Tuesday, 10 November 2009


This is Hecate – Queen of the Night

Hecate is the Greek goddess known as Queen of the Night. She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Her name means ‘the distant one’.

At this time of the year, all things become dark. The nights are dark and long and the mornings too are dark. It is as if we are going down a tunnel: down and down we go like a bulb buried deep in the earth. Hecate comes with us for it is her time of the year.

Every woman has three important phases of her life - the maiden phase, the mother phase and the crone phase. I am now in the crone phase. I wish I was still in the maiden phase. I would like to go back with the wisdom I have now and do it all again: but with age comes wisdom and that is where I am. I need Hecate beside me to meet the challenges of this part of my life.

Hecate is often depicted as having three heads, each head looking in a different direction. It follows that she is known as the goddess of the crossroads. The heads are usually shown as a snake, a horse and a boar. With the wisdom of age comes the ability to look at a problem from three perspectives.

She carries a torch, a rope and a knife and is accompanied on her journeys by an owl. The torch is needed because she is the goddess of the dark. She has a luminous quality like a ghost or a willo-the-wisp. She walks in graveyards in the dark phase of the moon.

The rope and the knife are symbols of her willingness to help women in childbirth. The rope is symbolic of the umbilical cord and the knife would be used to cut through the cord allowing the child to take on a life of its own. She, herself, was not inclined to take a husband. The knife also severs the link between the spirit and the body at the time of death.

She is probably the most mysterious goddess, known as the Crone to Wiccans. She is the spirit of black magic with an ability to see into the underworld. She is the ultimate ‘wise woman’ and people call upon her to use her influence over ghosts and spirits who travel the earth, to keep the spirits out of their homes. It was customary to leave food for her at the crossroads where three roads meet. Ancient cultures revered the aged. I'm not sure it is like that these days.

Hecate takes care of the homeless and the destitute and is a protector of women, particularly during childbirth.

She is the protector of entrances. Barking dogs announce her arrival.

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

Sacred herbs associated with Hecate and at this time of the year are garlic, almonds, lavender, myrrh, cardamom, mint, dandelion, hellebore and lesser celandine. She is sometimes seen holding a pomegranate, the fruit of the underworld, eaten by Persephone.