In one of the various groups I frequent a member posted a question about when it was best to perform ritual to Hekate. The question was somewhat vague as to the purpose of the ritual, magical or devotional, so my thoughts inevitably wandered to different timing methods one might employ when considering a ritual involving Hekate.
Really the answer to the question depends on what you are attempting to achieve. Of course, there are particular times in the lunar cycles associated with devotion to Hekate, as well as ancient and modern celebrations to her honour, but there are other timing structures which can be used to perform magic and ritual such as planetary days and hours and as a Goddess of Witchcraft and a Goddess with varying levels of association with other Greek deities their part days where Hekate’s influence may be perceived as being somewhat stronger.
These musings are not exhaustive, and ultimately can only be a guide as the complexities of planetary timings are such that an argument could be made that any day, combined with an appropriately complementing hour, could be used to hang a ritual addressed to Hekate off.
The Luna Cycles
The Dark Moon – Depinon
It is easiest to start with Depinon as a tradition time to honour Hekate because it is something that I have already touched on. The dark moon was perceived as the end of the lunar month and a day/night of expedition in preparation for the new month ahead. Houses and shrines were cleaned and the miasma of the household was washed away by one method or another. I have previously posted in more detail about Depinon and you can learn more about the history of the practice here and an example of a modern ritual here.
The New Moon – Noumenia
After Depinon comes Noumenia in many devotees’ calendars, in no small part because in this was the case in the Athenian calendar. Noumenia is the first day of the lunar month and like Depinon no social activities or business were performed on this day, and no other ritual activities were scheduled to fall at this time, as it was considered too sacred for such things. Although it is from the Athenians that we know most about the festival there are indications that is was significant across Greece, being referenced both in Hesiod’s Work and Days and Homer’s Odysseus.
Following on from the cleansing of Depinon the purpose of Noumenia was the re-dedication of the household shrines. There were particular rites to honour the goddesses Selene, Hestia and other household deities both on a public and private level. Hekate is included in Noumenia rites as it immediately follows Depinon on the last day of the preceding lunar cycle and her shrine was one of those rededicated to the Goddess on this day.
A private household would make offerings of frankincense and flowers, wine and barley cakes to the freshly re-consecrated shrines. With public business suspended it is likely that the focus was on the home and family members with time set aside for rest and religious observation.
In the Hellenic calendar Depinon and Noumenia were celebrated one after the other however not all modern devotees will replicate this practice, prefer ignore to wait instead for the first single of the crescent moon. Re-consecration and energetic renewal are the focus of modern rituals, with altars decorated with seasonal flora and offerings made to both Hekate and any other relevant deities.
The Full Moon
Whilst there are few ancient sources to draw an association between Hekate and the full moon directly her association with this phase of this moon is a strong one. Her links to other luna deities such as Selene and Artemis and her various light bringing and saviour roles within the Chaldean Oracles are the aspect that many modern devotees draw upon when celebrating their devotion to Her.
I like to drawn upon Hekate’s connection with the Thessalian Witches, and their ritual known as Drawing Down the Moon. I am sure many readers are familiar with the term in is Wicca concept of drawing the presence of the Goddess into a Priestess and / or its solitary adaptations. The Witches of Thessaly were practitioners of a form of necromantic Craft and they were revered and feared across the ancient world. Their association with Hekate, a Goddess of Witchcraft and Magic, is therefore a given.
“If I command the moon, it will come down; and if I wish to withhold the day, night will linger over my head; and again, if I wish to embark on the sea, I need no ship, and if I wish to fly through the air, I am free from my weight.”
Hekate is associated with the full moon in other ways as well, in no small part through her triumvirate with Artemis and Selene. The formation of this triad begins with the association of Hekate and Artemis in early classical literature. Aristophanes and Aeschylus, both writing in the 4th Century BCE. Both men refer to the two goddesses in the same breath, often speaking of the two goddesses as being equal. Their shared iconography of being torch bearing goddesses of the hunt, accompanied by hunting dogs and garbed in Thracian hunting clothes are just some of the reasons for their association. As time progressed this association expanded to include the true lunar goddess, Selene, with whom both shared a genealogy. Once formed the triumvirate of Hekate, Artemis and Selene began to appear in the work of late classical writers such as Seneca and Nonnus.
“[The witch Medea summons the power of Hekate:] `I see Trivia’s [Hekate-Selene-Artemis] swift gliding car, not as when, radiant, with full face [i.e. the moon], she drives the livelong night, but as when, ghastly, with mournful aspect, harried by Thessalian threats, she skirts with nearer rein the edge of heaven. So, do thou wanly shed form thy torch a gloomy light through air; terrify the peoples with new dread, and let precious Corinthian bronzes resound, Dictynna [Artemis-Selene], to thy aid. To thee on the altar’s bloody turf we perform thy solemn rites.” – Seneca, Medea 787
It is in the PGM that we see this union put in to practice. There are four separate instances of where Hekate, Artemis and Selene are hailed as one or in conjunction with each other. Of these three are hymns to the moon, with specific reference to the full and waning moon.
“To you, wherefore they call you Hekate, Many-named, Mene, cleaving air just like Dart-shooter Artemis, Persephone, Shooter of deer, night shining, triple-sounding, Triple-headed, triple-voiced Selene” Prayer to Selene for any spell – PGM IV.2785-2890
Through her role as the Cosmic World Soul Hekate also finds connection with the full moon. In many modern observations it is as the Soteria of the Chaldean Oracle’s that she is most frequently called up in a full moon setting. Although I am unaware as to whether or not she is mentioned in the Oracles in relation to the moon the World Soul of the Neo-Platonist, whom is also identified as being personified by Hekate, is. The Goddess could translate spirits from one world to another, according to the Neoplatonists at least, and resided in the intermediary realm of the Moon from where she maintained control over mediating spirits known by the Greek terms Daimon (Latin Daemon meaning spirit) and Angelos (meaning messenger).
It is through the control of and communication with these divine, or semi-divine, spirits that the Theurgist is able to ascend and communicate across the realms of existence. By calling upon Hekate the Theurgist is able to exert a level of control over the spirits as, according to Neo-Platonists and the Chaldean Oracles, She rules over them. By extension Hekate has become associated with this realm of the Moon and the celestial object itself.
The form in which modern rites take does vary from group to group and person to person. Devotees will incorporate common ritual actions such as the making of offerings, such as meat, grains and other foods associated with Hekate, along with the burning of incense and offering of praise. Many devotees will commit to certain activities or actions, such as donating time or money to charity, or will undertake some form of creative act in Her honour.
Of particular note is the full moon that takes place during the month of May. The rite known as The Rites of Her Sacred Fires is often cited as an important modern ritual, noting the inception of the book Rites of Her Sacred Fires (from which the ritual takes its name) and the community that arose from it. Although the May full moon has its own, public full moon ritual the Covenant has a standard private ritual for the rest of the year.
The Waxing / Waning Moon
Although the waxing and waning moon are not traditionally or particularly associated with Hekate as a time of devotion they have their magical uses. During the waxing moon it is traditional to perform spells on increase and drawing, be that love, wealth or abundance spells whilst in the other hand the dark moon is associated with banishing and reduction. Here Hekate can still have a role in the guise presented by Hesiod’s Hymn to Hekate in that she is credited as having the ability to bring increase and (failure) in equal measure according to her own will. Combining the appropriate lunar aspect with an appropriate planetary day and hour increase the efficacy of a magical operation. Combining such timings with an invocation to Hekate using the most relevant or appropriate epithet can equally help your cause.
There are many ways to rime ritual, and one of the most straightforward ways is through planetary associations of the day and hour. Each of the seven classical heavenly bodies is associated with a day of the week and within each day the seven planets represent approximately one hour in a sequence predicted by the presiding planet of the day.
From there is can become as simple or as complicated as one may wish to make it. If you are interested in complex planetary timings then I heartily recommend you sign up for Gordon White Rune Soup membership courses and complete his sigils course. For my part today I am going to keep things relatively simple and share with you the three days I particularly associated with Hekate, dictated by her association with the various deities and influences represented by that day.
Monday – Luna / Selene
Monday as a magical day is associated with lunar deities a such as Selene and Artemis / Diana and Persephone, all goddesses which have a strong association with Hekate which I have touched upon above so I am not going to bore you with a repetition.
The themes associated with the day are of the inner realm, of intuition, second sight and divination and as a chthonic goddess associated with various Mystery traditions and the revealing of hidden knowledge Hekate is more than relevant. Workings to receive messages from spiritual realms, of divination and to explore Her mysteries would be relevant on this day.
Wednesday – Mercury / Hermes
Wednesday is associated with the messenger planet of Mercury, his Greek counterpart being Hermes. Hermes is a chthonic god in his own right, freely travelling between high airy Olympus and deep dark Hades at will in his role of messenger of the Gods. He is often patterned with Hekate, notably in the Rape of Persephone where both deities pass between realms to escorts the Vernal Goddess and Queen of the Underworld too and from her seats of power. Hekate and Hermes are also associated together within the Hesiodic Hymn to Hekate, where both are credited the ability to bring increase or lack to the herds of men according to their will.
The themes of the day are those of commerce, wealth and abundance as well as well communication in all its forms. Workings to promote abundance of material belongings as well as to promote communication between real world bodies, particularly those in positions of power or in control of a financial decisions or situation would be appropriate this day and Hekate has her place in such matters. Divination is also performed to great effect on a Wednesday so invoking Hekate in the role of a divine messenger would also be appropriate.
Saturday – Saturn / Cronus
Saturday is associated with the mysterious planet of Saturn, whose Greek counterpart is Chronos. The rules of the Titans and father to Zeus and the other Olympians Cronus is associated with the passing of time, a destructive and consuming force which is reflected in the nativity of the Olympians. Hekate does not have any firm connection with him in terms of mythology beyond their shared blood as Titans and through his son Zeus and a lot of the connections I draw between Hekate and this day of the week are based on the themes and practices associated with it.
The themes of the day relate to endings and beginnings, becoming free of things which do not serve us to allow new growth. Boundaries, banishment and other forms of spirit work are all things associated with Hekate and she is a Goddess who can be worked with the shadow side of life, the self and magical workings. This is also a time when work for overcoming obstacles are best performed and invoking Hekate at such times as a guide of keeper of keys is very appropriate.