Fire is one of the classical elements in Hellenic philosophy and practice. Fire is a fundamental element in creating the world and gave birth to the other elements. Fire was very valuable for the Hellenics and today that element is still a focus in modern Hellenic ritual. Fire in the witches pyramid symbolises To Will – to manifest magick through application which is done through ritual, which in and of itself is very magickal.
Rituals in Hellenic practice have always had an element of fire whether it be the hearth, lamp, candle or offerings being lit. In Hellenic philosophy, fire was associated with passion, assertiveness and energy – something which Hekate embodies completely. Hekate also has her own strong connection to fire, both in her mythology and in her rites.
Hekate used fire as a tool of power during the war against the titans, as quoted here by the Greek mythographer Pseudo-Apollodorus in Bibliotheca 1.34-38:
“When the Gigantes made war on the gods of heaven. In the course of the battle….Hekate got [the Gigante] Klytios with fire-brands.“
Fire-brands are pieces of burning wood like torches and continuing with this mythology, Hekate appears in a number of ancient vase paintings battling a giant with her twin torches.
(Hekate & Cerberus
In the abduction of Persephone by Hades, Hekate goes to Demeter to tell her what she has seen. Hekate does this with flaming torches in hand through the night. In this instance, Hekate is using the flame to guide and illuminate the path she takes between realms she has dominion over. This myth highlighting Hekate’s fire lit accompaniment is highlighted in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (19):
“Then for nine days queenly Deo [Demeter] wandered over the earth with flaming torches in her hands, so grieved that she never tasted ambrosia and the sweet draught of nektaros, nor sprinkled her body with water. But when the tenth enlightening dawn had come, Hekate, with a torch in her hands, met her, and spoke to her and told her news: `Queenly Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of good gifts, what god of heaven or what mortal man has rapt away Persephone and pierced with sorrow your dear heart? For I heard her voice, yet saw not with my eyes who it was. But I tell you truly and shortly all I know.’
So, then, said Hekate. And the daughter of rich-haired Rheia answered her not, but sped swiftly with her, holding flaming torches in her hands. So they came to Helios (the Sun), who is watchman of both gods and men, and stood in front of his horses: and the bright goddess enquired of him.”
(Translated by Evelyn-White)
(C) T. Georgitsis 2010
The element of fire is creative and it is the element of action just like Hekate. Fire is at the hearth of the home, a place where Hekate’s shrine is placed. Fire illuminates and brightens the darkness allowing us to see which way we need to go and Hekate’s role as psychopomp can help us with that. Here is a ritual I would like to share with you which you can use to honour Hekate in a Hellenic way and which utilises the element of fire:
Hellenic Hekate Fire Ritual © Setjataset 2015
Chose a liminal time and place for the ritual to be set, preferably outside if you can manage it.
Purify body by showering or washing head, hands and feet.
Your shrine and offering items should be placed in a basket or bag which are easily carried which should include purified water/khernips, asperging herbs (small bundle purifying herbs such as bay leaves), any offerings you have for Hekate which should include something for a libation – olive oil/wine/honey’d milk, a red pen, white paper, a fireproof bowl and an fire pit/oil lamp/brazier/candle, resin incense and an image of Hekate.
Form a formal procession and walk towards the shrine from the east, carrying the offerings and shrine items with you.
Wash your hands in khernips/purified water before assembling before your shrine, whilst saying:
Αφήστε όλα αυτά που είναι βλαβερά να φύγουν! (Let all that is profane be gone!)
Present the offerings to Hekate by holding them up in a gesture of oblation and place them on the shrine. You do not need to speak to do this but may say a few words as a statement of purpose if you are inspired.
Take your asperging herbs and dip into khernips/purified water and flick water onto the shrine whilst saying:
Xerniptosai! (Be Purified!)
Light the oil lamp/candle.
Light a fire pit, oil lamp, brazier or candle for Hekate.
Throw or sprinkle incense into the fire.
Read out loud or sing a hymn in Hekate’s name.
Preces (Prayer Proper)
Write a petition of something you want to ignite/bring into your life to Hekate using the pen and paper.
Pour a libation of oil, wine or honey’d milk to Hekate upon the ground.
Praxis (Working Proper)
Read your petition out loud three times.
Blow on your petition three times.
Tap your petition on the ground three times.
Set fire to your petition and watch it burn visualising your desire manifesting.
Thanks and Closing
Thank Hekate by saying:
Hekate, in your name we gathered, in your name we depart. Thank you for your eternal illumination and blessings.
Step away from the ritual space by backing away, turning to the right and leaving without looking back.
Ritual is now complete and any feasting can take place.
Do not speak about your petition until it has manifested and even then be cautious with how you share it.
Orphic Hymn Translated by Evelyn-White