The first time I meditated on Hekate, she appeared to me in a continually shifting face- wrinkled skin with young, glinting eyes- a young face with wise, ancient eyes- black hair, grey hair, white hair- as soon as I thought I had a fix on what she looked like, she shifted again. I knew from that point that all of my preconceived notions I had of her were wrong, or only partially right.
I consider Hekate to be a matron Goddess of feminists. Her powers have been degraded and obscured by patriarchy for millenia. Once considered a goddess of Heaven, Earth, Sea, and (later) Underworld, a wise maiden moon goddess, she has become to many a gruesome hag associated with witches (in the pejorative sense) and black magic, death and ghosts, and a danger to men. She represents patriarchy's unconscious fear of the dark feminine.
She is every woman's potential- witch, seer, medium, healer. She is the shamanic priestess who moves between worlds, bridging the worlds to effect healing and regeneration.
As the Triple Goddess at the crossroads, she helps us to see past, present, and future with clarity. We look back to the lessons we have learned, see the warnings and potential dangers in front of us, and our path into the future. She whispers to us, gives us prophetic dreams and psychic visions.
She represents the Dark Maiden-Mother-Crone – she is all three in one and to me, surpasses this common method of classifying Goddesses. She is the embodiment of these energies and shows us that these archetypal energies are within us at all times as well. Just as she easily slips between worlds, she shifts from Maiden-Mother-Crone.
Hekate is a most ancient goddess; though she is most commonly thought of as Greek, she far precedes Greek society. Hekate originates from the birth of time. She is a daughter of the Most Ancient One- she came forth from the Nothingness of Creation. The Greeks refer to her, and the other Ancient Ones, as the Titans- a race of deities who were present before the arrival of their Gods. Hekate has also been referred to as a daughter of Nyx, the Goddess of Creation and of Night. She has been linked with deities from many ancient cultures, including Egypt, Asia Minor, and Old Middle Europe. Her presence is eternal and her worship is ancient.
However, it is without a doubt that the most well known place of her worship is Greece. We have the greatest record of her worship as well as mythological stories from that period. She was worshiped as a Greek Goddess and was also absorbed into the Roman pantheon. There are approximately twelve centuries of recorded Hekate worship, from 8th century BCE to 4th century CE.
For the Greeks, she served several functions. No single one is unique to her, but she is the only goddess to serve all of them.
Hekate Propylaia- 'the one before the gate'. She offered offered protection from outside evils. As protectress, statues were erected outside temple entrances, outside of homes, and at crossroads. These statues were called hecterion, and represented her as triforma- either 3 maidens with 6 arms, or as one body with 3 representative heads of her sacred animals.
Hekate Propolos- 'attendant who leads'. This comes from her mythology as attendant to Persephone, helping to lead her from the underworld. However, she also led spirits of the dead across the river and to the spirit's final place in the underworld.
Hekate Phosphorous- 'light bringer'. She is commonly represented as carrying two torches. She is the torch bearer that lights the way. A common invocation- En Erebos Phos: In Darkness, Light- is in homage to this aspect.
Hekate Kourotrophos- 'child's nurse'. Many Greek goddesses were considered protectresses of mothers and children, so this is not unique to her. However it is played out in the Demeter-Persephone myth.
Hekate Chthonia- 'of the earth'. This is probably a later epithet, and came to be associated with her qualities as a sorceress.
Hekate Soteira- 'savior'. To the Chaldean oracles, she was known as “savior of the world.”
To me, all of these are divisions of her totality as Ancient One. She arose directly from the primal void and the forces that were present at the onset of creation. As such, she is guardian of the vast depths of our unconscious and the collective memory. She lights the way, showing us our vast past, illuminating our origins.
As she was present at the beginning, she is all things. She holds within her the seed of creation, the spark of all being. She is the deepest dark of nothingness, and she is the light of new life. She is the old crone of death, the mother giving birth, the protective and fierce maiden. She is life and she is death. When we invoke her, we invoke all these things. We invoke the power of the cosmos. And she does not let us take it lightly. She is to be approached with reverence and respect, and she expects us to hold the same reverence and respect for ourselves- for we all all made of the same divine essence. It is that that she protects for us, and that which she illuminates when we are ready.
Whenever I have need of her, she is there. She has placed a cloak about my shoulders when I needed comfort. She has protected me when I felt unsafe. She has dragged me into the darkest, swirling void so that I may find my own light and know true magic and rebirth. She is indeed my Soteira.