Friday, November 16, 2012

Hecate's Night

Tonight is Hecate's Night, where celebrants gather at crossroads and feast, and leave offerings for Hecate. Hecate is an ancient goddess of Greece, associated not only with crossroads, but with magic, fire, the moon, and herbs. She was also considered the protectress of flocks and of sailors. She is often depicted in triple form, suggesting her various aspects. In Theogony, Hesiod tells us:

"Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honored above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honor also in starry heaven, and is honored exceedingly by the deathless gods. For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favor according to custom, he calls upon Hecate."

She is sometimes depicted with dogs, and followers were known to leave meat at the crossroads as an offering to her dogs.

Her triform image was typically placed at three-way crossroads, and she became known as the goddess of Trivia (the three ways). She was associated with the Roman goddess, Trivia, as well. Shrines to Hecate were placed at doorways to both homes and cities with the belief that it would protect from restless dead and other spirits.

While both my calendar and my almanac list today as Hecate's Night, or Night of Hecate, she was worshipped by the Greeks on the 13th of August and on the 30th of November, while the Romans worshipped her on 29th of every month. There is some suggestion that these dates may have coincided with the full moon. A more modern festival is held each year to honor her on the full moon in May.

Ways to celebrate or honor Hecate this evening might include:

Feasting, of course! She is said to favor garlic, so find dishes heavy with garlic to make tonight. A number of garlicky dishes can be found here.

Because of her association with dogs, call your local animal shelters, ASPCA or Humane Society and ask them what items they might need, like dog food, blankets, towels, etc.

Although food was often left at three way crossroads, it was often assumed that this food was actually intended for the poor. Many grocery stores have boxes for donations, where you can buy extra while shopping and donate that food before leaving the store. You can also inquire at your local food bank what they might be running short on and help them out with a donation.

Considered the patron of many of today's modern witches, black pointy hats and capes are not out of the question for dining attire tonight.

Watch Jason and the Argonauts, where Medea is a priestess of Hecate and of whom it is said, "There is a maiden, nurtured in the halls of Aeetes, whom the goddess Hecate taught to handle magic herbs with exceeding skill all that the land and flowing waters produce."

Most of all, spend some learning more about this fascinating goddess. Break out your books on Greek and Roman mythology, pull out the dusty encyclopedias, take a trip to the library, or heck, just browse the internet.

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