Hecate is the Greek goddess of witchcraft, magic, necromancy, and spells, so it’s no surprise that the worship of this archetype has boomed in popularity with the dawn of a new era of witchcraft.
In the Underworld, she guides those who have passed on, lighting the way in the darkness with her torch as she once did to find Persephone.
Whether or not you believe in or worship this goddess, it’s hard not to adore her more and more with each fascinating story of feminine badassery, unbridled kindness, and acceptance that she brings forth.
The Goddess Hecate In History & Myth:
Hecate is a chthonic goddess born of titans and has existed since long before the creation of Mount Olympus.
She’s such an ancient deity that there’s quite a bit of confusion surrounding who her parents were – although much credit is given to the titans Perses and Asteria. Some texts say that she was a daughter of Zeus, but others speak of her as the very midwife who aided in his birth.
Nevertheless, Zeus adored and honored Hecate enough to allow her to maintain power over heaven, earth, and sea once he staked his reign over the gods.
Hecate & Persephone
Regardless of how you interpret the story of Persephone and Hades, when Demeter discovered her daughter was missing, goddess Hecate showed up with torches blazing to light the way back into the Underworld and find her. When they did, Hecate hugged her, held her close, and swore companionship to Persephone in her return to the Underworld.
To this day, Hecate roams Hades with the Lampades, her loyal torch-bearing nymphs, who act as handmaidens to Persephone during the cold months below. She also guides spirits crossing over so that they too may find their way in Hades.
Hecate As The Triple Goddess
In many ancient artworks and statues, we see Hecate depicted in triplicate. In some texts, she possesses three heads or faces, or even three separate forms entirely.
Hecate also shares distinct commonalities with the goddesses Artemis and Selene, and their epithets are used almost interchangeably in late Roman texts.
But it’s not only Greek and Roman mythologies with tales of triadic deities. We also see Brigid and the Morrigan of Irish culture, the Libyan serpent goddess Anatha, Zorya of Slavic lore, and the Hindu Tridevi represented as triple goddesses at times.
More famously, we see the ever-present holy trinity in the Christian faith, and some modern Wiccans have adopted Hecate as their maiden-mother-crone archetype.
Why is the number three so significant?
Using numbers as symbols has been practiced all over the world since before recorded history. In Greek numerology, the number three represents harmony and unity. We see the trinity echoed in many other cultures, often representing the omnipresent and all-knowing.
In some cultures, the trinity represents birth, love, and death; waxing, waning, and full moons; the maiden-mother-crone archetype; past-present-future, or even the mind, body, and soul.
The goddess Hecate sometimes wears a short dress and hunting boots, much like the Goddess Artemis. In other depictions, she dons a floor-length gown and bears a torch in one hand and a serpent in the other.
Godess Hecate’s statues often appear in triplicate, posed back-to-back as if standing watch over a three-way crossroads.
Other records describe her as a terrifying monster with three necks or heads – a horse, a dog, and a lion head, respectively.
Hecate is almost always portrayed with black dogs by her side. It is even said that she has taken the form of a dog herself.
Hecate has power over all realms of existence – the earth, heavens, and sea – and walks the liminal spaces in between. As such, she holds dominion over thresholds, gates, hedges, and boundaries of all kinds. She then helps us to build personal boundaries and challenges us to invest in and take care of ourselves.
As the Witch Mother, goddess Hecate is powerful in all realms of magic and sorcery and has a deep sense of intuition. If she chooses to lend her favor to your craft, then your manifestation abilities can become more powerful than you have ever imagined.
With a mighty reign over the Underworld and the domain of necromancy, Hecate is the deity you want to have by your side if you have an interest in reaching out to those who have crossed beyond the veil. Through working with her, we can unlock the secrets of life, death, and the liminal space, and learn to safely and respectfully commune with spirits.
Not only a guardian to souls who have recently passed on, Hecate also attends to women and children and oversees childbirths. Travelers and sailors may also find themselves in her favor if they’re lucky.
Along with Artemis, Hecate is a goddess of the wilderness, which holds a trove of magic and wonder in its own right. In her ties to Selene, she harnesses the moon’s powers of regeneration and deep intuition.
Hecate is also an herbalist who honors the use of medicines, poisons, and even psychoactive plants in practicing one’s craft.
How Do You Know If The Goddess Hecate is Calling To You?
Although you can theoretically call upon a deity with extensive amounts of worship, deities often reach out to us when they want to work with us.
The Goddess Hecate tends to reach out in very subtle ways. It can be difficult to determine if she is the goddess reaching out to you, but there are a few specific tells.
Some of the indicators that the Goddess Hecate is reaching out to you include:
1. She comes to you in your dreams. This may be in the physical/personified form or as a symbol.
2. You’ve found yourself doing more shadow work. Hecate challenges us to acknowledge the darker parts of our being in order to become the best forms of ourselves. In learning to embrace these difficult parts of ourselves, she teaches us how to be truly whole.
3. She called out to you in times of darkness or great distress. As the torchbearer, it’s not uncommon for Lady Hecate to reach out a helping hand in times of dire need. If you’re facing the Dark Night of the Soul, this chthonic deity will help you to get back up and see the light.
4. You are undergoing a difficult transformation. If you feel like you’re going through a tough transitional phase in your life, then the goddess of the crossroads may be reaching her hand out to you.
5. You’re seeing her symbols everywhere. If you’ve been encountering more animals and symbols associated with goddess Hecate then it’s very possible that she may be reaching out. It might also mean that the animal is just more active this time of year, so be sure to do your research of the local flora and fauna before assigning any sort of spiritual significance to something.
Symbols Of Hecate:
- Dogs, particularly black dogs.
- Snakes and the Ouroboros
- Spiders – although this is more of shared personal gnosis rather than something taken from historical texts.
- Hecate’s Wheel
- Triple Moon imagery
- Daggers or athames
- The number three
How To Work With The Goddess Hecate:
The goddess Hecate is known to be very particular about those with whom she chooses to work. If she doesn’t see that you’re willing to put in the time and effort, Hecate won’t waste her time on you either.
It’s also imperative to cleanse yourself before approaching Hecate. I do this out of respect for her, but I also think she encourages her worshipers to practice self-love through acts of cleanliness and mindfulness by asking this simple task of them.
Dating back to the Chaldean Oracles, it’s clear that Hecate favors the virtuous, and expects her followers to show kindness and integrity to others through acts of charity.
Hecate is not only the goddess of physical crossroads and boundaries but spiritual ones as well. In working with her, she will push you to set personal boundaries for yourself and provide guidance on the many crossroads your life path may have in store.
While this may all sound very cheerful, many know Hecate for having a darker side. Those who work with her may do so with the intent of working on their traumas through shadow work. Others choose to consort with this liminal goddess for her guidance in communing with the dead.
As the goddess of witchcraft, magic, and spells, I often evoke Hecate to ask for guidance on intent, stronger manifestation, and more effective spellwork.
One thing I’ve learned about working with Hecate is that you have to put in the physical work to see results – she won’t sugarcoat things for you or give you an easy ride. A great way to earn her favor is by performing mindful acts of devotion to show your commitment to her and her core principles.
Devotional Acts To Hecate:
- Dedicate altar space to Hecate – this can be as simple as a single candle if you’re just getting started or if you need to keep it low-key.
- Clean your home as part of a new moon ritual.
- Plan, create and cast spells.
- Perform other dark moon spells and rituals.
- Light a devotional candle in Hecate’s honor.
- Finish projects you started earlier in the month.
- Volunteer at your local animal shelter.
- Serve a local soup kitchen or food pantry.
- Practice green witchery by taking care of houseplants and being mindful of your local ecosystem.
- Clean up a cemetery.
- Perform Hecate’s Deipnon.
What is Hecate’s Deipnon?
Deipnon is the Ancient Greek word for supper and is practiced by leaving a meal or offering for Hecate and the spirits of the dead.
Hecate’s Deipnon is typically observed on the night of the dark moon, but for me is a process that begins much earlier in the day.
Start with a New Moon cleansing ritual to purify the home, beginning by sweeping the halls and entryways. If you have dogs or other pets, collect some of their hair or claws from your dustpan to include in your offering.
I also like to take care of any other messes that I don’t want to bring with me into the next lunar month. This may mean different things depending on what needs to be done around the house.
Then, cleanse your home with incense, smoke, or bells, and ask for Hecate’s blessing and protection during the next blossoming of the moon.
Next, I gather my offering in a bowl or tray to prepare for nightfall. During this time, I like to make sure I’ve showered before I present my offering.
Offerings For Hecate:
These can be left as part of Hecate’s Deipnon, but offerings can be made at any time that works for you!
- Onion or leeks
- Bread or cakes
- Bay leaves
- Used up spell components
- Crystals like moonstone or labradorite
- A piece of paper with aspects you’d like to leave behind written on it
- Plant debris, if you’re a green witch. (Avoid cuttings of invasive plant species!)
- Strands of dog hair collected from your new moon sweepings
- Other biodegradable materials gathered from your monthly cleaning
- Anything that calls out to you! If you have a strong feeling that she’ll enjoy something, then it’s likely a sign that she wants it as an offering. Just make sure leaving it outside is safe for the environment and local ecosystem.
Once gathered, the offering is left at a three-way crossroads just before nightfall, and Lady Hecate would have you know that the poor, starving, and strays have just as much claim to it as she does.
When you arrive at the crossroads, create a circle of protection in which to leave your offering. Remember that this circle should protect the needy that may take from your bowl, not keep them from it.
Say a short prayer, thanking Hecate for her blessings and letting her know that the offering is for her.
When you leave your offering behind, don’t look back. It may be tempting, but remember that it doesn’t belong to you anymore. We do this to be respectful of the souls consuming the offering, but also so as not to tempt any unwanted spirits to follow us back home.
My Experience Working With Hecate:
Hecate has been nothing but a firm and loving mother to me. Like many others before me, Hecate reached out during one of the most challenging and desperate times of my life and showed me how to remain strong through patience and spiritual practice, and how to improve my life through mindfulness and magic.
Ruling over the crossroads, Hecate is a guide in both times of darkness and a wise consult for grave decisions. She leads me in my spellwork and encourages me to actively pursue my personal development each day with her nurturing, modest strength.
Hecate is the all-powerful light in the darkness, challenging us to take the next step on our individual journeys. The patron goddess of witches will hand you the torch, but the path you take is your choice alone.