Monday, June 30, 2008

Goddess of the Week: Hecate

One of the Greek gods of the underworld (the Cthonian gods), Hecate was associated with witchcraft, ghosts and the moon. Her animal familiars are the black she-dog and the polecat. She is also said to be a protector of the firstborn and is associated with childbirth. It was Hecate who led Demeter to the underworld to recover her daughter Persephone.

In vase paintings, Hecate is usually shown in maiden skirt and hunting boots, holding two torches. In statues, she is usually shown in triple form as a goddess of crossroads, a trend that Pausinias says was begun by the sculptor Alkamenes in the fourth century BC.

Hecate also appears in Macbeth, where she commands the three witches. She is also frequently mentioned in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


The Pagan Temple said...

She was also the mother of the Impussae, a kind of incubus and succubus probably based on wet dreams. She's one of the most popular goddesses among modern neo-pagans too, but they try to pretty her up based on a probable misunderstanding of some Homeric hymns.

The ancient Greeks always did that with fearful entities like her. They used to refer to the Furies by another name that meant "kindly ones" in order to curry their favor.

I knew people used to sacrifice puppies to her, but that's the first I heard about the polecat.

Rufus said...

I'm still learning all of this stuff- I've actually had to buy a notebook to write down all of the gods and goddesses. It's pretty complicated.