Protection Spell for Wild Animals

This spell is intended to support conservation efforts, particularly in your local area. I wrote and performed this after a series of Red Kite deaths however it can be easily adapted to work on a wider scale or on a pet within the home.

You will need

  • Picture of the animal to be protected
  • Biodegradable Tea Bag (example 1, example 2)
  • An green leaf from a deciduous tree *
  • Spring water
  • Salt

* An oak leaf is the most idea leaf for this spell however any deciduous leave will do. Ensure the leaf is taken from a living tree with the relevant permission sought and offerings made.

Gather all the items and lay them before you. Think on the animal you wish to protect and hold in your mind your intent as you say;

I call on the spirits of the Wild Wood, creeping creatures of woodland dark, come forth from your hidden places and hear my petition.  

Take up the symbol of the animal to be protected. Visualise the animal, whole and protected, with sufficient clarity as though it were with you in that moment. Breath life into the image and transfer it into the representation. Please the leaf and the representation of the animal to be protected together, smaller a top larger as appropriate. Bless the salt in the usual way and mix a pinch with the spring water in consecration before sprinkling it over the leaf and representation saying these words.

Protect them oh Sprites of the Earth. Guard them from evil acts and from onslaught in waking and in sleep. From hidden harm and hunters both, nurture this child of the wild well.

Place the representation and leaf into the teabag and seal it shut

Take the pouch and remaining water to a secluded location and bury the pouch where it will not be disturbed. Pour the remaining water over the burial site before leaving.

Adaptation

It is possible to adapt this spell for the protection of pets, remembering they are wild animals which have adapted to live with us. You may choose to replace the teabag with a linen pouch to create a charm for your animal to wear or to be placed somewhere within your home, preferably  somewhere close to the place where your pet sleeps, where it will be safe from interference. In this event place the resulting pouch as desired and if possible (and advisable) sprinkle a little of the remaining water over your pet. Any remaining water should be poured onto the earth outside, away from any plants which might be negatively impacted by salt water.

 

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Lammas

Lammas

  • LAH-mahs  
  • Also known as: Lughnasa, August Eve, Feast of Bread, Harvest Home, Gŵyl Awst

Dates

  • 1st or 2nd August (Northern Hemisphere)
  • 1st or 2nd February (Southern Hemisphere)

Season

  • Late Summer /Autumn

Zodiac Aspect

  • 15 degrees of Leo

Themes

  • First fruit
  • Harvest
  • Gratitude
  • Sacrifice
  • Skills and talents

Meaning

The Wheel has turned and returned us to the cross quarters and brought us to the harvest salt last. Just as Imbolc represents the beginning of the end of winter so Lammas heralds the beginning of the end of summer.  It may not be immediately evident in the heady hot days but we begin to notice that the sun is setting earlier each night and that hours of day and night have once again reached equal balance.

Out in field and hedgerows this change in weather brings with it a steady ripening and an abundance of life and activity. The fields of wheat and barley now stand ready to be harvested and y the first flour is ready to be ground. Historically the first sheaf of grain harvested would be ground and turned into a special load of bread which would be given to the church or as alms to the poor, whilst the last sheaf was thought to contain the spirit of the harvest, chased from stalk to stalk as the farmhands moved through the field. This final sheaf would be braided and kept safe for the duration of winter, to be returned to the earth alongside the grain for the next year’s crop. These traditions are echoed in modern practice with the offer if of bread and grain in rituals as well as corn dollies.

The focus has moved away from the planting and gentle encouragement of plants to their harvest and the celebration of hard labours reward. It is a time to give thanks not only for the harvest that has been made manifest but the blessings of the year so far. We are reminded that the sacrifice of the grain is only the first sacrifice that we will see in the months to come, with two more harvests to follow culminating in the sacrifice of the God at Samhain. The greater cycle of life and death has moved from live and light towards death, even if we are only just becoming aware of the darkness.

The God has begun to age, and with each late rising and early return to the west he looses strength and vigour. The Goddess on the other hand is still rising as she fills with the life and potential of the new God. Even as the weakening sun represents the decline of the God the swelling bounty of field and hedgerow represents the waxing of the Goddess. The God and Goddess entered their golden days of their lives; even as we enter the golden days of our year. It is equally the most poignant moments within the cycle, because gathering decline of the God into age and weakness is both inevitable and unstoppable, no matter what happens in the weeks head the Goddess will enter a period of mourning soon.

Ritual Idea

As well as honouring the God and Goddess at this time it is a good moment to remember the Death of John Barleycorn. Hang a corn dolly, which can be made from art straws just as easily as corn stalks, from your altar and recite the Ballad of John Barleycorn, thinking about the cycle of birth, death and rebirth that exists within the wheel of the year.  

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and plough’d him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris’d them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel arm’d wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter’d mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show’d he began to fail.

His colour sicken’d more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They’ve taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell’d him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o’er and o’er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe;
And still, as signs of life appear’d,
They toss’d him to and fro.

They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us’d him worst of all,
For he crush’d him between two stones.

And they hae taen his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise.

‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy;
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!

Craft Idea

Salt dough is my seasonal standby for Lammas activities. It might not be edible but it does make great ornaments and altar decorations and they can last quite some time if properly prepared and protected.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler; combine 1 cup salt with 2 cups of flour and a ¾ cup of water. Mix well and you are ready to create. There are so many potential ideas for this time of year; salt dough plaits can be turned into wreaths which in turn make beautiful altar decorations for the adults whilst children can craft things like hedgehogs and other fun altar items like goddess dolls and candle holders.

 

Now take your creations and bake them in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius until they are cooked through (cooking time will vary depending on thickness of the creation. Don’t worry if things get a little brown, it’s all part of the effect but you can always cover your creation in acrylic paint and then seal it with varnish or polyurethane spray. This will give the finished item a bright quality and will help them to keep for longer. Unprotected a salt dough creation might last 2-3 weeks in an airtight container where as a protected piece will last a lot longer in the same conditions.  

Don’t forget, anything you can make in salt dough tastes a lot better in bread, and is a much better offering to nature in the long run. Here is a simple Good Foods bread recipe which will make up some tasty offerings, if you want to get that shine effect coat the top of the finished creation with a beaten egg. If you are gluten free I can’t guarantee that this recipe will make up ornaments but you can always give it a go.

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General Purpose Invocation to Hekate for Divination

Whenever someone pops up in a Facebook Group asking for advice on an experience, or how they should handled a situation magically, my first thought is always of divination by pendulum. The process of divining for answers in this ways is pretty much accessible to all because it is relatively simple in nature.

It isn’t always necessary to invoke the divine ahead of an act of divination, but there are times when it is appropriate and I like to invoke Hekate whenever I am doing any divination around options for ritual elements.

Usually I just recite the Orphic Hymn but I have recently been doing some divination to identify ingredients for ritual oils and decided I needed something relatively standard. By the time I had finished I had created a reasonably adaptable framework which would allow me to invoke Hekate either generally or according to her epithets in a bespoke way.

Due to my purpose I wrote three individually named calls but the formula I used is easily replicated. The epithet is given, followed by its English translation, and then elaborated on. This is then followed by a request for guidance which could easily be replaced by an expanded element of praise if you felt that more praise was needed.

A note on rhyming words – i accidentally creating a rhyming couplet at the end of the first standardised section. It wasn’t intentional but I ended up owning it within the standard sections as much as possible. I certainly didn’t back track and attempt to re write my bespoke invocation to match but you might want to. Whatever works for you.

A General Purpose Invocation To Hekate For Divination By Pendulum

As you begin the invocation light light a central candle and incense appropriate to Hekate and/or divination

I call on you Hekate, Triform Mistress of earthy, watery and celestial fame.

Veiled in saffron and mystery I call you by your name;

Chthonia, most dread goddess, sepulchral figure who wanders amongst the tombs and headstones. Take my hand. Guide me. From darkest night to deepest earth, lead me to treasure unknown and knowledge most secret.

or

Ourania, Queen Most High, celestial saviour and light of heaven. Take my hand. Guide me. With the light of your most heavenly presence reveal to me the truth, show me a way to the knowledge which I seek.

or

Kleidouchos, sentinel and guardian, keeper of keys and opener of ways. Take my hand. Guide me. Go before me and open the way, for with your skeletal key all doors are open to you, all knowledge is yours to dispense.

I come to you for guidance in the matter of (insert task/situation) Guide my hand, and this pendulum within it.

Ask questions questions and perform divination as normal. When finished give thanks to Hekate by saying

Mistress of Mysteries, Revealer of Ways

I thank you for your attention and guidance this and every other day.

Allow any candles or incense lit to burn down completely in a safe space.  

wpid-14365517139051.jpg

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Hekate – Hidden Worship

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Votive Statue of Hekate Triformis source

There are so many places I would like to travel should I ever have the time and money. Greece is high on the list, with trips to Athens, Eleusis and Mt Olympus being a must, but there are a number of different sites around the Mediterranean which are connected to Hekate which I would love to visit. One such site is the ancient fortified city of Selinus, located on the island of Sicily. Selinus was a colony city with its allegiance to Megara and was occupied between approximately 650 BCE and 250 BCE, which marks the close of the First Punic War when the then resident Carthaginians pulled back and removed with them all the inhabitants of Selinus to Lilybeaum (Marsala) and razed the city to the ground. Although the city and site were referenced by later authors such as Strabo and Pliny the Elder it was in retrospect and in terms of abandonment and it is likely that no attempts were made to repopulate the site due to its meager defensive nature. This sudden abandonment and failure to repopulate has played a large part in the preservation of Selinus, which has been excavated on a number of occasions, most recently in 2017/18

The whole archaeological park itself would be worth the visit but of particular interest is the Sanctuary to Demeter Malphoros. As part of the Sanctuary, which is dominated by an ornamental gateway (propylon) and altar, there are secondary precincts and temples dedicated to Hekate and Zeus Meilichios.

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Votive statue with Demeter, Kore and Hekate found Temple of Selinunte, Sicily, circa 580-570 BC

The Sanctuary of Demeter

The Sanctuary of Demeter is located 800km beyond the main acropolis of the city, across the river from the main settlement and its earliest structures consist of a megaron like structure which was constructed in the late 7th BCE. The sanctuary was steadily embellished, reflecting the complex nature of the purification and offertory rituals associated with the cult. The site is dominated by a propylon (monumental gateway) and it should be no surprise to find out that adjacent to the propylon and to the south is found a precinct dedicated to Hekate. The association of the precinct with Hekate is identified through the presence of an inscribed anta capital which could have graced the entrance to the precinct itself. The capital is similar in style and form to those of the main propylon though they dimensions differ due to the relative scale of the structures. The inscription is usually dated to 450BC however Ettore Gabrici posited in his 1927 publication “Ill santuario della Malophoros a Selinunte” that a precinct to Hekate existed on the site prior to the construction of the Propylon and that the capital was a later addition to a pre-existing structure.

The location of the precinct in relation to the function of Heakte in the Mysteries is obviously important. Located “before the gateway” (Propylaia) the precincts position relative to the main Gateway mirrors her role as the guide and companion of Demeter during her wanderings and it is possible that this precinct was the first point a participant might visit to make appropriate offerings before engaging in cult activities proper.

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Selinunte, Hekatombion image by Alun Salt, used under Creative Commons

Also located in the same temple complex is a structure which is sometimes referred to as a Hekatombion, a small temple dedicated to Hekate in a chthonic form. I should note that Hekatombion / Hekatombaion is a date within the Attic calendar which falls around the 1st of the month in the day of the summer (usually within July) which is sacred to both Athena and Zeus. This makes it very difficult to find out more about the structure identified by the photographer as a Hekatombaion at Selinus difficult. Having not visited the site myself I don’t know if there is any signage that identifies it as such by certainly He is strongly associating the structure with Hekate within the wider context of the surrounding sites and their association with the Underworld. 

What’s In a Name

Let’s take a moment to review some of these epitaphs. Malphoros is usually given as meaning “Fruit Bearer”, but alternatively it is given as “Apple Bearer” or “Pomegranate Bearer”. This draws on Demeters function as a fertility Goddess as well as her connection to Persephone and the motifs of her abduction into the Underworld. Although Persephone is not named as such there are references at the site to a daughter called Pasikrateia, “all-powerful”, and given the frequency by which the Queen of the Underworld is referred to by title rather than by name it is safe to assume that they are one in the same. On the other hand Zeus Meilichios is a chthonic aspect of Zeus linked to serpents and honoured as an easily approachable wealth bringer. Given that Zeus is the father of Persephone it is unsurprising that he is worshipped in conjunction with the two Goddesses and the reference to him a chthonic form creates a triad of Father, Mother and Daughter as described in the Eleusinian Mysteries. With the inclusion of Hekate the principle Eleusinian deities, sans Hades, are represented at Selinus and it is their chthonic nature which is honoured above all else. 

Selinus and Curse Tablets

Something else that Selinus is famous for is defixo or curse tablets. Some of the first finds of curse tablets to be found in Attica were from Selinus, with a total of 22 tables written and deposited in the 5th century BCE being found. A number of these were focused on legal matters, and both Demeter Malophros and Hekate are invoked as part of the incantation.

Curse Tablet

Screen shot of Fig 3 Ritual Hexameters In The Getty Museum: Preliminary Edition, David R. Jordan– Royd. Kotansk (Academia EDU)

Hekate is mentioned directly in one tablet, and is described as a foreign-shouting shouting Goddess and refers to her as Enodia.

… down from shadowy mountains in a dark-gleaming land a child brings from Persephone’s garden for milking, by necessity, the four-footed holy servant of Demeter, a nanny laden with an unceasing flow of rich milk, and she (the nanny) follows, trusting (?) in the bright goddesses … torches, and Hecate Enodia, shouting a foreign-sounding shout in a terrifying voice, does, herself a goddess, point out to a god the way. … ‘I come (?) self-bidden through the … night (?), and coming forth from the chambers (?) I say to gods immortal (?) and to mortals the god-spoken things of the bright-fruited (?) deity ….’

It is also interesting to find that a variation of the Ephesian voces magicae appear later in the fragment;

‘Aski Kataski Kataski Aassia Asia Endasian … – towards (?) milking – Aix. Borne on the wind (?), drive out a (or: the) she-goat from the garden by force. {Your (?) name is Tetragos ….} Blessed is he on whom this (shout) “Iô” was scattered along the highway, and who keeps in his heart the voice of the blessed along the highway, “Trax Tetrax Tetragos”. Damnameneus, subdue by necessity, though, those foully unwilling.’

Hekate clearly loomed large in the mind of the Selinuites and the the position of her precinct and various statutory finds around the city attest to her importance.

References

The Propylon to the Sanctuary of Demeter Malophoros at Selinous pg 35 – 57 Margaret M. Miles (Academia EDU)

Ritual Hexameters In The Getty Museum: Preliminary Edition, David R. Jordan– Royd. Kotansk (Academia EDU)

Oldest Ever Evidence of Hekate Cult Found at Selinunte

Selinunte Site of Ancient Massacre Yields the Secrets of A Lost Greek City

Selinus Site

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“A True and Powerful Representation…”

For to you, the Goddess in Heaven, all things are subject and not one of the daimons or spirits will oppose me because I have called on your great name for this consecration.

©Vicky Newton

I am surrounded by so many talented friends that when I log into Facebook I am often left in awe of their abilities. I mean I can stitch a good cross stitch design and I hook a mean blanket but I am always bowled over by people who draw, sculpt, photograph things etc. 

Over the years I have utterly lusted over the statues produced by Jeff Cullen, and it has been wonderful to see his style develop over the years. It was during one particular whine to my husband (aren’t they beautiful? but they’re so expensive and omg the shipping!) that he suggested I look in to 3D printing.

He introduced me to the Scan the World project, which has been working over the last few years to build up a library of 3D image files of the ancient artefacts in museums and from sites and monuments around the world. The project came about in part as a result of the various wars and conflicts around the world which have resulted in the destruction of many priceless and irreplaceable artefacts. The project has saved so many artefacts for posterity in a world of conflict, and has gone on to make them available to the public. Although quality and cost does vary it is possible to find free image files which print up nicely at smaller scale. I had heard about the project but I had never really considered it for a ritual item, but once I mulled over the idea a little I was inspired.

Unfortunately there are few examples which are explicitly related to Hekate, unless you are into guns and helicopters, but there are any number of Ancient Greek statues available such as Artemis of Ephesus and the nicely generic statues such as the Standing Lady. In the end I settled on The Greek Lady as my cult icon and I placed an order with a small 3D printer firm local to me. After receiving the finished piece I decided to finish the statue with stone effect spray paint.

There are some drawbacks.

The statue is very light and whilst for the moment she is weighted down by a heavy Medusa/Athena coin the long term goal is to mount her onto a block of wood. As it stands she is prone to movement, especially as I move around the room and disturb the floor, which affects the surface she sits on.

Also, the ABS plastic is sensitive to heat. It won’t be possible to light candles or incense in Her immediate vicinity however it is possible to work around that. Certainly I can have candles near her, and instead of incense offerings she is holding a string of beads which includes come volcanic pumice beads which will allow me to make scent offerings in the form of oils.

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©Vicky Newton

Now I have a unique statue which I can dress and embellish over time. A little Halloween snake and a charm bracelet sporting a skull for her chthonic aspect, as star for her saviour/heavenly aspect and the strophalos pendent I created back in February will do for now but the question of how to dedicate it in an authentic manner still remained. Fortunately, as so often happens, a discussion between fellow devotee occurred whilst the statue was still getting printed, and it was Jeff Cullen that helped me move forward with writing a ritual.

In a discussion on statues Jeff shared some of his thoughts and research on inviting the numen, or divine presence, of a Greek God to reside in a statue or other cult object which included a basic ritual outline. Jeff has given me his kind permission to take that core information and reproduce it as a ritual outline which you can download below.

Ritual for Enlivening a Statue

The dedication of my statue would not have been possible without the kind input of Jeff so all credit and honour go to him and whilst this ritual has been shared for the use of others if you choose to use this or share it further please ensure that proper credit is given.

I am really looking forward to working with this statue further, because I experienced some serious ritual bleed from the moment I decided on a date to perform.

Originally the dedication was intended to take place at the full moon in June, with the July Depinon being the launch date of a new form of ritual, which takes into account the last 5-6 of devotion and learning. I also intended to use Depinon as the start of renewed daily devotions, which have fallen somewhat by the wayside again. Hekate clearly had other ideas, because the world conspired against me and the dedication didn’t occur as planned. Instead both the dedication and ritual launch occurred on the Dark Moon, this Friday 13th July, which I discovered only a few days before would also coincide with the start of the new Hellenic calendar. How about that for coincidence?

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Hekate and the Lampades

Who are the Lampades

Hekate has a vast and varied train of followers when she resides in the Underworld and one of her many retainers are the Lampades, a type of nymph found within Greek Mythology. Lampades are associated with the Underworld and in classical literature they are often mentioned in conjunction with rivers found within that realm. They are also compared to oceanic nymphs strongly indicating their association with Water. It is not clear as to who their parents are as it is not stated in surviving literature however it is posited that they may be the offspring of Gods such as Zeus, whom Homer suggests is the father of many nymphs, and Oceanus, who is the father of freshwater nymphs. Other potential progenitors include Chthonic deities such as Nyx and the spirits associated with the various rivers that flowed through the Underworld.
Whoever their parents are the Lampades are there is a consistent and strong association with the waters of the underworld but this it not the sum of their identity and relevance to Hekate. Their very name means means Lamp Bearer and literary references to the Lampades describe them carrying torches in her presence.

“Some say there are many kinds of Nymphai (Nymphs), e.g. Alkman (Alcman) : Naides (Naiads) and Lampades and Thyiades . . . Lampades those who carry torches and lights with Hekate (Hecate).”

Alcman, Fragment 63 (from Scholiast on Iliad) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric C7th B.C.) :

Alternatively, some writers state that the Lampades were a gift to Hekate from Zeus in recognition of her support in the Titanomachy however I have not been able to independently verify the claim with a citation. Certainly this is not implied in Theogony, the surviving version of the Titanomachy which we recognise today, though this is one version of many. Perhaps it was referenced to in the epic poem of the same name written by the legendary blind bard Thamyris.

Maidens of Hekate

The Lampades are often counted amongst the divine figures associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries, being referred to as the attendants of the Eleusinian form of Hekate. In this context the Lampades were the companions of both Hekate and Persephone on their annual ascent and descent into the Underworld and were responsible for guiding the spirits of the initiates of the Mystery Tradition to their place in the Underworld.

“Haply by the pleasant silences of [the river] Lethe Nymphae Avernales (Underworld Nymphs) mingle and sport around him [a handsome boy who died young], and Proserpine [Persephone] notes him with sidelong glance.”

Statius, Silvae 2. 4. 100 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :

As such the Lampades are seen as the companion and guide to Eleusinian Initiates, with their presence during the celebration of such Mysteries being represented by the torches carried during the nocturnal processions. In this guise they are benign guides and companions and the average Greek may have little to fear from them.
More modern interpretations of the Lampades reflect a darker mien, consistent with the role and aspect of Hekate as a Goddess of Witchcraft, Darkness and Madness. In this interpretation Lampades becomes far darker in appearance, their light being a beacon which heralded loss and madness. The description given is not too dissimilar to the will o the wisp and similarly mischievous spirits known from European folklore to delight in leading the traveller astray, often to a watery death and is a result of a conflation between the Lampades and such spirits.
There is, however, no evidence in surviving Greek and Roman sources that the Lampades every lead an unwilling person to their doom. The combination of the illusion, trickery and death associated with the wisp’s with the Lampades names seems to lend itself well to tricking the unsuspecting protagonist and it is likely that this interpretation of the Lampades has grown out of the modern supernatural fiction genre.

Hekate as Lamp-bearer

Hekates connections with Lamps neither start nor end with the Lampades. Amongst her many epitaphs are Lampadephoros (Lamp-bearer, torch-bearer, who warns of nighttime attack) a title which well describes her role in the salvation of Byzantium as told by Hesychius of Miletus and Lampadios (Torchbearer, Lampbearer) which can be found in PGM IV 2441-2621 synchronised with the Goddess Selene.

“Lamp-bearer, shining and aglow, Selene, Star-coursing, heavenly, torch-bearer, fire-breather…” Betz PGM IV, 2557

Lamps are often incorporated into modern devotional settings in preference to torches because they are usually smaller in size. Some devotees choose to make their own oil lamps and create scented oils to burn during devotion, or use decorative lanterns which you can use candles in, not unlike that used by wee Willie Winkie.

Inspiration For Post

It is always great to be able to identify places within your local landscape which speak to you of Gods and Goddesses of ancient times. It isn’t all that hard to find hidden Goddesses in the streets of Leeds because we don’t always hide them, sometimes they take pride of place in the middle of the main shopping centre as is the case with the Briggate Minerva statue outside the main entrance to the Trinity Centre. Minerva, and by extension her Greek counterpart Athena, have long been associated with Leeds and the city crest is graced with her Owl as its heraldic animal.
This kind of explicit find is not uncommon but in the case of Hekate things can be a little more subtle, like locating a spring in your local park call the Dogs Mouth Spring, or finding some graffiti dedicated to Orpheus and Persephone.

Morn and Even

Left – Morning Right – Evening Source

The lamp bearers of City Square are another example of hidden inspirations.
A series of eight statues, depicting two differing poses referred to as “morn” and “even”, were first unveiled in 1899, prompting a public outcry as they offended the prim and proper Victorians sensibilities of the city with their nudity. Rather than being entirely stylized in their appearance, as was the previous convention when it came to statues inspired by Greek sources, the human individuality of the subjects can be seen in things such as shape of the knees and curves of the body and this may have added to the shock felt by the people of the city despite assurances that the statues were “pure in spirit” and how the morality of the city would not be brought down (have you seen a Friday night in Leeds?)

The statues, created by Alfred Drury, have always resided in Leeds City Square, although their arrangement has varied over time, responding to damage to the site during World War II and various refurbishments of the space. The current arrangement of a semicircle surrounding the large and imposing Black Prince Statue, which came into being until the mid 1990’s, closely reflects the original installation and remains there to this day. Source
Although the statues are intended to be associated with the dawn and evening star, both being the Venus, I have always associated their sylph like dancing with nymphs and by extension the Lampades. Their location relative to the River Aire, a strong flowing and deadly river that runs through the city, reinforces the connection of the statue to the underworld and chthonic forces. I doubt there are few people in the city who haven’t at some time been aware of a death having occurred in the dark murky waters of the Aire, the very name of which means “swift, strong”. Another major landmark they are located close to is Leeds City Train Station, the major gateway to the city for commuters, a veritable crossroads you might say.
In my case I pass by the Lamp Bearers on my way too and from my home Moot and each time I pass by I give a little nod to the Lamp Bearers who light the way for those busying about their day to day lives and those spirits which travel the waterways into the underworld.

As you might expect, this weeks post flowed seamlessly from last weeks pondering Epiphanies involving Hekate. Mr Drury, like many artists of his time, was very inspired by classical Greek and Roman mythology and sculpture and Leeds boasts a number of statues of his design. Another beautiful piece, with strong connections to Heakte, is the statue of Circe and you can be sure that I’ll be picking up on that thread in the near future. In the meantime, here is a closeup of some of the detail to whet the appetite.

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Detail – Circe by Alfred Drury © Vicky Newton

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Hekate Epiphaneia

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The Epiphany of Hekate before Thrasybulus © WicketIcons

What is an Epiphany?

Let us start at the beginning and agree what exactly we mean when we start talking about an epiphany. Most often an epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”) is described as being the experience of a sudden and striking realisation, thus freeing it from any religious baggage that may be attached to it. Examples of scientific epiphanies include Isaac Newton’s realisation that the fall of the apple and the orbit of the moon are achieved through the same force and Archimedes Eureka moment in the bathtub but the term is also used in relation to any form of scientific or philosophical breakthrough.

Originally the term had more of a connection with the divine, with the insight and knowledge granted in that moment being associated with an external and divine source. Initiation rituals and mystery religious serve as vehicles through which an epiphany may be experienced. The most recognisable example of epiphany in religion is of the Christian Epiphany, where the Magi recognise Christ as the Son of God.

Epiphanies also come in the form of visitations by divine figures, also known as Theophany (from Ancient Greek (ἡ) θεοφάνεια theophaneia, meaning “appearance of a god”). We are more comfortable in recognise the term in relation to Christianity and the appearance of God to the Patriarchs and Jews such as the events in the Exodous where God appears in the form of a burning bush, a pillar of fire and cloud and a fire in the sky above Mount Sinai. (Yes, I am being very particular in which of the Theopanies from the bible I refer to but the reason for this will become clear).

Similarly examples of Theophany and Epiphany can be found throughout Greek mythology, for example the appearance of Zeus to Semele (and her ultimate destruction) or the visitation of Prometheus to bring fire to mankind. Beyond the mythical there are historical accounts of divine and heroic epiphanies which though less direct often lead to the foundation of a cult, institution of a special celebration or the civic act of commemoration in the form of a statue. There are any number of examples in the historical record I could run with but I particularly want to share two which can be attributed to Hekate.

The Epiphany of Thrasybulus

In 404 BCE Thrasybulus was granted a divine Epiphany which manifested itself as a column of fire which illuminated his way along unfamiliar paths. Clements of Alexandria describes the events that follow and draws a comparison between this epiphany and column of light which lead the Jewish exodus during the night. To quote Clements;

But further, when Thrasybulus was bringing back the exiles from Phyla, and wished to elude observation, a pillar became his  guide as he marched over a trackless region. To Tharsybulus by night, the sky being moonless and stormy, a fire appeared leading the way, which, having conducted them safely, left them near Mounychia, where is now the altar of Phosphorus. From such an instance, therefore, let our accounts become credible to the Greeks, namely, that it was possible for the omnipotent God to make the pillar of fire, which was their guide on their mark, go before the Hebrews at night.

Phosphorus is one of those cult titles which is shared by more than one Greek Goddess. Although she is not expressly named by Clements it is often asserted that he is talking about the goddess Artemis however it is equally possible that he is referring to the Goddess Hekate.

Although not often thought about in terms of as a civic Goddess, being more aligned with the wild, desolate wayside and crossroads of the larger countryside or graveyards and cities of the dead, she is referred to a number of times in a civic capacity and in the form of a divine fire from heaven.

The Epiphany of Philip II

Hesychius of Miletus relates how the citizens of Byzantion were able to resist an attack by the Macedonian king Philip II in 340/39 BCE with the assistance of Hekate in the form of clouds of fire on a moonless night. The fiery appearance of the Goddess made it possible see the approaching Macedonians but the Byzantines were made ready for the surprise attack after being awoken by the baying of dogs. Whilst Hesychius is not clear on the identity of the deity in question the identification of Hekate is made secure when he goes on to describe the raising of a statue of Hekate carrying two torches her identity is more assured.

Hekate is further referred to as being involved in preventing the breach of the city, according to Eustathios, by revealing Philip’s attempt to undermine the city walls by tunnelling underneath them;

When Philip of Macedon besieged Byzantion and tunnelled during the siege a secret entrance, from which those who had dug the tunnel intended to spring forth stealthily, Hecate being Phosphorus (ie the ‘bringer of the light’), provided torch light for the enemy to make themselves manifest to the citizens; thus, the besiegers abandoned the siege and the locals called the place Phosphorion (ie ‘the place where the light was brought forth’).

Phosphorus and Epiphany

Light is an important element in my epiphany events and it is no surprise that light bringing and light bearing deities such as Hekate are associated with them. Although the interchangeable nature of cult titles makes it difficult to be 100% certain who the Greeks considered the driving force in all occasions it is clear in the case of the siege of Byzantium that Hekate was believed to be responsible and was honoured accordingly. In general however it makes sense that divine intervention and light so often go hand in hand given the literal and metaphysical implications of light in salvation.

Both the Epiphany of Thrasybulus and the salvation of Byzantium represent the very literal salvation that can accompany such epiphanies. The exiles and army of Thrasybulus were lead through an unfamiliar land to safety whilst Byzantium survived to defend itself another day but there are more metaphysical implications as well.

In the case of Thrasybulus the unseen ways were made clear to him, leading him to safety and salvation. The parallels between this and the revelation of occult knowledge being revealed by light, particularly fire, which then leads the initiate to a form of spiritual salvation either in this life or the next is clear. Similarly, in the Epiphany of Philip II the divine light brings clarity and knowledge to the Byzantines but confusion and fear to the Macedonian armies. This disorder and fear is not dissimilar to the state of mind that a non-initiate may experience, or the state of ignorance which is implied by a lack of knowledge. On the other hand, the response of the attacking army in the face of divine intervention implies that the presence of such a force and presence is vastly overwhelming to the non initiate, resulting in their confusion and their failure.

Musings

Fire and torches have a long standing association with hidden knowledge. One of the reasons that Hekate is associated with quests for knowledge, hidden or otherwise, is her association with fire and its qualities of illumination. Where her torches shine truth is shown, when she goes before you bearing her lamp fire you may tread with confidence and conviction. 

Acknowledgements

My thanks to Sara of Wicket Icons for her kind permission to use the image that inspired today’s post. This post has resulted in a whole thread of thought around Hekate’s role in the Greek Polis which will be making an appearance in a series of posts over the next few months. In the meantime, you can find more of Sara’s lovely work at RedbubbleSociety6 and Amazon

All translations of the above described events were taken from Divine Epiphany in Greek Literature and Culture by Georigia Petridou

 

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