Goddesses are an embodiment of Divine Power in all of its aspects. Some are mothers, some are seductresses, some are warriors, and some represent mystery, intuition, and magic at its lightest and darkest.
Hecate is no exception. This mysterious goddess has much to offer her devotees, but only if they’re brave enough to meet her.
Hecate is a pretty mysterious figure. Though she’s found in ancient Greece and Rome, nobody’s really sure where her name comes from — some say it a Greek word meaning “one who works her will,” but this is unlikely.
She may also be related to Apollo and Artemis through an alternate name for Apollo, Hekatos, but this isn’t likely how she originated. Evidence of her worship was found in places where Apollo and Artemis hadn’t yet arrived.
Wherever she came from, Hecate is considered a goddess of crossroads, night, magic, necromancy, graves, boundaries, doorways, ghosts, and poisonous plants.
She was associated with borders, city walls, and the border between the physical, living world and the worlds beyond. Though she was once considered a protector of the household, alongside other major Greek deities, she is inherently a liminal figure.
Hecate was enlisted by Demeter to help her search for Persephone, and, in some retellings of the legend, helped to lead her from the Underworld.
Symbols & Associations
Hecate is most often represented as having three faces, or even three bodies. One common depiction, originated by the sculptor Alcamenes in the 5th century BCE, depicts her as three figures arranged around a column. These figures hold symbols including snakes, keys, knives, and torches.
She was also associated with dogs, to the point that a howling dog was said to herald her appearance. Some artistic depictions show her with a hound at her side, and dogs were also offered to her as regular sacrificial animals.
Some legends tie her to weasels, as well. Two legends tell of her creating weasels by turning women into them.
Mullet fish are another one of Hecate’s animals, supposedly because it was capable of living in polluted waters and feeding on corpses. Cows, boars, frogs, snakes, and horses are also variously associated with her.
Poisonous plants are sacred to Hecate, especially the yew. Aconite, mandrake, and belladonna are all hers. Dittany of Crete, while not poisonous, is another one of Hecate’s plants — likely because of the fact that it grows in hazardous places and many young men died to gather it.
She is also associated with cypress (a graveyard plant that symbolizes the underworld), oak trees, and garlic.
As a goddess of the crossroads, she is also associated by places where three (or more) roads meet.
People appeal to Hecate for protection for their homes and cities. As a goddess of boundaries, she can keep evil from entering a place. On the flipside, Hecate can refuse to help — and can instead allow, or even encourage, unwanted spirits to go in and cause trouble.
As a goddess of boundaries, her power extends to the Underworld. She’s said to hold the keys to the land of the dead, and acts as a guardian of souls on their journey there.
As a lunar goddess, she forms a triumvirate with Artemis/Diana and Selene/Luna. She’s often depicted as the crone form of the goddess, even alongside non-Greek or Roman deities. As a result, she’s often venerated as an embodiment of crone wisdom.
She’s also a goddess of magic, mystery, and the lore of medicinal, psychoactive, and poisonous herbs. She is a figure who can teach, uncover secrets, protect homes, and guard people on their journeys through liminal spaces.
She represents the border between life and death, and the wisdom that comes with age. As a liminal figure, she has power over the land, sea, sky, and everything between.
Today, appropriate herbal offerings to Hecate include garlic, yew (branches, berries, or objects made of yew wood), cypress, thyme, belladonna, mandrake, lilies of the valley, hemlock, mullein, and mint.
Food offerings can include wine, almonds, grapes and other fruits, or cakes.
Traditionally, offerings are left at a crossroads. While “crossroads” and “intersection” are often used interchangeably in conversation, crossroads are sometimes considered to be an intersection of roads that continue on uninterrupted for a longer distance.
As a result, crossroads tend to happen in rural areas, while intersections are urban.
Signs Hecate is Calling You
Hecate doesn’t discriminate when she calls to people. In fact, those who are afraid of or intimidated by her power may even be more likely to receive her call. As a goddess of the crossroads, she also favors people going through major life changes.
Hecate may be calling you if you often hear howling dogs that seem to come from nowhere.
Seeing objects associated with her, like torches or keys, can be another sign. You may even have strange dreams involving keys, torches, serpents, daggers, doorways, or black dogs. The repeated appearance of the number 3 may be another indication.
Since the crossroads is her domain, she may call you by giving you a strange or otherworldly experience at a crossroads.
Crystals Associated with Hecate
The best crystals for working with Hecate are those associated with magic, the moon, protection, and the Underworld.
- Amethyst’s purple color ties it to magic and wisdom. It’s also a great stone for entering a relaxed, meditative state for journeying work.
- Clear quartz is a “master crystal” and crystal healer par excellence. It’s generally considered an all-purpose stone and is great for combining with other crystals to enhance their power.
- Jet is a black stone made of fossilized wood. It’s associated with grief and mourning and was the source of Victorian-era mourning jewelry.
- Moonstone is a lunar stone. Its power is said to wax and wane along with the moon.
- Obsidian is a protective stone. It’s often placed near doorways to keep evil out.
- Selenite is another lunar stone, associated with Hecate’s moon goddess aspect.
- Tourmaline, particularly black tourmaline, is a protective stone for individuals and households. It’s tied to Hecate’s protector goddess aspect.
Herbs Associated with Hecate
Since Hecate is tied to poisons, entheogens, and medicinal herbs, working with any of these (carefully, and within reason) can help you connect to her. As mentioned above, hemlock, belladonna, yew, and dittany of Crete are good options.
If dangerous herbs aren’t for you, you can also work with herbs associated with graveyards, death, and the Underworld.
Cypress trees are frequently planted in cemeteries and are one of her sacred plants. (For American followers in the southeastern US, the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) also has the distinction of being a liminal plant — it grows where land and water meet and is a conifer that sheds its needles.)
Mullein, known as the “hag’s taper” is another powerful Hecate herb. This plant is sometimes called “graveyard dirt,” and is used to make torches and as a guard against evil spirits.
Working with Hecate
To work with Hecate, meet her on her turf. Spiritually cleanse yourself and leave her offerings at a crossroads. Hecate respects effort, so it’s important to always put your best self forward for her.
If she doesn’t think you’re putting the effort in, she won’t bother with you. As a goddess who has seen everything and been everywhere, she expects her devotees to work hard and not take shortcuts.
You may wish to create an altar to Hecate. Cover it with a black or purple cloth, and place symbols of her on it, like:
- A depiction of the Triple Goddess
- A replica of historical statues of her
- Images of dogs
- A dish of herbs sacred to her
- Old keys
- Images of graveyards
Top it off with a devotional candle and some incense. When you want to connect with Hecate, light the candle and incense and meditate on her. If you like, you can also say a small prayer:
“Hecate, Goddess of the crossroads and all liminal spaces.
Show me what is hidden.
Help me understand the secrets of the cosmos, and what lies within the hearts of humans.
Show me the secrets of the past, present, and future.
Guide me in the ways of medicine, meditation, and traveling the other realms.
Hear me, Hecate, I pray you.”
Hecate is a powerful goddess to call upon for strength and guidance when doing shadow work, journeying, or anything else that involves confronting the darkness.
She has seen and heard it all, and her wisdom is great. If you want to learn more about magic, life, death, medicine, or protection against evil, work with Hecate.