4)A favorite myth or myths of this deity
There aren’t that many myths about Hel. The only two that are really there are the stories of her birth and the death of Baldr.
Of these two, I like the story of Baldr’s death. In it Hel receives Baldr, his wife, and his brother Hodr after they are slain at a feast. Odin sends a messenger down to Hel and asks that Baldr be returned to life.
Hel agrees, but only if every living thing weeps for Baldr. This shows just how high the bar is for her to allow someone to come back from the dead. It also shows a bit of cunning, because everyone is going to have at least one enemy. But it also shows great mercy, because she is at least willing to give Odin and Frigg a chance. Given that at this time her brother Jormangandr was already cast into the Midgaridian sea and her brother Fenrir might have already been bound up, this is very merciful indeed.
One thing that struck me though is that they only asked for Baldr’s return. Hodr was his brother, nearly his twin brother, and Baldr’s wife loved him so much that she threw herself upon his pyre. Most seem to write this off as not trying to ask for too much from Hel, but it is a bit odd given the kin based nature of Norse society. The old woman who refuses to weep is often thought to have been Loki, but I wonder if it was not in fact the mother of Baldr’s wife, who refused to allow Frigg her son back if she could not have her daughter.
In the end though, it taught me that while Hel is merciful, none may violate the laws of death. Not even Odin, and in this, Hel is revealed to be the most powerful of All the Gods.
I had a similar reaction to learning about the work of the Reaper- who I understand to be more of a force or title which multiple deities take up as needed, yet also a being in its own right. The Other Side is complicated. In the final analysis, even galaxies and gods die. It’s a humbling thought.