This is an article I wrote to Spiritual Journeys Magazine online a couple of years ago.
Hekate is one of my favorite goddesses. The way she has been seen during the times has changed much - from the golden handmaiden of Aphrodite to the dark crone representing everything foul and disgusting - Her story is the story of the witches.
Hekate is the guardian of the thresholds, crossings and portals. I just received a very interesting article about these today - Beyond The Fields We Know - On Thresholds and Liminal Places - and after reading, began to think. There are these "liminal spaces" everywhere... the space between the grass and the street - or the pavement and the street... it isn't the grass, it isn't the pavement, it isn't the street... what is it?
I saw the world and thought about how we pass through liminal spaces thousands of times every day - every time we go through a doorway, we pass through Hekate's queendom. Every time we open a window... or when we enter the bath or shower... from air to water, from water to air...
I think this thought is very exiting, yet a little scary as well.
Then, we have a little threshold between each and every pavement stone.
I remembered the movie, As Good As It Gets - where Jack Nicholson plays a man with obsessive compulsive disorder. He couldn't step on the cracks in the street.
I wondered how many of the people with obsessive compulsive disorder have it because of Hekate. Are they being so sensitive, and don't want to disturb Her, or is She giving them hard time?
There is also a Finnish belief that to step on the threshold gives one very bad luck. Hekate, again?
Hekate is an elusive Goddess. She is often depicted having three faces, seeing everything, and no-one sees the same face when looking at Her. She is young and old at the same time, beautiful and ugly, dark and light, good and evil, kind and terrifying. The same quality is shared with liminal spaces. It is believed that one can get everywhere through these portals, like through the silent forest in C.S.Lewis' Magician's Nephew. If you dare, you can get to the Elphame and Fairyland through any door. It doesn't need to be an old wardrobe made of magical apple tree...
Hekate is a Goddess of the witches. Hekate helped Medea, Circe and Dido in their work.
Magic is using these small places where everything is possible to wiggle the reality, just a little bit. Magic and witches exist and have power and because of this people are afraid of it. Fairy tales and beliefs have been diminished into childish babble; witches and Hekate have been painted black and covered with ashes and dirt; lies and slander, to diminish their power.
Hekate is the Goddess of death in her role as the Guardian of thresholds, even the one between life and death. She is the Patroness of all who work with life and death. Midwives and healers, morticians and even priests who bless the dead into the grave. They are all under Hekate's protection. In the beginning of civilisation, all this was done by the shamans and witches. People remember, in the deep with born sense, all this, and react to witches with the same feeling they react to death.
As all portals, even the gateway between life and death can work both ways. It is possible for the dead to come back, it is possible to reach inside the world of the dead and talk with people there, if Hekate allows it. This is one reason to why Hekate is the Lady of Hidden Knowledge.
Another is that Hekate is the Mistress of the threshold between sleep and wake. She rules the dimension of lucid dreams and astral travel, meditation and trance.
Hekate gave the Sibyllas their power.
Hekate is also the Goddess of madness - madness being when people can no longer separate the real from the surreal; dreams, fantasies and illusions from the reality. Those who are "mad" live in Hekate's world all the time.
I don't know if "mad"people are mad, or if they only see the world differently. I suppose some people see me as crazy.
Hekate plays a big role in the legend of Demeter and Persephone. She was the only one who knew what had happened. She lead Demeter to Persephone, and every year she leads Persephone out from the Underworld and back there again in Autumn.
Hekate was the daughter of Night - Her mother was Nyx and father Perses Astraios (Destroyer the Starry One). She is depicted carrying two torches, which she used in the war against Titans very successfully. She is also called "Golden" and in the Orphic Hymns she is said to wear saffron clothes. I believe that this refers to Her position as the Goddess of thresholds - again - because the dusk and dawn are thresholds as well. The dusk is not yet night, but not the evening either; the dawn is no longer night but not yet morning.
All this gives Hekate enromous significance. There is no area of life where She doesn't exist, because the liminal spaces are averywhere. She is the thirteenth of Olympian Gods, but not really one of them. Zeus himself acknowledges Hekate being the most powerful of them all, and the other Gods ask Her for help and advice whenever needed. She has the ultimate power over heavens, earth and seas.
Hekate is ofter seen with a black dog, or Kerberos. There are several stories about the origin of Her dog, and several stories where especially evil women or the devl are transformed into black dogs.
Another animals sacred to Hekate are the weasel family; polecats, martens and weasels.
(My husband asked me to add the polar bears. They have black skin and in spite the fact that their fur is actually colorless, it looks white. Polar bears (and tigers) are the only creatures who are not afraid of humans, and they are seen as great teachers by the people who share their living space. If a polar bear, the greatest of all predators moving on earth, wants to be invisible, he gets invisible.)
Some interesting links:
A whole site filled with information on Hekate; myths, images, rituals and other such information. There is also a good reference libray and background information on basic witchcraft.
Here also is very much information of Hekate, dedication and chants, magic, spells and other information.
Very good page with quotes from Greek and Roman literature
About the Egyptian Goddess Heqet