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Hecate or Hekate (in ancient Greek Ἑκάτη) is a goddess in Greek religion and mythology, usually depicted holding one or two torches, a snake, keys, and accompanied by dogs, and variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, night, light, magic, protection from witchcraft or witchcraft as such, the Moon, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, graves, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery in addition to be considered a protector of the household[1] and much more as described later on. She would also be later on known by the Romans as Trivia, represented three-formed, including to have extra heads of animals (cow, dog, boar, serpent, and horse)[2] or triple-bodied, and considered a protector of crossroads and travellers, appearing in the Chaldean oraclesWikipedia as Mother of Angels, the Anima mundi and as Savior.


Due to the paucity of myths surrounding Hecate, the so many conflicting associations she has with other Greek deities, her strangely powerful nature described as having powers over land, sea, and air in HesiodWikipedia's TheogonyWikipedia even next to ZeusWikipedia (the chief deity of the pantheon), and lack of consistent parentage (her either being considered daughter of the Titans PersesWikipedia and AsteriaWikipedia or of Zeus and DemeterWikipedia, thus sister of PersephoneWikipedia), she's often considered by scholars to be a foreign deity absorbed in the Greek pantheon. Leading theories suggesting she came from one of several places:

  • A much different Anatolian, in Turkey goddess of animals, fertility, and nature, i.e., similar to Greek ArtemisWikipedia[4]
  • An also Anatolian Sun goddess with ties to the Underworld that over time went by the associations she's most known for[5]

A Greek origin cannot be ruled out or even that she was around before such times.[6]


Hecate was strongly associated with dogs, which were considered her sacred animals and often offered to her in sacrifice,[7]:67 showing also an association with childbirth and her being a mother goddess,[8]:211-212 as well as with the polecat.Wikipedia Among plants, the yewWikipedia was considered sacred to her[9]:28 as were plants known to be poisonous, of medical usage, or psychoactive, and garlicWikipedia offerings were typical.[10]:143[11]:71


As noted above, Hecate was associated with borders, city walls, doorways, crossroads and, by extension, with realms outside or beyond the world of the living being a liminal deityWikipedia with strong ties to the underworld,[12]:14 having been mixed with the Sumerian goddess of the UnderworldWikipedia Ereshkigal,Wikipedia witchcraft often depicted then having much less nice looks (a "rotting goddess" with a "pallid decaying body", who has to "wear a mask when [she] visit[s] the gods in heaven"),[13] and the Moon even if this seems to be of later origins, conflating her with lunar goddesses as Artemis or Selene.Wikipedia[14]:62-63, to the point the three were pretty much interchangeable in Roman times (known in Rome as respectively Diana, Luna, and Trivia)[15]

Some of these few myths surrounding Hecate consider the goddess to be nicer and more compassionate than other deities in the same mythos, at least by their standards, including to have cast a baleful polymorph spell upon transformed the Trojan queen HecubaWikipedia into her dog after she had drowned,[16] having adopted GalanthisWikipedia after he was transformed into a polecat, that in those times were thought to mate through the ear and give birth through the mouth, for having messed with the gods feeling sorry for him,[17] and especially according to the Homeric Hymn to DemeterWikipedia having helped such goddess to look for her daughter Persephone after the latter had been kidnapped by Hades,Wikipedia lending the former her torch(es) in some retellings of the myth, accompanying Demeter on the search for her daughter, and befriending Persephone in the Underworld giving her a sightseeing tour of it becoming her assistant and staying with her,[18] with Hecate because of that being also featured in the Eleusinian MysteriesWikipedia together with Demeter and Persephone. Likewise, the Orphic Hymn to Hecate described her as wearing saffron-colored robes ("Krokopeplos") which is certainly quite different to her typical depiction as a goddess dressed in dark robes[19].


Hecate is still held today in high regard in Neopaganism, occupying a prominent place in Wicca and other similar traditions as a goddess of magic and witchcraft including to ask for her help to summon and control spirits. Other Neopagans prefer to celebrate a DeipnonWikipedia the day of the new Moon, so when she's wandering around with her retinue of spirits will have something to eat (either Hecate or poor people who stumbles upon the food, that is), with her triple nature being very prominent and being often considered the "crone" aspect of the Triple Goddess.Wikipedia[20] However, in ancient times, Hecate's three aspects had the same age, were considered to be the same goddess instead of independent ones,[note 1] and both the "maiden, mother, and crone" and the symbol of the triple Moon ("🌒🌕🌘") that is very associated with her today are modern inventions. She also appears in a number of popular culture works, where her association with magic and witchcraft is typically present, often mixing in of course the "Maiden, Mother, and Crone" triad,[21] some of course putting her as evil too because of such associations[22] while others are much closer to how she's portrayed in the myths.[23]

External links[edit]


  1. Note how in most statues of the goddess triple as those in the gallery below her three aspects appear in contact instead of separated


  1. Hellenic Household Worship. Labrys religious commentary.
  2. Bonnefoy, Yves; Doniger, Wendy (1992). Roman and European Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 195. "Hecate". Encyclopædia Britannica (article). 1823.
  3. McKechnie, Paul R.; Guillaume, Philippe (2008). Ptolemy the second Philadelphus and his world. BRILL. p. 133. ISBN 978-90-04-17089-6. 
  4. Burkert, Walter (1987). Greek Religion: Archaic and classical. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. p. 171. ISBN 0-631-15624-0. 
  5. Hecate: An Anatolian Sun-Goddess of the Underworld
  6. Robert S.P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek (2009), Brill, p. 396.
  7. Alberta Mildred Franklin, The Lupercalia, Columbia University, 1921
  8. Sarah Isles Johnson, Restless Dead: Encounters between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece. University of California Press, 2013. ISBN 0520217071
  9. Matthew Suffness (Ed.), Taxol: Science and Applications (Handbooks in Pharmacology and Toxicology). CRC Press, 1995. ISBN 084938382X
  10. Frederick J. Simoons, Plants of Life, Plants of Death. University of Wisconsin Press, 1998. ISBN 978-0-299-15900-9.
  11. Fragkiska Megaloudi, Plants and Diet in Greece From Neolithic to Classic Periods. Archaeopress, 2006. ISBN 1841719498
  12. Bonnie MacLachlan and Judith Fletcher, Virginity Revisited: Configurations of The Unpossessed Body. University of Toronto Press, 2007. ISBN 0802090133.
  13. Jacob Rabinowitz, The Rotting Goddess: The origin of the witch in classical antiquity's demonization of fertility religion. Autonomedia, 1998. ISBN 157027035X
  14. Sharynne MacLeod NicMhacha, Queen of the Night: Rediscovering the Celtic Moon Goddess. Weiser, 2005. ISBN 1578632846.
  15. Everything You Need To Know About Hecate (Maiden, Mother, Crone)
  16. Lycophron, Alexandra
  17. Metamorphoses, pp. 29
  18. Edwards, Charles M. (July 1986). "The Running Maiden from Eleusis and the Early Classical Image of Hekate". American Journal of Archaeology (Boston, Massachusetts: Archaeological Institute of America) 90 (3): 307–318. doiWikipedia:10.2307/505689. 
  19. Orphic Hymn to Hecate
  20. E.g. Wilshire, Donna (1994). Virgin mother crone: myths and mysteries of the triple goddess. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International. p. 213. ISBN 0-89281-494-2. .
  21. Hekate in popular culture
  22. Hecate. It seems Disney had not still enough with Hades
  23. A-Gnosis (DeviantArt). See "Queen of the Dead" especially