Often depicted as a "hag" or old witch stirring the
Hecate, the Greek goddess of the
crossroads has been denigrated in
status from goddess to witch in current times. The reasons are explained more fully in the full version of Hecate's
story. (see the link at the bottom of this page.
Greek goddess Hecate was the only one of the Titans who Zeus allowed to retain authority once the Olympians
had defeated them.
She was given the position within the new regime of being the guardian of the households
protector of all that was newborn. This goddess of witchcraft
was once highly
revered and had great influence in the pantheon. Only with Hecate
was Zeus willing to share the tremendous power
of giving mortals anything she wished (or, if she please, the
power of withholding it).
|Hecate was one of the three "triple goddesses",
sometimes illustrated as Persephone (young maiden), Demeter (the mother), and Hecate ( wise-woman, old "crone"). The goddess Hecate
features in the story of the abduction of
Persephone and the wanderings of her mother Demeter.
Hecate, known for
her farsightedness, had witnessed the abduction of
Persephone and told Demeter, the mother what had happened.
Later she became a close friend and confidant to the frightened
Persephone and helped her adjust to life in the Underworld.
To express his gratitude for her assistance to his young bride,
Hades invited Hecate to become a permanent resident in his
kingdom and allowed her to come and go as she wished.
Images of Hecate
often depict of this "triple" aspect...showing her with
three heads. It was said he could see in all directions,
into the past, present, and even the future. Thus the crossroads
were sacred to her, especially those with three roads that
converged. In ancient times such intersections were
often marked with three masks on a pole. and food was often left
there to honor her and to feed those who traveled with her at
Hecate (who was
called the 'Queen of
the Night') often enjoyed nightly jaunts, accompanied by her
hounds and sometimes by
a following of "ghosts" and others who were social outcasts.
The goddess Hecate was
known (and also feared) as the protector of those who were oppressed and
also those who tended to live a bit "on the
edge". Her role in the Underworld, the land of
the sleeping and the dead, undoubtedly made her feel more tolerant of those
would shun out of fear or misunderstanding and more comfortable
in their company.
Not surprisingly since Hecate had great influence
in the "spirit world", appeals
were often made to her for assistance in keeping one safe. She
was known as a protector of young children, shepherds, and
sailors. In addition, the goddess could be counted upon to help those who were dying,
easing their transition into the "Otherworld" and
helping them prepare for a
return in their next life.