Hecate, Warding off Spirits

Hecate, Warding off Spirits

Hecate, depicted often as a feminine form dressed in long robes that held twin torches set ablaze. There are multiple texts that state her parents as a different pair, but the common word told that Hecate was daughter of Perses and Asteria.

Her role in mythology was to be the chief goddess over any magic, spell, ghosts and necromancy. In representations that followed this origin, Hecate was described as three female figures, with a front facing one and two behind that stood back to back. The additional figures came to be with statues of Hecate, to represent looking in all directions of the crossroads. 

For this, the civilians of Athens had placed the three-figure version at the Acropolis of the city, other entrances and private housing doors. With the goddess there, her figure was to ward off any evil spirits that may intrude. 

Furthermore, these crossroads are related to Hecate’s part in Persephone’s search. When Demeter had sought out assistance in finding her daughter, Hecate took to the plate and led the way with torches. For her help, Hecate was made Persephone’s minister.

Hecate’s associated animals consist of a pack of barking dogs, in particular a black she-dog and a polecat that hunted vermin. Said she-dog was the Trojan Queen Hekabe who became transformed by Hecate after jumping into the sea after Troy fell. There are speculations that the polecat was Gale the Witch being punished by the goddess Eileithyia leading her to Hecate’s acceptance. 

It is stated that Hecate had unusual rituals done in her honor, such as offering food at crossroads or anything that acted as a boundary; this was called the “supper of Hecate''. Offerings would have stuck miniature torches into the food, reflective of the goddess Hecate’s torches. A specific dish was that of red mullet, one that was not to be offered to any of the other gods or goddesses. On the other hand, offerings would include dogs, especially puppies as they were often associated with her. All offerings to Hecate were done during the night of the new moon each month. 

References:

“Hecate | Myth & Symbols | Britannica.” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hecate. Accessed 11 April 2022.

“HECATE (Hekate) - Greek Goddess of Witchcraft, Magic & Ghosts.” Theoi Greek Mythology, https://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Hekate.html. Accessed 11 April 2022.

Cartwright, Mark, and Robert Graves. “Hecate.” World History Encyclopedia, 22 June 2017, https://www.worldhistory.org/Hecate/. Accessed 11 April 2022.
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