You are about to enter the shrine of the ancient greek goddess Hecate.
(Entrance at the bottom of this page)
Although you might think Hecate is not what you would call a forgotten goddess,
it is my opinion that Hecate's original nature as a mother and earth goddess in her
today-online-witch-protectress-image is somewhat forgotten
or at least only a part of her nature is worshipped.
First you shall have and read some information on this goddess of old,
so that you approach her in the appropriate way.
Also read the wonderful article of Von Rudolph, I. Robert. (1996)
Hecate in Early Greek Religion. The Horned Owl Library.
Click here to have only a short info about her.
Description of Hecate in THE THEOGONY of Hesiod: (700 B.C.)
Then the goddess Gaia through the love of the god conceived and brought forth dark-gowned Leto, always mild, kind to men and to the deathless gods, mild from the beginning, gentlest in all Olympus. Also she bare Asteria of happy name, whom Perses once led to his great house to be called his dear wife. And she conceived and bare Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honoured above all.
He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods. For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favour according to custom, he calls upon Hecate. Great honour comes full easily to him whose prayers the goddess receives favourably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with her.
For as many as were born of Earth and Ocean amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Cronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her. Whom she will she greatly aids and advances: she sits by worshipful kings in judgement, and in the assembly whom she will is distinguished among the people.
And when men arm themselves for the battle that destroys men, then the goddess is at hand to give victory and grant glory readily to whom she will. Good is she also when men contend at the games, for there too the goddess is with them and profits them: and he who by might and strength gets the victory wins the rich prize easily with joy, and brings glory to his parents.
And she is good to stand by horsemen, whom she will: and to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hecate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, easily the glorious goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so she will.
She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if she will, she increases from a few, or makes many to be less. So, then. albeit her mother's only child, she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods.
And the son of Cronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Dawn. So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young, and these are her honours. (ll. 404-452)
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Other Names and Titles
Like many goddesses she who's name means
"The From-a-far-Powerful" had many names and titles.
Crataeis (the Mighty One),
Enodia (Goddess of the paths)
Antania (Enemy of mankind),
Kurotrophos (Nurse of the Children and Protectress of mankind),
Artemis of the crossroads
Propylaia (the one before the gate)
Propolos (the attendant who leads)
Phosphoros (the light-bringer)
Prytania (invincible Queen of the Dead)
Trioditis (gr.) Trivia (latin: Goddess of Three Roads)
Klêidouchos (Keeper of the Keys)
Tricephalus or Triceps (The Three-Headed)
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Relations in the Greek Pantheon
Hecate is a pre-olympian greek earth goddess. It is certain that her origin is Asia Minor (Karia). The greek sources don't have a similar story of her parents or her relations in the greek pantheon: Sometimes Hecate is a Titaness , daughter of Perses and Asteria, who is a mighty helper and protector of mankind. She is a Titaness who was not banned into the underworldrealms after their defeat through the Olympians, because she was the only Titan that aided Zeus.
But when the tenth enlightening dawn had come, Hecate, with a torch in her hands, met her, and spoke to her and told her news: (ll. 54-58) `Queenly Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of good gifts, what god of heaven or what mortal man has rapt away Persephone and pierced with sorrow your dear heart? For I heard her voice, yet saw not with my eyes who it was. But I tell you truly and shortly all I know.' (ll. 59-73) So, then, said Hecate. And the daughter of rich-haired Rhea answered her not, but sped swiftly with her, holding flaming torches in her hands. (Homeric Hymns).
Then bright-coiffed Hecate came near to them, and often did she embrace the daughter of holy Demeter: and from that time the lady Hecate was minister and companion to Persephone (Homeric Hymns, ll. 438-440) .
|My opinion is,
that Hecate as a mother goddess of older greek or Asian Minor times
degenerated in the eyes of the olympian greeks towards a lesser role in the myths.
Given the fact that she is refered to as a Titan,
she is older than the Olympian Gods and
one can assume that like many incarnations of the Great Goddess
she was transformed into something lunatic and somewhat evil.
|Pharsalia (aka "The Civil War") BOOK
830 My patron goddess, last and lowest form (39)
Of Hecate through whom the shades and I
Hold silent converse; warder of the gate
Who castest human offal to the dog:
Ye sisters who shall spin the threads again; (40)
Her Image Representation
"The From-a-far Powerful" was portrayed most of the time in triple statues with triple faces. (f.e.in Aigina). Her names Trioditis (gr.) Trivia (latin: Goddess of Three Roads) and Tricephalus or Triceps (The Three-Headed) refer to her triple nature. She carries torches, whips, daggers and keys. Hecate is most of the time followed by dogs or wolfs. Sometimes she even has the heads of a snake, dog or lion or three heads and six arms (reference to Kali, indian goddess).In later times the Triple Hekate took on the form of a pillar called a Hecterion. One such statue depicts her with three heads and six arms, bearing three torches and three sacred emblems - the Key, Rope, and Dagger. With her key to the underworld, Hekate unlocks the secrets of the occult mysteries and knowledge of the afterlife. The rope, which is also a scourge or cord, symbolizes the umbilical cord of rebirth and renewal. The Dagger is related to the curved knife that cuts delusion and is a symbol of power and judgment.
"The Chtonian" was a -still in roman times- very popular Greek goddess, often accombined with Artemis or Persephone, who's role -like mentioned before- transformed from a goddess of fertility, childbirth, protectress of mankind and all other earth-aspects from groth to death into a Queen of ghosts, a mighty and scary Goddess of Magic, Nights, the time of the waning moon, where she could could give vision and assist in magical procedures.
Her annual festival in Greece was on August 13th/14th was a propitiary one, to avert the harvest-destroying storms which the Moon was apt to send at around that time.
Her Signs and Symbols
All wild animals were sacred to Hekate, and she was sometimes shown with three animal heads - the dog, snake, and lion, or alternately the dog, horse, and bear. This aspect refers to her rulership over the ancient tripartite year of spring, summer, and winter. However, her primary animal form and familiar was the dog or wolf.
Wolfs, Dogs, Snakes
Torches are Her symbol, for
the Dark Mother also holds the light which illuminates the Unconscious and
reveals its treasures.
Sacred Plants: Yewtree, the tree of death (greek: taxus),
Hemlock (see f.e. Shakespeare: Macbeth IV, 1.25)
Key (to the Underworld), Rope, Dagger.
The Moon, especially the full or the dark moon.
For divination, the Greeks used an instrument called 'Hecate's Circle', a golden sphere with a sapphire hidden inside it.
The hallucinogenic medicinal plant, Aconite, once called, "hecateis", and produced by the saliva of Cerberus, belonged to Her. This herb reached mankind when Hercules forced Cerberus from Hades, spraying the Earth with the hound's spittle.
Sacrifice: Dogs, in Rome: black bulls wearing yewtree leaves.
Food laid down at crossroads, known as "the Supper of Hecate": One source says eggs and fish; another fish, eggs, or roe; still another, goat cheese and bread.
Candles, Torches, Incense burned to worship her.
Honey cakes and chicken, hearts on their door steps, or at crossroads. Sacrifices were regularly offered to Her, including dogs and female lambs.
Temples in Milet (today in Turkey), Argos, Eleuis, Aigina and in Athen many Altars were found in front of the houses, dedicated to Hecate.
Main sanctuary: in Lagina, (Source: Strabo 14,660,663), a city in Lakene.
Short Information on Hecate
- Attributes: Fertility mother goddess, with double aspect: protectress and destroyer, mighty magical Queen of ghosts and loving and helping corn-mother like Demeter. Triple Aspect of the Goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone.
Shares many attributes with Morrigan, Kali and the Inanna.
- Representation: Triple-Shape of body and/or face, carries torches and is followed by a pack of hounds. Appears most of the time as a maiden or younger women, only in later images is she the crone or the old woman.
- Relations: Hecate is a Titaness, daughter of Perses and Asteria, Helper of Demeter in her search after Persephone, mighty protectress of Medea
Offerings: Sacrifice of dogs, puppies, Food at three-way- crossroads, burned torches and candles.
Site dedicated to Hekate, personal views as well mythology can be found there.
And now enter her shrine: