Greek Titan of Witches, Witchcraft, Sorcery, and Crossroads.
When I first began this project, I knew that I wanted to end with Hecate. She is simultaneously the final and the first, our alpha and omega of Witchcraft. She dominates popular witch lore, but you would never know it as she resides in the shadows, side plots, and brief mentions. Only when you seek her out does she reveal herself to you, lighting your path while casting shadows and ghosts. Many, if not all, modern Witches, Pagans, and Wiccans see Hecate as a Goddess of Witches, amongst other appropriate attributes, and continue her worship and reverence now several thousand years ongoing.
As is the case with most of Greek Mythology, Hecate has multiple origin myths and genealogies. This is most likely the result of her originating outside of the Greeks, and being adapted and merged with the existing pantheon. Most traditions have Hecate as the daughter of the Titans Perses, titan of destruction, and Asteria, titan of falling stars and nocturnal prophecy. Hecate was their only child, and was able to retain her powers post Zeus’ coup as she helped him fight the Giants. As child of Asteria, her grandmother was the Titan of the Moon, Phoebe, and her cousin was Olympian lunar all-star Artemis.
There are various stories in which Hecate plays a part. Her most notable and appropriate for this time of year, however, is her integral role in assisting Demeter’s search for her beloved daughter, Persephone. Upon Persephone’s decent into Hades, Hecate, through the light of her torches, helped Demeter discover her daughter in the underworld. As such, Hecate has become a chthonic Goddess, and Persephone’s yearly attendant and psychopomp to the underworld. Her position as gatekeeper and guide to Hades solidifies many of her numerous attributes.
Hecate is associated with ghosts, necromancy, and magic. She is identified with crossroads, torches, and dark hounds. She was a common household deity for the Athenian—her shrines placed in doorways and city gates to both protect from restless spirits and bestow blessings and safe passage. Her worship and cult was as extensive as her various attributes, with temples and shrines scattered across the Mediterranean. As a key figure in the Persephone saga, Hecate was integral in the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries, impacting secret societies and occult rituals to this day.
Out of all her characteristics, her association with the crossroads is perhaps the most pertinent to my series. Most often, we think of crossroads as the intersection of two roads, yielding four directions. This was not always the case, however, as it was more common to have a proverbial ‘fork in the road’, yielding three directions. This is the kind of crossroads in which Hecate resides. Her statues depict her in triplicity, forearms outstretched, holding torches, keys, serpents, daggers, etc. One face in each direction, Hecate is the arbiter of passages, and in this way is the consort of the God Hermes.
Hecate is one of the original Triple Goddesses of Witchcraft, if not the primordial one. Her triplicity has defined much of Modern Pagan theology, with her stance representing the three phases of the moon, Waxing, Full, and Waning (Maiden, Mother, Crone respectively). Her mythological genealogy as the granddaughter of Phoebe and cousin to Artemis has yielded Hecate as a Goddess of the Moon in her own right, most often known as the unseen phase of the moon, the New Moon (however she is just as often associated with all moon phases). In Greek/Roman Mythology, Hecate joins many lunar goddesses in addition to Phoebe and Artemis, including Selene and Diana. The five were often conflated, confused, and worshiped both in tandem and in conflict. This ever shifting, impossible to pin down, lunar association echos her transient nature of existing in the shadows.
Hecate is both mysterious and severe. Her face is hidden behind her torches, or on the dark side of the moon, however her presence is a constant. She is life, death, and rebirth. She is both light and dark magic. She was beloved in her association with rites of passage like childbirth, and feared in her role as Queen of Shades, present at the final rite of passage, death. Her nature has permeated my entire series in such a profound and indescribable way, I can only show you:
#93: Lilith— often worshiped by modern Pagans in tandem with Hecate #92: Circe: Daughter of Hecate #89, #54, #39: Bewitched: A common expression “For Hecate’s Sake!” Occurs throughout the show. #79: Aradia: Daughter of Lucifer and Diana. Often seen as the daughter of an amalgamated Diana-Hecate. #70: Medea: Priestess of Hecate #67: Charmed: The Halliwell Sisters: Appears in the episode “The Wedding from Hell” #56: Ceridwen: Often worshiped in tandem with Hecate as Dark Mothers by modern Pagans. . #52, #27: Practical Magic: The necromancy ritual the Owen’s Sisters perform, albeit pronounced incorrectly. “Black as night, erase death from our sight. White as light, Mighty Hecate make it right.” #10: Willow Rosenberg: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Mentioned in several episodes and referred to as “Queen and Protectress of Witches.” #7: American Horror Story: Coven: Supreme Fiona Goode invokes Hecate “Come to me Hecate, Mother of Angels, Cosmic World Soul.” #5: The Weird Sisters: Macbeth: Hecate is their master
This list is pretty fitting for a Goddess whose name etymologically may mean “she that operates from afar.” She is seldom a central figure or even visible, however witches from the Owens to the Goodes, from Willow Rosenberg to Endora, invoke her name and ask for her spirit, guidance, and presence. Hecate, in many ways, is both the first witch, and the last. She is our alpha and omega. She is the embodiment of power and strength. As a Goddess of Witchcraft, she does not merely exist in the margins of society like the rest of us—She is the margin itself.
“Hecate, Cerridwen. Dark Mother take us in. Hecate, Cerridwen. Let us be reborn.”
“One of the many things I love about Daenerys from Game of Thrones is she’s given me an opportunity to fly the flag for young girls and women, to be more than just somebody’s wife and somebody’s girlfriend.”
Standing with raised right arm, holding a leonine-headed aegis.
Local deity of the town of Bubastis (Per-Bast), Bastet was regarded as embodying the protective aspects of the mother goddess.
Late Period, 6th to 4th century BC. Werner Forman Archive/Christie’s, London.