Hekate’s Night

 

She is our chaperone to the Underworld, the keeper of the keys, a deity of dream states and liminal spaces. Hekate is one of the most powerful dark goddesses, with ancient roots tracing to Greece, Egypt and Asia Minor. She is the patron of witches, mothers, fishermen, soldiers, sailors, virgins and the restless dead. She presides over crossroads, entrance-ways and turning points in life.

November 16 marks her feast night. It is a perfect time to honor her!

Who is Hekate? 

This goddess has a complicated history, and a job description that is equal to no other!  In brief, she is generally thought of as a goddess of the Greek/ Roman pantheon. There are, however,  conflicting stories about her origin.

Some legends say Hekate was the daughter of the Titans Asteria (Goddess of the Stars) and Perses (God of Destruction.)  She is therefore considered a direct descendant of Gaia (Mother Earth) and Nyx (Goddess of Night.)  She appears in Homer’s Hymn to Demeter, and in Hesiod’s Theogony where she is promoted strongly as a great goddess.  There is also evidence that she had popular followings in ancient Thrace, which includes what is now Bulgaria and Turkey.

When Hades kidnapped Persephone and took her to the Underworld, her mother Demeter went searching for her, and it was Hekate who led the way with her torches. Hekate has always been a helper, a guide and a teacher.

She was important enough to have her face on coins! This one dates back to 30 BC. It is part of the Vatican collection and is described as:  “Bust of Hekate, with crescent on forehead”.

Hecate was one of the main deities worshiped in Athenian households as a protective goddess and one who bestowed prosperity and daily blessings on the family.  In the “Chaldean Oracles” — a  group of spiritual writings dated from the 3rd century, Hekate is regarded as a powerful deity with a hand in ruling  over the earth, sea and sky as well as the nether worlds. She was greatly favored by Zeus, who reportedly bestowed her with some of his holdings…  One story claims that Hekate supported the Olympians in a battle against the Titans (thus “switching sides”) and gained favor with Zeus. When helping us with practical problems, Hekate is known to switch sides in order to see every aspect and help us reach a decision.

She is most often depicted in triple form, to represent the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. Her vision is all encompassing. The triplicity she embodies is also her ability to see the past, present and future all at once.

Hekate is, by nature, a Jill-of-all-trades.  She doesn’t fit neatly into one pantheon, and for this reason many eclectics have come to regard her as a “go to” goddess. According to the Oxford Classical Dictionary: “she is more at home on the fringes than in the center of Greek polytheism. Intrinsically ambivalent and polymorphous, she straddles conventional boundaries and eludes definition.”

Hekate’s Animals

Hekate is associated with all wild animals, but her favorites are dogs, snakes, crows, lions, horses, bears, wolves and frogs.

Frogs:  In ancient Egypt, the frog represented fertility.  There was a powerful midwife called Hekit (a prototype of Hekate) who aided in the birth of the gods. Frog amulets were used to ensure a safe birth. Frog amulets were also used in death.  People placed them on mummies in the belief that this would help guide them in the afterlife.  Hekit had one such amulet which bore the words “I am the Resurrection.”

Snakes: Snakes shed their skin, which is also a physical representation of rebirth. Hekate is often pictured with a snake entwined around her neck or arm.

Dogs:  It is believed that women were the first to domesticate dogs, because dogs were companions of the Goddess in many cultures. As nurturers and keepers of the hearth, women saw the potential of a new best friend, and took the animals in.  Dogs always accompanied Hecate. Some people believe that dogs are able to see the dead (ghosts) and other spirits. The ancients were also very impressed with canine keenness of other senses, particularly the sense of smell. Hekate is often pictured with the three-headed Cerberus (another Triplicity!) the dog who guarded the gates of the Underworld.

If Hekate is calling you, it is said that a black dog may cross your path, so be on the lookout!

Other Symbols:

Plants associated with Hekate are roses, poppies, garlic, mandrake, saffron, yew, and willow.

Gemstones are onyx, hematite, lapiz lazuli, moonstone and topaz.

Her colors are black, orange, red, silver and gold.

Her foods are apples, raisins, currants, dates, figs, cheese, wine, bread and cake.

She is associated with knives, swords and daggers (possibly because as a Goddess of change, she is known to “cut” unwanted things from our lives.)

She is pictured often with torches, presumably to help guide in dark spaces and navigate the Underworld.

She carries keys, a symbolic representation of entering new phases.

She is often found at the crossroads – a symbolic place of choice, decision and change, as well as the gateway to the other world, other dimensional realities, dream states and liminal spaces.

How can you honor Hekate?

At sundown on November 16, devotions to Hekate can begin.  (Other days to worship Hekate are at the new and full moons, August 13, November 1, and the 29th day of each month.)

The ancient Greeks made offerings of food and wine to Hekate. They would take their gifts to the crossroads, say a prayer or invocation, and leave them there for her.  In modern times we can do something similar. Create an altar to Hekate. Decorate it with her favorite colors and stones. Leave gifts of apples, raisin bread, wine, cheese, cake or anything you think would appeal to her. Like dark chocolates! 🙂

If you are ambitious, and happen to have a good crossroads in your neighborhood, you may even want to leave the offerings outside.  It is believed that if a homeless person, or an animal eats the offerings, they are also under Hekate’s protection. She will be pleased and bestow many blessings upon you!

Have a beautiful and blessed Hekate’s Night!

 

 

 

 

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17 comments on “Hekate’s Night

  1. johncoyote says:

    I enjoyed this tale. Myth and story. My favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As always, a feast of information! I didn’t know about the frogs 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vicky V says:

    One of my favourite Goddesses! I love that she is associated with dogs, just like Hades. Macedonians believe that dogs can see the dead. Dogs that have those dot markings just above their eyes are supposed to be particularly sensitive as the dots are thought to represent spiritual eyes.
    I want a Hecate coin! It would be the perfect coin to give to Charon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • She is certainly a powerful goddess! I love learning more about her. I personally believe that dogs and cats can see spirits. Dogs also predict deaths with howling.

      I love that Hekate’s image was used for coins, it proves how important she must have been! Yes, they would be perfect for Charon!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vicky V says:

        I’ve heard dogs can predict death. Have you heard of Oscar the therapy cat who can predict deaths? He’s pretty famous.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I have heard of that therapy cat! It does not surprise me too much. Animals definitely have a sixth sense. I always catch my cat looking at things that are (seemingly) not there… I believe he is seeing spirits or something other-dimensional 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vicky V says:

        My dog does this too! I think she is talking to her pack mates who have passed on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes — it is very possible. There are so many things animals do! We had dogs jump up on the bed and howl right before someone died. Or start barking and acting weird right after someone died (even many miles away.) When I first started researching Hekate, I actually did have two black dogs cross my path, a thing that has never happened before. It is all so cool!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vicky V says:

        I love the sound of your dogs! They must have really been in tune with the other realms. How wonderful that two black dogs crossed your path. I bet they were letting you know Hekate was pleased you were researching her!

        I just read that at Zoroastrian funerals it is traditional for a dog to lead the funeral procession to the cemetery. Now I’m wondering if I can have my coffin delivered to my grave on a sled drawn by huskies!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, there is a cool idea, huskies pulling your coffin! I did not know about the Zoroastrian custom, but it makes sense.

        Many of our dogs were very sensitive and intuitive. A lot of them were German shepherds, and the two that crossed my path were also magnificent black German shepherds, which I loved! I do believe it was a sign from Hekate 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I found this extract very heartening – “It is believed that if a homeless person, or an animal eats the offerings, they are also under Hekate’s protection. She will be pleased and bestow many blessings upon you!” It seems compassion has a long history …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, compassion does have a long history! So much is made about the bad, selfish and violent aspects of society, but compassion exists also. Likewise, Hekate has the reputation of an ‘evil sorceress’, but she is actually a benevolent figure 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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