In Norse mythology, Hel is Goddess of death and the underworld, Hel, the goddess of the dead, is the youngest child of the evil god Loki and the women-giant Angrbode. When she was born the gods took her away from her mother and imprisoned her in Niflheim, the underground world, Foggy, dark, and Cold place divided into nine levels, where the dead stayed. She rules the Helheim, the world of the dead. She is usually described as a nasty and horrible witch, half living and half dead, half black and half white (but, i don't think so ;). She lived on human brains and marrow. The very mention of her name induced thoughts of disaster and suffering. Her bed was Worry, the dish she ate from - Hunger, her knife - Starvation, and she had Postponement end Slowness as her permanent escort.
Her empire is Helheim, the region of the dead, located in Niflheim, on the lowest level of the Nordic universe. At the beginning Helheim was resided by all the deceased, but that was later limited to women, children, and men who died of old age or illness, while souls of the warriors killed on the battlefield went to Valhalla. Not even gods could leave Helheim once they have entered, as it was surrounded by the enormous river Gjoll, impossible to cross. Dead souls were taken in boats across that river by the giant Farbauti, Loki's father.
The entrance to this area was guarded by the huge dog Garm, corresponding to Cerberus from Greek mythology. Garm had four eyes; he lived in the cave of Gnippa. Only those who used to offer bread (give alms) to the poor could possibly appease him with a cake from Hel, which points to high appreciation for charity that corresponds fully to praise of charity also present in other old religions. On the day or Ragnarok Garm joined the giants in their battle against the gods. He was killed by Tyr, who later died of infection of the wound received in that duel, in that battle.
Helheim is also guarded by the giant Hraesvelg, sitting on the rim of the world and looking at the whole area. In shape of eagle he waves his enormous wings, thus producing wind.
The Nordic world of the dead preserves characteristics of older systems of beliefs; that world is ruled by a goddess, protected and guarded by demigods that enjoy a status significantly higher than in the classic variant of the Hades. Exclusion of the warriors' souls from this world points establishment of a firm and sharp social stratification in the Nordic society, which gave the warriors' stratum such a high status that even after their death the warriors were separated from the rest of the population, being in fact recognized as demigods. Her manservant is Ganglati and her maidservant is Ganglot.