Hecate: Goddess of the Witches, Our Dark Mother
By: Granny Moon, HPS, Order of the White Moon
Kindly old Grandmother, The Crone, a woman of wisdom, Our Dark Mother, she of many names and guises. Goddess of the Crossroads, Queen of the Witches, the Dark Goddess, The TripleGoddess. The protectress of the flocks and the sailors, she is invoked as the bestower of wealth and favor. These are but a few of the names by which she is known. She has been with us from the beginning.
Hecate is the oldest Greek tri-form Goddess. She is at the same time the three-phased Moon, and, in particular, it’s dark phase. She is the Dark Mother, or Crone aspect and a major deity of the Dianic tradition. In the Greek pantheon, Hecate Tri-form is known as Artemis, Persephone and Hecate. Hecate is sometimes seen as the third aspect of the Trinity Persephone/Demeter/ Hecate for it is Hecate who leads Demeter to her daughter. She is a “dark” Goddess, associated with magic and the night. She is often portrayed with 3 heads or with a 3 headed dog. She was worshipped mostly at crossroads where offerings were left for her – these offerings were known sometimes as “Hecate’s Suppers” – and were left there late at night on the eve of the Full Moon. The person leaving the food walked away without looking back, for fear of confronting the Goddess face to face. This was a way of honoring the threefold Goddess where one could look three ways at once. Other offerings included honey, dogs, black ewes and sometimes even humans. Some say she is not originally Greek, she has been classified as Thracian or as a Titan. She may also be linked to the Egyptian Goddess Heket.
She is a Goddess of the Moon, of the Underworld, and of Magick. She is also considered the protectress of flocks, sailors and of course, witches. Hecate is the protectress of far-away places, roads, and byways. She is considered the Goddess of The Crossroads. Statues of her stood at crossroads where travelers were faced with three choices. In latter-day paganism, Hecterions (a form of pillar) depict the Goddess with six arms, three torches and three sacred symbols: A Key, A Rope and A Dagger. With the Key to the underworld, Hecate unlocks the secrets of the occult mysteries and knowledge of afterlife. The Rope symbolizes the umbilical cord of rebirth and renewal and the Dagger or Athame is a symbol of ritual power.
Hecate belongs to the class of torch bearing deities, and carries a burning torch in accordance with the belief that she is the nocturnal Goddess of The Moon. A huntress, she knows her way into the realm of spirits. She is depicted wearing a gleaming headdress of stars. All the secret powers of nature are at her command. She has control over birth, life, and death. Her work includes the world of the dead (just a resting place of the dead), of the night and of the darkness. She is the Mistress of all the Witchcraft and Black Arts.
On her walks at night, Hecate has many accomplices. Her two black, ghostly dogs who have been sacrificed to her, (her priestesses Circe and Medea) are sometimes referred to as being her daughters. At night during the Dark Moon, the Goddess can be seen walking the roads ofGreece with her howling dogs and torches. The black howling dogs at night mean that Hecate is approaching. She and her dogs journey over the graves of the dead to search for souls of the departed and then carry them to refuge in the Underworld. She also haunts scenes of crimes as a Goddess of Expiation and Purification. She can be called on during the Dark of the Moon to banish or render justice.
The women who worshipped her often stained their palms and soles of their feet with henna. An adaptation of this ritual is held on Halloween or Hallowmas held on October 31, to honor Hecate at a time when the veil between the Worlds is the thinnest. In private worship her followers prepare and partake of Hecate’s suppers and the leftovers are to be placed outdoors as offerings to her and her hounds.
Wishing you health, wealth and the magick of the Season!
About The Author: GrannyMoon is a High Priestess and Charter Council Member of The Order of the White Moon. Former staff member and student of the Esoteric Theological Seminary, attended LDS Seminary and is an ordained Metaphysical Interfaith minister with doctoral degrees in Theology and Divinity. Doula, Reiki Master and Lifetime Member of Herbal Healer Academy, Inc. Founder of Sisters of the Burning Branch, dedicated to the Feminine Divine and is currently taking students.