Hekate in the Living Orphic Tradition, A talk written for the Hekate Symposium, 2018
25 Tuesday Sep 2018
25 Tuesday Sep 2018
25 Tuesday Sep 2018
Classical Religion, Greek religion, Hekate, Hellenic, Hellenism, Hellenismos, Orpheus, Orphism, Paganism, Polytheism, Spirituality
First a little background about me and how I discovered this path and what I mean by the Living Orphic Tradition. As a small child my bedtime reading was the Greek myths. I was fascinated by tales of Gods and Heroes, and how the natural world was inhabited by nymphs and daemons, and by how closely entwined the realms of Gods and mortals were, and also, the wisdom and lessons about life; the importance of virtue and the heroic quest, of piety and honour, the dangers of Hubris (pride) and other moral lessons the myths contained.
My love of the Greek Gods was further inspired through school and college days through their appearance in English literature, from Chaucer to Shakespear and the English poets. At University I was introduced to Plato for the first time, as well as Classical Greek plays. I also at that time became involved first in Buddhism and Yoga, and then in the Fellowship of Isis, and began exploring various pagan traditions. Upon moving to Wales I was initiated into a Wiccan coven, with Wicca being my main path for several years, and living in Wales, also learned about the Welsh Celtic tradition, as well as studying Heathenry for a year or so. But the Greek Gods continued to call to me, and I wanted to honour them not just as part of an eclectic Wiccan or neo-pagan tradition, but to explore more traditionally Greek ways. I initially became involved in some online Hellenic pagan communities, had some good, some bad, some ugly and some crazy experiences, but eventually in my search I discovered (one version of) the living Orphic tradition, which I have been following for the past 4 years or so.
We are lucky that much has survived in terms of written and material evidence of Ancient Greek paganism, which gives those who wish to practice Reconstructionist Greek Religion a wealth of information from which to piece together the ancient religions. Although much has also been lost, far too much has also survived for the religion to ever have been destroyed completely. What’s more, the philosophies continued to be developed in the works of the Platonist philosophers over the following centuries up to the present day.
There are still families in Greece who have practiced pagan traditions passed down and practiced through generations, that have developed organically and naturally through the centuries, though firmly rooted in the myths, philosophies and spiritual practices of the ancient mystery traditions. Each family has its own traditions, and each is slightly or sometimes greatly different from the other. I have learned something of one of the family traditions from Greeks who are willing to share their tradition. This is very different to Hellenic Reconstructionism, which attempts to recreate mainstream rituals of Ancient and Classical Greece, but is a tradition which includes ideas and practices which have developed through the philosophical schools throughout the centuries, but based in the mystical traditions known as Orphic. The Orphic philosophical tradition is often very different to mainstream practices and beliefs, and the Theoi (The Gods) in particular may be interpreted very differently. Most pagans and Goddess worshippers are aware of Hekate’s role as Mistress of Magic and Goddess of Witchcraft, but in the Orphic tradition, Hekate’s role is a bit different. She is a Goddess who embodies Virtue and the mystic path, she is a savioress (Soteira) and mediator. She is considered to be the Advocate of the Virtuous. She is also seen as the World Soul, as described in the Chaldean Oracles and by the later Platonic philosophers.
First a bit about Orphism, as understood in the Living Tradition -Orphismos (or Orphism) is a mystery tradition or group of traditions, within Hellenismos (or Hellenism), closely connected with the Bacchic mysteries, and is often known as the Bacchic-Orphic mysteries. It can be seen as the religion of Dionysos, who in Orphismos is Soter, the Saviour. It is also closely connected with the Eleusinian mysteries, with Persephone also having an important role as Soteira, Saviouress. The Gold tablets often referred to as the Bacchic-Orphic tablets, which have been discovered in burials of Bacchic-Orphic initiates throughout ancient Greece and Rome, dating from the 5thCentury BCE to the 3rdCentury CE contain funerary inscriptions giving instructions for the afterlife, in which Persephone and Dionysos are petitioned, or where the intitiate is instructed to tell Persephone that they have been liberated by Dionysos Himself. For example a late 4thCentury BCE tablet from a woman’s grave in Pelinna, Thessaly says:
Now you have died and now you have come into being. O thrice happy one, on this same day.
Tell Persephone that the Bacchic One himself has released you…
As a bull you jumped into the milk,
Quickly you jumped into the milk…
You have wine as your fortunate honour
And below the earth there are ready for you the same prizes as for the blessed ones
And from another 4thCentury BCE grave of a woman:
I come from the pure, Queen of the Cthonian Ones
Eucles and Euboleus and the gods and other daimones
For I also claim to be of your happy race.
I have paid for the penalty of unrighteous deeds.
Either Moira overcame me or the star-flinger of lightnings.
Now I come as a suppliant to holy Persephone,
So that she may kindly send me to the seats of the pure.
(Eucles (Good Fame) and Euboleus (Good Counsel) are epithets of Dionysos, Euboleus is associated with the Eleusinian mysteries as a torchbearer, leading initiates back from the darkness of the Underworld)
And a rather interesting (but fragmentary and interspersed with untranslatable letters, possibly magical formulas) one from Italy, full of specifically Orphic references:
To Protogonos, Earth Mother, Cybele, Daughter of Demeter, Zeus, Air, Sun, Fire that overcomes, Fortune, Phanes, All-remembering Moirai, Father, Master of All correspondence, Air, Fire, Mother, Night, Day. Seventh Day of a Fast, Zeus who digs in, and Watcher over all, always, Mother hear my prayers, beautiful sacred things, sacred things, Demeter, Fire, Zeus, Cthonic Kore. Hero, light to the mind, the mindful one seizes Kore. Land, Air, to the mind.
And from the same area from a small tumulus:
I come from the pure, Queen of the Cthonian Ones
Eucles, Euboleus and the other immortal Gods
For I also claim to be of your happy race.
But Moira overcame me and the other immortal Gods and the star-flinger with lightning.
I have flown out of the heavy, difficult circle,
I have approached the longed-for crown with swift feet,
I have sunk beneath the breast of the Lady, the Cthonian Queen,
I have approached the longed for crown with swift feet,
“happy and blessed, you will be a god instead of a mortal”.
As a kid I fell into the milk.
Being a kid leaping into the milk is a common feature of the Orphic tablets, and its mystical interpretation at least in the tradition as I have learned it, is that the milk is the breast milk of Hera, Queen of the Gods, which is the milky way, and that the liberated soul is leaping out into the Kosmos, as a kid or a bull, which are animals associated with Dionysos, having flown out of “the heavy, difficult circle” of rebirth, being nourished by the wine-aethir of Dionysos, and deified, going forth as a god instead of a mortal, having achieved liberation and deification of the soul, which is the desired culmination of the Orphic path.
So what has all this got to do with Hekate you may ask? She is not mentioned in any of these Orphic tablets, so how in Orphism is Hekate Soteira, saviouress? Why do we need Her, when we have Persephone and Dionysos as Soteira/Soter? Well, Hekate obviously does have an important place in Orphismos, as it is significant that Her hymn appears at the beginning in the Orphic Hymns, immediately after the instruction To Mouseus. In the Orphic Hymn to Hekate, She is described as holding the keys to the whole Kosmos, and being venerated in Earth, Sea and Sky, as well as in the realm of the dead. She is therefore a Goddess who can traverse the realms, a psychopomp, walker between the worlds and guide of souls, much like Hermes. Hekate is also found in the Orphic Argonautica – Orpheus invokes her in order to gain entry into the grove which harbors the Krysómallon Dǽras, the Golden Fleece. In Orphic interpretation, the Golden Fleece symbolises the deified soul, and therefore, Hekate is opening the gateway to deification of the soul.
Hekate also had an important role in the Eleusinian mysteries, and was one of the chief Goddesses honored in them, alongside Demeter and Persephone. In the story of the abduction of Persephone and Demeter’s search for her daughter, Hekate was the one Goddess who aided Demeter, as she had heard the cries of Persephone as she was abducted by Ploutohn, and helped her in the search for her daughter, bearing torches to guide her. Hekate also became the chief hand-maiden of Persphone in Hades. As assistant to Demeter and hand-maid to Persephone, this subsidiary role might seem like a bit of a demotion to those who worship Hekate as The Great Goddess, Queen of the Earth, Sea and Sky, holder of the keys to the Kosmos etc.,
But in fact, in Orphismos, Hekate’s role as mediator is extremely important, and we need to understand what is meant by Her role as Mediator and Advocate of the virtuous. As the Goddess who is the Mediator between (in NeoPlatonic terms) the Intelligible and Sensible Realms, between the realm of Divine Forms and that of the Physical World, who facilitates passage from one realm to the other, It is Hekate who facilitates Persphone’s journey. Homer tells us in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, that “Queen Hekate was the preceder and the follower of Persephone, which conjures an image of Hekate as surrounding and protecting Persephone. Hekate is present at Persephone’s descent, and Her return, and as Her guide, companion and handmaiden, escorts Persephone on a very difficult and significant journey, and continues to escort Her across the boundary, and ease her transition, in Her annual descent and ascent. As Mistress of Souls, Hekate also escorts the dead back and forth across this same boundary.
It might be helpful at this stage to say a little about the basic principles of the living Orphic tradition as I have learned it, in order to give a context for understanding the importance of Hekate’s role as mediator and advocate of the virtuous. I have already mentioned the importance of Dionysos, Soter, the saviour, and Persephone Soteira, the saviouress in the tradition. Orphic myth says (at least in the version most commonly cited in this tradition), that Zeus seduced Persephone in the form of a serpent, and she subsequently gave birth to Zagreus (the first birth of Dionysos, known as Zeus’s first influence on the soul), whom Zeus intended to be his successor as king of the Gods. Zeus gave the infant Zagreus his staff, thunderbolts and throne. However, at the instruction of Hera, the Titans distracted the infant Zagreus with a number of toys (each of which has mystical significance). “A pine cone and a spinning top, and limb-moving rattles, and golden apples from the clear-toned Hesperides, where apples grew which bestowed mortality, dice, a sphere, a top, tufts of fleece and a mirror. Zagreus, was delighted with the toys, and abandoned his thunderbolts, and whilst He contemplated His changeling countenance reflected in the mirror, Mesmerised, beholding of Himself, He proceeded into the whole fabrication of the Universe. The Titans took that opportunity to seize Him, and destroyed Him with infernal knives. Seven parts of the Child in all did they divide between them.”
The toys of Dionysos all have mystical or magical significance – and the spinning top particularly is associated with Hekate (the Iynx-wheel), which is used to mediate between the realms and is associated with Iynges, or Daemons which mediate between the Divine and mortal realms, and which are under the dominion of Hekate.
When Zeus got to hear of this, He destroyed the Titans with thunderbolts, but the heart of Zagreus was saved and placed in a silver casket and taken by Athena to a place of safety. Zeus then created the races of mortals from the ashes of the Titans and the burned remains of the limbs of Zagreus. Thus the mortal races are created from the sinful substance of the Titans, which binds them to the cycle of death and rebirth; and the divinity of Dionysos Zagreus, through whom liberation may be achieved.
Zeus then made a potion from the heart of Zagreus, which he gave to Semele, semi-divine daughter of the Goddess Harmonia and the mortal King Cadmus to drink. Semele then became pregnant with the infant Dionysos, and the birth of Dionysos on earth through Semele is known as Zeus’s second influence on the soul. Dionysos is sent as a savior and liberator to aid us to escape from the cycles of rebirth and to achieve gnosis of our divinity and reunion with the Divine. Persephone, has an important role both as the first mother of Dionysos, and as compassionate receiver of souls who births us into the next life. Her role in myth of continually descending and ascending, represents the soul incarnating back into matter, and being liberated and reunited with the Divine.
Along with Dionysos, who may be seen as the central figure of Orphismos, the 12 Olympians are also honoured, each one having an important role in guiding the human soul on the path to liberation, and each also connected with a sign of the Zodiac, the wheel around the central hub that Dionysos represents.
The Orphic path itself can be said to have Four Pillars. The first is Akoi, “things heard”, which relates to the traditions, stories of the Gods, the myths, rituals, practices and philosophies. The second is Theurgy, which is Divine work, and in the tradition is seen as communion with deity through ritual and meditative practices. The third is Philosophia, which is the love of and striving for wisdom, and refers to intellectual work which endeavours to discover genuine truth and wisdom and to challenge our own ideas, the raw philosophy of Sokrates, rather than self-justifying philosophical theories. So, on the one hand, there is the tradition, what we are taught, and on the other there is our questioning of all beliefs and the scrutiny of everything with the rational eye of philosophy. The fourth pillar is perhaps the most important, and that is Areti, which may be translated as Virtue or Excellence. This is not the pursuit of glory as some understand the word due to the way it is used in ancient texts such as Homer’s Iliad, but is the source from which all virtues are generated. Plato said that Areti is a kind of harmony of the soul, a type of constant between one’s emotions and one’s reason. Plato also described four principle manifestations of Areti: Courage or fortitude, Temperance or Moderation, Wisdom and Justice. These are the four Cardinal Virtues of Classical Antiquity. The development of Areti involves understanding one’s place in the Kosmos and living in accordance with the Natural Laws, whilst seeking to develop ones Consciousness, and to be the best that one can be. In the living Orphic tradition the striving for and achievement of Areti is the most pleasing gift we can offer to the Gods. The Gods desire us to achieve Areti and endeavor to help us to achieve it, if we put the effort in.
Hekate, She who has Far-Shooting Power, is the mighty Goddess who is our greatest advocate in the pursuit of arætí (arete; Gr. ἀρετή), genuine virtue:
Hekate first appears in Greek literature in Hesiod, in Works and Days, which tells us:
“And Astæría conceived by Perses, and bare Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless Gods. For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favour according to custom, he calls upon Hekate. Great honour comes full easily to him whose prayers the Goddess receives favourably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with Her. For as many as were born of Gaia and Ouranos amongst all these She has her due portion. The son of Kronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was Her portion among the former Titan Gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because She is an only child, the Goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her. Whom She will, She greatly aids and advances: She sits by worshipful kings in judgment, and in the assembly whom She will is distinguished among the people. And when men arm themselves for the battle that destroys men, then the Goddess is at hand to give victory and grant glory readily to whom She will. Good is She also when men contend at the games, for there too the Goddess is with them and profits them: and he who by might and strength gets the victory wins the rich prize easily with joy, and brings glory to his parents. And She is good to stand by horsemen, whom She will: and to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hekate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, easily the glorious Goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so She will. She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if She will, She increases from a few, or makes many to be less. So, then, albeit Her mother’s only child, She is honoured amongst all the deathless Gods. And the son of Kronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Dawn. So from the beginning She is a nurse of the young, and these are her honours.”
This passage in Hesiod has sometimes been considered to be an Orphic intrusion into Works and Days, as it seems to appear out of nowhere, and does not follow the context of the rest of the work. Hekate was thought in Hesiod’s time to be a minor deity, yet Hesiod suddenly goes into a quite lengthy hymn of praise and exultation to Hekate, which appears to mark Her out as a very important deity. Yet following this passage, Hekate plays no further role in the Theogony. This Hymn to Hekate appears just before the account of the birth of Zeus and the other Olympians. Hekate is the last-born of the older Gods (with the exception of the sons of Iapetus). The Theogony concludes with the triumph of Zeus and the Olympian order, and the story of Prometheus and the creation of man and woman. The Olympians rule supreme, with Zeus at their head, yet we are told in the passage about Hekate that “Zeus honoured Hekate above all and gave Her splendid gifts, to have a share of earth and the sterile sea. And She also received a share of honur from the starry sky”. Here, the Greek is quite precise in saying that Hekate is not given earth, sea and sky, but that She is given (or rather retains) a share of honor on earth, heavens and sea. The notion of a portion or share is repeated throughout the Hymn. During the battle with the Titans, Zeus promised all who aided Him on his side, that they would be allowed to keep the honur they held previously, and whoever had been without honur or privilege under Cronos would receive both. Hekate does not appear to have a role in the Titonomachy, or to render any special services to Zeus, yet She not only keeps Her honours but receives new ones. The text stresses that it is Zeus who honours Her, not the other way round, as if Zeus Himself sees the importance of keeping in Hekate’s favour, and maintaining Her functions in His new regime. Helate is called Mounogenes “only daughter”, indicating Her unique position over the three Cosmic Realms. Hekate’s powers over the lives of men are also listed, and it is clear that Hekate’s good will will assure the success of every human endeavor, but it is also clear, that this is given in conjunction with other deities, as can be seen from this passage:-
“to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hekate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, easily the glorious Goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so She will. She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if She will, She increases from a few, or makes many to be less”
In this passage, prayers to Hekate work in conjunction with prayers to Poseidohn in the first instance, and to Hermes in the second instance. Similarly, She grants, pre-eminence in war, and brings Victory and Glory, yet this is the realm of Nike, who dwells with Zeus and with Athena. Hekate therefore has extensive, but not fully independent powers. She has an influence in each realm, but manifests Her powers in areas which belong to other Gods or to a diversity of Gods. But, in each sphere, it is the good will of Hekate that ensures success. If Hekate’s good will is absent, the implication is that prayers and offerings will be useless and failure will follow.
In the Living Orphic Tradition, Hekate is called the Advocate of the Virtuous, because it is by cultivating Areti, or Virtue, that one can win the favour of the Goddess who has the power over success or failure in all realms.
So, Ækáti is the mighty advocate of the virtuous who holds our hands while we pray, allowing the Agathós Daimohn, (Gr. Ἀγαθὸς Δαίμων), represented by Her dogs, to take our prayers to the Gods. The agathas daimones can take our supplications to be heard by the Olympian Gods. Hekate will always listen to those who strive for virtue, and Her dogs will take our prayers to the Olympians, advocating on our behalf.
When a person decides to commit to a life of virtue, the Gods take notice, as though their eyes open wide; and they move close to us and give help, for they know that this is a difficult road and they find such an endeavor beautiful. Ækáti is particularly interested in the souls of those who embark on this pursuit. She assists the suppliant and works alongside Athiná(Athena; Gr. Ἀθηνᾶ) who, according to the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogonyis virtue itself.
Ækáti is often considered a “dark” Goddess and is often connected with witchcraft and magic. Ækáti is called Nyktǽria (Gr. Νυκτέρια), an epithet meaning “of the night”. This is because, like the GoddessNyx, Ækáti operates in areas that are generally unknown to mortals and inaccessible to the rational mind, hence they are hidden from us as though concealed by night. But Ækáti is the daughter of Astæría, the starry one, and Pǽrsis, who is also connected with the stars and fire; therefore, even though her parents are connected with the night, they are of the stars, celestial bodies which give light, but which can only be perceived in darkness. One of Ækáti’s epithets is phohsphóros (phosphorus; Gr. φωσφόρος), an epithet meaning “bringing light.” Ækáti has hidden means to give help, but particularly when we cannot see our way through difficult problems.
Ækáti is the Queen of Mayeia
Ækáti is the great Goddess of mayeia (mageia; Gr. μᾰγεία). She has intimate knowledge of and control of the natural world and is capable of using this power to great ability in order to assist worthy mortals. This mayeia, or magic, does not defy natural laws but is, by its very nature, only available to evolved beings who are in harmony with the Natural Lawssuch that they reflect its power and can employ it, souls such as the genuine Iærophántis (Hierophant; Gr. Ίεροφάντης) at the Ælefsínia Mystíriaand Gods. Such mayeia is exercised for the benefit of the virtuous when in need.
Ækáti is associated with the Middle Sky, the area which extends from just above the sea and the land up to just below the moon. This is the place where the souls dwell, the souls of those whose mortal bodies have died and are awaiting rebirth. As such, She is dwelling with the dead. Although Hekate has a portion of earth, sea and sky, She likes to dwell in this middle region and assist the mortals and deities who reside there. The idea that the souls of the dead inhabit the middle sky can be found in various texts such as Plutarch:
“All soul, whether without mind or with it, when it has issued from the body is destined to wander in the region between earth and moon…”
(Πλούταρχος Ἠθικά Concerning the Face Which Appears in the Orb of the Moon Chap. 28, 943C; trans. Harold Cherniss and William C. Helmbold, 1957, as found in the 1967 Loeb reprint entitled Plutarch’s Moralia Vol. XII, Harvard Univ. Press [Cambridge MA]-William Heinemann [London] p. 201.)
This idea can also be found in Pythagorean writings:
“When cast out upon the earth, the soul wanders in the air like the body. Hermes is the steward of souls, and for that reason is called Hermes the Escorter, Hermes the Keeper of the Gate, and Hermes of the Underworld, since it is he who brings in the souls from their bodies both by land and sea; and the pure are taken into the uppermost region, but the impure are not permitted to approach the pure or each other, but are bound by the Furies in bonds unbreakable. The whole air is full of souls which are called Genii or Heroes; these are they who send men dreams and signs of future disease and health, and not to men alone, but to sheep also and cattle as well; and it is to them that purifications and lustrations, all divination, omens and the like, have reference. The most momentous thing in human life is the art of winning the soul to good or to evil. Blest are the men who acquire a good soul; if it be bad they can never be at rest, nor ever keep the same course two days together.”
(Διογένης Λαέρτιος The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Book 8.31, trans. by C. D. Yonge, 1828; Henry G. Bohn Publ. [London]).
Hekate in the Chaldean Oracles
In later antiquity, Hekate’s role as intermediary becomes linked with the World Soul. In Plato’s Philebus, Plato has Sokrates say that the souls of individual bodies are derived from that One which ensouls the body of the Kosmos, this soul is similar to, but fairer than the souls of men. The idea of the World Soul is expanded upon in Plato’s Timaeus.
In the Chaldean Oracles, which appeared during the time of the Middle Platonic philosophers, and attempted to unite philosophy. Religion and theurgy, Hekate has renewed prominence, being linked to the World Soul in Plato’s Timeaus, whose form was a celestial X (Greek letter Chi). In the Timeaus, Plato describes two cosmic principles which are conjoined in the form of two intersecting circles, which looked at face on, make the form of the X (the Crossroads of Hekate. These he described as “the same” and “the different”. The Same and the Different are unified within Soul. Later Platonic philosophers understood these principles ats the Intelligible and Sensible realms – the realm of Unchanging Divinity and that of Changing mortality.
Plato says that the motion of the Different is the course of the planets, whilst leaving the explanation of the motion of The Same somewhat vague. Later writers, from Cicero to Manilius to Macrobius and beyond, who influenced the development of Platonic cosmology link these circles to the circle of the Zodiac (the path of the planets) and the circle of the milky way, which cross in the sky. At the intersection of these two celestial circles are the Heavenly Gates. Hekate is the Holder of the Keys, She who has the keys to unlock and lock the Heavenly Gates, and also the Gates of Hades. The Crossroads of Hekate can be seen as the celestial X of the Gates of Heaven.
Hekate is present wherever souls cross boundaries between life and death, and where the soul experiences the “death and rebirth” of the mysteries. Depictions of the Eleusinian Mysteries in ancient art, also show a torch in the form of a X, and Hekate carries two torches representing the two cosmic principles.
In the Chaldean Oracles and to the Middle Platonists, The Cosmic Soul was a multi-faceted intermediary between two worlds. The “Forms” or “Ideas” of the Intelligible realm, were received by the Cosmic Soul, who in turn cast them onto Primal Matter, which then became the physical Universe. It is through the Cosmic Soul, that the Cosmos is structured into its proper proportions and order. The Cosmic Soul is also the generator of individual souls. In the Philebus, Plato’s Sokrates argues that if our bodies are derived from the greater body of the Cosmos, then logically our souls must be derived from the Cosmic Soul. Soul also encloses the Sensible (Physical) world, and is receiver and transmitter of Ideas or Forms, giving proportion and harmony, and ensouling individual living beings. As the Cosmic Soul, Hekate became the intermediary between the Sensible and Intelligible realms, and it is at Her discretion that passage from one realm to another can occur. This intermediary role is an extension of Her older role as Goddess of physical crossroads, doors, and liminal places.
Hekate’s connection with the Moon in later antiquity is linked to Her role as intermediary, as the Moon is both a liminal point and a mediating entity, receiving the light of the Sun, and reflecting the light to the earth. Plutarch said that the Moon conducts down the warmth of the sun, and conducts upwards the exhaltations of the Earth, refining them in the process. Thus the Moon not only brings down the powers of the Heavens and the Intelligible realm, but can help to lift us to the Divine realm.
Xenocrates describes the Moon as the intermediate layer in a three tiered Universe. Xenocrates also placed the classes of daemones in the realm of the Moon, the daemones also being intermediate between Gods and men.
Hekate traditionally is the Queen of intermediary spirits, of phantoms and daemones. In the Living Orphic tradition, the intermediary daemones are represented by Her dogs, which are the agathes daemones, or good spirits which guide us and help us on our path, carry our prayers to the Gods, and can aide us in spiritual work. The daemones in Orphic and Platonic philosophy and mysticism also function to escort souls between realms.
As a Goddess of boundaries and liminal places, as psychopomp, guide and intermediary, Hekate was also associated with a number of other deities, such as Hermes, who She is often invoked in conjunction with, with Artemis as the Goddess who aids in the transition of birth in the physical realm, and with Rhea, the Great Mother, who births the physical world. The Ideas of the Intelligible realm are given structure and harmony in the womb of Hekate, or Rhea, and then birthed into the physical Universe. She was also associated with the Roman Janus, another God of boundaries, as can be seen from Proclus’s Hymn to Hekate, Janus and Zeus.
In this hymn, the first to be invoked is the Mother of the Gods, generally considered to be Rhea. Proclus says of Rhea that “the cause of generation, has proceeded from Her principle, having received the rank of mother among all the paternal orders and introducing the Demiurge before all the other Gods, the universal Demiurge and the inflexible safe-keeper.” He goes on to say “Concerning Rhea, the generative source, from whom all divine life, intellectual, spiritual and mundane, is generated, the Oracles speak as follows, ‘Truly Rhea is the source and stream of blessed and intellectual (realities, Because She, the first in power, receives the birth of all beings in Her inexpressible womb and pours forth (this birth) on the All as it runs its course”.
So in Proklus’s Hymn, Rhea, Hekate and Janus/Zeus are mentioned together: first the Mother, then the median principle of the World Soul and then the Father and Demiurge.
Proklus’s Hymn to Hekate, Janus and Zeus
“Hail, many-named Mother of the Gods, whose children are fair
Hail, mighty Hekate of the Threshold
And hail to you also Forefather Janus, Imperishable Zeus
Hail to you Zeus most high.
Shape the course of my life with luminous Light
And make it laden with good things,
Drive sickness and evil from my limbs.
And when my soul rages about worldly things,
Deliver me purified by your soul-stirring rituals.
Yes, give me your hand I pray
And reveal to me the pathways of divine guidance that I long for,
Then shall I gaze upon that precious Light
Whence I can flee the evil of our dark origin.
Yes, give me your hand I pray,
And when I am weary bring me to the haven of piety with your winds.
Hail, many-named mother of the Gods, whose children are fair
Hail, mighty Hekate of the Threshold
And hail to you also Forefather Janus, Imperishable Zeus,
Hail to you Zeus most high.” 
In summary, Hekate is an important Goddess who has many roles. She is the Goddess of crossroads and thresholds, who holds the keys to the gates of Heaven and to Hades. She is a Goddess who dwells in the darkness, but brings light, shedding light on and guiding us through the mysteries. As a goddess of thresholds, She is an intermediary between us and the Gods, as an advocate, and leading us to virtue and to the Divine light of the Gods. She aids us through all transitions, as a Goddess who holds the keys to the three worlds, but dwells in the “middle place”, the intermediate between the unmanifest and the manifest. She is the Goddess of the liminal, of boundaries, where paths and forces converge. She is honoured at the dark of the moon, in that space where one lunar month has ended and the next is about to begin. Hekate can guide us through and help us to understand the mysteries.
On a more mundane level, Hekate guards the threshold of our homes, along with Hermes and Apollon Prostaterius (Apollon standing before the door) and Apollon Horion (Apollon of the limits, of boundaries).
Penta Sponde (five libations) Offering to Hekate
Homeric Hymn to Hestia – light candle
Purify water with flame
Aperging with water and bunches of rosemary.
Orphic Hymn to Hekate:
I call Einodian Hecate, lovely dame,
Of earthly, wat’ry, and celestial frame,
Sepulchral, in a saffron veil array’d,
Leas’d with dark ghosts that wander thro’ the shade;
Persian, unconquerable huntress hail!
The world’s key-bearer never doom’d to fail;
On the rough rock to wander thee delights,
Leader and nurse be present to our rites
Propitious grant our just desires success,
Accept our homage, and the incense bless.
Begin Chant ΙΑΩ
Changing to HEKATE SOTEIRA
As we are chanting, people take it in turn to pour libations/offerings to Hekate:
2. Almond milk,
3. Honey water,
5. Rose Water.
Other participants may then offer Bay leaves, placed on the altar in the form of a wreath.
Pore Breathing meditation – connecting with the World Soul
Sit in meditative posture and relax body and mind. Visualise yourself sitting in the centre of a Universe that is filled with light, a light that has some substance to it, like a radiant white plasma.
Imagine that this white light is pulsing with energy that is radiating outwards in all directions, and is also pushing in on you from all directions, trying to expand itself into you.
Now imaging your body is hollow and empty, filled with the blackness of empty space.
Inhale slowly and let the vital force expand into you from all directions. Initially you may see the white light and energy coming in through your nose as you breathe in, but remember that we breathe not only through our nose and mouth, but that we also breather through every pore of our bodies. Begin to see the white light entering your body through every pore, your body absorbing it like a sponge.
At the fullest point of inhalation, feel the energy totally filling your body, and see your body glowing brightly, filled with the energy. Allow a natural pause to experience this, but do not hold your breath.
Exhale and push all of the radiant white light and energy back out through your skin with your breath. At the end of the exhalation, you should again be hollow and completely empty.
Repeat this process 10 times.
Now we ask Hekate for Guidance on our paths, what we can do to be the best we can, to achieve Areti:
ὦ φωσφόρ᾽ Ἑκάτη, Ἑκάτη, πέμπε φάσματ᾽ εὐμενῆ.
O phosphor Hekate, Hekate, pempe phasmat evmeni
O torch-bearing Hekate, send visions that are favourable!
Quiet meditation to commune with Hekate and ask for Her guidance.
Μακαρ οστισ ευδαιμων
Τελετασ θεων ειδωσ
Βιοταν αγιστευει και
Εν ορεσσι Βακχευων
Makar hostis efdaimon
Teletas theon eidos
Viotan agistevei kai
En orresi Vakcheaion
Blessed are they who, being fortunate,
And knowing the rites of the Gods
Keep their souls pure
And are initiated
Into the Rites of Bacchus
Evohe, Evohe, Evohe
Hail Hekate, Soteira, Blessed Maid
Embodiment of Arete
Hail Hekate, Soul of the World,
Advocate, and Queen of Mystery
Hail Dionysos, Lord of the Mysteries,
Who gives the Aithir of Wine
Hail Hera, Mother of Life,
Hail Zefs, King Divine
May we receive Your Divine blessings wherever we go
Yaenito, Yaenito, Yaenito, Yaenito!