Hecate of Greece - Strange Deities
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04-04-2020    119 times
Hecate of Greece

Hecate, the goddess of the night, the moon and magic, known as the Crone Goddess of the Waning Moon, the most powerful lunar phase. Hecate, the goddess of magic and witchcraft, was the only child of Perses, the wise Titan god of destruction and Asteria, the Titan goddess of falling stars, prophecy and nighttime divinations, from whom she received her power over the heaven, earth and the sea. She is empowered to create destructive storms, manifest chaos and guard others, allowing refuge and safety. She also serves as the protector of all women and the newborn living creatures and thus, considered as one of the most powerful goddesses in Greek mythology.

According to mythology, when Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god of the underworld, Hecate, known for her divine wisdom, helped goddess Demeter in the search for her beloved daughter, guiding her through the night with flaming torches. After the mother-daughter reunion, it was decided that, Persephone would spend a third of a year in the underworld and Hecate would be her companion for her journey to and from the underworld each year. As a reward for accepting the proposal to accompany Persephone as her loyal friend, Hades, the lord of the underworld, gifted Hecate with necromancy, the ability to talk to the spirits.

Hecate of Greece

Hecate was feared by Zeus, as she proved her strength as a Titan, as she dared to visit the underworld in search of Persephone and her ability to transcend between the worlds, to shuffle between the Mortal Coil and the Underworld, without any hesitation. She was the only Titan to maintain her status and her power and was honoured by the gods. She was feared and revered in equal measure, perhaps due to the extreme power at her disposal. She did not, however, act unjustly, her punishments and rewards were always fair.

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Usually, Hecate is depicted holding a number of objects such as a torch, a key, a dagger or numerous other things. However, sometimes she is depicted as three formed, perhaps an allusion to the three forms of the moon, which are the full moon, half moon and new moon. Often she was also pictured with a dog by her side and the howling of the dog was said to herald her arrival. According to legends, the dog was the Trojan Queen Hekabe or Hecuba, who leapt into the sea after the fall of Troy and was subsequently transformed by the goddess. Sometimes the serpent is linked to Hecate and sometimes she was dressed in a knee-length maiden's skirt and hunting boots, much like Artemis.

Hecate of Greece

The crossroads were an important symbol associated with Hecate and a place of transition was so often linked to her. She was always seen as occupying a space in between the Titans and the Olympians and between the concept of birth and death, both of which are in her realms of power. Probably for this reason, Hecate’s worshippers often place their shrines to her in their doorways, a place of transition or to place their sacrificial offerings at crossroads.

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Hecate had a very popular temple dedicated to her in Lagina, in South West Turkey. It was near to Stratonikeia, a colony in ancient Macedonia, who lauded Hecate as their patron. She was also widely worshipped in Byzantium and Athens, where she was a main household protection goddess. She has also been welcomed into the worship of modern witchcraft, Wicca and Neopaganism and has even been linked to modern-day cults.

Hecate of Greece
The Triple Hecate (1795) by William Blake

Hecate is a fascinating goddess with paradoxical nature. With her three-sided head, sybolising her immense power to see the past, present and future, the goddess of the crossroads can foretell which humans are worthy of her magic in one glance. She jubilate in sending blessings on both mortals and gods alike, but also delighted in the darker elements of her power, by sending demons and the dead to plague both mortal and immortal. However, despite her status as a feared goddess, she is also seen as extremely gentle and nurturing, hence her position as a goddess of childbirth and protector of mother/child relationships

According to most of the accounts, Hecate was a virgin goddess and thus bore no offspring. However, in some accounts she was named as the mother of Scylla, whom Homar described as a sea monster, with twelve dangling feet, six long necks and grisly heads lined with a triple row of sharp teeth, who was fathered by Phorcys, the ancient sea-god of the dangers of the deep sea.

Hecate of Greece
Hecate, by Gustave Moreau- details
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Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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