By Hecate, the Goddess I worship more than all the others, the One I choose to help me in this work, Who lives with me deep inside my home, these people won’t bring pain into my heart and laugh about it.
Euripides (480-406 B.C.E.)
As you may know, on the last day of each month, I pay homage to the Goddess Hecate. Sometimes I post about it; often, I don’t. But I always give honor to Her.
Although our ancestors designated Her day as the last day of the lunar calendar, that was then, and this is now. So I believe it is acceptable to honor Her using our modern solar calendar.
This has been a catastrophic week. Not only has massive tragedy visited Texas and Louisiana from the storm, Harvey, but wildfires are raging throughout the American Northwest, and over a thousand people have died from flooding in Mumbai alone, as well as in Africa and Southeast Asia.
These horrors always have the worst impact on the most vulnerable in our society — women and children, the elderly, people of color, those facing illness, refugees and immigrants, and the economically disadvantaged.
Because Hecate is the most powerful ally for these groups, I invite you to join me in calling upon Her this day, for Her divine advocacy, and fierce protection.
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.”
Well, any way you want to call upon Her, 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 the 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 human heads instead being a snake, a boar, and a horse.
Lighting The Way for Us
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 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 wisdom along the lines of, say, Minerva, 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 (unless you are involved in injustice or preying upon the less fortunate)! Hecate also gives voice to the highest wisdom, 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.
This is the farsightedness we call upon now, and so urgently need!
Hear our call, Mighty Hecate, and come to our aid!
Hecate’s ability to see into 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 horrific recidivist climate we find ourselves in, the numbers that need Her 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 important 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 horrific storms being endured in many places, and make no mistake, this is at least in part thanks to global climate change, it might be a very good idea to take some time to honor Hecate tonight.
In ancient times, on the last day of the month, Hecate’s devotees 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.
On this final day of August, you and I stand at a crossroads.
There can be little doubt that our free and open society is in peril, as are the minimal environmental safeguards so hard won over the years. Whether we want to face it or not, the disastrous results are in our faces.
Those in power are viciously assaulting health services (especially those for women and children), the arts, public education, privacy, and the freedom of the press. To name but a few.
I invoke the Great Goddess, Hecate, to help us walk in safety, during this time of deepening darkness.
May She intervene on behalf of all in need, but most especially those in our society who are at highest risk of harm — the poor, the homeless, the non-white, underprivileged, and non-mainstream. May She shield and support our LGBT citizens, our undocumented, our children and mothers, our elders, and those who suffer from physical and mental trauma and illness.
From this day forward, let us align with the blessed wisdom of most ancient, Maiden-Mother-Crone Hecate and stand beside Her on behalf of the forgotten, the overlooked, and the powerless.
By Earth, Sea, and Sky, may mighty Hecate shield and defend the innocent, shelter our women from misogynist leaders, laws, and practices, and grant us Her wisdom and guidance. With Her help, we shall not only endure these Tower Times, but we shall rise together and build a more just, honorable future.
(Invaluable information for this article was obtained from the well-researched Goddess Gift website. My thanks.)