Hekate was originally said to be the daughter of Titans, Perses and Asteria. At a later time her parentage was given as Zeus and Hera. The Greeks called her “The Hag of the Dead.” She was also called “the most lovely one” which is a title for the moon.
Hekate’s home is in the Underworld, but she has power everywhere. She is a goddess of the Moon, of the Underworld, and of magic. Also she is considered the protectress of flocks and of sailors.
The owl is her messenger, and the willow, her tree. It is said that she rides a chariot pulled by dragons.
Hekate is a Goddess of liminal time and space. She is the bridge between worlds. Because of that, She is also considered the Goddess of crossroads. She is a deity who rules the places outside of the boundaries of civilization.
She belongs to the class of torch bearing deities, and is conceived as carrying a burning torch to suit the belief that she is the nocturnal goddess of the moon and a huntress who knew her way into the realm of spirits. She is depicted wearing a gleaming headdress of stars. All the secret powers of Nature are at her command. She has control over birth, life, and death. Because of her power in the three areas of nature, heaven and earth she is represented as a triple form. She is called the triple goddess. She is often depicted as three female figures or as one with three animal heads, of horse, dog and bear, and sometimes of three dogs. All wild animals were sacred to her.
She is considered goddess of the world of the dead, of night and darkness, and mistress of all the witchcraft and black arts. It is important to remember that before Christianity the underworld was not the evil place it is considered today, but rather, the resting place of the dead.
During the Middle Ages, Hecate became known as Queen of Witches. She was especially diabolized by Catholic authorities who said the people most dangerous to the faith were precisely those whom Hekate patronized: the midwives.
Hekate is looked upon as a goddess of fertility, whose torch is carried over freshly sown fields to symbolize the fertilizing power of moonlight.
In figurines of Hekate, she takes on the form of a pillar called Hecterion. One statue shows her with three heads and six arms, bearing three torches and three sacred emblems, a key, rope, and dagger. With the key to the underworld, Hekate unlocks the secrets of the occult mysteries and knowledge of afterlife. The rope symbolizes the umbilical cord of rebirth and renewal. The Dagger or Athame is a symbol of ritual power.
Hekate is the protectress of far off places, roads, and byways. At night during the dark moon, Hekate can be seen walking the road with her howling dogs and torches. In Greece, statues of her stood at crossroads where the traveler faced three choices. Food offerings called “Hekate’s Supper” were left there late at night on the eve of the full Moon. The person leaving the food walked away without looking back, for they were afraid to confront the goddess face to face. This was a way of honoring the threefold goddess where one could look three ways at once.
In stories of Hekate, she is often accompanied by her dogs, by Hermes, and her priestesses, Circe and Medea who it is said in some histories were Hekate’s daughters. Her dog who is her sacred animal, was offered to her as a sacrifice. The appearance of black howling dogs at night meant that Hekate was near, and their barking announced her approach.
Hekate and her dogs are said to journey over the graves of the dead to search for souls of the departed and they carry them to refuge in the underworld.
Hekate also enjoys the company of the Furies. It is said that the Furies hound and punish offenders who broke the taboo of insult, disobedience, or violence to a mother.
The Three Way Place Hekate as originally from Thrace and Anatolia. Also known as Hecuba, Her name means “influence from afar”. She has been seen sometimes to have three bodies, allowing her to be all-seeing and all-knowing. She has also been depicted with three heads, those of a lion, a horse, and a dog.