This August, Australia’s Perth Mint released the final coin, this commemorating “Hel,” as part of its three-coin Norses Goddesses series.
According to ancient Norse mythology, Hel was the goddess of the dead and the queen of the underworld. Born with partially exposed bones, Hel is one of the most fearsome-looking goddesses. She’s described as hag-like, appearing half-alive and half-dead and is often depicted alongside the first World Tree with the dragon Nidhug, who lives at the base of the tree.
Hel was the hideous youngest child of Loki and the frost giantess Angrboda. The gods had terrible forebodings about the destiny of Hel and her two siblings, Fenrir the wolf and Jormungand the serpent, and as a result, Hel was banished to the netherworld by Odin, the king of Asgard, out of fear of what she might become. In the netherworld she was responsible for the fate of all those who died from sickness and old age, and those souls who did not die in battle.
BANISHED TO A TORTUROUS REALM
The evil dead were banished to a realm of icy-cold death and torture while women who had died in childbirth—as well as the children that died—were watched over by Hel. Those who did not die in battle, having decided against the path of war and violence, were guided through the circle of death to rebirth.
The reverse of the coin depicts Hel sitting cross-legged underneath the first World Tree with Nidhug wrapped around the base of the tree. Some of the tree roots depict faces of the lost souls she watches over. The inscription “HEL” and the mint’s traditional “P” mintmark also feature in the design.
The two-ounce pure silver Hel coin has a weight of 62.213 grams, a diameter of 40.60 mm, a thickness of six mm and a mintage of 2,000 pieces.