2) How did you become first aware of this deity?
This one is actually harder to answer than you might think. Back when I first started into Heathenism 12 years ago I would almost say I got aware of her through the Marvel Thor comics. But that isn’t exactly true. Back when I was 10 or so I found a book of Norse Mythology among my family’s books. I devoured it, over and over again. It felt right to me, even then.
It’s been a while since I read that book, but the story I most remember Hel being in probably is the story of Baldr’s death. That’s what really introduced me to her, even if I forgot about it for several years. Then, when I decided that I wanted to play for the Norse Gods, shortly there after my attention was drawn to her.
I think part of the reason I was drawn to her was that I figured I’d have a better chance of getting to know a deity and earn their favor if I went for one who wasn’t as worshiped as the others. It probably also helped that I was in very dark, depressing time in my life, surrounded by violence, darkness, and anger. I think in someways being a rejected child drew something in her to me, and me to her. She was among the first, with Thor to come into my practice.
From there she has been one of my oldest and truest friends.