Hekate, Queen of the Night
Submitted by: swampy
“Come Hekate, Beloved of all Grandmothers!
Goddess of Transformation. Goddess of all Sacred Changes!
Sing praises to Old Women and Hags! Glory be to Crones!
Sing praises to Old Hekt! Welcome, Mother of all magical, healing words!
Beloved Grandmother! Bringer of life – too short but never ending.”
Hekate (also spelled Hecate) is a primordial Goddess whose genealogy goes back to Her birth at the beginning of time as a daughter of Nyx, Ancient Night. Hekate may have been originally derived from the Egyptian midwife goddess Heket, who in turn evolved into Heq or the tribal matriarch of predynastic Egypt. In Greece, Hekate was a pre-Olympic Goddess, but unlike many other primordial deities, Hekate was absorbed into the classical Greek pantheon.
Later Greek myths give other accounts of Her parentage rather than that She was a daughter of Nyx. In one version She is the daughter of Aster and Perses (both symbols of shining light) and Hekate is portrayed as a torch-bearing Moon Goddess who wears a gleaming headdress of stars. Later traditions make Hekate the daughter of Zeus and Hera and reduce Her power to only that of the underworld and the waning dark moon. However, no matter what her parentage was said to be, Hekate was a key figure in reuniting the mother and daughter in the story of Persephone’s abduction into the underworld by Hades, and her periodic return to her mother, Demeter. This myth was the basis for the Eleusinian initiation rites of birth, death, and rebirth, which were derived from the mysteries of natures’ seasonal cycle.
Hekate, was known by many names: ‘Queen of the Night’, ‘Queen of the Dead’,'Queen of the Ghosts’, ‘Mother of Witches’, and ‘Mistress of Magic’.
By medieval times, Hekate became particularly diabolized by Xtian Catholic authorities. The church projected onto Her their own sexual hang-ups and spiritual insecurities, and turned Her into the ugly hag as Queen of the Witches. It was Hekate who was now responsible for inciting the Pagans to supposed acts of devil worship and dark rites.
Hekate is one of the most ancient embodiments of the Great Triple Goddess, in which form She is associated with Artemis and Selene as a moon triad. Hekate is most often linked with the dark of the moon and presides over magic, ritual, prophetic vision, childbirth, death, the underworld, and the secrets of regeneration. As mistress of the crossroads, She dwells in caves, walks the highways at night, makes love on the vast seas, and is the force that moves the moon. As Queen of the Dead, Hekate is a wardress and conveyor of souls through the underworld. As Goddess of Magic and enchantments, She sends prophetic or demonic dreams to humankind. Her presence is felt at tombs and scenes of murders where She assists in liberating the souls of the newly dead. Hekate is also worshipped as a goddess of fertility, whose torch can be carried over freshly sown fields to symbolize the fertilizing power of moonlight.
All wild animals are sacred to Hekate, and She is sometimes shown with three animal heads – the dog, snake, and lion, or alternately the dog, horse, and bear. However, Her primary animal form and familiar is the dog. She is associated with the three-headed dog, Cerberus, who derived from the Dog Star Sirius, whose rising foretold the annual flooding of the Nile. At night, particularly at the dark moon, Hekate can be seen walking the roads accompanied by Her howling dogs – which are usually black in color.
The black poplar and yew trees are sacred to Hekate. The yew is considered the central tree of death, and is associated with immortality because it takes longer than any other tree except the oak to come to maturity. Hekate’s cauldron contains ‘slips of yew’ and Her sacred tree is said to root into the mouths of the dead and release their souls and it also absorbs the odors of death. The willow tree and bark is also sacred to Hekate as it is to all the Moon Goddesses.
Other symbols of Hekate are: torches; the dark and pre-new moon; crosses and crossroads; a crescent crown with mandragon leaves; the Dove (a Goddess symbol of freedom); Baetylic (a black type of meteorite which is Hekate’s magic stone); and winged serpents.
Because of Hekate’s role as a Triple Moon Goddess who typifies the cycle of birth, life, death and re-birth, She is a good Goddess to call upon when you wish to lose something of yourself or when you wish to end something in your life.