The Order of the White Moon Presents:
By BellaDonna Oya
“She has transformed over time into what her worshippers needed and most desired her to be.”
Names of Hecate
The Greek name Hecate means “she who has power far off”. The goddess also has many other names, used at different times for different attributes:
Hecate Enodia – “in the road”
Hecate Propylaia – “the one before the gate”
Hecate Propolos – “the attendant who leads”
Hecate Phosphoros – “light bringer”
Hecate Trivia – “of the three ways”
Hecate Kourotrophos – “nurse”
Hecate Triformus – “three formed”, used to refer to her role as goddess of gates and crossroads, where She is often shown with three heads or bodies
Symbols of Hecate
The symbols of Hecate are many. Among them are: black dogs, black horses, crossroads, torches, snakes, many-tailed scourges, mirrors, the waning/dark moon, and “Hecate’s Wheel”, a symbol used by Hecatines, Dianics and Aquarians, three Wiccan traditions that include the worship of Hecate.
Groves of alder trees, black poplars, and especially yew trees are also sacred to Hecate.
Roles of Hecate
Hecate performs many roles for Her followers. She represents the wise grandmother, the compassionate nurse, the sexy older sorceress, and the established matron. She is called upon for counsel, guidance, and decision making; to banish wandering ghosts from this plane; to guide the dead and admit them to the afterworld; for protection during illness and in childbirth; to help people confront their fears and face their shadows; and to preside over acts of magic and divination. She is the power behind second sight, creative insight, learned wisdom, and general divination abilities.
“…people who avoid their fears also avoid their power.”
Hecate’s comments and advice are often cryptic, and she doesn’t pull Her punches, but She is honest and will ALWAYS help you see the way clearly, even if it takes you where you may not want to go. But She won’t force you or make your decisions for you; She lights whatever way you choose, even if it’s not the right one. Ultimately, the decision is always yours.
“The problem comes when you try to find permanent answers to impermanent problems.”
~Hecate, “Apprentice to Power”
Hecate is also the best goddess to work with when dealing with aging, death and the afterlife. She teaches that sometimes, when there are things happening that you can do nothing about, it is best to stop, be still, and wait.
“The still pause of nonactivity is Hekate’s contribution to the journey of becoming…”
Worship of Hecate
Hecate has been worshipped since ancient times. Shrines and statues of Hecate were set up in front of Greek temple complexes to keep evil away. Her altars are always built very low to the ground, signifying both her chthonic/earth connection and her dwelling in an underground cave. These altars were usually built at crossroads and by thresholds, both of which are Her sacred places, and offerings known as “Hecate suppers” were left there. Her rituals were (and still are) performed at midnight whenever possible; this is considered “the witching hour”, and since She is the Goddess of Witches, it’s a very appropriate time. Sometimes sacrifices were left for Her, usually black female lambs or dogs, and honey. Modern worshippers usually skip the animal sacrifices, but honey and other items, such as pomegranates are often left as offerings.
Some forms of worship associated with Hecate that are performed today are Cronings, Hecate suppers, any rituals or actions honoring the dead, and all forms of divination, especially mirror scrying. Hecate has “moved with the times”, so to speak; she is a timeless goddess because she represents help in dealing with humanity’s eternal problems: fear, decisions, and death.
Hecate was the first of my personal matron deities. When I was trying to find my spiritual path, I did a meditation to ask Her if this was the right way to go and why it was so hard for me to come to a decision about it. Her answer was immediate and to the point. She had a profound influence on me then, and still does to this day. I light candles and leave the names of those who are dying, who have just died, or who are trying to make important decisions on her altar. I also honor her feast days in August and November. In return, I always feel her presence when I have important decisions to make, or when I’m dealing with a shadow or lesser fear. I find she responds to both prayers and rituals, and will speak directly to my mind if I send her a silent call for help. I know I am never alone, because Hecate walks before me, lighting my path.
“Working with Hecate is a way to access our intuitive and inspirited side.”
Hecate Meditation (adapted from a meditation by Timothy Roderick):
Close your eyes, ground and center as you do for all meditations, in whatever way works best for you.
Feel yourself passing through mist and darkness. Eventually the mist clears, and you find yourself standing at a crossroads at night, with just enough moonlight to see the three paths splitting in different directions before you. Behind you stand three large, upright stones. As you study the paths to see which you should choose, you hear someone moving behind you. Turning, you see a dark, veiled figure come out from behind the stones. This is Hecate, and she stands silently before you, holding a mirror.
Ask Hecate for guidance with something in your life. Maybe you have a fear that needs to be faced. Perhaps you have a decision to make, and you are unsure of which choice is best for you. Perhaps you have NO idea what to do about a particular situation. Or maybe you simply want to know if there is anything She wishes to tell you.
You ask Her your question, and She holds up Her mirror. What do you see? If you see nothing in the mirror, Hecate will whisper a word or two in your ear. Whatever you see or hear, it will be the answer you need for now.
Now the mist rapidly closes around you, and Hecate, the stones and the roads fade into the darkness. You feel the mist whirling around you. Then it disappears, and you know you are back in your body. Take a few deep breaths, and when you are ready, open your eyes.
“Hekate teaches us that the way to the vision that inspires renewal is to be found in moving through the darkness.”
Bolen, Jean Shinoda
2001 Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes in Women Over Fifty. HarperCollins Publishers.
1992 Mysteries of the Dark Moon: The Healing Power of the Dark Goddess. HarperCollins Publishers.
Nyx, Lori (with Denise Dumars)
2003 “Hekate: Curse Not the Darkness”. In The Dark Archetype: Exploring the Shadow Side of the Divine. New Page Books.
2003 “Hekate: Went Down to the Crossroads”. In The Dark Archetype: Exploring the Shadow Side of the Divine. New Page Books
2000 Apprentice to Power: A Wiccan Odyssey to Spiritual Awakening. Crossing Press.
Starck, Marcia, and Gynne Stern
1993 The Dark Goddess: Dancing with the Shadow. Crossing Press.
“Hecate” article. Accessed 07/29/2008.