, and all things funerary.
There may also be non-traditional signs, of course. Signs that are almost like inside jokes between you and Hel. Funnily enough, very recently, I noticed a yellow sign with the letter H stuck on the lamppost opposite our house. Though I’ve lived here since 2014, I had never noticed the sign before. Apparently, it’s a hydrant sign. I had to ask my husband. Nope, I’m not ashamed that I was nearly 52 when I learned this fact.
Give Your Mind a Rest
Does it make sense that the Goddess of the Underworld who is also the Womb of Creation communicates through signs like the ones above? No more than it makes sense that the Creator God communicates with people through a burning bush or a talking donkey.
It doesn’t have to make sense and I personally believe that it was never meant to. Many of the problems we have in the world today come from people trying to apply a) rational thought and b) dogma to phenomena that fall more into the mysterious or numinous realm. We should leave these phenomena in the hands of poets, dancers, and musicians.
Connecting with the Goddess Hel through Ritual
No rituals have been preserved from Pagan times. We don’t even know that there were any. If there were, they would have been passed on via an oral tradition. What matters more is that modern pagans are reclaiming Hel from her vilification by the church.
Because of the lack of credible written sources, I suggest journeying to Hel to meet with her. If you are not used to shamanic journeying, you can try one of the many guided meditations on YouTube and set the intention to meet with Hel. Once you are in her presence on the astral plane, you can ask how to best honour her in your everyday life and for special occasions such as the upcoming Samhain celebration.
Samhain is when I will do a disablot and also perform a wee ritual in honour of Hel, giving thanks for her loving care of my ancestors. I will decorate an altar to my ancestors and Hel place my offerings on it. Then I intend to just hang out with them. That’s it. That’s my ritual. As far as I’m concerned, I’m reconnecting with an old friend in this ritual. We used to be thick as thieves back in 2010 and I know from the signs that Hel is as keen to reconnect as I am!
Learn More About the Goddess Hel
Studying the lore of Hel is perhaps the most obvious way to make the connection if you are not quite ready to journey shamanically to meet her yet. One of my main sources of learning when it comes to all things Norse these days is the archaeologist Arith Härger. Shame he wasn’t around back in 2010! I strongly recommend checking out his three-part series on Hel. You can find video one HERE, video two, HERE, and video three HERE.