The Helvegr is the road to Hel, it is the magickal path that leads to Hela. Helvegr is also the name of a Helish email group. As a list, Helvegr sits twilight-like between the worlds of scholarly research and personal experience with Hela and Her family; both are equally valid.

The group's focus is primarily on Hela, but other aspects of Rökkr tradition are also open to discussion. Hela has issued a call for Her children to come home, and it is being answered today in ever increasing numbers.

If you already have an account with Yahoo, simply subscribe by sending an email to Helvegr-subscribe@yahoogroups.com  Or visit the Helvegr page at Yahoo Groups: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/helvegr

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The Helvegr, or Hel-Way, is the path that leads to Hel. It is travelled by the dead, and by the shamans who make the journey to Hela and Her underworld queendom. The Helvegr is represented in the sky by the Milky Way. The association of this band of stars with the path of the dead is almost universal. In Egypt, the Milky Way was seen as the celestial form of the Nile, which flowed from the udders of Isis-Hathor; in India it was the river Ganges; while the Norse river of souls was the twelve-fold rivers of Elivagar, as well as being the path of Helvegr. The Akkadians called the Way the River of the Divine Lady, or Hiddagal, the Great River. Similarly, Arabian astrologers considered the Milky Way Umm al Sama, the Mother of the Sky. The Milky Way was consequently a way to return to the realm of the goddess, and for this purpose it was travelled by not only spirits seeking eternal return, but shamans who sought wisdom, encounters with the divine, or to retrieve the souls of people taken too soon.

Hela, in the form of the elven pyschopomp Mordgud, waits at the end of the Helvegr to welcome shamans, and the spirits of the dead. A veritable world away, the Nicaraguan goddess Itoki (Mother Scorpion) does likewise. She stands at the end of the Milky Way to welcome her dead; and then gives birth to them again as new souls. In the kozmology of the Lakota, the Milky Way is guarded by an old goddess called Hihankara (Owl Maker), who checks every soul for an identifying tattoo; if they do not have it, they are pushed back to earth where they become ghosts. Likewise, the Roman scholar Macrobius described how the souls of the dead ascend into the night sky through the sign of Capricorn, and then descend through Cancer, the sign lying at the opposite end of the Milky Way; a physical stargate for the souls was, thus, the point of intersection between the tail of the Milky Way and the band of the zodiac. The gate of Hel would, then, have been on the edge of the sky, where the Milky Way intersected with the zodiac band.  Importantly, within the context of Rökkr astrology, Cancer is represented by Gjall, the final underworld river that must be traversed before one can enter Hela's hall of Elvidner.

When Hermod, the messenger of the gods, travelled nine days along Helvegr to visit Hel, to bargain with Hela for the soul of his brother Balder, he was making a shamanic journey along the Milky Way, riding on the horse Sleipner (metaphorically a shamanic drum). A parallel to Hermod's journey can be found in the account of an Alaskan shaman. He was dead, and followed the road of the dead for two days, well-trodden by those who had walked it before; as he walked, he heard continual crying, which he learned was the living mourning their dead. After a time, he came to a village that looked exactly like his own village, where two shades took him inside a house, in which a central fire was lit, and pieces of meat broiled on the coals. They told him not to touch the meat; for a shaman who eats of the food of the dead, finds it hard to return to earth. After he had rested for a time, the shaman continued on his journey, reached the Milky Way, and followed it until it arrived back at his own grave. Re-entering his own body, he came back to life, and told his people of his adventure.

The Helvegr...