“Shine brightly, Moon; I will softly chant to you, Goddess, and to Hekate in the Underworld – the dogs shiver before Her when She comes over the graves of the dead and the dark blood. Hail, grim Hekate, and stay with me to the end; make these drugs as powerful as those of Circe and Medea and golden-haired Perimede. Draw to my house my lover, magic wheel” – Theocritus, Idylls 2
Hekate is associated with many different symbols; dogs, torches, the moon and crossroads are all common projections which modern devotees recognize. One symbol in particular is mysterious to outsiders and practitioners of Hekatean worship: the Strophalus. Wavy lines continuously connected to form three wells, encapsulating a six pointed star in the center. What is it? Where does it come from? And what does it have to do with Hekate?
It may seem like an arcane symbol, but closer examination upon various historical references illuminates some uses of it as a tool. The three different ‘spokes’ could represent the three realms which Hekate holds dominion over: Land, Sky and Sea. The outer continual lines are whindy, a serpentine labyrinth design which suggests the path through Her realms…a mandala, a map.
“In the first place, the priest, who governs the works of fire,
Must sprinkle with the cold water of the loud-sounding sea.
Energize about the Hecatic Strophalus.
When you shall see a terrestrial demon approaching
Exclaim, and sacrifice the stone Mnizurin.
If you often invoke me you shall see all things darkening,
For neither does the convex bulk of heaven then appear,
Nor do the stars shine, the light of the moon is hidden,
The earth stands not still, but all things appear in thunders”
–verses 192-196, The Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster
There is some theories of the strophalus being connected with the iynx; pronounced “jinx”, a Neoplatonic device used as a tool of invocation. Round as a disc or spherical, the iynx was described as being covered in magickal symbols and containing a lapis lazuli stone in the center, embuing it with power. The iynx was spun with a leather thong, twisted up tight which when released created a kind of whirring sound. Some temples had giant ones that suspended from the ceiling, with priests coming in to turn the wheels, whirring sounds filling the halls and carrying the spells along on sound vibrations to the realms. A kind of angelic telephone.
“Chaldean iynges are transmitters, assimilative links between the divine and human worlds. Interestingly, their activities often are described in terms of whirling or rushing movement. This language reminds us that in chaldean teachings…a “iynx” also is a magical device turned rapidly by the theurgist in order to invoke a god or daemon” (Johnson, p. 93).
The celestial song is created as the device cuts through air, producing a different sound which changes according to size or number of ‘teeth’ along the edges. These messages of prayer and pleading were carried out by angelic spirits of wind, or iynges which also refers to the actual spherical device.
“Now, as enchantment’s midnight powers I hail,
Now, farced Moon, in all thy glory fail
O’er the dire rites! The mysteries of my song
To thee and hell-born HECATE belong! –
Pale Hecate, who stalks o’er many a tomb,
and adds fresh horror to sepulchral gloom;
Whilst reeking goar distains the paths of death,
And blood-hounds fly the blasting of her breath!
Hail HECATE! And give my rising spell
Ev’n PERIMEDA’s sorceries to excell:
Bid the strong witchery match ev’n CIRCE’s skill;
And with MEDEA’s venom’d fury fill!
IYNX, O force him, by thy mystic charms!
Force him, tho’ faithless, to these longing arms!”
– The Idyllia and Epigrams of Theocritus
Although primarily used for magickal intentions involving outcomes of the heart, the iynx wheel was also employed for calling the wind or summoning rain. It is generally used as a tool of empowering spellwork, and since Hekate is a Goddess of magick (not to mention the grand psychopomp of theurgic operations), it seems only natural to petition Her for aid.
“For being Hekate’s instrument the iynxlstrophalos vivifies and empowers ritual just as Hekate vivifies and empowers the universe; a connection which is emphasised by Hekate’s ‘life-generating whir’ or hum” (Ronan, p.12).
Meditating on this, the idea came about of superimposing a strophalus onto one of these wheels…the symbol in a spinning motion as a visual focal point and the whirring sound to accompany it. I realized a few practical things after making it: 1) I suck at crafts and 2) having a leather thong attached to the thread would make it easier to handle. But the effect was what I expected: the imagery combined with whirring made for a trance inducing focus. I chanted Her name, whispered like a child playing in front of an electric fan. The blades distorted my voice, giving it a different resonance. Metaphysically it seemed much more sublte, but then again I was not trying to invoke Hekate for some spellwork…I simply was figuring out how to use the tool. I instinctively see how this could be used in the application of weather magick, stirring and spinning up a storm seems natural.
Johnston, S. (1990). Hekate soteira: A study of Hekate’s roles in the Chaldean oracles and related literature. Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press.
Moore, S. (n.d.). The Magick of Jinxing. Retrieved November 4, 2015. http://www.philhine.org.uk/writings/rit_jinx.html
Ronan, S. (1992). The goddess Hekate. Hastings, U.K.: Chthonios.