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October 03, 2019
Hecate (or Hekate, and pronounced “he-KAH-tay” or “he-KAH-tee”) has many titles, most notably the Torchbearer, Goddess of the Underworld, and the Keeper of the Keys of the Universe. A relationship with her is one that confronts and engages with the darkness that resides in us all, rather than ignore or reject it. Hecate is present in the Under, Middle, and Upper worlds, so her ability to transition between these realms indicates she is a powerful force for change.
Hecate is an ancient goddess with a modern tradition. Some traditions of witchcraft emphasize her role in modernity, and puts less stress on the particularities of rituals and ceremonies so that practitioners may interpret their relationship in a modern, personal way, so that everyone’s practice is at their strongest.
As far as sobriquets go, the Goddess of the Underworld is about as cool as they come. Along with her connection to the serpent, her power is connotative of what is popularly considered to be evil and nefarious in mainstream religion, but a relationship with Hecate underscores the necessity of dark with light, life with death.
Hecate is a strong presence in the pantheon of Greek gods, but her origin is by no means strictly bound to it. Most date her roots from the Anatolians, though one variation of her name, ‘Heqet’, suggests ties to ancient Egypt! Her most famous temple can still be visited in what was once Lagia (now Turgut in the southwest of Turkey) where there are still annual festivals hosted in her name. She is also mentioned in the Suda, an encyclopedic lexicon of ancient Mediterranean world first compiled in the 10th Century.
While there are several widely accepted spellings of Hecate, the English-speaking world managed to use one which was, well, kind of just wrong. ‘Hecat’ was used primarily from the 16th to the 19th Centuries because of - and this probably won’t surprise you - a mistranslation! Arthur Golding misspelled the name in his 1567 translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and several plays perpetuated this misspelling, most notably a little piece called Macbeth by William Shakespeare.
Significance of Hecate
Hecate endures. Culturally and historically, she persists, and her power is evident in that persistence. One can vary rituals and worship styles, just as her significance carried her, both through and beyond, across many times and cultures. So much about the magical is about interpretation that evolution is mandatory, and she totally embodies this.
Hecate is often invoked in rituals designed to “release the past”. She is a valuable ally in one’s journey to psychically shed dead weight, or expel the negativity of the past. I can’t think of many things more necessary for, and deserving of, a ritual than that.
It can’t be stressed enough that your worship of Hecate is up to your interpretation, but it is crucial to remember that, typically, Hecate is often invoked for a specific goal or purpose. Something is being asked of her, and one should show that they intend to honor her fully in return, that they understand the gravity of what they are asking, and they should show reverence for her through their blessings of her. In this ritual, we are asking Hecate to aid us in leaving something behind that is no longer needed, such as a relationship, a job, an addiction or mental attachment, etc. This ritual is intended to be done near or at dusk.
Hecate's Wheel by Cocorina
Triple-formed representation of Hecate. Marble, Roman copy after an original of the Hellenistic period.- Wikipedia
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