Hekate Goddess and Mistress of Witchcraft (Classical Antiquity) by Setjataset

The Ancient Geeks believe Hekate was a Goddess who taught witchcraft and sorcery to witches, known as pharmakeia in Ancient Greece. The first witches documented to be devoted disciples of Hekate’s were the witches Medea and Kirke, as quoted below by the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus around 60-30BCE:

“She [Hekate, the daughter of Perses brother of Aeetes] married Aeetes and bore two daughters, Kirke and Medea, and a son Aigialeus.”(1)

“[Medea] said [to the Argonauts] that she had brought with her many drugs of marvellous potency which had been discovered by her mother Hekate and by her sister Kirke; and though before this time she had never used them to destroy human beings, on this occasion she would be means of them easily wreak vengeance upon men who were deserving of punishment.” (2)

Medea and Kirke were well versed in herbal lore and magick.  They took what Hekate taught them and multiplied this wisdom into an immense knowledge which held great powers over the natural world, men and their fates. In Apollonius (Ancient Greek 300BCE poet, philosopher and scholar) Argonautica* writings, it is Hekate who gave the gift of drawing down the moon to her devoted witches as quoted here:

“How many times … have you [the witch Medea] disturbed me with your incantations, making the night moonless so that you might practise your beloved witchcraft undisturbed.” (3)

Hekate was seen as the Goddess, classical witches prayed to and evoked through their hymns and magickal workings.  Even though Hekate’s worship originally started in Asia Minor it developed in Ancient Greece.  This is most likely due to her connection with death and magic, which were areas lacking in the pantheon of the Greek Gods.  Since Hekate was known to be a Goddess who punished the evil doer, classical witches were known to cast spells using “curse tablets” and asked Hekate for her assistance through prayer and incantations.

The Greek Magical Papyri and Curse Tablets mention Hekate the most in these texts (along with Hermies) which proves that she was in high demand for the witches who worked to harness Hekate’s magickal power through their sorcery.  Classical witches were skilled in herbal knowledge as well as being very well versed in various poisons.   I love how the Greek word for “sorcery /witch” also means “poison” especially since many sorcerers and witches work with baneful herbs and this is doubly true for Hekate’s witches.  Medea was able to sway the course of rivers or check the paths of the stars and the moon – as modern witches aren’t we known to bend our will to manipulate the elements around us as well as use astrology to assist us with our spell casting?

Hekate was merged with Diana, Queen of the Witches.  Evidence of this shows in the Hellenisation of the iconography of Diana as well as the spread of Hekate’s cult like devotion when the Ancient Greeks immigrated to Roman provinces. Nemi in Ancient Rome was founded by Orestes and Iphigenia – Iphigenia according to Roman myth was divinised under Hekate and the myth is supported by a triple statue of Artemis-Hecate from 600AD.  Cuma a Greek colony in Ancient Rome had a cult of the Chthonic Hekate and many of the images of Diana Trivia have characteristics of the Ancient Greeks gods which further shows the practitioners of the time synchronised Diana not only with the Greek Goddess Artemis but Hekate as well.  This also shows us that Hekate’s patronage of witches spread with her Goddess Cult.  As modern witches we can claim her patronage as far back as classical times when she was viewed as an ageless Goddess and therefore show how strong our relationship with Hekate has lasted over the centuries.

As her practising witch I have created a hymn to call to Hekate to aid you in your witchy workings.  This can be used in ritual, when spellcrafting in her name or simply when honouring her in her devotionals.

Hymn to Call Hekate as her Witch

“Come be present in my sorcery

Hekate your witch calls out to you

Watch over me and my working

Devoted as I am to you as this

Sacred priestess of pharmakeia

By the moon and its phases

Eternally grateful for you

Your guidance and blessings

Come be present in my sorcery”

(T. Georgitsis 2020)

 


Footnotes:

  • Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 45. 1
  • Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 50. 6
  • Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.55

(C) T. Georgitsis 2015 – Updated 2020

One comment on “Hekate Goddess and Mistress of Witchcraft (Classical Antiquity) by Setjataset

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