"Hel is the Norse queen of the underworld, a mother goddess in her underworld guise. She rules over a fiery womb of regeneration & is especially responsible for those who die of disease or old age. Her underworld, unlike the Christian hell, which received its name from her, is simply an otherworld, a place of renewal rather than a place of punishment & misery. When northern shamans visit her realm, they put on a helkappe, a magic mask (sometimes a helmet) that renders them invisible. It is possible that the masked harlequin, a standard character in commedia dell'arte, was originally one of the kindred of the goddess Hel. Hel is an embodiment of the divine mystery, a challenge to look behind the mask of appearances to see things as they really are."