Goddess of Magic
Hecate is the goddess of
Magic and Enchantment
and the Queen of Witches.
She is a Moon goddess and
embodies the waning and dark moon.
the time of sorcery.
Hecate is the guide of sailors.
Since she can control storms,
she can effect harvests.
Her festival is mid-August,
just before harvest-time.
* Attributes: Fertility mother goddess, with double aspect: protectress and destroyer, mighty magical Queen of ghosts and loving and helping corn-mother like Demeter. Triple Aspect of the Goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone.
Shares many attributes with Morrigan, Kali and the Inanna.
* Representation: Triple-Shape of body and/or face, carries torches and is followed by a pack of hounds. Appears most of the time as a maiden or younger women, only in later images is she the crone or the old woman.
* Relations: Hecate is a Titaness, daughter of Perses and Asteria, Helper of Demeter in her search after Persephone, mighty protectress of Medea
All wild animals were sacred to Hekate, and she was sometimes shown with three animal heads - the dog, snake, and lion, or alternately the dog, horse, and bear. This aspect refers to her rulership over the ancient tripartite year of spring, summer, and winter. However, her primary animal form and familiar was the dog or wolf.
Wolfs, Dogs, Snakes
Torches are Her symbol, for the Dark Mother also holds the light which illuminates the Unconscious and reveals its treasures.
Sacred Plants: Yewtree, the tree of death (greek: taxus),
Hemlock (see f.e. Shakespeare: Macbeth IV, 1.25)
Key (to the Underworld), Rope, Dagger.
The Moon, especially the full or the dark moon.
"The Chtonian" was a -still in roman times- very popular Greek goddess, often accombined with Artemis or Persephone, who's role -like mentioned before- transformed from a goddess of fertility, childbirth, protectress of mankind and all other earth-aspects from groth to death into a Queen of ghosts, a mighty and scary Goddess of Magic, Nights, the time of the waning moon, where she could could give vision and assist in magical procedures.
She was the Goddess of the three-ways (crossroads), where she protected people from taking the wrong road. And she protected the Gates from any evil spirit to enter. She also guides travellers in general and sailors in particular. She held the keys to three roads: to Hades, to Heaven and to a lucky life on earth.
In later times she became the patroness of witches, magicians and sorcery. The Question is not, that Hecate did not have these aspects in her nature, it is whether these are her only aspects.
Many today-pagans worship either the wonderful, loving and caring, sweet and gentle good Goddess or the lunatic, dark aspects of the Goddess. My opinion and believe is that these aspects can only be seen as a whole and that Hecate combines all these aspects of nature as an incarnation of the Great Goddess.
Her annual festival in Greece was on August 13th/14th was a propitiary one, to avert the harvest-destroying storms which the Moon was apt to send at around that time.
One of her festivals celebrated in the city Stratonicea in Caria was called: Hecatesia.
As a goddess of the Moon she is often set equal to Selene. As a goddess of growth and fertilitiy, she is seen equal to Demeter. As a goddess of the hunt and the wild animals, she is seen equal to Artemis.
It is more than obvious that her attributes and her role have some similarities with Lilith and the dark sides of Ishtar and Astarte.
Hecate is a pre-olympian greek earth goddess. It is certain that her origin is Asia Minor (Karia). The greek sources don't have a similar story of her parents or her relations in the greek pantheon: Sometimes Hecate is a Titaness , daughter of Perses and Asteria, who is a mighty helper and protector of mankind. She is a Titaness who was not banned into the underworldrealms after their defeat through the Olympians, because she was the only Titan that aided Zeus.
It is also told that she is the daughter of Demeter or Pheraia, which appears understandable due to the fact, that Hecate like Demeter was a goddess of the earth and fertility. Or that she may even be a daughter of Zeus.
Like many ancient mother or earth-goddesses she remains unmarried and has no regular consort. On the other side she is the mother of many monsters, f.e. of Scylla.
THE ARGONAUTICA BOOK IV (ll. 783-832):
Ausonian Scylla the deadly, whom night-wandering Hecate, who is called Crataeis, bare to Phoreys, lest swooping upon them with her horrible jaws she destroy the chiefest of the heroes.
But most sources agree that she is a goddess, who was never part of the Olymp or the olympian family, but still powerful and worshipped.
She aided Demeter with news about her robbed daughter Persephone:
But when the tenth enlightening dawn had come, Hecate, with a torch in her hands, met her, and spoke to her and told her news: (ll. 54-58) `Queenly Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of good gifts, what god of heaven or what mortal man has rapt away Persephone and pierced with sorrow your dear heart? For I heard her voice, yet saw not with my eyes who it was. But I tell you truly and shortly all I know.' (ll. 59-73) So, then, said Hecate. And the daughter of rich-haired Rhea answered her not, but sped swiftly with her, holding flaming torches in her hands. (Homeric Hymns).
Leads Persephone back from Hades to Her mother, Demeter and gets reward:
Then bright-coiffed Hecate came near to them, and often did she embrace the daughter of holy Demeter: and from that time the lady Hecate was minister and companion to Persephone (Homeric Hymns, ll. 438-440)
The close connection between Hekate, Persephone and Demeter is interesting in that one could suspect that the threesome is probably the earliest example of a triple-goddess involving Hecate.
She is also a mother-goddess who wears the lunar disk and carries a torch, referring to her role as lightbringer.
Description of Hecate in THE THEOGONY of Hesiod: (700 B.C.)
Then the goddess Gaia through the love of the god conceived and brought forth dark-gowned Leto, always mild, kind to men and to the deathless gods, mild from the beginning, gentlest in all Olympus. Also she bare Asteria of happy name, whom Perses once led to his great house to be called his dear wife. And she conceived and bare Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honoured above all.
He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods. For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favour according to custom, he calls upon Hecate. Great honour comes full easily to him whose prayers the goddess receives favourably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with her.
For as many as were born of Earth and Ocean amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Cronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honor, but much more still, for Zeus honors her. Whom she will she greatly aids and advances: she sits by worshipful kings in judgment, and in the assembly whom she will is distinguished among the people.
And when men arm themselves for the battle that destroys men, then the goddess is at hand to give victory and grant glory readily to whom she will. Good is she also when men contend at the games, for there too the goddess is with them and profits them: and he who by might and strength gets the victory wins the rich prize easily with joy, and brings glory to his parents.
And she is good to stand by horsemen, whom she will: and to those whose business is in the grey uncomfortable sea, and who pray to Hecate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, easily the glorious goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so she will.
She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kind and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if she will, she increases from a few, or makes many to be less. So, then. albeit her mother's only child, she is honored amongst all the deathless gods.
And the son of Cronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Dawn. So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young, and these are her honors. (ll. 404-452)
Hecate, Greek Goddess
of The Crossroads
Hecate, Greek goddess of the three paths, guardian of the household, protector of everything newly born, and the goddess of witchcraft -- once a widely revered and influential goddess, the reputation of Hecate has been tarnished over the centuries. In current times, she is usually depicted as a "hag" or old witch stirring the cauldron.
But nothing could be further from the image of Hecate's original glory.
A beautiful and powerful goddess in her own right, the Greek goddess Hecate was the only one of the ancient Titans who Zeus allowed to retain their authority once the Olympians seized control. Zeus shared with Hecate, and only her, the awesome power of giving humanity anything she wished (or withholding it if she pleased).
Usually classified as a "moon goddess", her kingdoms were actually three-fold . . . the earth, sea, and sky. Having the power to create or withhold storms undoubtedly played a role in making her the goddess who was the protector of shepherds and sailors.
A lover of solitude, the Greek goddess Hecate was, like her cousin Artemis, a "virgin" goddess, unwilling to sacrifice her independent nature for the sake of marriage. Walking the roads at night or visiting cemeteries during the dark phase of the moon, the goddess Hecate was described as shining or luminous.
In other legends she is invisible, perhaps only glimpsed as a light, a "will-o-the-wisp". Perhaps it was this luminous quality that marked Hecate as a "moon goddess", for she seemed quite at home on the earth.
Some scholars believe it is also was because her mother was Asteria (the Titan goddess of the Shining Light or "Star") or perhaps it was because she sensibly always carried a torch on her journeys.
Like Artemis, Hecate was usually depicted with her sacred dogs, although Hecate and even her animals, were sometimes said to have three heads and that they could see in all directions. Although usually depicted as a beautiful woman having three human heads, some images are fearsome indeed (one with a snake's head, one with a horse's, and the third a boar's head).
This farsightedness, the ability to see in several directions at once (even the past, present, and future) featured largely in her most famous myth, the abduction of Persephone. For it was the goddess Hecate who "saw" and told the frantic Demeter what had become of her daughter.
The goddess Hecate continued to play an important role in the life of Persephone, becoming her confidante when she was in the Underworld. Hades, thankful for their friendship, was more than hospitable, honoring Hecate as a prominent and permanent guest in the spirit world. Surely this had the effect of enhancing her reputation as a spirit of black magic with the power to conjure up dreams, prophecies, and phantoms.
Greek Goddesses: Hecate
Hecate's ability to see into the Underworld, the "otherworld" of the sleeping and the dead, made her comfortable and tolerant in the company of those most would shun out of fear or misunderstanding.
In her role as 'Queen of the Night', sometimes traveling with a following of "ghosts" and other social outcasts, she was both honored and feared as the protectress of the oppressed and of those who lived "on the edge". In Rome many of the priests in her sacred groves were former slaves who had been released to work in her service.
The goddess Hecate was often accompanied on her travels by an owl, a symbol of wisdom. Not really known as a goddess of wisdom, per se, Hecate is nevertheless recognized for a special type of knowledge and is considered to be the goddess of trivia.
Hecate's farsightedness and attention to detail, combined with her extraordinary interest in that which most of us discount as irrelevant or arcane, gave her tremendous powers.
She knew what the rest of us did not.
Greek Goddess Hecate
Not surprisingly, the people thought it best to give the goddess Hecate (and any friends that might be accompanying her) a lot of honor and a fairly wide berth. When darkness descended they wisely retired to the fireside for supper, but put the leftovers outside as an offering to Hecate and her hounds.
That the homeless and destitute were often the actual beneficiaries hardly mattered...after all, they were under Hecate's protection.
In a similar fashion, food was often left at the crossroads to honor Hecate, especially at junctions where three roads converged --what we often call a "Y-intersection".
Frequently a pole was erected at the intersection and three masks would be hung from it to pay homage to Hecate and to request her guidance in helping to choose the right direction.
Three-faced masks also adorned the entrances of many homes, honoring the goddess Hecate who could, of course, wield her influence over "the spirits that traveled the earth" to keep them from entering the household.
Greek Goddess Hecate
It is hardly surprising that a woman who needed to make a trip alone at night would say a brief prayer to Hecate to seek her protection. The goddess Hecate, like her cousin Artemis, was known as a protector of women, especially during childbirth.
Not only was Hecate called upon to ease the pains and progress of a woman's labor, but especially to protect and restore the health and growth of a child.
Similarly, Hecate played a role that, in contemporary times, we would describe as "hospice nurse", helping the elderly make a smooth and painless passage into the next life and staying with them, if need be, in the otherworld to help prepare them for their eventual return to the earth in their next life.
Familiar with the process of death and dying as well as that of new birth and new life, the goddess Hecate was wise in all of earth's mysteries.
Greek Goddess Hecate
The Greek goddess Hecate reminds us of the importance of change, helping us to release the past, especially those things that are hindering our growth, and to accept change and transitions. She sometimes asks us to let go of what is familiar, safe, and secure and to travel to the scary places of the soul.
New beginnings, whether spiritual or mundane, aren't always easy. But Hecate is there to support and show you the way.
She loans her farsightedness for you to see what lies deeply forgotten or even hidden, and helps you make a choice and find your path. Oft times she shines her torch to guide you while you are in dreams or meditation.
Hecate teaches us to be just and to be tolerant of those who are different or less fortunate, yet she is hardly a "bleeding heart", for Hecate dispenses justice "blindly" and equally.
Whether the Greek goddess Hecate visits us in waking hours or only while we sleep, she can lead us to see things differently (ourselves included) and help us find greater understanding of our selves and others.
Although her name may mean "The Distant One", Hecate is always close at hand in times of need, helping us to release the old, familiar ways and find our way through new beginnings.