Hell spelled Hel in parts of the
Did you know that the secular meaning behind the word
'hell,' just as the original meaning of 'hades'
simply meant hidden, out of sight? Yep, in the ancient
German, when two young folks went to a dark place to hide for some
necking, they went to hel, they hid somewhere. Our English
words helmut, hall,
hole, and heel, all stem from
the German word hele. The religious
meaning of the word Hell came from Germany too -- actually it came
from Teutonic mythology.
Hele was a goddess of the underworld in ancient folklore.
Hel is the name of the Norse underworld, and its
ruler. Hel/Hela, in Norse mythology, was the
hideous daughter of the Giant Loki, banished to the netherworld,
Helheim (literally, 'house of
Hel'), world of the dead, by the Chief God, Odin. The
distinctive looking Goddess, whose skin is black on one side, rules
over the dead until Ragnarok and the coming birth of the new
Hel is sister of Fenris, the wolf, and Jormungand, the
The name for the Christian world of torment "Hell" is derived from
Hela's abode. Unlike the Christian version, however, Hel's realm
was home to all who did not die in battle - miserable as it was,
good behavior wasn't any more likely to get one a reprieve.
Helheim's entrance works only in one direction- once one has
entered, even a God, one cannot leave - like the Greek Hades,
Helheim is guarded by a monstrous hound, and encircled by an
impassable river. According to legend, the dead will remain in
Hel's kingdom until the last days of Ragnarok.