Celebrating Hekate: My Journey with the Goddess

Celebrating Hekate: My Journey with the Goddess November 15, 2023

My official journey with Hekate began in January 2019. I’d received a book written by Cyndi Brannen called Keeping Her Keys to review. The rest as they say is history as I’ve spent time celebrating and developing my relationship with the goddess. I have read books, joined groups, participated in rituals, and took classes. But mostly, mine has been a solitary journey honoring and working with Hekate these last four years.

Hekate Altar image provided by the author. Photograph taken November 15, 2023.

Celebrating Hekate – History

Hekate is an ancient goddess, pre-dating the Olympians as a Thracian deity before she became associated with the Greek pantheon. She is the daughter of Titans – Perses and Asteria – from whom she inherited powers over land, sea, and sky. She aligned herself with Zeus during the god’s war against the Titans and was honored by him above all others.

Hekate facilitated the reunion between Demeter and Persephone when she’d been taken by Hades to the underworld as his bride. She was a protector of cities, goddess of the moon, and wandering spirits. Her name was prominent on curse tablets as a goddess of magick and witchcraft.

She was revered throughout Greece, where people put Her statue at their doors as protection. Hekate also became associated with multiple deities including Selene, Artemis, Krateis, and many more. The Ancient Greeks depicted Hekate as a young woman, sometimes as a single entity and later in triple form as three identical young women standing back to back, holding symbols of Her mysteries –torch, key, serpent, cords, and daggers.

In later centuries, the goddess became associated as an “old hag” or “crone” in the writings of Shakespeare and Alistair Crowley. Perceived as frightening because of her underworld and witchcraft associations.  A belief about Hekate that remains to this day, leading her to be labeled as a “Dark Goddess.”

However, modern Witches and Pagans have come to understand Hekate as Mother, Queen, Guide, Healer, and so much more. We embrace her darker aspects as well as her lighter ones. As with any deity, Hekate is complex and mysterious, and while she may not suffer fools, I have found her to be infinitely kind and patient with those who honor Her.

Hekate: Ancient Goddess of Crossroads, Night, Moon, etc. Image by ZDE via wikimediacommons.org

Celebrating Hekate – The Diepnon

Hekate’s Diepnon (or evening meal) was a meal placed at the crossroads once every lunar month on the Dark Moon. The Ancient Greeks believed the goddess led the restless spirits who were wronged in death, accompanied by her black hounds. The meal was meant to honor Hekate and appease the dead who came with her from the underworld. The Dark Moon was a liminal time, allowing for ritual cleansing of the home once a month.

Modern Hekataen Witches and Pagans offer the  Diepnon on the Dark Moon, the night before the first sliver of the New Moon when it remains hidden from sight. We still sweep the house clean and those who can offer a meal at a crossroads. As the food of the ancient Diepnon also fed the poor, acts of service or charity may also be performed during the modern observance.

There is something very satisfying about this liminal (time between -transitional space) ritual. For me, it strengthens the connection I have with Hekate and with other Hekataens who offer this monthly meal (even if it is a small offering of olive oil, garlic, and bread) to the goddess and the restless dead.

Image by Gioele Fazzeri via Pixabay.com

Celebrating Hekate – November 16 and 30th

For Modern Hekataens, November 16 has become a time to celebrate the goddess. The question for many is whether these are a continuation of an ancient celebration or something new. Based on this post from 2016 by Bekah Evie Bel, it is probably the latter.

Hekate’s Night is from all descriptions a Diepnon ritual but performed on November 16. The author speculates (and I agree) that at some point Hekate’s Supper fell on November 16 and it somehow became synonymous with an annual event. For me, since I perform the Diepnon every month, November 16 is more about working with Hekate and honoring her as a Queen of Witchcraft (especially this year as I celebrated the Diepnon just days ago on the Dark Moon).

November 30th is the time to honor the Goddess of the Crossroads. A time to meet with Hekate as guide, guardian, and the underworld. To walk into the shadows, trusting her to lead the way toward deeper spiritual connection, healing, and understanding of who I am as a Witch, the strength that resides within. It is a good time for reflection and to ask the goddess through meditation or divination what to focus on in the coming year with Her.

Sometimes, I can hardly believe it has been four years since I dedicated myself as a Hekataen Witch. Yet, I have learned so much about my witchcraft, power, and sovereignty through working with and celebrating Hekate. She has walked me through the grief of my mother’s death as an underworld psychopomp and helped me to the other side of it where I may be able to help others. She has guided me into devotion. Dark, underworld, goddess of witchcraft and ghosts she may be, but the light of her torches continues to light my path.

Gwyn is one of the hosts of 3 Pagans and a Cat, a podcast about the questions and discussions between three pagan family members, each exploring different pagan paths and how their various traditions can intersect. The most practiced pagan on the path, Gwyn is a Green Witch devoted to Hekate, Brighid, and Frigga. She is a Clairsentient Medium, Tarot Reader, loves writing and, spending time with her family, as well as working with herbs, essential oils, and plants. You can read more about the author here.
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