I live between two rival gang areas, near a bridge that gets ‘tags’ quite frequently; the city is actually quite good about re-painting within a week of the spray painting. Usually the gangs include roman numerals or words misspelled in some kind of Spanglish. I have been tempted to go over them with red pentagrams, Satanic sigils or protective talismans. Maybe then they will know who’s neighborhood they are in. This is similar to my journey with Hekate. I started out in one gang, then moved to another and then another until I have become my own gang. Things are about to get a little technical and dramatic, so try to follow along.
Hekate is an ancient Titaness whom modern Neopagans try to compartmentalize so they can understand Her better. This really is nothing new… the Chaldeans made Her part of a menage a trois as Queen of Heaven, with Hekate as the go-between of two masculine Gods. In recent UPG from various LHP ideologies, Hekate has become the diabolical witch Queen of the Underworld. Had-Hekate-Hadad….Belial-Hekate-Lucifer. She is the same… always sandwiched between two Gods. The modern Wiccan interpretation including Hekate as part of the Maiden-Mother-Crone archetype; the go-between as the kindly grandmother who is friend and guide to the Queen of the Underworld, Persephone, during the annual reunion with her Mother, the Queen of Earth Demeter. Then there is the Hekate-Kali connection; Mother Destroyer who loves hard and fierce, the other side of the same coin. She has so many names and epithets which have been attributed to Her and many other Gods too, shared as titles over the last few thousand years.
So, who is the REAL Hekate? Is there ONE? Has She just morphed and evolved over the centuries until there is nothing left of Her true form, but the clothing and armor we dress Her in? How did a psychopomp, so closely associated with household cults and worship, become inflated to “Queen of Witches”, the “Cosmic World Soul” and the “Triple Goddess”?
Every year, at the full moon in May, devotees of Our Lady participate in a global event known as the Rite of Her Sacred Fires. It is difficult to pinpoint where this Rite’s origination actually came from, since it’s author, Sorita d’Este, claims it was given upon completion of an anthology by Hekate Herself. The publisher Avalonia, owned and operated by Ms. d’Este, released two other titles regarding Hekate prior to the anthology, fully named “Hekate Her Sacred Fires: A unique collection of essays, prose, and artwork from around the world exploring the mysteries and sharing visions of the torchbearing triple goddess of the crossroads” (boy, that’s a mouthful). Ever since the initial Rite in 2010, more folks are finding Hekate in their lives. She is everywhere and each Hekate is more experiential, personal and approachable than the last.
The Rite includes no formal casting of circles, calling of guardians, or special equipment; only a red candle. Specific gestures are used at the beginning, similar to the Rosicrucian or Kabbalistic cross, with hands ending up positioned in opposite directions, one palm up and the other down. There is an initial invocation to the “Queen of Heaven” and several other instructions which include not naming Hekate at all. It is not until the juicy part of the Rite, when the flame is lit, is Hekate actually called into presence. So I ask…who is being invoked at the beginning of this Rite then? The Mother of Hekate, Asteria, the celestial Titan…Her father Perses, a Titan of Destruction…All three realms are Her domain by right of Zeus’ proclamation, the Land, Sky and Sea accessible to none other except the psychopompus; Hermes and Hekate.
Accessible to all who seek out Her, the peak is when barbarous words are intoned…. “Askei Kataskei Eron Oreon Ior Mega Samnyer Baui”. This is what caught my attention all those years ago…I had already been working with Hekate quite intimately in 2010, after our Coven took oaths to Her. We were spending a year facing fears and who better to be the guide of our own personal Tartaros than Hekate. During the first two months with I was in a car accident that completely totaled our family vehicle, after we just sold the spare. Although no one was hurt, and the car paid off, it was a lesson in futility as I faced the impact it made financially. I was desperately looking for a way of connecting and serving this most powerful Titan, but how? I found the Rite of Her Sacred Fires less than two months before it was scheduled to commence. I bought books by Sorita d’Este, Jade Sol Luna (including a few albums), read Orphic hymns and immersed my Self in Our Lady of the Crossroads. We moved to a house in front of a natural crossroads, having a stream in the front with the property flanked by bamboo groves on one side and pine on the other, Our Lady awaited in the shadows for me to speak to Her.
It was during this event I performed the RoHSF for three days, each time at midnight. It changed me, just as it did everyone else. I caught that ‘fire’ and immediately wanted more, so applied immediately for Covenant of Hekate membership and was quickly approved (member #82). I was exhilerated when I performed the Rite of the Red Cord. Having just been through the spiritual betrayal of a best friend, kicked out of my Druid Grove (and since has been REPEALED) and in a rocky marriage, I was ready for something strong and true. My spiritual teacher had left years ago, off to the south of France, so I had been in a spiritual limbo so long. It was only appropriate that Hekate answered that call. Because there is so little information on Her cult I sought out other Devotees, to share experiential and academic information with each other, creating a web of witchflame that would set the world on fire. This is when I realized…the CoH was not about Hekate. I watched as endless arguments from armchair historians online became pissing contests, plugs for non-Hekate related books from Avalonia appeared in the forums, and devotion to Hekate centered around the Neoplatonic Hekate as “Cosmic World Soul”. What exactly does this mean to me, as a polytheistic Pagan witch? If Hekate is the great Queen of Heaven (Hera) and Hell (Persephone), the embodied soul of the World (Gaia), and all of these other titles, could there still be room in my spiritual life for the other Gods, Goddesses, spirits, Dead and teachers who I already revere? This was beginning to seem like a Yahweh-type situation….and I wanted to run from that as fast as I could.
So much was beginning to stink and I left, after 3 months of membership, as my questions and exploring only seemed to anger members. And to be fair, I stirred up some shit after posting a Scribd link… but hostility occurred when I also shared any other publisher’s work. The symbol for the Covenant of Hekate includes a four-armed equal cross topped by a crescent. The THREEway crossroads are sacred to Our Mother…four belongs Hermes. The red cord was hanging on me, the knot in my belly. I made an Oath to the CoH and Hekate…how was I going to just LEAVE? The CoH does not provide an exit ritual for members when they leave, and none of the Torchbearers knew what to say or do. There was magick in that knot, tying me into the web created and resonating, fed once a year, Hekate devotion becoming more popular than ever before, She was becoming big money and the Rite a global phenomenon which I still participated in every year.
I liked having a day sacred to our Mother Hekate, and the idea of having a synchronized ritual is something even now I love. Until this year I performed and taught the RoHSF; the only thing which stayed with me from the CoH. However, in preparation this year, I took a different look at it. I even finally read the anthology for which the Rite is named. I saw the connection between what the Rite and the CoH were. Hekate had nothing to do with it…this was not Her and I suddenly became violently ill. I saw the web which weaved them all together, the agreement which bound them, and the karma feasted upon. There is reason why the path of mysticism is not for everyone, and it draws the wrong sorts of folks….looking for answers when there really are none to be had. Offering bad chocolate and wine to Hekate is not going to change your life. Dressing your altar in the finest silks or organizing large fetes does not interest Her. This other thing, this egregore, this servitor serves a purpose but it does not serve Hekate or Her Devotees. Reading some books and praying alone might feel like advancement. Proclaiming oneself a Priest of Hekate does not make one so. The true Hekate comes through the minute a Devotee turns away from others’ paths, reflects only themselves and commits to the one thing: Service to Her.
People ask me, what happened after I left? Well, I surrendered to Hekate, handed over my life to Her Will which is my True Will. She guided me to perform the following ritual, The Burning of the Cord, and my life has changed ever since. Cutting the psychic connection, burning the remains and burying ashes are all ancient methods of severance… and represent Her tools of magick. In the darkness She and I have been, dancing with one another. It took the SAME prayer said for two years to our Lady of the Crossroads, honoring each Dark Moon and weekly offerings which finally opened my ears and heart to Her messages. Time has moved on for me and my work with Her has intensified. She has taught to me: traveling to others’ dreams, accepting and passing on Oracles in Her name, trance journeys through the Underworld and Middle Realms, and so much more than I can even proclaim aloud virtually. The road of Hekate is rough but it is one that MUST be traveled alone. Many groups come and go with the best of intentions with Our Lady of Land, Sky and Sea…but it will never work because Her natural cult does not flourish this way.
Burning of the Red Cord
Set up your altar space and prepare yourself as you did for the Rite of the Red Cord for the Covenant of Hekate. Some special items needed will include “sweet water” (water from a running or natural source such as a spring, well, ocean, or rain), soil, and incense of your choice. You will also need an envelope, scissors or a ritual knife, the Red Cord with the dedicated knot, and any other ‘offerings’ you’d like to include such as stones, feathers, etc. Also a spade or shovel, and someplace suitable to bury the objects.
Light candles, salute Hekate in the CoH fashion, then recite your personal Hymn to Hekate.
Hold the cord in your hands for 3 breaths. Recall the Rite of the Red Cord and how you felt when you performed it, the actions or feelings which drew you to CoH in the beginning. With the knot held between your forefinger and thumbs. Say:“As this knot continues to be a symbol of my devotion, may the oath which binds it to you Hekate hold fast. Whilst your fires burn at the heart of my devotion, sever my connection with the Covenant of Hekate, making it separate but equal as you see fit.”
As you focus on this, place it in the envelope, with whatever other offerings. Seal with wax using a favourite Hekate invocation. I work with Hekate Brimo, the Serpent Goddess a lot so in this particular Rite I invoked Her energy for assistance:“O Brimo, ego reginum mah sacrum honoro” or “Askei Kataskei Eron Oreon Ior Mega Samnyer Baui, Phobantia Samne”.
Afterwards, take your spade and envelope to a crossroads; dig a small pit, burn and bury the contents of your envelope. When it has finished and is smoldering, cover it and leave, not looking back either at the CoH or the cord’s grave.