Black Petals Issue #94 Winter, 2021

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
BP Artists and Illustrators
BP Guidelines
Mars-News, Views and Commentary-Chris Friend
Basement Dweller-Fiction by Justin Swartz
The Beating of Their Wings-Fiction by Brian Maycock
Does the Bogeyman Live Downstairs?-Fiction by Clive Owen Barry
Dark Little Boxes-Fiction by C. M. Barnes
Death by Midnight-Fiction by Charlie Cancel
Forearmed-Fiction by Jan Cronos
Inconceivable-Fiction by Rich Rose
The Wolf's Den-Fiction by J. B. Polk
Treachery-Fiction by Ramon F. Irizarri
Tumour Wakes Up-Fiction by Alexis Gkantiragas
The Opal Ring-Fiction by Michael Dority
Flora and Fauna-Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
Gnaw-Flash Fiction by Tony Kidd
Mad Money-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Madonna of the Damned-Flash Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Special Teeth-Flash Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
The Death Set-4 Poems by Hillary Lyon
Five Haiku-Poems by C. D. Marcum
Misanthrope-Poem by Donna Dallas
The Wish Tree-3 poems by Christopher Hivner
Nebulous-3 poems by Juan Manuel Perez
The Sphinx at Night-5 Poems by Meg Smith
Nameless-Poem by David Barber


When we think of Hell we usually think of the Christian concept of the place of eternal torment for all big sinners. But the name is derived from the Norse goddess Hel, who ruled over the Underworld realm named after her. Unlike the Christian counterpart, Norse Hel was not a place of eternal torture, but similar to Purgatory; there, souls were judged and sent on to a variety of afterlives. Hel was the daughter of the Norse god Loki who also ruled over the dead. Everyone who died, no matter how good or bad, passed into Hel to be judged by the goddess, who would then decide where they might spend eternity. Similar to the Greek goddess Hecate, who also governed the Underworld and traveled with a menagerie of hell hounds and wolves, she is sometimes depicted riding a back mare, horses also being sacred to her. And, like Hecate, Hel sometimes led a wild hunt. She is described as being divided vertically, with one side a beautiful woman and the other half a zombie-like corpse. Hel is more of a dichotomy of good and bad, unlike the Christian devil who is completely evil.


Thus, we see the difference between the Northern pagan realm of Hel and the Christian concept of Hell. Also interesting was that those who died in battle or at sea usually didn’t make it there like everyone else. The name may be derived from the Old German halja meaning “covering”. She so angered the Norse god Odin that he tossed her into the realm of the dead where she became a queen to rule over all manner of spirits. She was said to carry a rake and a broom, and, during plague times, to sweep away whole villages, using her rake to rake up the survivors later. Her abode was believed to be Mount Helka, a volcano in Iceland. A nearby town is named Hella.

Speaking of hellish things, like most of you earthlings I am sincerely glad 2020 is finally over with. Keeping my fingers crossed that 2021 is a better and happier New Year.



Chris Friend,, of Parkersberg, W.Va , who wrote BP #91 Poems, “Land of Big Teeth” & “Possessed” (+ BP’s fall 2018 poems, “Demons Play Flutes” & “Purdy Picture”; BP #84’s poems, “The Sentinel” and “Psalm of Mithra”; the BP #81 poem set, “Angel of the Bereft, “Beauty’s Sleep,” & “Dark Trinity”; the BP #80 poem, “The Temple of Colors”; BP #79 poems, “The Marquis” and “My Bloody Valentine”; the BP #78 poem, “The Old Yule Goat”; BP #77’s 4-poem set: “At 50,” “Owls,” “Vintage Halloween,” & “Xmas in the Doll Asylum”; BP #76’s 4-poem set: “Hag Fairy Communion,” “Love’s Sepulcher,” “Night Wanderer,” & “St. Andrew’s Feast”; 2 poems for BP #75, “Angel of the Pagan Dead” and “Churchyard Watcher”; BP #72’s 2-poem set, “Ed Gein” & “Sour Puss”; and the 2008 poem “All Hallows’ Eve”), writes and illustrates our “MARS News” column. He did a cover for Black Petals back in 2000 for the fall issue, and has been around ever since. BP keeps up two websites for him and prints his column in the issue quarterly. Chris has a gallery at and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].

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