Hekate - Her Sacred FiresHecate In Greek mythology, a powerful goddess who became the patron of magic and witchcraft. Hecate has three aspects: goddess of fertility and plenty; goddess of the moon; and queen of the night, ghosts and shades. In her moon-goddess aspect, she is often part of a trinity with Selene and Diana/Artemis.

Hecate possesses infernal power, roaming the earth at night with a pack of red-eyed hell hounds and a retinue of dead souls. She is visible only to dogs, and if dogs howl in the night, it means Hecate is about. She is the cause of nightmares and insanity and is so terrifying that many ancients referred to her only as “The Nameless One.”

She is the goddess of the dark of the moon, the destroyer of life but also the restorer of life. In one myth, she turns into a bear or boar and kills her own son, then brings him back to life. In her dark aspect, she wears a necklace made of testicles; her hair is made of writhing snakes which petrify, like the medusa.

Hecate is the goddess of all Crossroads, looking in three directions at the same time. In ancient times, threeheaded statues of her were set up at many intersections and secret rites were performed under a full moon to appease her. Statues of Hecate carrying torches or swords were erected in front of homes to keep evil spirits at bay. Hecate has been associated with many incantations, sacrifices and Rituals throughout history.

In ancient times, people sought to appease her by leaving chicken hearts and honey cakes outside their doors. On the last day of the month, offerings of honey, onions, fish and eggs were left at crossroads, along with sacrifices of puppies, infant girls and she-lambs. Sorcerers gathered at crossroads to pay homage to her and such infernal servants as the Empusa, a hobgoblin; the Cercopsis, a poltergeist; and the mormo, a ghoul.

One petition for her patronage was recorded in the 3rd century by Hippolytus in Philosophumena:

Come, infernal, terrestrial, and heavenly Bombo (Hecate), goddess of the broad roadways, of the crossroad, thou who goest to and fro at night, torch in hand, enemy of the day. Friend and lover of darkness, thou who doest rejoice when the bitches are howling and warm blood is spilled, thou who art walking amid the phantom and in the place of tombs, thou whose thirst is blood, thou who dost strike chill fear into mortal hearts, Gorgo, mormo, moon of a thousand forms, cast a propitious eye upon our sacrifice.

As the goddess of all forms of magic and witchcraft, Hecate was far more important in antiquity than the mythical sorceress Circe, who was sometimes said to be her daughter, or the witch medea, also sometimes said to be Hecate’s daughter, who helped Jason steal the Golden Fleece. In modern Witchcraft, Hecate is usually associated with the lunar trinity, the Triple Goddess. She rules over the waning and dark moon, a two-week period that is best for magic that deals with banishing, releasing, planning and introspection. She is invoked for justice.


The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca – written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.

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