As you may know, on the last day of each month, I give honor to the Goddess Hecate. Today also marks the end of the first half of 2016, a year that is already proving pivotal for our civilization as we have known it. What will the second half hold in store?
Today, I honor and invoke the Goddess Hecate to help us shape the critical months ahead. And I invite you to join me in this.
Who Is She?
The Encyclopedia Mythica suggests Hecate’s name is pronounced, “HEK-a-tee” and this is probably the most common among English-speaking people. However, another etymology expert suggests, “In its original [Greek] pronunciation, the accent is on the second syllable, [and] the H is almost silent: eh-KAH-tee.”
(In all honesty, I tend to slip into how I first learned to call on Her, as “hek-ah-TAY,” learned most probably from the classic Goddess chant, “Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna..” etc. She doesn’t seem to mind).
However you want to pronounce Her name, Hecate is a Greek Goddess of magical crossroads and the three realms of Earth, Sea, and Sky. She is a guardian of the household, protector of everything newly born, and the Goddess of Witches.
She was one of the oldest and most universally revered chthonic Goddesses of the ancient world.
Not A Crone Only
In current times, thanks to modern mythological interpretations such as Frazier’s The Golden Bough, She is often depicted as a symbol of the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess. But this is an image that is rather limited, compared to how our ancestors knew Her.
While it is not wrong to see Her as the elder face of the Goddess, the ancients knew Her as the Maiden and Mother as well, for She was one of the very oldest of their Great Triple Goddesses.
Not only was She associated with guarding the cemeteries and the dead, She was a protectress of children, midwives, and mothers giving birth.
She, like Her cousin Artemis, is given to more solitary ways, and like Artemis, is sometimes thought of as a virgin Moon Goddess. (By the way, “virgin” does not mean She is uninitiated into the act of sex, but instead that She is unwilling to sacrifice Her independence to marriage).
Also like Artemis, Hecate is usually depicted with Her sacred dogs. She and Her animals are sometimes said to have three heads and are able to see in all directions. Although often depicted as a beautiful woman who just happens to have three human heads, some images are more disturbing, with Her three heads instead being a snake, a boar, and a horse.
Guardian In Our Dark Journeys
Walking in the night or visiting cemeteries during the dark phase of the Moon, She has been described as luminous or shining.
But don’t be misled. Unlike Artemis and many other Moon Goddesses, Hecate is not ethereal or a “will-o-the-wisp.” She is a powerful Earth Goddess, a daughter of Gaia and the only surviving Titan (the pre-Olympian deities).
In fact, Hecate was the only one of those most ancient Titans that Zeus allowed to retain their authority once the Olympians had taken over. Zeus shared with Hecate, and only Her, the awesome power of giving humanity anything She wished (or withholding it if She pleased).
Hecate is sometimes accompanied on Her travels by an owl, ancient symbol of wisdom. Although not a Goddess specializing in knowledge along the lines of, say, Athena, Hecate gives expert counsel to those at the crossroads.
As Queen of the Night, those who seek Her protection can move safely in the darkness. But She should not be romanticized or feared as a “dark Goddess,” please! Hecate also gives voice to the highest gifts of discernment, divination, and dreams.
This farsightedness, and Her ability to see in several directions at once (including the past, present, and future) featured largely in Her most famous myth, the abduction of Persephone.
For it was with Her divine sight that She witnessed Persephone’s abduction by Hades, and told Persephone’s devastated mother, Demeter, what had happened. She then helped Persephone adjust to Her new circumstances, befriending Hades and the two Goddesses alike.
This is the farsightedness and diplomacy we call upon now, and so urgently need!
Hear our call, Mighty Hecate, and come to our aid!
Hecate’s ability to see and travel freely to the Otherworlds of the sleeping and the dead makes Her comfortable and tolerant in the company of those most would shun, out of fear or ignorance.
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 those whom society marginalizes.
In Rome, many of the priests in Her sacred groves were considered the lowest of the low in society – former slaves who were released to work in Her service. But by Her presence, they were elevated.
Sadly, in the jingoistic climate we now find ourselves in, the numbers that need Her care today are growing.
Fear Not. She Is Here For Us
Her powers are vast and varied. She does not choose to live above mortals on lofty Olympus, but remains firmly on our Earth, involved in the day-to-day activities of humans. She is always here at our own most intimate crossroads – helping us in childbirth, and escorting the dying to the Underworld.
She also can create or withhold storms. As such, She is especially honored by sailors and shepherds.
In light of the ecological pressures and destruction being endured in many places, thanks to global climate change, it might be a very good idea to take some time to honor Hecate tonight, for who can know what is about to come?
In ancient times, on the last day of the month, Hecate’s worshippers would leave a “Hecate’s Supper” outdoors, usually at a Y-crossroads, with specially prepared foods as offerings to Her. These offerings were also gifts to appease the restless ghosts, called apotropaioi by the Greeks.
Frequently a pole was erected at the intersection and three masks would be hung from it, as homage to Hecate and to request Her wise guidance when making choices.
Three-faced masks and other images of Hecate were also placed at the gates of cities, and domestic doorways.
Although Her name may mean “The Distant One,” Hecate is always close at hand in our times of need, helping us to release old, unhelpful habits and situations, and find our courage for a better path.
And heaven knows we need Her now.
In Her Name
As we begin the second half of 2016, a year that is most likely a watershed for much that we have built our civilization upon, may blessed Hecate gift us with Her clear sight and vast experience.
May Hecate move on our behalf, and bless us with Her highest wisdom, strength, and guidance.
May She bring Her protection to the innocent; defend our women from misogynist laws and practices; safeguard all people endangered by bigotry, fear, and hate; and guide safely home the displaced.
We see we are at an historic crossroads between a future woven of fairness, intelligence, and love, versus a future that unleashes hatred, ignorance, fear, and cruelty.
With the help of mighty Hecate, may we restore and uphold integrity in our political systems and work towards evolutionarily appropriate goals within the broader community, recognizing the true sense of the polis.
In Her name, let us rise up, and work towards a more just, honorable, and civilized culture that serves the many, not only the few.
(Invaluable information for this was obtained from the well-researched Goddess Gift website. My thanks.)