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Musings on Hella

When it coems to Hella I've seen a range of theories... some that she may be a much older Goddess (connecting back to Frau Holle, perhaps even older), some that she may not have truly been a Goddess at all but simply just a 'personification' of Hel, as some scholars point to the fact she's not really written about until late in the Viking Age after Christianity had already become the reigning religion.

I think though that if we look at the breadth of 'female' deities in our lore, we see that they have powers over life and death, as well as 'fate' (Valkyries, Matrons/Disir, Idis, Norns), so I believe she's been around a nice long time. And if we look to the big Proto-Indo-European picture, it'd be odd if there wasn't a Goddess of Death.

Ultimately, while playing host to the dead is probably not the most pleasant role, it is a necessary role. Other deities host the dead.. Gefjon, Ran, Odin, Freya, etc. but she plays host to all the dead, and there's a special place in Hel for the oathbreakers and those who were truly vile. This makes her in part not only a host of the dead and a great giver of hospitality to ever increasing numbers, but also a deity of 'justice' in a sense because she oversees the 'jailing' of the most heinous.