Today I want to start exploring the incredible magical realm of gods and goddesses with you, and I could not start from any other than Hekate, the mother of all witches! If you want to get to know this mysterious, fascinating goddess, keep reading this article!
- Who is Hekate?
- The myth of Hekate: from its origins to ancient Greece
- How do you know that Hekate is calling you?
- What are Hekate’s symbols?
- Best books about Hekate
- My favorite Hekate ritual for guidance
- Hekate artwork
- Dawn’s Thoughts on The Goddess Hecate
- History and Origins
- Threefold Hecate
- Hecate’s Companions
- Hecate’s Spheres of Influence
- Worship of Hecate
- Symbols of Hecate
At the beginning of January 2023, Magickal Spot partnered with and acquired an incredible website Witchipedia.com, founded by Dawn Black. Dawn created Witchipedia in 2006 as an online reference and collection of magical and spiritual information and resources for Witches, Pagans, Heathens, and anyone on a magical spiritual path.
Since our websites merged, some of our articles also had to merge.
Below you’ll find Dawn’s thoughts on this topic as well.
Who is Hekate?
Hekate, or Hecate, is not a deity like all the others. Her power far exceeded that of other Greek gods, and her history is a bit confused, disordered, and changed.
The myth of Hekate takes shape from an archaic story, which tells of a world controlled by a woman: in the beginning, ancient Europe had no male divinities. The world was thought to have been created by the great Goddess, omnipotent and immutable, and religious thought had not yet introduced the concept of fatherhood.
The goddess chose lovers to satisfy her pleasure and not to give a father to her children. Men feared the matriarch: the hearth which she fed was the first social center and motherhood the first great mystery. The Moon was one of the celestial symbols of the Goddess. The three phases of the moon represented the three phases of the matriarch’s life: virgin, nymph (unmarried), and old woman.
Hekate was a psychopomp deity, able to travel freely between the world of men, that of the gods, and the kingdom of the dead. She is often depicted with torches in her hand, precisely because of her ability to accompany the living to the kingdom of the dead (the Cumaean Sibyl, consecrated to her, drew from Hekate the ability to give responses from spirits or gods).
Goddess of spells and ghosts, Hekate is depicted as triple (young, adult/mother, and old), and the number three represents her; her statues were placed in the crossroads (trivi), to protect travelers (Ecate Enodia or Ecate Trioditis).
The myth of Hekate: from its origins to ancient Greece
The myth of Hekate is pre-Indo-European. Her name, slightly varied, is also found in the Egyptian, Babylonian and Sumerian religions. In all beliefs, the goddess had roughly the same powers: she represented the Moon and the mysteries of death. She was the goddess of night and childbirth, the woman who had powers in all three worlds: celestial, terrestrial, and marine. Her abilities were innate and men feared and revered her.
However, Hesiod, in Theogony, describes her as the daughter of Zeus and Asteria. According to the poet, it is to her father that Hekate owes her gifts: Zeus would have given her boundless dominion over the Earth, the underworld, and the sky, concurrently granting her the rights that belonged to the primordial deities to fulfill the desires of men at will.
In the passage from archaic to Greek myths, the figure of the goddess changes appearance: she is no longer an omnipotent and autonomous goddess but owes her powers to a man. The fact is, however, that Hekate is among the most powerful goddesses in history: she can wander undisturbed between the world of the living and that of the dead, protects darkness, night, and ghosts, grants thanks to men, dominates evil demons, and controls the Moon and, with it, the tides.
In ancient Olympus, no one possessed so much power, not even Apollo.
One and three
There is a particularly mysterious aspect of her character: Hekate is considered both one and three (the concept is similar to the notion of the Christian Trinity). She is the crone in the triad of life (virgin, nymph, crone); it is the waning moon, the most mysterious and dark of the lunar phases, together with Selene and Aphrodite, respectively new moon and full moon.
She is the goddess who rules over three kingdoms, she is the one who dominates men, the souls of the dead, and demons.
For this reason, she is often depicted in triple statues, with torches in her hands, precisely because of her ability to accompany the living and the dead. Furthermore, Hekate’s nature is bi-sexed, she possesses both vital seeds in herself, which is why she controls the elements.
A power of this kind seems to trespass, to go beyond, to dominate even Zeus. Perhaps this is why the Greeks, leaving her the original gifts, linked her power to that of a man: her mystical essence of a woman and the sovereign goddess was too dangerous in a male-dominated society. The myth of Hekate has probably been so modified and manipulated precisely because it was feared.
Although few books speak of the goddess Hekate, lately her figure has returned in vogue due to the clear proximity to the legend of witches. In pre-Christian times, her mysticism was not a problem, but with Christians, the figure of Hekate has been associated with that of the devil. Women without husbands, without constraints, or simply different from the “canon” were considered worshipers of Hekate, then burned at the stake.
The feminist struggles of recent times have given new light to the figure of the witch-woman. Books, films, and TV series that talk about the subject have flourished. Netflix has launched several TV series in which witches are the protagonists: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Luna Nera, and Always a Witch are just some of the many titles on the platform.
The figure of Hekate is still shrouded in mystery, but, never as at this moment has her powerful nature been taken as an example as a symbol of non-conformism. After centuries of struggle, women are still forced to fight for their rights.
If these are the assumptions, it is easy enough to understand why the theme is so in vogue again: every woman is a witch; every woman possesses the power and reverence of Hekate, without the need for a man to give her consent and dignity. If the Greeks deprived Hekate of her independence, the modern era has made her a heroine to be imitated, giving her back her innate authority.
What is Hekate a goddess of?
Hekate is the goddess of witches, whose ancient prerogative is to be able to grant any wish to mortals. Hekate the Younger, also called Crataeis (the Powerful) is, therefore, the patroness of all divination arts and the associated rituals.
The dog is considered to be a guide in the other realm, the owl is considered to be like a messenger, and the black cat is the symbolic animal of witches and witchcraft in general.
How do you know that Hekate is calling you?
There are some signs Hekate is calling you. Let’s look at them together.
You know Hekate is calling you if:
- You dream of a wooden woman with a torch between her hands lighting a very dark space, like a cave;
- You keep seeing dogs, black cats, and owls over and over again; especially after a prayer or a ritual in her name;
- You feel guided and supported when practicing divination or when trying to contact spirits;
- You feel a strong connection with the moon;
- Motherhood becomes an obsession;
- In your dreams, you keep seeing a labyrinth;
- You find a key but you don’t know where it is coming from.
These are just some of the signs that Hekate is contacting you. She might be contacting you because you tried to enhance her power and let her be your guide into your spiritual and magical journey but it can also mean that she has chosen you to be her protégée and a messenger to bring her magic into the world.
Best ways to connect with Hekate
Invite her during an Ouija Board session
If you need some guidance, and some protection when dealing with the spiritual realm, invite Hekate to the session. Don’t forget she is not only the goddess of witchcraft but also of ghosts, spirits, and demons too! She can be the light in the darkness and a shield of protection from unwanted dangerous entities.
Call her when harvesting your herbs, roots, and flowers
Hekate, the queen of all witches, knows the right option when harvesting greens for your spells and rituals. Ask her to open your intuition and to guide you to harvest the perfect ingredients for your next spell!
Meditate, visualizing her and invoking her
You can meditate and, while completely relaxed, you can start visualizing her and add some strong affirmations to invoke her to be with you, guide you, and support you.
Invoke her if you go ghost hunting!
If you love paranormal investigation, Hekate is the perfect ally to bring to connect with the spiritual realm safely but also effectively!
Plant a yew tree if you can!
Hekate considered this tree to be sacred. If you can, plant it nearby your house for protection and to connect with Hekate even more!
How do you honor Hekate?
You can honor Hekate in many ways, but there is nothing better than…practicing magic! Being the mother of all witches, Hekate is all about the witchy craft so casting spells, performing rituals, and exploring divination, in general, can be the perfect way to connect with and honor her.
You can invoke her while casting a circle or put her statue or a figure on your altar or you can chant a prayer for her.
Prayer for Hekate
Mother of all witches,
Be my guide,
Be my light in the dark,
Show me the way,
Enhance my faith,
Open my intuition and lead me to perfection
The moon, the light, the magic
Might them be part of my craft
I am ready to open my heart
So be it”
What are Hekate’s favorite offerings?
- Hekate’s favorite offerings can be both edible and inedible offerings. A piece of fresh bread or a homemade cake can be great food offerings. Especially if you are going to make it on your own, these are great ideas. She loves garlic. Put it on your altar near her picture/statue. She is going to appreciate it!
- You can offer some moon water too as she represents the Moon so it will give her the chance to reconnect with herself and enhance her power and magic.
- You can even give to her something dear to you or something your feel is in tune with her mission of being a vessel between this world and the other world.
- You can use items related to the symbols connected with her.
What are Hekate’s symbols?
It is the animal that emerges from the chthonic world (associated with regeneration and renewal due to its continuous changing of skin) and takes on the value of a labyrinth designed to depict the intricate paths of life and death.
This symbol is linked to Hekate’s being a light on the dark path into the spiritual realm, a vessel to connect with magic, ghosts, spirits, and your psychic abilities.
It is associated with Hekate as a midwife in the act of cutting the umbilical cord of the infant but is also associated, metaphorically, with the role of companion in death, where she herself cuts the bonds between the physical body and the soul.
Hekate controls the transition from the world of the living to the underworld of Hades. Hekate is the “guardian of the thresholds” and she uses the key to allow or refuse the passage of souls from one dimension to another.
A wheel of hekate
An ancient symbol relating to both the snake and the labyrinth, representing the journey of Hekate into the spiritual realm.
Best books about Hekate
If you want to learn more about Hekate, these are some of the best books about her, her history, and her worship.
Pagan Portals – Hekate: A Devotional by Vivienne Moss
A wonderful poetry way to show Hekate devotion and love while using poems and chants to connect with her to a whole new level.
Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction To Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft by Cyndi Brannen
A great book to explore the practical side of Hekate’s craft and tradition. You can find many rituals and guides to get started with some of Hekate’s inspired witchcraft.
Circle for Hekate – Volume I: History & Mythology (The Circle for Hekate Project) by Sorita d’Este
A compendium about the Circle of Hekate and how people worshipped her over the centuries, which will teach you more about the fascination and the mystery behind this ancient goddess and her uniqueness.
My favorite Hekate ritual for guidance
This ritual can be used when you feel the need for guidance in your life to know which direction your life should go.
But beware: Hekate will show you the truth. Be assured that you are ready to deal with the truth. This is a serious ritual with serious results.
This ritual should be performed during the waning moon.
Draw a circle, light a white candle, relax, and concentrate.
When you feel ready, chant these words out loud:
“Great Hekate, goddess of paths and decisions
I invoke you on this night, protector of travelers and keeper of the truth,
Please show me the path I need to take.
Please show me where my talents reside.
Allow my destiny to show itself to me.”
Sit and meditate for a few minutes and let the candle burn out.
You will recognize the signs of your path as soon as you see them.
There are many pieces of art dedicated to Hekate but this one is just wow! As in other works, art often displays Hekate as a three-entities figure as a representation of her “trinity”, being the young, the mother, and the old all in one.
She is there under the moonlight as a way to connect her to the energy of the moon in all its phases as she, being the master of transformation and the queen of transitioning from one world to another, has them all within herself.
The central figure is the mother with the knife between her hands. We can even see how the full moon is there right over the mother version of Hekate while the young one and the old one are linked to the waxing and waning phases, being the beginning and the end of the life of the woman.
Hekate is a very fascinating goddess and she has a lot to teach us, especially witches. If you feel particularly connected with Hekate, perform this ritual, make some offerings to her, and see if she sends you some messages via signs, dreams, and more, showing her support and her presence.
Just open your heart and your intuition to her and if there is a connection between you and Hekate it will definitely show up!
Dawn’s Thoughts on The Goddess Hecate
For many modern witchcraft traditions, Hecate is a Dark Goddess and is associated with the spirits of the dead, ghosts, the dark of the moon, baneful herbs, curses, and black magic. For others, Hecate is the Crone Goddess, ruling over the third stage of a woman’s life, beyond her childbearing years when she can focus on deepening the skills and information collected throughout her life when knowledge and experience are refined into wisdom.
Historically, Hecate has served many roles. She is an incredibly ancient Goddess with origins lost in the mists of time.
History and Origins
Hecate is generally accepted to be a Hellenic Goddess, but she seems to predate the Olympic Gods and may have originated in Asia Minor. The name Hecate is difficult to decipher but may mean “she who operates from afar” or “far-reaching”. It may also be related to the name of the Egyptian Goddess Heqet which sounds similar, especially in the Early Modern English pronunciation of Hecate, which left off the concluding “e”.
The earliest literature that mentions Hecate is Hesiod’s Theogony. Here he refers to her as:
Hecate, whom Zeus the son of Cronos, honored above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She also received honor in starry heaven and is honored exceedingly by the deathless gods. To this day, whenever anyone of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favor according to custom, he calls upon Hecate.
Great honor comes full easily to him whose prayers the goddess receives favorably, 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.
Hesiod lists many things over which she has power, including wise judgment and ruling of kings, victory, and glory in battle, luck in games, sports, horse racing, seafaring, fishing, the fertility of livestock, and the care of young children. He notes also that she gives generously to those who honor her, but will happily take away from those who displease her.
Hesiod’s description of Hecate seems rather obsequious compared to those of other writers, but it’s possible he came from an area that honored her particularly or that he had a personal connection with the Goddess that was closer than that of some of the other writers.
Many ancient Greek writers speak of Hecate in glowing terms. Homer refers to her as “tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed”2, for example. This seems to contradict her later reputation as having a darker, more fearful aspect, and this may be the face of it.
But we must also remember the ancient Greek’s tendency to be complementary of the more fearful deities in order to avoid their negative attention. For example, the common reference to the Erinyes as “the kindly ones”.
Roman and modern depictions of Hecate show her with three faces, sometimes with three bodies, nearly always looking in three different directions. The earlier Greek representations of Hecate were always single. The three-fold image began appearing around the 3rd century BCE.
It may relate to her association of her by the Romans with the Goddess Trivia. Egyptian-influenced magical papyri also described her as having three heads including two of an animal. In one case, a serpent and a horse and in another a cow and a boar.
Most images, however, show three separate figures with their backs against a pillar or with their backs to each other holding the symbols of her office which often include a torch (usually two of them, one in each hand), a key, a serpent and/or a dagger. She is also occasionally depicted with a hound at her feet.
Hecate travels with a bitch hound who was once the Trojan Queen Hecabe and a polecat, previously known as Galinthias. She is also the companion and handmaiden of Persephone, accompanying her on her annual journey to and from the Underworld Kingdom of Hades.
Hecate’s Spheres of Influence
Throughout history, Hecate’s spheres of influence have included just about everything. In Hellenic tradition, she is free from the constraints that bind many of the other Gods, that is, they are bound to the realms in which they reside.
Hecate has rulership over the Earth, the Sky, and the Sea and can move freely throughout them. She rules over all useful herbs, those that are magical, healing or poisonous and governs the secret knowledge of their use as well as the knowledge of sorcery, witchcraft, and necromancy. She guards entrance ways, crossroads and boundaries of every sort.
Where paths meet, masks would be placed in honor of Hekate’s many faces. Offerings were left to her to help with changes of course. Hekate is the patron of witches, and she was has been honored more recently by Dianic groups as the Mother of witches.
It is Hekate that is said to have taught the first women witchcraft.
She can be invoked as a bestower of wealth and favor.
Worship of Hecate
Hecate as a Household Goddess
Among the ancient Hellenes, and indeed among modern worshipers, Hecate was an extremely important household Goddess who protected the household and its inhabitants from dangerous outside forces, including criminals, evil spirits, restless ghosts, and general unfriendly and unhelpful energies and forces.
Her altar stood near the front door, at the crossroads between the public street and the private entryway, or perhaps simply at the liminal place between outside and in.
Traditionally, food offerings are left at the household shrines or at crossroads or other liminal places at the dark of the moon and once the offerings are placed, it is forbidden to look back at them. This major ritual of Hellenic tradition is known as Hecate’s Supper or Hecate’s Deipnon and is attested in much ancient literature. Traditional offerings for Hecate’s Supper include fish (particularly red mullet), eggs and garlic.
The Deipnon ritual usually incorporates a household cleansing ritual as well and sweepings from the household and other items may also be left with the food offering.