Iceland Mag

11 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Naming committee stops parents from naming daughter after goddess of the underworld

By Staff

  • Hell in Norse mythology is a frozen place According to Norse mythology the underworld is not a realm of fire, but one of biting cold. Photo/Vísir

The Icelandic Naming Committee has rejected an application by parents to name their daughter Hel on the grounds that the name would cause the child significant distress and trouble as it grows up.

The goddess of hell
While the name Hel is known from Icelandic literature and mythology, there are no records of it ever been given to a person in Iceland. Hel is the name of the goddess Hel, queen of the underworld, as well as the name of one of the realms of the underworld. In modern Icelandic it can also mean Hell.

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According to Norse mythology Hel is the name of the goddess which reigns over the realm of the same name. The world Hel is either located under one of the three roots of the world-tree Yggdrasill, the other two being Jötunheimar, the world of the giants and Miðgarður, the world of men. Hel is also described as the ninth of nine worlds, and a part of Niflheimur Hel is the place where evil men go upon their death, as opposed to heroes and those slain in battle, who go to Valhalla. 

One of Loki's three children
Hel, one of the three children of the god Loki. The other two being the wolf Fenrir, which will kill Odin during Ragnarrök, and is in turn killed by one of Odin's sons, and the serpent Miðgarðsormur, "The Serpent of Miðgarður", a giant serpent which circles the oceans of the world. The serpent will rise from the depths to poison the skies during Ragnarrok, but is ultimately killed by its arch-nemesis, Thor. Hel also plays a key role in Ragnarrök, as she and all of Hel's people, will accompany Loki to destroy the gods and the world. 

The descriptions of Hel are not pretty. She is described as a having a face which is half icy blue, half flesh cloured.


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