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All roads to Hell lead down, whether it be from Asgard, Midgard or Jotunheim. Not only dead men are to be found there, but in Hell there also dwell the phantoms of gods and giants. The sinners from Midgard are nor excluded, especially oath-breakers, murderers and those who have been disloyal.

The entrance to Hel is known as Gnipahellir or Cliff Cave. It is a grim dark hole among precarious cliffs and ravines, snowflakes come forth from the entrance in blizzards. Every entrance has a guard, the guard to the entrance to Hel is a fearsome hound with bloody chest known as Garmr. The blood dripping down his shaggy chest comes from those who pass him and dare to try to flee the terrors of Hel and return to the world of sunlight.

Those who receive punishment in Hel receive it everlastingly. There is an Island in the Underworld called Naastrand or the Corpse Strand. On this Island stands a great torture chamber, a ghastly place filled with everlasting punishments and screaming. It is always out of reach of sunlight and the doors face the darkness of the north. Upon entering the walls appear to be made of wickerwork, but if you look closely you will see that it is not in fact wickerwork but a writhing mass of poisonous serpents, who dribble searing venom to the sinners beneath, for here are the sinners, the oath-breakers, murderers and adulterers. Many have died a second death on the path to this terrible place, wading through the river Slid or Fearful, a river of knives, daggers and sharp swords. To escape the snake-pit of Nasstrand is not the end, for after comes Niflhel, nine worlds down where dead men drop from Hel. At the wharf by the shore of Naastrand, not all hope has been lost, there are those who defy their existence by trying to build a ship, Nailfarer Naglfar, the dead men's nail ship. It is a ship built from the nails of men who died without having their nails trimmed.

The queen of this realm is herself called Hel. Her courts rival that of the gods and seethes with the signs of death. Her plate is called Hunger, her knife and fork are known as Famine, Her house-slave is Senility and her bond maid is known as Dotage. But not only that for her doorstep is known as pitfall. Hel is hideous to look upon, one side of her face is livid while the other is normal. The queen of Hel was banished to her realm of horrors by the gods.
Category: Viking Myths | Added by: obiflo (22 October 10)
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