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"The From-a-far Powerful"
Chtonian Greek Triple-Earth-Goddess,
representing the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone
- all aspects of the Mother Goddess.
Her origins are in Asia Minor,
where she was worshipped as the primary mother goddess. 
Later transformed into a Goddess of Magic,
Moon and Night, Ruler of Ghosts, Underworld-goddess,
Protectress and Patroness of Magicians,
Fortunetellers and Witches
.



You are about to enter the shrine of the ancient greek goddess Hecate.
(Entrance at the bottom of this page)


hecate346.jpg

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.



Selection

 

Description of Hecate in THE THEOGONY of Hesiod Other Names and Titles Relations in the Greek Pantheon
Priestesses of Hecate Her Image Representation Her Role 
Her Signs and Symbols Her Signs and Symbols Offerings
Cult Centers Hecate- Links And now enter her shrine

 


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.

Chtonian (Earth/Underworldgoddess),
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)
Soteira ("Saviour")
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.
It
is also told that she is the daughter of Demeter or Pheraia, which appears understandable due to the fact, that Hecate like Demeter was a goddess of the earth and fertility. Or that she may even be a daughter of Zeus.
Like many ancient mother or earth-goddesses she remains unmarried and has no regular consort. On the other side she is the mother of many monsters, f.e. of  Scylla.


THE ARGONAUTICA BOOK IV (ll. 783-832):

Ausonian Scylla the deadly, whom night-wandering Hecate, who is called Crataeis, bare to Phoreys, lest swooping upon them with her horrible jaws she destroy the chiefest of the heroes.

But most sources agree that she is a goddess, who was never part of the Olymp or the olympian family, but still powerful and worshipped.

She aided Demeter with news about her robbed daughter Persephone:
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).

Leads Persephone back from Hades to Her mother, Demeter and gets reward:
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) .

The close connection between Hekate, Persephone and Demeter is interesting in that  one could suspect that the threesome is probably the earliest example of a triple-goddess involving Hecate.

She is also a mother-goddess who wears the lunar disk and carries a torch, referring to her role as lightbringer.

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Priestesses of Hecate

According to Euripides in "Iphigeneia in Tauris" "Iphigeneia was a priestess of the goddess, worshipped in Tauri.

Circe (Kirke), the mighty hag in the Odyssee (Homer) was believed to have been a priestess of Hecate too.

Medea was also a priestess of Hecate and a mighty witch which is told in the Argonautica-Book. She called upon Hecates name in Colchis and Corinth to guide her:

Medea then going from chamber to chamber in search of her sister, for Hera detained her within that day; but beforetime she was not wont to haunt the palace, but all day long was busied in Hecate's temple, since she herself was the priestess of the goddess.

Medea as a mighty witch:

"Son of Aeson, thou wilt despise the counsel which I will tell thee, but, though in evil plight, it is not fitting to forbear from the trial. Ere now thou hast heard me tell of a maiden that uses sorcery under the guidance of Hecate, Perses' daughter. If we could win her aid there will be no dread, methinks, of thy defeat in the contest; but terribly do I fear that my mother will not take this task upon her. Nevertheless I will go back again to entreat her, for a common destruction overhangs us all." (ll. 475-483)

And again:

"My friends, this indeed is left us at the last. But I deem that there will come to you some timely aid from my mother. Wherefore, eager though ye be, refrain and abide in your ship a little longer as before, for it is better to forbear than recklessly to choose an evil fate. There is a maiden, nurtured in the halls of Aeetes, whom the goddess Hecate taught to handle magic herbs with exceeding skill all that the land and flowing waters produce. (THE ARGONAUTICA BOOK III , here: ll. 523-539)

Medea as priestess of Hecate, worshipping her with sacrifice:

For Medea bade them land and propitiate Hecate with sacrifice. Now all that the maiden prepared for offering the sacrifice may no man know, and may my soul not urge me to sing thereof. Awe restrains my lips, yet from that time the altar which the heroes raised on the beach to the goddess remains till now, a sight to men of a later day (THE ARGONAUTICA BOOK IV(ll. 241-252).

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Hecate (r) and Cybele (l) 

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 VI

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.

hecate-blake.jpg

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Her Role

"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.

She was the Goddess of the three-ways (crossroads), where she protected people from taking the wrong road. And she protected the Gates from any evil spirit to enter. She also guides travellers in general and sailors in particular. She held the keys to three roads: to Hades, to Heaven and to a lucky life on earth.

In later times she became the patroness of witches, magicians and sorcery. The Question is not, that Hecate did not have these aspects in her nature, it is whether these are her only aspects.

Many today-pagans worship either the wonderful, loving and caring, sweet and gentle good Goddess or the lunatic, dark aspects of the Goddess. My opinion and believe is that these aspects can only be seen as a whole and that Hecate combines all these aspects of nature as an incarnation of the Great Goddess.
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.

One of her festivals celebrated in the city Stratonicea in Caria was called: Hecatesia.

As a goddess of the Moon she is often set equal to Selene. As a goddess of growth and fertilitiy, she is seen equal to Demeter. As a goddess of the hunt and the wild animals, she is seen equal to Artemis.
It is more than obvious that her attributes and her role have some similarities with Lilith and the dark sides of Ishtar and Astarte.

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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.

 


Offerings

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.




Cult Centers

According to the Homeric Hymns Hecate herself dwells in a cave:
(ll. 19-32) only tender-hearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl  (Persephone) from her cave.

Earliest sign of her cult: religious law of the Molpoi (recorded 100 B.C.) from Milet, probably from the 5the century B.C. and an archaian roundaltar with inscriptions.

Temples in Milet (today in Turkey), Argos, Eleuis, Aigina and in Athen many Altars were found in front of the houses, dedicated to Hecate.

In Pausanias Description of Greece he speaks of Hecate and her cult:
Of the gods, the Aeginetans worship most Hecate, in whose honor every year they celebrate mystic rites which, they say, Orpheus the Thracian established among them. Within the enclosure is a temple; its wooden image is the work of Myron, and it has one face and one body. It was Alcamenes, in my opinion, who first made three images of Hecate attached to one another, a figure called by the Athenians Epipurgidia (on the Tower); it stands beside the temple of the Wingless Victory. [2.30.3]

Main sanctuary: in Lagina, (Source: Strabo 14,660,663), a city in Lakene.

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Short Information on Hecate

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