I am no historian and what I don’t know about ancient Greece could (and does) fill libraries. However, there is an at least modern notion that today, August 13th, was traditionally a feast day dedicated to Hecate or, in some tellings, to Hecate and Artemis (you know those Virgin Goddesses; they all look alike).
In my favorite version of the story, today is the day to propitiate Hecate in order to receive her protection against the kind of violent storms that can, at least in my watershed, come along at this time of year and destroy the crops that sit out in the fields, almost ready for harvest. As a gardener, I do know how painful it can be to work all year and be on the verge of harvest, only to lose everything. (Dodder, I’m looking at you and counting the French Tarragon plants I’ve had to sacrifice in the last few weeks. And it’s not a nice look.) This is a liminal time, and so it makes sense to me that it would be dedicated to Hecate, Goddess of the Crossroads and the Threshold. After all that work, the gardens are on the cusp of either providing bounty to get the gardener and hir community through to next Spring or of being ruined by a violent late-Summer storm. And, as if on schedule, my beautiful, poison brugmansias are in bloom today in honor of the Queen of Poisoners.
The other day, there was an interesting debate in The Wild Hunt Blog comments about what Hecate looks like. When She comes to me, she mostly looks BIG, HUGE, AS LARGE AS GALAXIES. But here are a few images of her that I especially like:
First, this one, found here. I have this image on one of Lunea’s rosaries that I often wear.
Finally, here She is in Macbeth:
Hymn to Hekate
Swathed in red is Hekate.
Hooded in red is Hekate.
Red-hemmed Artemis lift aloft your burning torch.
And bring the trumpet of the nocturnal hunt.
The flow of life is in the hands of Hekate,
And her burning light guides the way.
Terror-ridden roar of the bull is the trumpet’s blast,
And the hounds bay in search of their prey.
The beasts of the woods shudder in their homes,
And a scream fills the night air.
None is safe from the nocturnal hunt,
And Hekate guides the host of of souls to their new abode.
The light of Hekate does not flicker,
But illuminates the halls of the dead,
And exalts in the company of fair Persephone.
Bloodied red Hekate, we leave your monthly feast,
At the site of your throne.
Red swathed Hekate has all roads lain before her,
And merciful Godess greets those unfortunate to share her plate.
The touch of Hekate is merciful, and in her embrace we depart.