Tag Archives: Hecate

Hekate: A Devotional

Hekate Devotional Buy Now!I have had this little gem on my desk for a while now, and as I have five minutes on this smashing Friday afternoon I thought I would take some time to tell you about it.

I’m not always keen on devotional works, but this book is head and shoulders above most books of that ilk. It’s been an absolute delight to read. Well edited. Well formatted and most importantly well written.

Seriously I’ve read a few book recently that would make your hair curl so this was REALLY refreshing.

The book is arranged into eight chapters covering such subjects as Household shrines, Crossroads, Death and Transformation. Vivienne has a fluid and gentle “voice” that smacks of someone that has done the work. Her writing in passionate and intensely personal. I couldn’t help but smile at the following statement:-

The writing of this book is an offering to Hekate. The sacrifice is knowing that not everyone will agree or like what I say within these pages. Some, I’m sure, will not understand the way I see and feel Hekate. I may get negative feedbacks, or worse, none at all. Maybe some will laugh or be offended with what I have written. That is the chance I am willing to take. For Hekate – for myself. Even if just one person is touched by this devotional then it will be worth it.

I could feel that statement deep in my soul, having been there myself it is a deep knowing you cannot shake. Well I am not laughing, I am applauding. I think this is a wonderful book and if people havent bought it I want to know why not. Because Its NOT been put out there to cash in on what is currently a very popular market. Its a work of magick in the truest sense of the word. Well done Moon Books for publishing it and well done Vivenne for writing it. I hope we get to meet someday I think we might have a lot in common.

 

And in the absence of facts…..Modern Festivals to Hekate

If there is one subject that is guaranteed to get some folks hot under the collar it has to be the trend of celebrating thoroughly modern and historically inaccurate festivals. It is a practise that until just a few years ago I disagreed with quite vehemently. Looking back now it is fair to say that in the early days of writing Temple of Hekate I felt that it was very important that people understood how the ancient Attic calendar really worked and wrote upon it at some length. Although those pages didn’t make the editorial cuts I felt strongly enough about it that at a later date I posted a blog entry so the details were available for all to see. This opinion hasn’t been a passing fad either, but as I stated when I discussed the Deipnon way back in 2009 and is worthy of repeating, I am not a reconstructionist, far from it. But I was and still am very heavily invested in debunking some of the more common “myths” that I had stumbled over myself in my early days of research and practise, so I tended to shy away from the modern, the unverified, and the inaccurate.

I’ve done some perspective changing since that time, quite surprisingly so. I think the first inkling of the change was when we realised that Her Sacred Fires was here to stay. Now hurtling towards its 7th anniversary and showing no signs of slowing down we appear to have created a thoroughly modern festival enjoyed by thousands. And this isn’t the only one. August the 13th is another, a modern date fixed as the result of a mis-understanding of how the Attic calendar worked, but it has grown and swollen and truly become a thing, a world-wide thing. A thing that people can get behind, work together with, create and share and laugh and love. How can this thing be bad?

Furthermore we have literally just celebrated Hekate’s Day on the 16th of November in The Sanctuary of Hekate Enodia. When Mima, my friend and CoH Torchbearer who co-runs the Sanctuary with me suggested we do something to mark the date I nearly fell off my chair. This festival doesn’t even have the dubious honour of being a festival that once existed and got dumped into a modern calendar. This festival has, as far as I am aware, no historical precedence whatsoever. In fact it is the epitome of everything I hate about modern practise, a new thing pretending to be something old. And then it hit me, it’s not the celebration that I hate, in fact I love a good excuse for our Sanctuary to come together and do work. It is the belief that it dates back to some long ago historical practise that fills me with dread.

So we put up some information regarding the provenance of the festival and ahead we went. And all I can say was that the connection between some of the group was quite startling. We were all working remotely but the imagery shared was so similar. So similar that I had to feel that we were getting nothing less than a resounding stamp of approval for our actions and the work and effort we have all been putting in recently. We certainly shall be celebrating this date again, along with Her Sacred Fires and August 13th (which traditionally is the Roman festival Nemoralia and the ill dated Festival of Kourotrophos, Artemis and Hekate – which should actually be celebrated on 16 Metageitnion but let’s not split hairs). At the end of the day the religion of the Greeks and Romans and many others was fluid, it grew and changed and was subject to regional variations. Somethings were adopted, others allowed to pass into memory only, some lost to the ages. If we fail to recognise that then we fall into dogma and fundamentalism. An ethos I decided I did not agree with a long long time ago.

So we shall celebrate these rites, knowing their true nature we shall perform them anyway. We shall lift our heads proudly and say, we created this in honour of the Goddess Hekate, we honour you just as our ancestors did but in times and climes appropriate to us.

En Erebos Phos!

 

 

 

Wait for the Bright Constellation of the Bear to Decline

I have spent the last few days immersing myself in the folklore and magic of Brittany. My main intention was to visit some sites renowned for their Fairy lore and others for their Arthurian connections. Both are topics I am currently writing about for various projects and I often find that visiting a place connected with my work can spur my imagination and get my creative juices flowing, and it has certainly been the case with this visit, but not always in the way that I have imagined.

Today I took the time to visit the Tumulus of Kercado. A tumulus is a burial or ceremonial mound normally of the megalithic or Neolithic period which has maintained its earth work, where as a Dolmen is normally the menhirs (standing stones) and table-stone covering it without the earthwork which would have originally covered it. The Tumulus of Kercado according to the leaflet I procured at the gate is dated to around 4500BCE and is considered to be one of the most complete of its kind, and although it isn’t as big or impressive as the Tumulus of St Michel which I visited yesterday, it actually had a stronger atmosphere, possibly this could be attributed to not having a ruddy great Christian Chapel built on the top of it.

But I digress.

Carved upon the roof of the table-stone, inside the chamber is a “double headed axe” a symbol quite common both in the Megalithic monuments of Brittany and else where in the world. Some scholars have argued quite persuasively that these Axe engravings were a method of stellar and solar time keeping which automatically got me thinking of Hekate. Firstly her connection to the stars through her mother Asteria. But more importantly her potential connection with the Snake Priestess. In Minoan myth, Priestesses were said to carry into ritual the Labrys, another form of double headed Axe.

Whilst there is no proof that the Minoan Snake Goddesses statues dating from 1600BCE and found on Knossos during excavations in the early 20th Century, were either images of Priestesses of Hekate, or even Hekate herself, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that leads many (myself included) to believe there is a connection of some form. One of our most famous descriptions of Hekate comes from Apollonius of Rhodes who claimed that when Jason called upon Hekate Brimo she arrived “garlanded by fearsome snakes that coiled themselves round twigs of oak; the twinkle of a thousand torches lit the scene; and hounds of the underworld barked shrilly all around her”. And her connection with snakes continues for some of the infamous lead/curse tablets found around ancient temples call upon Hekate who is depicted upon the lead strip with snakes. And Medea who depending upon the myth being told was either a Priestess of Hekate or possibly even a Granddaughter had the ability to charm the snakes, and called them forth to aid her in her creation of poisons and also as offerings to the Goddess herself.

But what is very curious about the quote by Apollonius is that he claims that Jason has to wait until for the “bright constellation of the Bear to decline, and then, when all the air from heaven to earth was still” before he could perform his rite to Hekate. Which leads me back to where I started, the Double Axe in Kercado is believed by some to be a form of Astrolabe, circling around Polaris just as the great Bear constellation does. This carvings dimensions allow for calculation of the Equinoxes, the Solstices, as well as moonrise and sunrise. How clever is that, now I wonder is this why the Minoan Priestesses were carrying Labrys’ too? Would it be amazing if we could prove that?!

The Scent of a Goddess

I am aware of how certain smells can evoke very powerful images and the use of fragrance is something that fills both my everyday and my devotional life. It doesn’t even have to be smells you particularly like very much. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to attend a wonderful workshop entitled “Sacred and Ritual Perfumes” held in Glastonbury by the wonderful Marina.

Marina is a fantastic natural perfumer who owns The Perfume Garden and as part of the workshop we had to discuss smells we did and didn’t like. I expressed my deep disgust at the scent of  unadulterated Patchouli, it has such negative connotations. My first clear memory of it was in the late 1970’s. I cannot have been more than 7 years old and we were eating in the Vegan cafe in our local town, a treat I normally relished. But his particular day the person who was waiting table smelt terribly of body odour overlaid with another smell, the combination was so sickening that it stayed with me all day hanging around under my nose and I was physically ill on the bus ride home. The other smell as I discovered later was Patchouli.

I can recall the clothes the person was wearing, the gaudily painted walls, the ethnic hangings and the beaded curtain that separated the kitchen from the customers. I can even feel the wooden table under my hand and recall swinging my legs from the seat which was too tall for me; so strong are my memories. And every time I have smelt Patchouli on its own since then, those memories come flooding back so strongly that I have to take a moment and centre myself.

The connection with smell and the ability to recall memories is not a new concept and it is a phenomena we can use in our work with Deity. After all if smell can quite literally summon up a memory so strongly that it can physically make us sick, then imagine what we can do with our primal mind and smell, what we can connect with when we use the right smell and let our conscious minds go.

This is one of the primary reasons in my opinion, for using incense during ritual or path-working. Yes of course you can use it as an offering of sorts as we tend to blend incenses that are aligned with whichever entity you are working with and there are of course many historical references to using fine perfumes and smoke as offerings to the Gods. But when we work we want to align ourselves with and summon up an aspect of something. And there really isn’t a quicker way to evoke an image of something than through our sense of smell.

I tend to blend a lot of my own incense and I have provided recipes for a few of my own in my book but from time to time I venture into the world of prepared blends from skilled artisans, and I have to say that the Hecate Oil from Rosarium Blends is possibly one of the best ritual scents I have come across in a very long while and to me it evokes the very essence of Hekate. It is deep and rich and earthy, with a sweet undertone which stops the combinations of Oakmoss and Myrrh and Frankincense making the smell too masculine. And funnily enough, it contains Patchouli 😉

The Dance of the Horae

Not all the material I wrote made it into my book some bits didn’t make the grade and were left out, one of them was the concept of a Hekate related calender, after a debate with a fellow Covenant of Hekate member this evening, I thought it was time to post up one of the sections that didn’t get included as it may help others in thier journeys, I do hope you enjoy it.

The Attic Calendar

“All-coloured Horae, rich increase your care, circling, forever flourishing and fair”

We briefly touched upon the subject of the Attic Calendar in the chapter for divination, as it is the Hellenic calendar which has survived in the most complete format, it is appropriate to use this upon which to base a ritual year.  The months as has been explained before do not correlate directly to the months in the modern calendar as we understand it, and it is this common misconception that leads to comments like “the 13th of August is sacred to Hekate”, which undoubtedly came a about as a result of the 30th of the Month (Deipnon) falling upon August  13th rather than the actual date of the 13th being sacred.

The Dance of the Horae
The Horae or seasons of ancient mythology were originally just two, spring/summer & autumn/winter, however over the centuries this grew, the a large majority of writers named them as three and artwork of three seasons is quite common, these seasons correlating to Spring and new growth after a fallow period, Summer when the fruits and beans were in season and Autumn when the grain crops were ready for harvest. This can also cause some confusion for the seasons in the Mediterranean do not correlate accurately into a Celtic Northern European wheel of the year, the fallow period was considered to be during what we would know as midsummer, for this was a time of drought, with the planting of wheat happening later in the year when the first rains arrived sometimes as late as November or December by our reckoning, and then harvested in May or June, as a result Persephone’s decent into the underworld for example would be most fitting on or around the summer solstice, not the winter, and rites that you may choose to create around this mythology involving Hekate should reflect this.

Provided below is a list of the Attic months, and other information such as known dates of festivals to Hekate or associated deities which can be used to create a more complete ritual cycle2, in cases where a festival or mystery rite took longer than one day, such as the lesser mysteries during Anthesterion, a shorter 2 day period has been indicated for modern usage; Also for convenience sake modern seasons have been included but traditional festivals have retained their rightful place in the dance of the Horae as it would have been.

Attic
Gregorian
Festival
Hecatombaion
Jul – Aug
  1. Noumenia
30   Deipnon
Metageitnion
Aug – Sept
  1. Noumenia
16   Sacrifice – Kourotrophos, Hekate, Artemis
30   Deipnon
Boedromion
Sept – Oct
1     Noumenia

20   Greater Mysteries
21   Greater Mysteries
30   Deipnon
Pyanopsion
Oct – Nov
  1. Noumenia
30   Deipnon
Maimakterion
Nov – Dec
  1. Noumenia
30   Deipnon
Posiedeon
Dec – Jan
1     Noumenia

26   Haloa
30   Deipnon
Gamelion
Jan – Feb
1     Noumenia

27   Sacrifice – Kourotrophos, Hera ,Zeus, Teleius, Poseidon.
30   Deipnon
Anthesterion
Feb – Mar
  1. Noumenia
12   Anthesteria Khoes
20   Lesser Mysteries
21   Lesser Mysteries
30   Deipnon
Elaphebolion
Mar – Apr
  1. Noumenia
30   Deipnon
Mounichion
Apr – May
  1. Noumenia
6     Didymeia
30   Deipnon
Thargelion
May – Jun
  1. Noumenia
19   Bendidea
30   Deipnon
Skirophorion
Jun – July
1    Noumenia

3    Sacrifice – Kourotrophos, Athene, Polias, Aglaurus, Zeus,  Polieus, Poseidon, Pandrosos.
30   Deipnon


Noumenia – The first day of the new moon and of the new month, this was associated with Hekate through the works of Pindar who said that Hekate gave omens of victory on the 1st day of the Month, this day is a particularly fortuitous day to perform works of divination at dawn, oracular work and skrying can also incorporated into the rite. As the start of a new month this is a good time to perform devotional work and a reaffirmation of your dedication to the Goddess in the coming month.

Sacrifice to Kourotrophos – This sacrifice happens during 3 months of the yearly cycle, Metageitnion, Gamelion, Skirophorion, and although only one specifically names Hekate, the epithet of Kourotrophos appears in all these festivals which make them appropriate to celebrate for you can evoke Hekate in that aspect, in addition you may wish to also evoke, Artemis and Zeus as appropriate. As they are relatively evenly spaced throughout the year and are an excellent time for topping up defences around the home petitioning the Goddess to protect it, and its inhabitants, particularly children, records show that a suitable sacrifice for the Goddess at these times were pigs, as many today may not wish to handle pork (or any meat) products creating a votive offering in the image of a pig and immolating it would be another alternative to consider, do however make sure you inscribe it and dedicate it to Hekate. If at all possible try and make this rite in the month of Metageitnion coincident with a clear night when it may be possible to witness the Perseid meteor showers, which are named after Hekate’s father.

Greater Mysteries – These are the mysteries of Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis, in which not only was Hekate perceived to guide the Mystai with Iakkos, but also when she became companion and guide to Persephone. This is a most fortuitous time for rites of self dedication and initiation, it should be marked annually with a day of fasting (or abstinence) followed by a night time vigil or procession celebrating Hekate in her aspect of torchbearer and light bringer. This is also a time for making reparations over past wrong doings, and offering the olive branch to would be enemies, clearing the slate and stating anew.

Haloa – Whilst for a us a midwinter festival, this would have been a festival of growth in the Mediterranean world, it was considered a time of feasting and thanks marked with bonfires and banquets and an all night vigil to greet the rising sun, as this falls so very close to Yule and Christmas, it would be more than acceptable to perform this rite on a solstice night, evoking Hekate and inviting her to attend a feast in her honour which should be contained within the ritual circle, Reif3 does suggest that this may have been a “women’s only” rite of a rather bawdy nature, think hen party and then some, so you may like to consider telling the males in your group to find a quiet pub to spend the night in for this one, after all we don’t really wanting them to know “all” the women’s mysteries now do we girls?

Anthesteria Khoes – The Attic equivalent of the day of the dead, the God Hermes in his role of psychopomp was honoured on this night, when the spirits of the dead were said to wander abroad. This is an excellent night to honour both Hermes and Hekate together as well as honouring ancestors and those who have passed with a dumb supper rite, the records note that casseroles with root vegetable were offered most probably because they grew underground.

Lesser Mysteries – All initiates of the Greater mysteries first had to undergo the lesser mysteries and these took place every four years, the gods honoured during these rites were traditionally Demeter, Persephone and Dionysus and was considered by some to be the nuptial celebration of the divine couple; this is an excellent time for performing rites of blessing, both upon relationships, but also new ventures, homes and welcoming family into the fold both magickal and physical. Within that remit it is worth evoking Hekate alongside the deities mentioned above, especially considering her close connection with the greater mysteries. This would also be a time for prospective initiates to request initiation at the following Greater Mysteries and dedicate to the period of study required to undergo such a rite.

Didymeia – This was an annual Pythian rite to Apollo held in the town of Miletus in Caria, the date is ambiguous, but some academics have surmised that it took place in the Milesian month of Taureon, which is believed to have occurred some two months after Anthesterion, this date would correlate for the rite was sacred to Apollo and this date ties in with the Attic date which is recognised as Apollo’s birthday. During this rite two large stone cubes were placed before “Hekate at the Gate”; during this ritual, temples both astral and physical should be cleansed, magickal protections should be reinforced and divination should occur to ascertain the direction of your work (or groups work) during the following year.

Bendidea – The annual rite of the Thracian Goddess Bendis mentioned by Plato in his work Republic, it was considered quite a spectacle and involved horseracing by torch light through the streets of Athens. Whilst it appears that the original rites were one of purification and solemnity, they eventually because fairly bawdy raucous affairs, if working in a group, this might be a suitable ritual for the gentlemen to get all down and dirty with the men’s mysteries, you know, beer, wine, song, curry etc. etc. Competitions both physical and mental could also be incorporated into this rite.

Deipnon – Performed monthly during the dark moon the Deipnon was primarily about cleansing, and petitioning Hekate to keep the house safe during the coming months, because of the offerings given it eventually became a time for charity for the poor it was said, fed from the suppers laid out on the crossroads for Hekate.  Suitable offerings would be eggs, garlic, fish, honey and cheesecakes, which should be placed outside separately from the cleansings of the home. It is a good time to perform physical cleansing as well as magickal cleansing, make sure all tasks that need to be done such as any outstanding obligations, household or work related paperwork etc. In fact any ends you want to tie up should be done so before performing this rite.

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1 Orphic Hymn to the Horae
2 Festival Dates taken from http://www.numachi.com/~ccount/hmepa/
3 Reif, J. Mysteries of Demeter