Friday, 9 November 2012

The Goddess Hekate

Last night I attended a lecture by Prudence Jones on the Goddess Hekate (I prefer this spelling to Hecate).  She traced the worship of Hekate back to ancient Greece, and from there possibly back to Anatolia and Mesopotamia, where she may have been a Great Goddess.  Although the Asia Minor version was blood-thirsty, she was also a Goddess of Plenty, generous to her followers.  However, it is from there that she may have her association as Goddess of Witches, as the Greeks equated blood sacrifice and black magic ;)

Prudence traced interesting connections: how Hesiod in his Theogeny named her a Goddess sole-born to her parents (a title also given to Jesus).  He also said she was honoured by her uncle Zeus, and given her Titan-born share of the heavens, the earth and the seas.  In this way, already around 700 BCE she was a triple-aspected Goddess.

©Marashinsky & Janto
Interestingly, in her Athenian depiction as the saviour of Persephone, she is a Maiden to Persephone's Wife and Demeter's Mother aspect.  Nowadays, we tend to see her as a Crone, perhaps because of her connections to the land of the dead.  Later, Hekate became equated with Artemis, with many sculptures inscribed as being Hekate-Artemis. Thus when Artemis, previously Goddess of Hunting, became associated with the moon, so too did Hekate.

Around 45 BCE, there was a temple to Diana Trivia just south of Rome.  Trivia means of the three ways, which was a name for Hekate, and Diana was the Roman name for Artemis.  This temple was built by the side of a lake in an extinct volcano crater, so that the moon would reflect in the circular pool, an enormous scrying mirror!
Hekate's most frequent associations are as a Goddess of the three ways - when three paths join, or a fork in the road.  She protects from bad energies, and is a psychopomp, guiding the souls of the dead on their path with her two flaming wands.  However, she was also originally a Goddess of flocks and fishing ;)

It was interesting to hear Prudence's research, making connections between ancient practices and our modern-day ideas, tracing how different associations accreted to Hekate, and exploring her different aspects, dark and light.  This is still a work-in-progress, but Prudence hopes to publish on it in the future, so it will be interesting to see how her ideas develop and see where her research takes her...


  1. It sounds like a lot of information got chucked at you in a very short time! Those lectures are amazing, aren't they? You learn more in 45 minutes than you could by reading books for hours and hours.

    I like Hecate. Or Hekate. Doesn't matter to me how you spell it. I don't know much about her, but I like the name, and I like what I've found out so far. Plus, she's a dog woman instead of a cat woman, and that's appealing to me, too! :D

    1. It was quite fascinating, and Prudence Jones is an interesting speaker, obviously really fascinated with her topic.

      As for me, I'm a cat woman, but I still think Hekate is fabulous. Guiding souls where they need to go, challenging us at the crossroads of our lives, seeing into past present and future, being willing to heal and transform - there's a lot of strength there! :)

  2. Fascinating! In the Witchy Tarot, Hekate is associated with the Queen of Pentacles; does this make sense to you?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge about Hekate ;)

    1. I don't think it would have before, Christiane, as I see her as more of a visionary - High Priestess, maybe Queen of Cups, or Queen of Wands for her lighting the way aspect. After Prudence's talk, though, I can see it, in that she has an aspect of tending flocks and bringing abundance. Perhaps it's simply that she's been most things over the course of the millennia ;D

  3. That image (and others) is significant in that it clearly shows a "triple goddess" symbol which many deny every existed. Obviously this was long before Turkic people came on the scene.