Hecate/Hekate

(Information copied from http://www.angelfire.com/magic/moonrae/hecate.htm and http://www.scribd.com/doc/37175028/From-the-Forest-Archives-Dragons)

History

A Goddess shrouded in mystery. There is a continuing debate about her name, origin and character. There are few legends about Her, and no fixed genealogy. Some say that Hekate is the daughter of Erebus and Nyx, ageless Goddess of the night, while others believe that She is one of the Furies or the last surviving Titan except for Zeus. Hesoid claims that She was born of the Titan Perses and the star goddess Asteria. Musaeus claims She was born to Asteria and Zeus, Euripides says She is a daughter of Leto, while Thessalian legend has it that Hekate is the daughter of Admetus and a Pheraean woman. It’s likely that Hekate’s attributed birth changed as different social groups adopted Her worship, but no Greek Clan or Tribe ever claimed decent from Hekate. Both facts support the theory that She originated outside Greece. Hekate probably originated in the mythology of the Karians in southwest Asia Minor, and was integrated into Greek religion around the sixth century BCE. However, there is evidence that Hekate evolved from the Egyptian midwife goddess Heqit, (alternatively spelt ‘Heket’ or ‘Hekat’.) The frog headed goddess Heqit assisted with the daily birth of the Sun and was associated with the apparently magical germination of the seemingly lifeless corn seed. In pre-dynastic Egypt the matriarch and wise woman of the tribe was called the ‘heq’. It’s interesting to note that Hekate is associated with childbirth. Hekate’s name has several possible meanings. ‘She who works Her will’ is the most commonly accepted, but ‘the far-off one’ or ‘far-darting one’ are also suggested. Such names suggest that Her power is far reaching. An alternative derivation, ‘most shining one’, is born out in representations of Hekate from the forth century BCE which show a young goddess of both beauty & power, carrying a torch & wearing a headdress of stars. ‘Hekate’ is the female equivalent of ‘Hekatos’, an obscure epithet of Apollo, with whom She is sometimes associated. The Olympians ‘adopted’ Her after they had defeated the Titans, but She was not of the same kind, & never lived amongst them. During this time Hekate’s power was still recognized: Zeus gave Her dominion over Heaven, Earth & Sea, & they shared the right to grant or withhold gifts from humanity. Hekate was worshipped as Goddess of abundance & eloquence, & She is still generous to those who recognize Her. Hekate is sometimes referred to a triple goddess. Classically She was part of a group with Persephone and Demeter. Contrary to modern Pagan assumptions, Demeter represents the old crone woman, Persephone the wife woman, and Hekate is the Maiden. Every early Greek representation of Hekate shows Her as a young woman. It is only much later that She is represented as Crone. In Mytilene on the eastern coast of the Aegean Sea, near what was Troy, there were Temples of Demeter, where the women would go to the annual festival of Eleusis to celebrate fertility Rites. There is ample evidence that Hekate was honored there too, perhaps as a guide for initiates into the Mysteries. But Hekate’s power was to fade. In later myths She is represented as a daughter of Zeus who rules the Underworld & the waning Moon. The Greeks began to emphasize Her darker aspects; Hekate as Goddess of the Dead & Queen of Witches. Now She roams the earth on moon less nights in the company of baying dogs and the hungry spirits of those dead who were not ready to die, those who were murdered or not given appropriate burial rites. The Romans adopted Hekate, and Her role shifted again. Hekate became an aspect of the moon Goddess, Diana Triformus: Diana (the Full moon, associated with Earth), Proserpina (the lunar phases, associated with Heaven), and Hekate (the New moon, associated with the Underworld.) As the power of the Solar Gods rose, Hekate became increasingly demonized, until by the Middle Ages She was reduced to a parody of an evil crone.

Much of what we know of her through stories and literature has been distorted. Hekate was a popular and ubiquitous goddess from at least 700 BCE until late antiquity. In Pre-Classical Ancient Greece She was represented as a young woman clad in a long robe, holding burning torches. Later Hekate appears triple-formed, with three bodies standing back to back, probably so that she could look in all directions at once from the crossroads.

The poet Sappho (630 BCE) describes Hekate as a handmaiden of Aphrodite, “shining of gold”.

A homoerotic love spell dating from the third century describes Her as “Mistress Ruler of all mankind, all-dreadful one, bursting out of the Earth” but today She is most often portrayed as a dark & evil manifestation who wanders in graveyards or haunts dark nights with terrifying hounds of hell. This distorted image comes from the twisted minds of those who fear Her power: Those sad souls who have lost their connection with the chthonic, who shun their own shadow, & fear what they do not understand. She is Crone but also Maiden. She brings abundance as well as storms and She has a key role in birth as well as death. But Hekate’s darker side has been gradually emphasized since the Fifth Century BCE, so that by Medieval times She was presented as little more than a parody of Her true self.

Human perception of Hekate’s nature and role has shifted greatly, so this must be a partial description. Ancient Greek deities had several roles, most of which were not unique to any particular God or Goddess, and which changed over time. More confusingly for us, these roles sometimes appear contradictory. Throughout Hellenistic and Roman times Hekate was worshipped as the regional mother goddess at Her main Carian sanctuary at Lagina near Stratonicea, while in Classical Greece (500 to 300 BCE), Hekate not only reigned over witchcraft, magic and death, but also birth and renewal. She was a guardian against evil and invoked in curses; She was a protective guide and light bringer, but also ‘Dread Goddess of the Underworld’.

The Ancient Greeks understood that a deity can give as well as withhold: Hekate can protect from evil spirits if She so chooses, but can also visit them upon you. It may also be that the ancients did not share the modern obsession with consistency. There is evidence for an Archaic ‘irrational’ mode of thought which does not strive for one precise conclusion, but offers a medley of possibilities. But perhaps there is no contradiction here, for death inevitably goes hand in hand with fertility as a power of the earth.

The ‘Dark’ Hekate and Death

“…For, by the sacred radiance of the sun, The mysteries of Hekate, and the nights; By all the operation of the orbs…”

‘King Lear’ by William Shakespeare

This is Hekate in Her chthonic role (Hekate Chthonia). Chthonic is a word whose meaning is heavily loaded by culture. Today the word ‘chthonic’ often has evil or ‘dark’ connotations, but it originates from the Greek khthonios, meaning ‘in or under the earth’ (Collins Dictionary). Chthonic deities are distinguished from Olympian ones in several key ways: Chthonic deities generally had low altars where offerings are made into the earth (rather than the air), dwell beneath the surface of the Earth and are concerned with matters of basic living – fertility, childbirth, crops, fate and death. Hades, Persephone and the Eumenides are generally considered as chthonic deities.

Several Greek deities (Hermes, Hekate, Demeter, Zeus and Gaia) had both Olympian and Chthonic aspects, and the epithet ‘Chthonia ‘ is used to designate the latter role.

Hekate is awesome & can be terrifying, for She rules all that is outside our ken: Death, & the dark intuitive wisdom that is beyond the conscious mind. Such wisdom comes through dreams & whispers, mediumship & divination. It is the inspired vision of artists & seers. For some it may be too much & bring the madness of lunacy: Hekate’s power can poison as well as heal.

Our culture denies Her realms. Death is a taboo subject, & the old are hidden away. Hekate is the Wise Old Crone who knows death & does not fear it: Death brings renewal through the fertility of decomposition. Hekate’s torch guides the soul to the Underworld, into the dark womb, the cauldron, a place of regeneration & change.

Goddess of Witchcraft

Hekate has long been a Goddess of magic spells and witchcraft. At the Ancient altars of Eleusis thick nails were driven into the ground or the altar, piercing through a piece of parchment rolled into a flattened tube, on which was written the name of someone to be cursed. Most commonly the names were senators and political leaders. There is evidence that Hekate would be invoked as the parchment was ritually burnt, the flames consuming the cursed victim’s name.

The use of curse tablets (katadesmoi or befixiones) was more widespread. Curses were written on lead tablets to be conveyed via the souls of the dead to chthonic deities. But though many of these tablets invoke Hekate, most invoke Hermes.

Witches have long invoked Hekate to make spells more powerful. Medea, Simaitha and Canidia are well known examples, though literary sources became increasingly misogynist during the Classical Greek period and may present a distorted impression.

In the theurgy of the Chaldean Oracles which was adopted by the Neoplatonists, Hekate has become an epiphanic celestial deity and cosmological principle of the Cosmic Soul.

Hekate is often associated with divination. She can cut through the darkness, bring visions, call back the past and reveal the future.

Protector and Guardian

Hekate as guardian is known as Hekate Propylaia. Pillars representing Hekate, (called Hecataea), stood at crossroads and doorways to keep away evil spirits. Hekate stood as guardian at gateways, not only in Hades, but also at the entrance to the homes of the common people of Greece. Statues of Hermes and Hekate stood watch over the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens. She is also the Patron of sailors, fishers and travelers. The Hesiod’s Theology suggests that Hekate also protected warriors, athletes, hunters and herders. However, as the poem was probably written especially for an event where these groups were present, perhaps Hesiod was simply playing to the audience.

Related to this role is Hekate as a dispenser of judgment and a Goddess of atonement and purification. She also bestows wealth and abundance, particularly on the young.

Goddess of Child Birth

Torches are a common attribute of birth Goddesses, possibly through the association of fire with purification, as are dogs, probably because of the ease with which the bitch gives birth.

The Genetyllides, divine midwives foreign to Greek religion, were sometimes identified with Hekate.

In the Troades of Euripides, Cassandra invokes the blessing of Hekate for her impending marriage, and it seems likely that childbirth and marriage would be associated.

From my personal experience of working with Hekate, I believe this is a key role. Perhaps the knife which Hekate so often carries cuts the umbilical cord that begins our lives as well as severing the ethereal link between the body and spirit at death.

Hekate as Guide

For the Archaic Greeks (800 to 500 BCE) Hekate’s role as spiritual guide was central. Hekate is almost always represented holding torches in Greek art, and one of Her best known mythological appearances is as guide to Persephone as She travels from Hades to the Earth. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter Hekate is portrayed as a nurturing and protective guide for Persephone on these annual journeys.

Goddess of Transitions

A common theme running through Hekate’s story is transition: She is guardian of doorways, She watches over birth and death, and She guides the initiate who dares to pass between the worlds. I believe that this is the heart of Hekate’s role.

Liminal spaces, the transitional state from one fixed point to another, are fearful to most people. Hekate guides us across the borders, and because the crossing is fearful, She is often feared by association. But if we honor Hekate, She will serve as a guide in the most difficult and traumatic changes we can know: birth, initiation and death.

Hekate and the Mysteries

Hekate not only had a role in the mysteries of Eleuis; mystery cults of Hekate existed on Aegina and Samothace. Beyond that, little is known, but intriguing clues remain: The tombstone of a Thracian woman initiate claims that she has been immortalized in death as the ‘goddess Hekate’.

The Natural World

All wild animals are sacred to Hekate & She sometimes appears three headed as dog, horse & bear or dog, snake & lion. But the creatures of darkness & of the earth are most sacred to Her; ravens, owls, crows, snakes & dragons. The frog, significantly a creature that can cross between two elements, is also sacred to Hekate and the Egyptian goddess Heqit.

The yew, cypress, hazel, black poplar and the willow are all sacred to Hekate. The leaves of the black poplar are dark on one side & light on the other, symbolizing the boundary between the worlds.

The yew has long been associated with the Underworld. It is the longest living creature in Europe, and naturally ‘resurrects’ itself: As the central trunk dies, a new tree grows within the rotting core. This ability may be why it is so often found in graveyards as a symbol of eternal life. In Brittany it is believed that the yew sends a root to the mouth of each corpse, allowing the spirit to escape and be reborn.

The yew has strong associations with death as well as rebirth. A poison prepared from the seeds was used on arrows, and yew wood was commonly used to make bows and dagger hilts.

The potion in Hekate’s cauldron contains ‘slips of yew’. Yew berries carry Hekate’s power, & can bring wisdom or death. The seeds are highly poisonous, but the fleshy, coral-colored ‘berry’ surrounding it is not, and if prepared correctly can bring inspirational visions.

Many other herbs and plant were associated with Hekate, including garlic, almonds, lavender, myrrh, mugwort, cardamom, mint, dandelion, hellebore, and lesser celandine. Several poisons and hallucinogens are linked to Hekate, including belladonna, hemlock, mandrake, aconite (Classically known as hecateis), and opium poppy.

Dandelion tea is used to call spirits and is said to enhance psychic ability.

Snakes:
In ancient Greece snakes were the creatures most commonly associated with the dead, and it was commonly believed that the dead could appear as snakes. Several images of Hecate show Her holding a snake. Snakes have long been connected with chthonic powers and the uncommon wisdom of the Other world. I believe that the way the snake sheds it’s skin to be ‘reborn’ symbolizes the changes we all make in our lives, the transformations that Hekate can help us through.

Dogs:
The dog is the animal most commonly associated with Hekate, and She was sometimes addressed as the ‘Black she dog’. Black dogs were once sacrificed to Her in purification rituals, and at Colophon in Samothrace Hekate could manifest as a dog. The sound of barking dogs is the first sign of Her approach in Greek and Roman literature:

“The Earth began to bellow, trees to dance
And howling dogs in glimmering light advance
Ere Hekate came.”

The Aeneid, book VL. Virgil.

Ovid writes that Hekate could be conjured up from darkness “with long howls.” There is evidence of an old belief that the souls of the unburied dead could appear as dogs. Hekate is sometimes identified with the with three-headed dog Kerebos, who guards the entrance to Hades, and there may be connections with the Egyptian dog-headed god Annubis, who conducted souls to the Underworld.

Dogs were also associated with deities like Hekate with who watched over childbirth, probably because of the ease with which the bitch gives birth.

The dog is also well known as a guardian of the house, standing at the font door to stand watch, and this seems to relate to Hekate’s role as guardian (Hekate Propylaia).

Gods and Goddesses

Hekate has close links with Hermes. As messenger of the Gods, it was Hermes who would sometimes guide the dead to the Underworld, & some say that Hekate & Hermes were lovers who parented Circe. Hekate also had a son, Museus, the ‘muse man’. Statues to Hermes (Herms) often stood with those to Hekate (Hecteria). In later myth Hermes transmitted Hekate’s predictions from the Underworld. Hekate was associated with several other gods including Apollo, Pan, Asclepius, and Zeus in various forms.

At various times Hekate has been identified with other deities such as Ereschigal, the Babylonian goddess of the Underworld, the Thessalian Enodia and Brimo, the Sicilian Angelos, Iphigenia and especially Artemis. In fact later Orphic literature scarcely differentiates between Hekate and Artemis as far as titles and power are concerned. She is closely associated with Persephone and in Roman times, Diana. In later times Hekate shared Hernes’ reputation of leading the ‘Wild Hunt’.

In later myths Hekate is accompanied by the Erinyes (also called the Furies), who hounded those who broke the taboos of insult, disobedience or violence to a mother.

Sacred times & places

Hekate is most properly worshipped in liminal places, especially at a crossroad where three roads meet. The Ancient Greeks would erect statues (hecataea) of Hekate Trevia (‘Hekate of the Three Ways’) at crossroads in Her honor. The crossroads symbolize Hekate’s triple nature & Her all seeing ability. Here travelers may ask for protection on their journeys, or witches meet to learn Her mysteries.

The ancient grove near Lake Averno in Italy has long been sacred to Hekate.

Samhain is especially significant to Hekate, but several Festival days are celebrated in Her honor: The 13th August is the time to ask for Her blessing on the coming harvest, for as Goddess of Storms Hekate has the power to destroy the crop before it can be cut.

November 16th is Hekate Night.

In some traditions January 31st is the night that Hekate hands Her torch to Brigid, whose arrival is celebrated at Imbolc. This seems to parallel the cycle of the Holly King and the Oak King, who each rule one half of the year: Hekate carries the torch through the dark half of the year, while Brigid takes it for the light half. Some suggest that Hekate and Brigid are sisters who share the torch.

All this may seem very odd, given that Hekate is Greek and Brigid Celtic. But traditional beliefs that evolve over time may have little to do with historical origins. Both Goddesses are very ancient, and have been worshipped in Britain for centuries, so who is to say what relationship may have developed between them?

Hekate is traditionally worshipped on the eve of the New Moon or the 30th of the month, when ‘Hekate’s Suppers’ would be prepared. The Greeks originally reckoned time by lunar months, so this day originally fell on the 30th. Later, when Greece adopted a reformed calendar which no longer took account of the lunar cycle, the 30th. remained sacred to Hekate. The 30th. of the month of the month was also sacred to the dead. This was the time to purify the house and to take offerings to Hekate.

Offerings

Appropriate foods include red mullet, (a scavenging fish that was taboo in other cults), sprat, breadstuffs, raw eggs, cheese, garlic, cake and honey. In Ancient Greece none of the household would touch the food for ‘Hekate’s Supper’, but for those making an offering as Her Priesthood this is probably not a concern.

Ideally the offerings are left at a crossroads and you should leave without looking back.

Plutarch reports that these offerings were not only for Hekate but also to placate the apotropaioi, the restless ghosts. K.F Smith suggests that these offerings are in fact a “variation of the primitive cult of the dead.” Little round cakes called amphiphôn decorated with lit miniature torches were also offered on the eve of the New or Full Moon. Smith suggests that this practice was derived from Hekate’s close relationship to Artemis.

This practice has a very long history. The Christian Church was still trying to stop people leaving offerings at the crossroads as late as the 11th Century, and it is certainly carried on today so it is entirely possible that there is an unbroken tradition.

I’ve heard (or read) Hekate particularly appreciates honey & magic mushrooms.

Symbols

Several symbols and objects are particularly associated with Hekate She is almost always shown carrying torches, very often has a knife, and may appear holding rope or scourge, a key, a phial, flowers or a pomegranate. The Greek cross (one with equal arms) is a symbol of Hekate at the crossroads.

At Hekate’s main Carian sanctuary at Lagina near Stratonicea the ritual carrying of a sacred key was part of Her cult. According to a hymn to Selene-Hekate, She keeps the keys that ‘open the bars of Kerberus.’ Sophocles wrote of a key on the tongue as an element of the Eleuisian mysteries.

Hekate appears as a single figure or with three faces or bodies. Three has long been a sacred number, and this seems relevant to the mystery of Hekate.

Red henna was used by worshippers to stain their hands and feet, probably symbolizing blood.

Priesthood

Hekate was served by Priestesses and Priests, some of whom were ritually castrated and transgendered (the Semnotatoi). Her priesthood were also known as Demosioi, a name which suggests belonging to a tribe.

The main functions of Hekate’s priesthood were casting horoscopes, performing spells, and maintaining the temples and sacred groves. A key function seems to have been directing choruses of flower-garlanded children, singing hymns of praise to Hekate.

Did you know about Hecate and Dragon?

(Excerpts from “The Woman’s Dictionary, Symbols and Sacred Objects” by B. Walker – http://www.scribd.com/doc/37175028/From-the-Forest-Archives-Dragons)

Information on the Dragons of Hecate is hard to come by. The only things that have been found is related to Hecate’s three-fold nature (the three crossroads represent the gate to the realm of the Dragon) and Hecate’s old title of “propylaia” – ‘she who stands before the gate’. Hecate’s Hounds, the three-headed dog Cerberus who guards the gate to the Underworld and the Dragon seem related to some remote mythos that may have come out of Egypt or Asia Minor, where the dog replaced the Dragon. As one of the original Titans, Hecate is an ancient who has undergone many transformations over the ages, and her relationship with the Dragon was one of the oldest associations. If you know of or discover anything else, please let me know!

Hekate Greek Cross – Before Christianity, the Greek Cross was an emblem of Hecate as the Goddess of Crossroads. Like the infinity sign or the ankh, it also represented union of male and female principles as vertical and horizontal members, respectively. Then it became a plus sign: one-plus-the-other.

Crossroads – Witches were said to hold Sabbats at crossroads, for the reason that in the ancient world crossroads were sacred to the Goddess Hecate, the Lady of the Underworld in pagan belief, the Queen of Witches in Christian belief. Her images and those of Hermes and Diana stood at crossroads throughout the Roman empire, until they were replaced by crosses during the Christian era. The Roman word for crossroads was compita, and the Lares compitales or crossroad spirits were regularly honored at roadside shrines during festivals called Compitalia. Christians continued to honor the chthonian deities at crossroads until they were persecuted for doing so, when the elder (Hecate) deities were newly defined as devils. In the tenth century A.D. it was ordered that any woman must be sentenced to a three-year fast if she was found guilty of dedicating her child at a crossroads to the Earth Mother.We know the Crossroads are Hecate’s, but here is some amusing information:

The classic Greek herm was a phallic pillar dedicated to the god of magic and of crossroads. Hermes, whose head appeared at the top. Herms were usually plain shafts without projections except for the realistic phallus in front; some, however, had short crossbeams, probably drawn from identification between Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth, his counterpart in the south, whose image was the ankh or Key of Life. Herms guarded nearly all the important crossroads of Greece and the Roman empire, where they were named for the Roman Hermes, Mercury. Hermes and Hecate were worshiped together as lord and lady of crossroads, which were magical places because they always symbolized choices. Sometimes the herms were called Lares compitales, the crossroad spirits, to whom offerings were made and for whom there were special festivals called Compitalia. In the Christian era, the numerous herms at crossroads throughout Europe were replaced by stone crosses.

A mysterious incident occurred in 415 B.C. – at the height of a very patriarchal period in Athens, where public thoroughfares were protected by hundreds of herms. The night before the Athenians were to launch an expedition against Sicily was what came to be know as the night of the Mutilation or Castration of the Herms. In the morning, almost all the city’s herms were found with their penises knocked off. The culprits were never discovered, but it is believed they were militant Athenian women, using this threatening magical gesture to protest against the war.

Amulet – A Greek text gives directions for preparing a phylacterion or “amulet of undertaking”. It is to be a lodestone, cut in the shape of a heart and engraved with an image of the Goddess Hecate.

Basket – Basket-making was a female craft, so baskets were often sacred to the Goddess as agriculturist and harvest spirit. Baskets were carried by Moon-goddesses like Diana and Hecate, of whom Porphyry wrote: “The basket which she bears when she has mounted high is the symbol of the cultivation of the crops which she made to grow up according to the increase of her light”

Gate – Hecate was viewed as the guardian of both crossroads and gates – especially the gate of birth, since the Goddess was represented as a divine midwife and frequently invoked for assistance in childbirth and as the Goddess of the underworld “Destroyer” who ruled the gates of death. Much allegorizing was employed (by the Christian church) to conceal the fact that the gate was another emblem of female genitals, the gate through which life emerged at birth, and into which at least a part of a man might pass (to a higher vibration into the mysteries, symbolic death of phallic spirit).

Fairy – Yes, Fairy – read on…The fairy-tale image of the fairy as a tiny female sprite with butterfly wings and antennae seems to have been drawn from the classic Greek Psyche, which means “soul” and also “butterfly”. Like elves, the fairies were originally the souls of the pagan dead, in particular those matriarchal spirits who lived in the pre-Christian realm of the Goddess. Sometimes the fairies were called Goddesses themselves. In several folk ballads the Fairy Queen is addressed as “Queen of Heaven.” Welsh fairies were known as “the Mothers” or “the Mothers’ Blessing.” Breton peasants called the fairies God-mothers, or Good Ladies, or Fates from which comes fay (la fee), from the Latin fata. They claimed that, like Medusa or Circe, a fairy could transform a man into an animal or turn him to stone. Most medieval sources reveal, however, that the fairies were perceived as real women, of ordinary size, with supernatural knowledge and powers. Their Queen was their Goddess, under such names as Titania (Gaea, ancient mother of the Titans), Diana, Venus, Sybil, Abundia (“Abundance”) and Hecate.

Hounds – It seems that women were the first to domesticate the dog, because dogs were companions of the Goddess in may cultures, long before gods or men appeared with canine companions. Dogs accompanied Hecate in Greece. Dogs were accredited for being able to see the dead (ghosts) and other spirits.The ancients were also very impressed with canine keenness of another sense, the sense of smell. Pairs of dogs ere stationed at the gates of death (as on the Tarot card of the Moon) to detect the “odor of sanctity” and decide whether the soul could be admitted to the company of the gods. Three-headed Cerberus guarded the door of Hecate’s underworld.

Frog – Frogs were sacred to the Egyptian midwife of the gods, the Crone-Goddess Hekit, prototype of the Greeks’ Hekate (Hecate). The frog probably represented the human fetus, which it roughly resembles. Because little frogs, appearing with the first signs of the annual Nile Flood, were heralds of life-giving fertility in Egypt, people placed frog amulets on mummies to help them find rebirth. Mother Hekit’s “Amulet of the Frog” bore the words, “I Am the Resurrection.”

Henna – Also known as Egyptian privet or mignonette, henna produces a red dye that was very important to the women of antiquity. Its red color was associated with their own life-giving “magic blood.” They identified themselves with the Goddess by staining their hands and feet with henna. This was a custom of Greek women who worshiped Hecate.

Wolfbane, Aconite – The classic mythological origin of aconite was the saliva of the Three-headed underworld dog Cerberus. The plant sprang up when drops of slaver fell across the fields when Cerberus was dragged up to the earth’s surface by Hercules. Because it was originally sacred to Hecate, the queen of the underworld, the plant used to be called hecateis.

Willow – Willow wands are used for divination and casting of the circle. The Greeks virgin form of Hecate was Helice, meaning “Willow”. Helice guarded Mount Helicon, the home of the Muses. Her willow wand was a cosmic symbol connected with the stars. The pole-encircling constellation of Ursa Major was sometimes known as Helice’s Axle.