Sunday, October 16, 2022

Praying to Hel

I recently had the privilege of attending a local Heathen Kindred's Helsblot. We gathered for feasting and fellowship beforehand, sharing recipes from those we have loved. The Gothi (Heathen Priest) reminded us of the importance of relationship with the Goddess of the Underworld, since despite her relevance to each of us who will not die in battle, she still remains a figure of contention among Heathen folk. I can understand the desire to want distance from her father, Loki, another hotly contentious member of the pantheon; however, as much as we strive not to be held accountable for the "sins" of our own fathers, I find it interesting that folks shun her for events in which she took no part. The Gothi reminded us that when Baldr was slain, Hela was already in Helheim. She played no part in his death. She was even willing to allow him to return if all living things would weep for him. Despite her best efforts, her father ruined it and refused to weep for Baldr in the guise of an old woman.

I have long had a relationship with Hela, and I find no ill feelings in that space save what I bring with me. Death and grief are difficult for human brains and heart attached to our loved ones with such ferocity and depth, and yet she remains still and unwavering in the face of our most unbridled outbursts of anguish. 

Today, I offer you this prayer to Hel that you may see her through eyes that have looked into her face and found nothing but acceptance and truth, even if cold. May she bring stillness to hearts in mourning during this time when the Ancestors are most near.

The Children of Askr and Embla call out to The Mother of Bones, 
To the Lady of Tears, the Goddess of Rot and Decay. 
Lady Hela, Goddess of the Underworld, we honor you. 

As our loved ones pass from this realm, we lay our burdens at your feet, 
Our grief, our sorrow, our pain, and our anger— 
All fitting offerings—for you know well the love from which they are borne. 

We offer you our honor and respect 
As the caregiver and provider of our beloved ancestors. 
The Legions of the Dead will always be free from hunger and thirst at your table. 

We bring our fears of the unknown and look into your eyes, 
Eyes of both life and of death, 
To find our courage and the strength to face what is yet to come. 

Goddess of Death and Keeper of Souls, 
We ask that our suffering be limited when our threads reach their end. 
If there must be pain, may your death-blow be swift. 
If a swift death is not possible, may we be surrounded by those we love to ease our passing. 
And if we must leave this realm alone, may our death be one worthy of memory. 

When we take our steps across the Gjallar Bridge to meet you, 
We shall bow our heads in reverence at your hospitable welcome after a life well-lived. 
Hail to thee, Lady Hel!