The History of Hecate

Jane Charlotte writes a blog post about the history and myths of the goddess Hecate.

My novella Captive Moon launched a series, The Amulet Of Hecate, and each book in the series features a mystical amulet said to harness the power of the goddess Hecate.

While I might have made up the Amulet of Hecate, the story of Hecate goes back a long way.

Image from page 871 of Hieroglyphica, sive, De sacris Aegyptiorvm aliarvmqve gentivm literis commentarij (1575)
Image from page 871 of Hieroglyphica, sive, De sacris Aegyptiorvm aliarvmqve gentivm literis commentarij (1575)

 

Hecate, sometimes spelled Hekate, is a Greek goddess.

When she was first worshipped or written about she was a woman, and later evolved to be ‘three-formed’ – sometimes three women standing back to back, sometimes a three headed woman. When she’s three headed she’s sometimes portrayed with dog, horse and lion heads.

Hecate Image from page 264 of Greek mythology systematized (1880)Hecate is often represented with items such as torches, a key, serpents, and daggers, and sometimes alongside dogs.

As a goddess, she was associated with the moon, magic, witchcraft, light, and entrance-ways, among other things. She has some sacred plants, including hazel and willow, and she’s often associated with graveyards and crossroads. The Romans knew her as Trivia (three roads), and people sometimes left offerings of lambs, dogs or honey at crossroads for her.

Hecate is what’s known as a ‘triple deity’, which means she often appears in mythology with other goddesses. In Greek mythology she is sometimes partnered with Artemis (representing the Maiden) and Selene (representing the Mother), with Hecate representing the Crone – hence the fact that she occasionally pops up as one of the Three Fates.

In one ancient Greek hymn, Hecate assisted Demeter with her search for Persephone, after Persephone had been abducted by Hades. She’s mentioned as ruler of the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans will know her as someone Willow invokes for power.

Evidence suggests that long ago people may have understood there to be two unique Hecate’s – one was daughter of Zeus (the triple-formed version, who represented crossroads), and the other the daughter of Perses the Titan (the magical woman with torch, dogs and blade) – and that they’ve been combined over the years.

My fictional Amulet of Hecate is a magical talisman that lets the wearer use the power of the moon, and which represents the knife, snake, torches and moon of Hecate myths.

William Blake, Hecate or the Three Fates

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