Hecate: Goddess of the Witches

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Hecate: Goddess of the Witches! Different traditions of Wicca honour different deities, but Hecate seems to cross all the boundaries.

And why not? She is the original boundary-crosser, the Goddess of all doors and gates, all transitions from one place (or state of being) to another. She is the original hedge-sitter, the Hag, the Hex-mistress -- all words arising from the same root as Her name.

She is the One who has access to all the realms of existence -- material Earth, the Heavens, the Underworld.... Hecate stands at the Gateway between the Worlds, as guard and guide.

Hecate's Herstory

The Deities (at least our perception of them) evolve over time. Our earliest records of Hecate (pronounced HECK-a-tay) come from Anatolia, where she was a Goddess of the wilderness, childbirth, and children -- a Mother Goddess, a Great Goddess, the source of life. She was the font of bounty, giving endless gifts to those who honour Her.

She is now seen as the Crone Goddess, Goddess of the Waning Moon, but this doesn't bother Her because the Crone is the most powerful and empowered of the stages of womanhood.

Originally the Queen of Heaven, Hecate became downplayed and twisted as She was incorporated into Greek mythology. She gradually became seen as a Triple Goddess (the Great Goddess in multiple aspects), and later as only the Crone face of the Triple Goddess.

She has been with humankind so long, that She is seen in many aspects, all of which taken together confirm Her status as Great Goddess:

  • Mother of the Gods
  • Goddess of the Earth
  • Goddess of the Underworld, Queen of the Dead, Queen of Ghosts
  • Goddess of Crossroads and Gates
  • Goddess of Sorcery and Magick
  • Light-bringer
  • The one who leads

She is associated with Isis as Queen of Heaven, Ereshkigal as Queen of the Underworld, and Artemis as Goddess of the Hunt and Wild Places.

Although later, as Western religion became more devil-oriented, Hecate was considered to be the source of evil spirits and demons, this evolved because She was known originally to protect against them. Eventually, it was reasoned that if She didn't like you, She would fail to protect you, so ghosts and demons would get you... a small step to thinking that She was the cause of such things.

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Hecate In Modern Wicca

Hecate is the Crone Goddess of Wicca, the third phase of the Moon Goddess.

She is a protector Goddess, implacable yet tender-hearted. She is wise and strong; She knows Herself and all Mysteries. She sees through illusion and deception as if the Truth were a blazing torch.

This doesn't mean She is easy to understand! In fact, Her wisdom is so profound that no mortal can hope to know it all, or to predict Her actions, which may seem mercurial.

She is also a Karmic Goddess -- She upholds the Law of the Universe, the one who doesn't let you get away with anything, who doesn't allow you to avoid the consequences of your actions. So when working with Hecate you must be careful -- you may get less than you ask for, more than you expect… or what you really deserve.

She is the Goddess of beginnings as well as endings, and all transformations from one state to another. She is the Goddess of the Gateway between the worlds, present when we come into this life as well as when we leave it. And though She is implacable, She is not without mercy, generosity, and tenderness of heart.

Hecate is the Reaper, the Goddess of Death -- the inexorable tides of time, the pitiless Mother who takes Her children back into Herself. (There must always be the death of the old, in order for the new to be born, and She clears the way). The Crescent Moon is Her sickle -- the hand-held arc of a knife that was used for harvest. Yes, there is death here, but as always in Nature, the death is in service to life.

She guides souls into birth, and back into the soul's True Home at death.

Her power is also healing, for as Mother of All, Her compassion is boundless. She holds, and shares, the knowledge of all healing modalities and the uses of plants.

She is the Keeper of the Mysteries.

Time and Space

Darkness, Mystery, Spirit Realm -- These are Hecate's domain.

The season of the Dark is Her time. As such, she is associated with the Dark of the Moon. October 31st, leading into the wintery death of the Earth, is a day to honour Her (among other Samhain traditions).

Since one way of honouring Her is to put out lanterns, it seems as though Jack o'lanterns may have begun as a way to honour or call Hecate (since as Queen of Ghosts She could protect us from harmful spirits).

She is Goddess of the wilderness, the Queen of Magick and the Night, and thus the Queen of Witches.

Her time of greatest power is Midnight.

She is the Goddess of Threshholds, boundaries and hedges, Gates, and the Triple Crossroads where life decisions must be made -- wherever you must surrender your other options in order to follow your choices.

She is the guardian of the liminal zones -- the border lands, the edges, the place where choices can make the world over. Where 3 roads intersect, Hecate waits to light the way with Her lantern, enabling you to see what each decision will lead to, and cuts the cords that tie you to the past, when you are ready to move forward.

Attributes and Powers

Standing as the bridge to the spirit realm, Hecate is a Goddess of immeasurable power. She is not a soft-and-cuddly Goddess, though.

She is the Grandmother, whose scope of concern goes far beyond the immediate family of spouse and children -- the well-being of all humanity, present as well as future, is Her domain.

She knows all your tricks and won't let you get away with anything... but who also loves you and wants to help protect you. She honours your own choices, though, and will not protect you from yourself -- however She is always there for guidance if you choose to look for Her.

She comes to take the living to the land of death, and so seems hard and even cruel, but She releases us from suffering and illness. Her care is genuine and deep as the universe, but it is not gentle or accommodating.

She is the Crone. Hecate is as virgin as the Maiden, having no consort, complete in Herself. She needs no one, giving Herself away to only Her own calling.

She is the hag, the original witch that patriarchal fairytales scare us with (since nothing is more terrifying or dangerous to the patriarchy than a single woman, fearless in her magickal power). She does not desire youth nor beauty, love nor fear; veneration and status are meaningless to the Crone.

She knows the ways of Mystery and follows the wisdom She finds within herself. And that is the extent of Her ambition.

Queen of Magick

This is a title that seems a natural for the Goddess of the Boundaries. Witchcraft taps into the forces of creation through a process known as Magick, and Witches are agents of creation. The Great Goddess of Creation is a worthy matron deity.

As the Mother of Creation, Hecate upholds / creates / IS the law of the universe. She is magick.

She has the power to TRANSFORM. Anything She touches, is changed. And She shares this ability with those who honour Her, teaching us how to create our world to fulfill our visions.

Symbols and Associations

Hecate the Bitch Goddess © wicca-spirituality.com
She has ever been associated with dogs, particularly black and female dogs. The sound of barking dogs was thought to signal her approach.

She is also closely associated with horses, owls, ravens, snakes, and dragons -- all creatures of great spiritual or magickal power. Bats, frogs, bears, wolves, lions, and horses are also linked with Her.

She is associated with many plants, particularly those that help induce altered states of consciousness.

Hecate's Wheel Template from Mandala Starter Kit © wicca-spirituality.com
Her symbols are torches and lanterns, knives and sickles, ropes, keys, labyrinths and mazes, and pomegranates — all tokens of finding wisdom, moving between the worlds, making choices.

  • Torch / lantern: to pierce the darkness of illusion and confusion... revealing wisdom,
  • Key: to unlock the door other realms and mysteries,
  • Knife or sickle: to cut away the paths we don't choose, and the past that we can't return to... including the umbilical cord that ties one to the other world at birth, and the silver cord that ties us to the body at death.

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Invoking Hecate

As stated earlier, working with Hecate is tricky. You need to be careful and extremely respectful. I advise not invoking Her until you are skilled in Wicca and know what you're doing.

Then, you may want to see the next article for some ideas on how to invoke this powerful Wiccan Goddess.

With Bright Blessings,

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