Ruler of the Germanic Netherworld, Hel was not a goddess to be trifled with; she was one mean ol’ lady. To be fair, I’d be angry too if Odin banished me to the smelly old netherworld (dubbed Helheim for its ruler). She was the daughter of the trickster god, Loki, and the frost giantess Angrboda. Those frost giants are always trouble, and don’t even get me started on Loki.
Hel had the face and body of a living woman, but her thighs and legs were those of a decomposing corpse. Her brothers were Fenrir and Jormungandr, so it’s easy to see that horrifying evil ran in the family. Hel’s gloomy realm stood in stark contrast to Odin’s Valhalla in terms of afterlife, and indeed the Christians would later take Hel’s name for their realm of eternal damnation.
Hel’s throne was known as the “Sick Bed,” as those who died from sickness and old age were the subjects of Hel. In Helheim itself, Hel held more power even than Odin, who had banished her there, and the Aesir appeal to her for aid in several stories from the Eddas. When you compare the endless feasting and merriment of Valhalla with the sickly eternity of Helheim, it’s no wonder being a warrior and dying in battle was so sought after by the Germanic tribes.