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Hecate: Most Shining One

By Barbara
(Written for Ecclasia)


The goddess Hecate is shrouded in mystery as there has been a continuing debate about Her name, origin, and character. Hecate was a popular and ubiquitous goddess from at least 700 BCE until late antiquity. In Pre-Classical Ancient Greece She was seen as a young woman clad in a long robe, holding burning torches. This image later changed into a triple form of 3 bodies standing back to back. The Romns also adopted Hecate and She became an aspect of the moon Goddess, Diana Triformus. As the power of the Solar Gods rose, she became increasingly demonized, increasingly depicted as roaming the earth on moonless nights in the company of baying dogs and the hungry spirits of those dead who were not ready to die, those who were murdered, or not given appropriate burial rites. By the Middle Ages She was reduced to a parody of an evil crone.

Her name has several possible meanings. "She who works Her will" is the most commonly accepted, but also "the far-off one," "far-darting one" as well as "most shining one."

Hecate was a beautiful and powerful goddess in her own right, and therefore was the only one of the ancient Titans that Zeus allowed to retain authority once the Olympians seized control. Zeus shared with her the power of granting humanity anything she wished. She was accepted into the new regime as a guardian of the household, protector of everything newly born and the goddess of witchcraft. She was not of the same kind and never lived amongst them, preferring the underworld.

Hecate has long been associated with crossroads where three roads meet and a decision must be made. According to ancient Greek religion, the soul was judged at a place where three roads met: one road led to the Elysian Fields, one to the Fields of Asphodel, and the third to Tartarus. Crossroads are also seen as ominus and dangerous places and in many traditions this is where suicides and criminals were buried.

In her "Dark" aspect she is awesome and terrifying. She rulers over death and the dark intuitive wisdom that is beyond the conscious mind. This wisdom comes to us through dreams and whispers, mediumship and divination. It is the inspired vision of seers and artists and for some it can be too much and bring the madness of lunacy. As the dark mother she can send demons to torment men's dreams, but to those who welcome her she brings creative wisdom.

Hecate has long been a Goddess of magic spells and witchcraft. She has long been invoked to make spells more powerful. With divination she can cut through the darkness, bring visions, call back the past and reveal the future.

She is also known as a protector and guardian, Goddess of childbirth, and as a guide. Pillars representing Hecate stood at crossroads and doorways to keep away evil spirits. A common attribute of birth Goddesses is the torch, and she is often depicted carrying torches. It is thought that the knife she carries cyts the umbilical cord that begins our lives as well as severing the link between the body and spirit at death. This knife may have been the origen of the athame. Hecate is known to frequent graveyards to find wandering spirits and help them on their way. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Hecate is portrayed as a nurturing and protective guide for Persephone on her annual journeys.

As with other Gods and Goddesses, certain creatures and plants are sacred to Hecate. All wild animals are sacred to her and she is sometimes depicted with three heads: a god, horse and bear or dog, snake and lion. Creatures of darkness and of the earth are most sacred; ravens, owls, crows, snakes, frogs, and dragons. The yew, cypress, hazel, black poplar and the willow are all sacred to Her. Other herbs and plants were associated with Her including garlic, almonds, lavendar, myrrh, mugwort, cardamon, mint, dandelion, hellebore, lesser celadine, belladonna, hemlock, mandrake, and the opium poppy.

Several times are sacred to Hecate. Samhain is especially significant to her, but there are also several festival days in her honor. The 13th of August is the time to ask for her blessing on the coming harvest. Sunset on november 16th marks the beginning of the Night of Hecate. If you choose to honor her only once in a year this would be the time.In ancient Greece animal sacrifices would have been made, but now leaving a Hecate's Supper at the crossroads is more appropriate. Those who follow Her are often initiated into Her mysteries on this night. November 30th is the Day of Hecate at the Crossroads. In some traditions January 31st is the night Hecate hands Her torch to Brigid.

Several symbols are associated with Her including torchers, a knife, a rope or scourge, a key, a phial, flowers or a pomegranite. Her worshippers used red henna to stain their hands and feet.

We can look to Hecate to assist us to make the transitions and new beginnings, especially ones that were not planned. I have felt Her presence at my side through the past few years and all the changes that have occurred during that time.


Banishing Negativity

By Morgan Danae Stardancer

In this ritual you will be calling on Hecate in Her Crone aspect. It is performed during the Dark of the Moon.

Begin by setting up your altar as you normally do for a ritual, making sure you have a black candle and wine or water in your chalice in addition to anything else you use. You will also need a cleansing, purifying incense and a censor or some kind of container which can be carried around your room.

It is best to set your altar on the floor for this rite, but you may do it however you feel most comfortable.

Cast your circle as you normally do. When you are through, kneel before your altar and light the black candle. With your arms held palms upward at your side, call Hecate by saying three times:

Hecate, beautiful Crone of Night
I call you here to put things right.
Transform the negative thought and pain
And help my life be whole again.

Close your eyes. When you feel the presence of Hecate and know she is there to help you, open your eyes. Bow your head to her to show your reverence, then take the chalice, saying:

Lady of the Dark Moon,
Share with me this wine.
Bring your protection to
Flood this life of mine.
May the waters of your eternal womb,
Bring change most divine.

Sip a small amount of the wine (or water), envisioning it as liquid energy flowing to effect a positive change within and outside of you. Leave the rest as an offering to Hecate.

Light the purifying incense in the censer, cut a door in the Circle, and with your four pieces of black tourmaline (the stick kind) walk around your room placing the tourmaline at each of the four quarters. (Use window sills and ledges behind the furniture to hold the tourmaline). As you do this say

As this incense purifies this area of all cuurent negativity,
let these stones serve as a boundary to hold future negativity at bay.

Come back to your altar and begin to visualize a bright golden light filling your room.

Hecate, Lady of the Golden torch
Bring your clear light into my sight.
Help me to know that the dark corners of my mind are now purged
by the illumination of your torch's golden glow.

Thank Hecate. Meditate if you wish, visualizing your life free from negative happenings and feelings and full of love, prosperity, and happiness. Feel how She has changed your home and your life. Close the Circle and know that it is done.


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This page last updated October 16, 2004