Who Is Hecate?

Who Is Hecate?

At night, particularly at the dark of the moon, this goddess walked the roads of ancient Greece, accompanied by sacred dogs and bearing a blazing torch. Occassionally she stopped to gather offerings left by her devotees where three roads crossed, for this three-fold goddess was best honored where one could look three ways at once. Sometimes, it was even said that Hecate could look three ways because she had three heads: a serpent, a horse, and a dog.
While Hecate walked outdoors, her worshippers gathered inside to eat Hecate suppers in her honor, gatherings at which magical knowledge was shared and the secrets of sorcery whispered. The bitch-goddess, the snake-goddess, ruled these powers and she bestowed them on those who worshipped her honorably. When supper was over, the leftovers were placed outdoors as offerings to Hecate and her hounds. And if the poor of Greece gathered at the doorsteps of wealthier households to snatch the offerings, what matter?

Some scholars say that Hecate was not originally Greek, her worship having traveled south from her original Thracian homeland. Others contend that she was a form of the earth mother Demeter, yet another of whose forms was the maiden Persephone. Legends, they claim, of Persephone’s abduction and later residence in Hades give clear prominence to Hecate, who therefore must represent the old wise woman, the crone, the final stage of woman’s growth- the aged Demeter herself, just as Demeter is the mature Persephone.

In either case, the antiquity of Hecate’s worship was recognized by the Greeks, who called her a Titan, one of those pre-Olympian divinities whom Zeus and his cohort had ousted. The newcomers also bowed to her antiquity by granting to Hecate alone a power shared with Zeus, that of granting or withholding from humanity anything she wished. Hecate’s worship continued into classical times, both in the private form of Hecate suppers and in public sacrifices, celebrated by “great ones” or Caberioi, of honey, black female lambs, and dogs, and sometimes black human slaves.

As queen of the night, Hecate was sometimes said to be the moon-goddess in her dark form, as Artemis was the waxing moon and Selene the full moon. But she may as readily have been the earth-goddess, for she ruled the spirits of the dead, humans who had been returned to the earth. As queen of death she ruled the magical powers of regeneration; in addition, she could hold back her spectral hordes from the living if she chose. And so Greek women evoked Hecate for protection from her hosts whenever they left the house, and they erected her threefold images at their doors, as if to tell wandering spirits that therein lived friends of their queen, who must not be bothered with night noises and spooky apparitions.

The New Book Of Goddesses and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan..

Goddess of the Season: Amaterasu

Goddess of the Season: Amaterasu


The islands of Japan were isolated from outside influences, in much the same way as the old world islands of Crete or Malta. Due to this separation, the indigenous people of Japan have retained their polytheistic, nature based, Goddess centered beliefs well into modern times. This belief system is called Shinto, which translates as “The way of the Gods”. Within Shinto mythology, the most revered deity is Goddess…… the Sun Goddess and supreme deity of all Kami, the elemental forces of nature. She is….. Amaterasu-o-mi-kami.

Born of the primeval forces of the universe, Izanagi and Izanami; Amaterasu reigned over the heavens and brought life into the world. Her name literally means she who illuminates the heavens. “The Goddess of the beginnings is thus not only the mother of the world, but also the nurturer of living beings, animal as well as vegetable and humans. She is the protectress of all life, the unfailing one.”, writes Jean Markale in her book The Great Goddess. Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, is associated with royal power and with the returning of life and joy after dark-times.

For the story of Amaterasu and her brother Susano-O, both in audio and written form, entitled “Out of the Cave and into the Light” click on the following:


Amaterasu ruled over weaving and agriculture. She taught her people how to grow rice, their sacred food, and grains and how to cultivate the silkworm. She invented the art of weaving with the loom and was known to make the garments of the Gods. Like other solar deities, she is an archer, her quiver holding 1000 arrows. Her emblem, the rising sun, still appears on the flag of Japan today. Associated symbols from her myth are the mirror (truth), the necklace (compassion) and the sword (courage and strength) and they represent the Imperial Regalia which are kept at the Great Shrine of Ise. Her gift to the people as their guardian was to show them their own beauty and potential and to develop a cultural unity. As Patricia Monaghan writes “even the inroads of patriarchal Buddhism have not destroyed the worship of the bejeweled ancestor of all humanity”.

The Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, is still worshiped today in the Shinto Temples of Japan. The Japanese Imperial family traces their heritage back to her lineage. Emperor Akihito, the current Emperor, is said to be the 125th direct descendant of Jinmu, the great great grandson of Amaterasu, and is revered as a living God. The Japanese calendar starts from 660 BC and was the year of her accession. There are other scholars who believe it is possible that the indigenous religion of Japan (Shinto) may date back 5000 years. However, there is no official sacred scripture or dogma to validate this.

Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the 6th century and it maintained a peaceful coexistence with Shintoism. However, by the end of the 19th century Shintoism was to lose its status and recognition as a religion to become known as a cult of the Imperial family in the eyes of our western culture. At the end of WW2 the Imperial cult was abolished by the allies. The teaching of Shinto was forbidden along with the Japanese State financial support of it’s temples. Fortunately, this was but a temporary state, as today it again flourishes as a primary religion.

The major festival of Amaterasu, according to Patricia Monaghan, “is not tied to an annual cycle; it is held every twenty years when the sacred mirror is ceremoniously carried to a newly built shrine, identical in all respects to the shrine that has preceded it. Thus Amaterasu’s major ritual, like the myth of her return from the cave, emphasizes renewal.”

~Sacred pilgrimages to the Great Shrine of Ise occur in mid-February and again in mid-June.
~On May 3rd the Hakata festival takes place in Japan and is a national holiday with special celebrations for children and parades to honor their deities. Wear gold colored items today to honor Amaterasu. (365Goddess)
~Another celebration is on February 5th and is known as Sebutsen, the feast of “closing the door on winter”.
~On July 17th, the Great Festival of the Sun Goddess is held and street processions go on all day in honor of the queen of all Kami (Gods).
~And on December 21st, the winter solstice, she is honored for her creativity and the birth of light to the world.



The Goddess Path, The Goddess Companion and The Book Of Goddesses & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan 365 Goddessby Patricia Telesco

The Goddess Companion

Pomona lived in ancient times,
a nymph whose merest touch would green
an orchard, would fill its boughs with fruit.
Oh how Pomona loved her orchards!
The rest of nature left her cold, but
fruit trees! apples! pears! These were
Pomona’s great delight, her fiercest joy.
She bore a knife, but not for hunting:
no, hers was used to trim a hedge
of rose or cherry-wood, or to prune
a fruitless tree, or graft an aged apple
so that it burst forth anew.
Orchards were her secret nurseries
and trees were her beloved ones
who never thirsted, never withered.
Oh! to live among Pomona’s trees!
Oh! to be loved as much as that!
~Ovid, Metamorphoses
The Roman Goddess Pomona was honored as the spirit of fruit trees, and also as the gardener who tends them. For many people, connection with nature occurs primarily through gardening. Even in urban areas, a pot of marigolds on a balcony will brighten the darkest day. The connection between people and plants is one that has always illuminated myth and ritual. Although few rituals exist today to celebrate the great productivity of plant and animal life each summer, we can build our own with friends and family. Eating the first corn, cutting the first ripe tomato, grilling fresh fish in the open air: if done consciously, these can become rituals of thanksgiving and love to the earth that sustains us.
By Patricia Monaghan

The Goddess Companion

The Goddess Companion


The law of the season becomes
the law of religion. According to that law,
the day born of this night is sacred. 
for on this day offerings are made
that dedicate all ships to me.
As this day dawns, the storms of winter
lose their strength. The surging waves
grow calm. The sea is a highway once again.
Go through this day with a mind not clouded
by worry over the past or fear of futures
that have not yet come to be.
~The Goddess Isis, speaking in Apuleius’ The Golden Ass
Although Isis was originally an Egyptian Goddess, her worship spread to Rome during imperial times. There she was honored as the Goddess of the sea, Stella Maris, Each year at this time, all the boats that would ply the waters during the summer were blessed in lavish festivals. The Goddess was invoked to keep the sea-farers safe and to bring the goods they sought safely back to port.
We too are sailors, navigating the oceans of our lives, often buffeted by storms and gales. We leave the safe harbour of our homes each day to travel in search of the goods we need to survive. Yet we have no seasonal festivals that bless our voyages. Taking time to ask for the kindness and protection of the Goddess as we move through the day is a small ritual, but one that can sustain us as we travel.


By Patricia Monaghan

The Goddess Companion

The Goddess Companion      


Free in the glad greenwood,
leaping like a deer
who fears no hunter.
There I will dance
with no man watching,
there I will find wisdom
written in the forest shadows.
Is there any gift greater
than feeling such joy?
~Maenad song, Greek Dramatist Euripides
On this night in ancient Greece, the Lenaia was celebrated. It was the festival of the Maenads, women who followed a now-mysterious cult of the god of ecstasy, Dionysus. Little is known about the celebrations of these women, who for more than 200 years practiced a religion apparently based upon union with the divine. Yet even, 2,000 years after their societies were disbanded, the Maenads still hold a powerful place in our imagination. What were they like, these seekers of ecstasy? How did they find the divinity within themselves? We may never know, but we can celebrate the instinct for transformation within ourselves, however it may manifest itself.


By Patricia Monaghan