Hellenic Hekate Ritual: Hekatesia on the Shore

Magickal practitioners have been working their magick on the shores of the bodies of moving water for centuries.  In a poem Lycophron wrote about The Trojan War, the hero – Odysseus, pours offerings on the shore for Hekate to placate her and destroy her namesake Hekabe who was the enemy.  This fine example shows us practising rites with offerings on the shore of a body of moving water is an ancient practice:

The maiden daughter of Perseus, Brimo [Hekate] Trimorphos (Three-formed), shall make thee [Queen Hekabe (Hecuba) of Troy] her attendant [after her transformed into a dog], terrifying with thy baying in the night all mortals who worship not with torches the images of Zerynthia [Hekate] queen of Strymon [in Thrake], appeasing the goddess of Pherai with sacrifice. And the island spur of Pakhynos (Pachynus) [in Sicily] shall hold thine [Hekabe’s] awful cenotaph, piled by the hands of thy master [Odysseus], prompted by dreams when thou hast gotten the rites of death in front of the streams of Heloros. He [Odysseus] shall pour on the shore offerings for thee, unhappy one, fearing the anger of the three-necked goddess [Hekate], for that he shall hurl the first stone at thy [Hekabe’s] stoning and begin the dark sacrifice to Haides.”
– Lycophron, Alexandra 1174 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) 

Being a child of the ocean, I have enacted various magickal acts on the shores of a multitude of beaches, lakes and rivers in my travels.  Out of the rituals I have conducted on the shores of a body of water is the Hekatesia.  Typically, the Hekatesia is always held on the full moon either in spring or autumn.  Some practitioners place it on her sacred day on the 13th August, as it’s a ritual in honour of Hekate and Artemis, others use every full moon or adapt it to coincide with seasonal celebrations  and personally I like to make it connect to ancient festivals of Hekate which resonate with me and work it for that purpose, like the dark and/or new moon.

Considering that the first full moon is coming up in Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, I would like to share with you my version of the Hekatesia which can be easily adapted as explained above.   What I have shared below is a group ritual but it can easily be adapted for the Solitary Practitioner:

 

Hekatesia Ritual by Setjataset 

 

Altar Set Up: Image of Hekate, khernips, bowl, offerings which include: flowers, wine, milk, honey, olive oil, lamp, candles, incense, charcoal, amphiphon (ritual cake), basket of bay leaves and barley.

 

Participants: needed for this ritual is the Priestess leading on behalf of Hekate, followed by a devotee to Hestia and/or one to Artemis.

 

Ceremonial Cleansing:  each participant should wash their hands in the khernips which is placed in a bowl outside the sacred space.  After all have cleaned themselves the Priestess states:

 

Let all that is profane be gone!

 

Priestess to take barley and throw the offering of cleansing upon the altar and upon the sacred space and say:

 

Hekas hekas este o-bebeloi” (Afar, Afar, O The/Ye Profane).

 

Ceremonial Walk: All gathered are to form a formal procession and walk towards the sacred space carrying the offerings with them.   All are to present the offerings to Hekate by holding them up in a gesture of offering and place them on the altar before forming a semi-circle around the altar. No words need to be spoken to do this but you may say a few words as a statement of purpose if you are inspired.

 

Priestess to sprinkle khernips with some barley leaves over offerings to purify them with the words:

 

Xerniptosai” (Be Purified).

 

Invoking Hestia: Devotee to Hestia lights the oil lamp upon the altar and reads out the Homeric Hymn to Hestia:

 

“Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honour: glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet, — where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last. And you, slayer of Argus, Son of Zeus and Maia, messenger of the blessed gods, bearer of the golden rod, giver of good, be favourable and help us, you and Hestia, the worshipful and dear. Come and dwell in this glorious house in friendship together; for you two, well knowing the noble actions of men, aid on their wisdom and their strength. Hail, Daughter of Cronos, and you also, Hermes, bearer of the golden rod! Now I will remember you and another song also.” (1)

 

Devotee to Hestia to pour a libation of wine to Hestia upon the ground.

 

Invoking Artemis: Devotee to Artemis offers flowers before the altar and reads out the Homeric Hymn to Artemis:

 

“I sing of Artemis, whose shafts are of gold, who cheers on the hounds, the pure maiden, shooter of stags, who delights in archery, own sister to Apollo with the golden sword. Over the shadowy hills and windy peaks she draws her golden bow, rejoicing in the chase, and sends out grievous shafts. The tops of the high mountains tremble and the tangled wood echoes awesomely with the outcry of beasts: earthquakes and the sea also where fishes shoal. But the goddess with a bold heart turns every way destroying the race of wild beasts: and when she is satisfied and has cheered her heart, this huntress who delights in arrows slackens her supple bow and goes to the great house of her dear brother Phoebus Apollo, to the rich land of Delphi, there to order the lovely dance of the Muses and Graces. There she hangs up her curved bow and her arrows, and heads and leads the dances, gracefully arrayed, while all they utter their heavenly voice, singing how neat-ankled Leto bare children supreme among the immortals both in thought and in deed. Hail to you, children of Zeus and rich-haired Leto! And now I will remember you and another song also.” (2)

 

Devotee to Artemis to pour a libation of milk and honey to Artemis upon the ground.

 

Invoking and Honoring Hekate and Artemis: Priestess to light the candle for Hekate and say:

 

“Come to me, O beloved mistress, Three-faced Hekate
Kindly hear my sacred chants.
You arm your hands with dreaded, murky lamps,
You shake your locks of fearful serpents on your brow
You sound the roar of bulls out from your mouth.
Fierce dogs are dear 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
Triple-pointed, triple-faced, triple-necked,
And goddess of the triple ways, who hold
Untiring flame in triple baskets,
And you who often frequent the triple way
And rule the triple decades,
Unto me who am calling you
Be gracious and with kindness give heed,
You who protect the spacious world at night,
Before whom daimons quake in fear
And Gods immortal tremble, Goddess who
Exalt men, you of many names, mother of Gods
And men and Nature, Mother of all things,
For you frequent Olympos, and the broad
And boundless chasm you traverse. Beginning
And end are you, and you alone rule all.
For all things are from you, and in you do
All things, Eternal one, come to their end.
Hail, Goddess, and attend your epithets,
I burn for you this incense,”

 

Priestess stops and places some incense on the charcoal then continues on by saying:

 

“Dart shooter, heavenly one, Goddess of harbors,
Who roam the mountains, Goddess of crossroads,
O nether and nocturnal, and infernal
Goddess of dark, quiet and frightful one,
O you who have your meal amid the graves,
Night, Darkness, broad Chaos: Necessity
Hard to escape are you;
You’re torment, Justice and Destroyer,
O you with hair of serpents, serpent-girded,
Who bring death and destruction,
Who devour those dead untimely,
And you strike the graves,
And spread madness, come to my sacrifices,
And bestow your blessings upon me/us.”

 

Priestess to light the candle for Artemis and say:

 

“Come to me, O glorious mistress, Shining Artemis
Kindly hear my sacred chants.
Armed with deadly bow you run wild
Over the mountains and unleash deadly arrows.
You sound the chase and lead the hunt
Encouraging the hounds until land and
Beast tremble and cry out before you
O mistress of wild places.
Shooter of deer, night, shining,
The white brow is yours, radiant light-bringer,
And swift sandals you wear too.
Laurel-Maiden who leads,
Bear, deer, lion and all animals are your companions
And your charge. Children you also nurture
From the first pangs of labor to the
First moments of adulthood.
Fiery virgin of the bay laurel,
Who leads the dances shining amongst the
Muses and Graces who sing your praise.
Unto me who am calling you
Be gracious and with kindness give heed,
Artemis Ephesia, savior, protectress,
Torch-bearer, you make a circuit around
The mountain to watch over the dead.
You are punishment without mercy,
Death-bringer, plague-sender,
Ever upholding the respect of the Gods.
Hail, Goddess, and attend your epithets,
I burn for you this incense,”

 

Priestess stops and places some incense on the charcoal then continues on by saying:

 

“O Daughter of Zeus and Leto.
Far roaming amid the cedars and woody peaks,
Dart shooter, heavenly one,
Who roams the mountains, come to my sacrifices,
And bestow your blessings upon us.”

 

Tokens of Devotion: all attendees proceed before the altar in turn and give any offerings they have brought along. These can be in the form of hymns or prayers they would like to read out to Hekate along with any petitions of askance, blessings or alternative offerings if they haven’t already done so.  Jewellery or ritual tools may be consecrated using the khernips.

 

Priestess to light the mini-candles on the amphiphon cake.

 

Priestess to pour a round of libations for each Goddess in turn (Hestia, Hekate and Artemis).

 

Priestess to pour the rest of the wine whilst blessing it into individual cups/chalices and pass to all attendees who may partake of it.

 

Ceremonial Closing: Priestess thanks Hekate by saying:

 

“Hekate, in your name we gathered, thank you for your eternal illumination and blessings.”

 

Devotee of Artemis thanks Artemis by saying:

 

“Artemis, we thank you for your presence and blessings.”

 

Devotee of Hestia thanks Hestia by saying:

 

“Hestia, we thank you, yours was the first. Yours is the last. We end as we began.”

 

Ritual (3) is complete.


  1. Homeric Hymn to Hestia translated by Evelyn-White.
  2. Homeric Hymn to Artemis translated by Evelyn-White.
  3. Inspired and adapted from the Hekatesia Ritual by Neokoroi.

(C) T. Georgitsis 2016

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