Liminal Book Review: The Hekataeon

“O daughter of Helios (the Sun), Mene (Moon) of many turnings, nurse of all! O Selene (Moon), driver of the silver car! If thou art Hekate of many names, if in the night thou doest shake thy mystic torch in brandcarrying hand, come nightwanderer, nurse of puppies because the nightly sound of the hurrying dogs is thy delight with their mournful whimpering”                                - Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44. 198 ff

Not since The Temple of Hekate by Tara Sanchez has there been such a complete grimoire published within the Hekatean current. There were so many connections between my own personal gnosis and the research-informed praxis presented throughout the text of The Hekataeon , I kept having déjà vu . I slowly savored the recollections of revelatory sorceries Hekate showed me all those years ago (i.e. witches ladder, bloodmagick, creating a iynx, specific mudras and sigils).  I could not just read this thing. I was compelled to take my time, roll it around my mouth a little… savor and try all the things before moving on. Jack Grayle is brilliant in his delivery, as few books of practice do this to me; motivated by excitement only to be stopped in my tracks. A gasp, a hot breath and I enveloped expectations with a sensuality not usually experienced with books. This is the book I wish I had read years ago, instead of struggling to absorb the Hekate current alone…cobbling together bits and pieces of random visions.

The text is organized in three books. The first is ‘Book One: The Call’; as a beginning it guides the reader through collecting and consecration of tools, learning prerequisite invocations culminating with the transition from Reader to Devotee. In ‘Book Two: White Flame‘  of The Hekataeon presents to the witch a devotional practice taking place over the course of 28 days transforming the Devotee into a Adapt. ‘Book 3: Red Blade’ is where the meat and action of the grimoire really starts to take off with an introduction to Hekate’s beasts and workings of a sorcerous nature; the transition from Adapt to Initiate becomes more intensified. It is only as the Initiate approaches ‘Book 4: Black Moon’ where the question of Hierophant, or Priesthood, becomes somewhat convoluted. I am always skeptical of books which claim to train Priests as this is not the traditional way of becoming appointed…as becoming a Priest includes an in-person ritual of ordination. If anything the last rites involved in this book sets one upon the path to receive the blessings of Hekate to pursue that particular path of devotion, but to truly be sanctified in Her service, as any other Priesthood, it takes a Priest to make another Priest.

That being said, I love how The Hekataeon is so practical and consistent. For example, there is not some new way to purify for every single fucking ritual...the instructions are clear. I was honestly hesitant to move forward in my reading without having tried the rituals and spells firsthand. The book itself asks to be ‘activated’ with the Reader’s own blood, creating a bond of physical and spiritual connection so few will actually do. Grayle speaks directly to the reader, giving the book a life of it’s own… a companion and guide. Also the assumption of the Witch being a She was lovely to experience in a serious magickal grimoire; the overly masculine assumptions or even gender neutral language is weary.

Usually I prefer the bhakti path of devotional work accompanied with theurgic principles, in comparison to traditional grimoire magick…but this was a text combining both. Making connections with not just Hekate but other compatible Deities and Spirits; including Pasiphae, Medea, Dionysus, Helios and, of course, Hermes. My personal work with Hermes and Hekate came to a standstill once I left the urban landscape for the woods. Combining the 2 deities as Grayle presents in the very last book of The Hekataeon is both clever and understandable. Hermes and Hekate are incredibly similar in their relationships with humans; friend, guide, lover. Without giving too much away, let’s just say it ends in a sabbatic orgy of Gods and Goats.

The invocations truly speak to my own praxis, as inspirited rhymes come easily to the tongue creating mystical melodies of heartsong. Grayle captures the raw liminal passion of informed hymns which only comes from years of devotion. Juxtaposed imagery and dark sensuality drip with the blood of stones, bones and savage poetry.

“O Indominable Darkness that dwells

In the heart of Light;

O Formless Fire that informs

The womb of Night;

O woman astride an open grave

Giving birth to life;

O child with a dog’s face

Whose left hand is a knife” (Grayle, p. 32)

This is a living, working tool of manifestation I wish to disappear into the woods with, pitch a tent and surround myself with the skulls of dogs and goat…welcoming to my fire the lovers and spirits of Darkness which await my call. It has been a long time coming and I accept the challenge of inhibited fears.


Photo provided by Jack Grayle; Model is Andrea Hebamme.

Photo provided by Jack Grayle; Model is Andrea Hebamme.