Hecate, Hekate

Hekate Goddess Of the Crossroads

“I call Hecate of the Crossroads, worshipped at the meeting of three paths, oh lovely one.

In the sky, earth, and sea, you are venerated in your saffron-colored robes.

Funereal Goddess, celebrating among the souls of those who have passed.

Persian, fond of deserted places, you delight in deer.

Goddess of night, protectress of dogs, invincible Queen.

Drawn by a yoke of bulls, you are the queen who holds the keys to all the Cosmos.

Commander, Nymph, nurturer of children, you who haunt the mountains.

Pray, Maiden, attend our hallowed rituals; 

Be forever gracious to your mystic herdsman and rejoice in our gifts of incense.”

-Orphic Hymn to Hecate

 

“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 honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her. Whom she will she greatly aids and advances: she sits by worshipful kings in judgement, 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 discomfortable 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 kine 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 honoured 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 honours.”  -Hesiod on Hecate

 

Hecate, Hekate,

We honor you tonight.

Chthonic goddess of the sky,

We’re dazzled by your might.

Hekate, Hecate,

Goddess of the witch,

You pass between all of the worlds,

You have no holy niche.

Hecate, Hekate,

Holiest of host,

We honor the bright beauty that

Great Zeus has honored most.

                                  -Jasmine Scarlatos

 

     The two quotes above in italics are classical writings, the Orphic Hymn being written between the 3rd century BCE and 2nd century AD, and Hesiod’s writing coming from as early as the 7th century BCE.  The poem above was written by me.

     Getting to know a god or goddess can be tricky.  This is particularly the case with Hekate, ironic as that may be.  Due to her immense popularity with witches, wiccans, and other pagans, there’s a lot of information out there of dubious validity.  This is why with all gods, but especially the popular ones, I refer to primary sources whenever available. This is the unfortunate reality of working with Hekate: despite her extensive followings, contemporary and traditional, there is very little surviving primary record of her.  While she appears in many stories and, as seen above, does have her own Orphic Hymn, I’ve yet to see a myth entirely about her, or where she is a figure whose traits are truly delved into.

     If you’re not looking to buy a thousand primary sources just in the hopes of gleaning tiny snippets of information about her, I’d recommend searching out Hekate’s pages on Theoi.com or Greek Mythology Link (maicar.com).

     As a Hellenic pagan, Hekate is a goddess that I’ve been very interested in for a long time.  Yes, in part due to her popularity, especially amongst the gods. It seems as though she is the turn-to for everyone in the Greek pantheon.  More important to me, however, is her duality. She, a Titan, fought in the gods’ revolution and won. She fought against the Gigantes and won.  She’s a strong goddess, to say the least. Yet, when Persephone (Core, at the time) was seized by Hades, “…only tender-hearted Hekate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaios, heard the girl…”  Later, she would become Persephone’s “minister” which, at the time, meant more of a servant than it did a religious leader. And, of course, she’s a goddess with far, far reach and influence, demanding of respect in all matters and with the power to give all, and to take away just as much.

     So here stands a Titan; a stronger-than-hell, well-respected goddess, who is “tender-hearted” and serves as a servant to another goddess two generations her junior.  This is why I love Hekate. But wait! There’s more.

 

Witchcraft

     Isn’t that what she’s best known for?  The best sources for this come from “Medea” by Euripides and, more so, “The Argonautica” by a Roman poet by the name of Valerius Flaccus.  

     In Flaccus’ poem, he names Medea as a priestess of Hecate, and describes her as “a maiden that uses sorcery under the guidance of Hecate”.  “[Medea] all day long was busied in Hecate’s temple, since she herself was the priestess of the goddess.”

     In “Medea” by Euripides, Hecate is only mentioned by name once: “By that dread queen whom I revere before all others and have chosen to share my task, by Hecate who dwells within my inmost chamber, not one of them shall wound my heart and rue it not.”  This is said while Medea contemplates her revenge against Jason.

     Hecate’s influence, according to the Argonautica, taught Medea “to handle magic herbs with exceeding skill all that the land and flowing waters produce,” and “With them is quenched the blast of unwearied flame, and at once she stays the course of rivers as they rush roaring on, and checks the stars and the paths of the sacred moon.”

The Big Picture

     As an earth-based, neo-pagan witch, what better goddess could I follow than Hekate?  She teaches how to handle the craft with skill, knowledge, and proficiency, all while being loving, supportive, and strong.  There’s no doubt as to why Hekate is a favorite amongst mortals, and even the gods.

     Long live her honor, may her dedicants know endless blessings, and may her glory shine upon the three realms for all time.

Jasmine Scarlatos