I have been a Priestess of Hecate for most of my 41 years in Wicca. Although I am told there are many ‘days of Hecate’, Temple of Wicca has always recognized “Hecate’s Day” as being August 13th of each year. Because we are nearing that day, I would like to take a little time to share with you my understanding of the history and meaning of this very special Goddess.
Today, Hecate is recognized as being Greek. The truth of if is that She was originally from Thrace. In antiquity, Thrace was an area that, in modern times, occupied what is now southeast Europe or, more precisely, southeastern Bulgaria (which was northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (which was western Thrace) and the European part of Turkey (which was eastern Thrace). The biggest part of Thrace was what is now Bulgaria. She was later absorbed, not only into the Greek pantheon, but into the Roman pantheon as well.
Some equate Her origins to that of the Egyptian midwife-goddess Heqit, Heket or Hekat who, it is said, evolved from heq or tribal matriarch of pre-dynastic Egypt. In other words, a wise woman who was in command of all the hekau or “words of power”. Heqit delivered the sun god every morning. Her totem was the frog, the symbol of the fetus.
Hecate, which can be pronounced either He-KA-tay or HEK-uh-tay, was said to be the daughter of the Titan Perses and the Titan Asteria, though later Her parentage was given to Zeus and Hera. She was not an Olympian but was considered a Titan.
Depicted carrying a torch which illuminates the Unconscious, She is either symbolized as three female figures or one figure with the head of three dogs or sometimes with the heads of a horse, a dog and a boar. Dogs are most certainly associated with Her although the horse and boar can be considered totems of Her as well.
Of all the triple Goddesses, She is the most markedly so. To the Romans, She was Diana, Proserpina, Hecate. To the Greeks, She was Artemis, Persephone, Hecate. Still others have recognized Her, in the Queen-of-Heaven trinity, as Hebe the Virgin, Hera the Mother, Hecate the Crone. Any way you slice it, She is a goddess of heaven, earth and the underworld.
Best known as the Goddess of the Crossroads, it is here where we all eventually arrive and are faced with three choices: left, right or onward. The Greeks and Romans both placed Her statue at crossroads and food offerings, called “Hecate’s Supper”, were taken there in the dead of night on the eve of the Full Moon. When you did this, you walked away without looking back. No one wanted to confront this Goddess face to face!
Choices are sometimes difficult and it doesn’t hurt to have a little help. I would like to share with you two invocations to Hecate for just that purpose:
“Hail, great Hecate! Goddess of the Moon, Goddess of witches in the dancing ring, To thee all roads must lead us, late or soon – The end, and start, of all our wandering. Thou offerest the never-ending choice – Left, right or onward, every path is thine. O great Hecate, let us hear thy voice! Lighter of darkness, give us a sign!”
Or, more for the individual:
Hecate, I stand at this crossroad, Looking towards my future. Through thy guidance My path is opened And my way illuminated. Maiden, Mother and Crone, Help me navigate through this journey of transition.
When seeking Her aid, at the New Moon, with endings and beginnings that you are seeking to happen:
Hecate! Hecate! Hecate! Queen of all Witches, Goddess of the Dark Moon, And of the Underworld. Thou who art dispenser of all justice, And presides at man’s physical death, Thee we invoke on this night of the New Moon – Let the closings and beginnings of all matters which must take place, Be done under the guidance of thy wisdom. All hail, New Moon, all hail to thee!
Her annual festival, on August 13th, in Greece was one of appeasement, done to avert storms that might destroy the harvest, which they considered to be sent by the Moon at about that time of year.
It was during the early part of the Middle Ages that Hecate became known as Queen of the Witches and also of ghosts. The Catholic Church authorities diabolized Her stating that those who patronized Hecate, particularly the midwives, were a dangerous threat to their faith.
Hecate is the Dark Mother and is often seen as taking Her place in the North of a Circle – that place symbolizing the Winter season when the nights are the longest. She is often also assigned to the planet Saturn for She is a stern teacher while still being the compassionate wise-woman, grandmother, midwife.
To have had Her as my guide, teacher and protector all these years has been my greatest strength in the darkest of times. I always know when She is encouraging, and sometimes insisting, that I do a particular thing. That feeling of Her bony finger in my back is one that can’t be deny or disregarded! I would not be who I am today without the knowledge that She has been there.
Hail Dark Lady of the Crossroads, Of wisdom hard-won, Grant me Thy blessing, Purify my heart, And teach me the Truth of my soul. Show me that death is but the Gateway to Life. Blessed Be.