Hekate (aka Hecate) is a Greek goddess associated with magic, witchcraft, necromancy, the underworld, and childbirth. She is the goddess of the three paths, goddess of the crossroads (both physical and spiritual). She is considered by many as the protectress of the oppressed, the marginalized and witches.
Hekate’s time is that of the Dark Moon, the time of release and renewal. She is honoured at the 30th (always her special day!) of each month, at the Dark Moon and at the beginning at sunset on November 16th (and until sunset the next day) each year, known as The Night of Hekate. There is also a special day for her — The Rite of Her Sacred Fires — on the May Full Moon each year.
Hekate is the Goddess of the in-between, the liminal spaces, the boundaries and the transitional times of life including birth and death. As a Triple Goddess, she rules the realms of Earth, Sea and Sky… the conjunction of past, present and future… the Moon, Earth and Underworld. She is the keeper of the Keys. She carries a torch for illumination, not just of the dark but of our personal pathways, of our shadow side, guiding us through our choices at the crossroads and the path we eventually choose.
The wisdom of Hekate: “I see all paths.”
Hekate’s origins are lost in time throughout the ancient world, possibly originating in ancient Thrace (close to modern-day Turkey and Bulgaria). She is a Dark Goddess, feared by some but loved by many. She is perhaps the original Crone, joining other Dark Goddesses such as An Cailleach at the start of Winter. She is also associated with Selene, Artemis, and Persephone.
The latter is how many first hear of her, through the tale of Demeter and her daughter Persephone (aka Kore). Hekate guided young Persephone back to Hades each year at the start of Winter, and was her support throughout the dark months. Some myths suggest Hekate was Persephone’s sister, both daughters of Demeter.
Even at the darkest of times, Hekate’s light shines bright. She is the original Psychopomp. With her bright torch Hekate meets us at the crossroads of our path, supporting us in releasing what we no longer wish to carry. She opens our psyche to our true Self. It is said she will show you the part of her that you need the most… and the part of your Self that needs to be revealed.
Working with Hekate can be demanding for some who resist working with their shadow side. But remember that she is the light bearer, the guide to our true path and inner wisdom.
Hekate is pronounced heck-AW-tay or heck-a-tay but it was not uncommon, from the Middle Ages through to the 19th century in England, to pronounce it heck-ate or heck-at, and her name was sometimes spelled as “Hecat”.
Hekate’s Night was traditionally celebrated at the end of what was initially a five-day Samhain Festival in earlier times (Source: Irish Medieval History on Facebook, noting in their post that the Samhain dates have drifted, in part, due to adjustments between the old Julian calendar and new Gregorian calendar.)
This night marked the time when the veil closed between the Otherworld and our physical world (also true at Bealtainne for those in the Southern hemisphere!), and the beginning of the Leonid meteor showers (17-18 November). There are several days associated with Hekate, and this one was important in some Wiccan traditions, as it was a traditional date for initiating new followers.
On Hekate’s Night, honey and mushrooms — also known as Hekate’s Supper —are left out by the front door (the “crossroad” between indoors and outdoors, between one’s private space and common/public spaces) or at a crossroad, as an offering to Hecate as she roamed the Earth by night with her sacred dogs, and to invite her blessings for those inside.
Tributes to Hekate were found at ancient crossroads, with statues placed so weary travellers could seek her protection. Any crossroad or liminal place (for me, it’s the seashore) is a perfect place to honour Hekate.
One tradition still practised by many is the monthly Hekate Supper aka the Hekate Deipnon. Celebrants would meet at a crossroads on the last day of the Dark Moon (Deipnon means “evening meal” in Greek) and share a communal supper of fruits, eggs, fish (usually herring) and honey cakes, leaving out a plate for the Goddess. Before meeting each would ritually cleanse the Self and their homes, in order to be prepared and pure for the New Moon.
For both Hekate’s Supper and Hekate’s Deipnon, followers would ritually cleanse the Self and their homes and sacred spaces, in order to be prepared and “pure” (free of clutter, debris, whatever is holding you down) for the New Moon. Time to pull out your besoms and brooms! A small portion of the debris is often placed beside one’s altar for Hekate to represent what you are shedding from the last lunar journey (or the last year if honouring on Hekate’s Night), so that the new lunar journey (year!) begins whole and free.
In my own rituals, I do this a little differently: I collect a pinch from my house sweeping and add it to my cauldron and use it in my final release ritual for the month on that darkest day of the lunar cycle. One can also choose to cleanse in other ways . . . declutter a closet, a room, a bookshelf, a spice rack.
The next day they would meet again on the New Moon, known as the Noumenia (the first day in the lunar month in Greek traditions, recognized by the first glimpse of the waxing crescent), to divine for good omens and Hekate’s wisdom.
Consider holding your own Hekate Supper with friends and guide each other through this Hekate Meditation.
Create a Ritual / Self-Guided meditation with Hekate
When: You can do this meditation on the night of the Dark Moon or on Hekate’s Night, which begins at sunset on November 16th.
What you will need: a quiet place to meditate or journey, a journal to capture your thoughts, a candle to light your way and to represent Hekate’s torch, and a small offering for Hekate (a honey cake is traditional, but anything that feels right is fine).
Many years ago, I was led through a beautiful guided meditation to connect with Hekate’s wisdom. At the end, each participant was asked to create and record their own for future work containing the key elements of the meditation as we heard it.
I wrote my own and encourage you to write YOUR own ritual. You can even record it and play it back so you can fully let go and engage deeply in the meditation… remember to leave some longer pauses at key moments (you’ll know what they are). Add as many details as you like — or reinvent it entirely — make it truly your own.
As with any meditation or journey, begin by having a journal or pen and paper ready to jot down your notes during and after the experience.
Settle yourself in a favourite spot at home. Relax, light a candle, and breathe deeply to release any tensions in your body. Create sacred space in whatever way works for you, and then call on your spiritual guides and allies, and Hekate, in particular, to assist you:
Hekate, bearer of torches, I invoke your power of light in this moment of darkness.
Key elements of the meditation as I learned it:
- start in your Otherworld / sacred space (or a liminal space where you can comfortably and safely meditate)
- journey to your Otherworld / sacred space until you find a sacred door
- open it and enter a corridor of many doors
- look for the lights at the end of the corridor where you will meet Hekate holding her torch
- ask the Goddess for her help, describing your situation
- receive from her the gift of her key
- use your intuition to open a door of wisdom in the corridor
- experience fully whatever is beyond the door and bring back the wisdom to the corridor of many doors
- ask Hekate: Is this now complete? She may have another key for you. If so, open the next door. If not, thank her for the key and wisdom she has given you.
- return to your physical world through the Sacred Door, to your sacred space, knowing you are carrying the wisdom gifted to you by Hekate and that you are coming back whole, leaving nothing behind
When you sense that the ritual is complete, leave a small offering for Hekate, a cake or some honey, at your altar, and give gratitude to Hekate, and to your guides and allies.
As with any meditation or journey, begin by having a journal or pen and paper ready to jot down your notes during and after the experience. Settle yourself in a favourite spot at home. Relax, light a candle, and breathe deeply to release any tensions in your body. Create sacred space in whatever way works for you, and then call on your guides and Hekate, in particular, to assist you:
Hekate, bearer of torches, I invoke your power of light in this moment of darkness.
When complete, leave a small offering for Hekate, a cake or some honey, at your altar.
A Release Ritual with Hekate
This can be done as a solitary practice.
Prepare your sacred space and your Self by cleansing/smudging with sage or other sacred herb or incense. Sweep your home or space and collect a small amount of the debris, adding to your Cauldron or smudge. Have on hand some paper and pen, a small candle and a fire-proof vessel (small cauldron or bowl).
Begin by lighting the candle and calling in your guides and allies, and Hekate.
Ponder on what it is you want gone from your life, what it is you want to release, and write it onto the paper. Begin with just one thing, whatever is most important.
Ask Hekate for her support It could be as simple as this:
Hekate, I call on your to help me release this (fill in your details here) so that I may be unburdened and free.
Use the candle to ignite the paper and drop it into the fireproof vessel, saying “I release you from my Life and my Self.” Add the pinch of debris you have collected by sweeping, to represent what you are releasing: the “garbage” / no longer useful elements in your life.
Visualize what you are releasing being transformed into ashes and air. You are giving it back to Spirit. You are reborn in that fire. When the candle is fully burned down, thank your guides and allies and Hekate for their support.
Gather the ashes and return them to Earth. Make notes in your journal for reviewing at the New Moon and the next Dark Moon.
Create a Hekate Bundle
Another way to support your release work with Hekate is to create a Hekate Bundle for use in ritual and soul work. Herbalist and witch Sarah Anne Lawless describes her process for making the bundle here. She also goes into detail in this post about making Amulets.
UPDATE OCT-2019: The links to Lawless’s site no longer seem to work, and I will continue to look for her any blog posts and instructions. The key here is to simply use old keys for the bundles, and make a clear affirmation as to inviting Hekate’s support.
Blessings to all!
I love the images of Hekate created by Thalia Took. Click here to see the original of this image on her website; the page also gives more information about Hekate.