"The Goddess Hekate probably have more devotees at this moment in time than She ever had in any other moment of time in history..."
I recently found myself saying the above out loud to some friends during a discussion about the changes we have seen in the ways that people understand and approach the Goddess of the Crossroads, the Triple Formed Hekate, today. When we started working together (deary me, that makes me feel and sound old!) it was near to impossible to find information about the Goddess Hekate on the internet. In fact, there really was only one reliable and more-or-less interesting resource, a website created by a London based devotee at the time, A. Harris. Icons of the Goddess Hekate were near impossible to buy, between us we managed to track down one artist who made wall plaques and one US based shop who sold reproductions of a triple image of the Goddess - and these were an ordeal to purchase from the UK. The internet was still in its infancy and not everyone had heard of Paypal "back then" - Facebook had not yet been invented, and mobile phones did not have cameras.
This is not the whole story of Her Revival in the 21st century. It could never be! It is just a little bit of it - and with it a few short rants and advice to those who are confused, befuddled, feeling misdirected or feel that we should correct misinformation. I sat down and wrote this without having a clear plan, so it is a bit of everything :-) .
When some members of the Starstone Network, a group I co-founded, suggested that we compile some of our own work and experiences of the Goddess Hekate and print it up as a booklet, I think we all thought that it would be mostly us who would read and benefit from reading one another's work. A very authentic (but amateur production!) was born in the form of Hekate: Keys to the Crossroads in 2005. The truth is that there were less than a handful of us who put the material gathered from group members, and a few bits from friends who shared our passion for Hekate, together in an afternoon. Myself, Steve B and Kay G mostly did our work sitting on my bed in the small West London flat I had at the time! I have over the years felt a desire to re-design and update the book - but I always find that it is not meant to be, rather it is a snapshot in time of how things were.
Back then, most people we encountered firmly named Hekate as the "Witch Goddess" and also thought of Her as having something to do with the 20th century construct of "The Maiden, Mother and Crone" - most often naming Her as the Crone. Of course Hekate (nor the majority of other goddesses associated with this construct for that matter!) does not fit into this model and she is also most definitely not a "Crone Goddess". But that is another rant, for another day (I will post an updated version of an article I wrote on the topic soon.
Of course the revival of interest in Hekate didn't start with us. Decades before we find authors such as Oliver Madox Hueffer (1908) writing about Hekate as a Thracian divinity in his The Book of Witches; the occult writer Aleister Crowley mentioned Hekate in his work several times, notably in Orpheus (a Collected works, vol. 3) in 1907 and in his novel Moonchild (1929). Dion Fortune included Hekate's name in her very influential invocation of the Goddess in her novel Sea Priestess in 1938 too. And as we go backwards in time we find references to Hekate in many literary works, from the Garden of Eros by Oscar Wilde (1881) to Theobald Lewis' Orestes (1725). Earlier still Hekate is mentioned in the work of John Milton (1634) and of course William Shakespeare mentions her in many of his works too. Like with many of the other ancient gods and goddesses, the image and symbols of Hekate were kept alive by artists, writers and performers through the centuries. In the 20th century Hekate, in part due to the work of Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune, became a name familiar to the followers of Gerald Gardner and subsequent traditions of Wicca, and the many other pagan traditions which were based on it. Hekate became "the" Goddess of the Witches and Magic, and remains so today. Of course, there is a lot more to Hekate than magic and witchcraft, but again a topic for another day. Let's continue with my story.
In 2009 David Rankine and I completed our small volume Hekate Liminal Rites, in which we present information on a wide range of magical topics and practices associated with Hekate. It was one of many projects we were working on during that period of our partnership. And it is part of the story. See, back then, there really were only a handful of books available on the Goddess Hekate, and some of them were already difficult to find and out of print. It is around this time that more people started asking me if I was going to produce another Hekate : Keys to the Crossroads style anthology. I always laughed it off as the number of people I knew who had an interest in the Goddess Hekate outside of the StarStone Network - and a few selected friends, seemed to be tiny. But, I was wrong.
On a fated night in late 2009 I found myself writing to a few people who had told me they thought we should do a devotional anthology. By the next morning the idea of Hekate: Her Sacred Fires was born. From the very first moment it had a life of its own, with contributors introducing further contributors and others stepping forward to volunteer work. In the end there were around 50 contributors - from six continents. Through the project I learned about the work of several other authors and teachers around the world, and a small facebook group came into being through which those interested in the project and the contributors could connect. Six months later Hekate: Her Sacred Fires was born (May 2010) and with it a devotional rite, The Rite of Her Sacred Fires (May 2010) and from that, a few months later, The Covenant of Hekate (Nov 2010). The Rite of Her Sacred Fires became a yearly celebration and has been translated into nearly 30 languages. The Covenant of Hekate currently has nearly a thousand international members and continue to grow under the direction of several Keybearers who administrate the process for new devotees.
But it was more than this. The project also connected people and communities, some - who like me - thought they were more or less on their own in their love and devotion for the Goddess Hekate. For me, these connections - some in 2009/2010 and some in more recent years and months, for me at least, illustrated the relevance and importance that Hekate still has in the 21st century.
2009/2010 seems to have been a pivot year for interest in Hekate - not just because of the book projects and Rite of Her Sacred Fires, but because of many separate events. 2000/2001 seems to also be dates that are often mention by long-time devotees as being important to them. Were these years important to you on your journey with Hekate? Would love to hear about it!
So many books* have been published about Hekate now - some of the most influential authors include Jade Sol Luna, Jason Miller, Jeff Cullen, Jennifer Teixeira, Tara Sanchez, Georgi Mishev and Jack Grayle. Some of books were more or less contemporary to some of the aforementioned works, some later. Either way, there are so many books about Hekate now, that I think She deserves the title of Goddess of Magic Books, don't you think?
More community spaces - both virtual and physical - dedicated to Hekate (and sometimes Hekate with other deities) are becoming better known, such as the Temple of Hecate in New York and the place of worship created by members of Threskeia in Bulgaria, and Sanctuaries hosted by members of the Covenant of Hekate - each in the style of their host. There are also courses* you can take with experienced teachers to deepen your knowledge - look out for opportunities to learn with Jason Miller, Jack Grayle, Laurie Bizarro, Arabela Jade, Caroline Wise & Carrie Kirkpatrick - and of course myself and Emily Carding - if you are looking for guidance or just for a different way of approaching devotion and magic with Hekate.
In recent years Hekate has taken Her place as the pre-imminent Goddess of the Pagan and Magical Revival. There are now dozens of commercially available icons of Hekate you can purchase, many hundreds of products bearing Her name and quite possibly more blogs and articles than about any other Western Pagan Goddess. Visit the Covenant of Hekate website for an article by Hazel listing dozens of pop-culture references to Hekate. And this is fantastic, it is wonderful - until it is not.
With the rise of interest in Hekate there are, like there has always been when there are are opportunities to do so, those who seek only to profit from putting their names to Hers. There are also those who are inevitably spreading misinformation and insanely unhinged "facts" about Hekate on their blogs, on TikTok and all the various social media platforms. And there are others who are loosing sleep and pulling out their hair trying to "correct" the misinformation. On the other hand, there really is no shortage of good reliable information and opportunities.
So this brings me to some final points in what has become quite a long and ranty blog. Some advice for those of you who are confused, new seekers and those simply curious enough to want to know my opinions on the matter:
1/ Hekate has an established history that we can learn from. There are archaeological, artistic and literary evidence going back nearly 3000 years. Like with everything on this earth we don't know everything, and more information from the past will continue to be uncovered and added to what we know, and perhaps even change what we know - but that is life! However, we can and should learn from the materials available - wilfully avoiding this step is unlikely to lead Hekate to smite you with balls of fire nor scold you with terrifying nightmares. It is very likely to delay your own ability to understand, connect and communicate with Her.
2/ Hekate has established forms and symbols. See point (1) above - we can gain substantial knowledge of Hekate by looking at the forms and symbols She has been depicted with and experienced in over the course of Her known history. She is a Goddess of many forms and many faces, she has many names too - this is all true (I wrote about this in Circle for Hekate, v.1) . I also personally believe, based on my own experience and listening to that of others around the world. that Hekate has gained some new symbols and titles over the course of recent decades. However, just because She might gain new forms and symbols, doesn't mean we can ignore those that She has had for millennia and it also doesn't mean we can decide that we like a particular symbol and want Her to be associated with it. Symbols are a language, languages evolve - but it takes time, consensus and when it comes to the Gods, perhaps we should leave it to them to decide what their symbols are.
3/ It is not my job, or your job to "police" or "gatekeep" for Hekate. Hekate is quite literally a Goddess of Gateways, doorways and other liminal spaces. Hekate is the Gatekeeper. Let me say that again: Hekate is the Gatekeeper. If She wants to, I am sure She can take care of the misinformation and nonsense being spread in Her name. Sometimes those passing on misinformation or silly misunderstandings are doing so with good intentions, sometimes it is ego driven drivel and sometimes there are other agendas at play. So please - share good information, check your own facts and question what you are told (ultimately we all make mistakes!) - but don't put people down who get things wrong. Do better.
4/ It might not be clear from the above, or perhaps you have preconceptions you can't get over. I believe that Hekate is a Goddess with a firm and well established place today. It is 2023 as I write this, not 550BCE. I believe that history is important, I believe that we should root ourselves in what has gone before - we can learn from it, avoid pitfalls and even accelerate our learning and understanding by learning from those who went before us - AND - our contemporaries. If we choose our teachers wisely, we benefit from it. If we choose badly, we also learn from it - and we learn to choose better next time.
5/ Buying everything you can, just because you can is not going to bring you into a closer relationship with Hekate, or any divinity. Yes, there are literally hundreds of products available with Her name on it, and yes it is super interesting to have them all and try them all - but it is not necessary and frankly, most of it is a waste of time and money. Keep it simple, and where possible purchase things from artists who work in sustainable ways and whose work is from a place of devotion and passion for the Goddess. Support their work and encourage others to do the same. Before buying something ask yourself: Am I buying this for me, or am I purchasing this for the Goddess? Apply your beliefs to the way you spend your money, not just to what you share online!
Ok, enough ranting? It is good to muse about the past and present from time to time. Promise I won't do it too much!
I leave you with a quote from the Chaldean Oracles, an important text for those studying Hekate:
"And therefore the Oracles bid us expand ourselves through the freedom of our way of live, but not to constrict ourselves by drawing upon ourselves a stifling of true love instead of extending to the whole universe, for those who are stifled narrow the entrances through which we partake of the cosmic breath." (Chaldean Hekate, Ronan)
* Please note that if I left off a name here of a teacher whose work you treasure it was not on purpose, I chose to only include people whose work I have direct experience of. I am only human, I can't do or know about everything and everyone! You are welcome to leave a comment <3 providing it is not spammy to tell me and other readers about material you found useful by other authors / teachers!