The Goddess Hecate: from Greek mythology to Wicca

Hecate is a very mysterious goddess.

Coming from the Greek pantheon but most likely derived from even older deities, she is today a central figure in Wicca.

Previously known for her great powers (she would have one day controlled the earth, the sky and the seas... just that), her place became less and less important over time.

However, the figure of the goddess Hecate has experienced a revival in recent years thanks to the research of certain currents stemming from Wicca and “witchcraft”.

In Greek mythology, this goddess was associated with certain occult practices and her link with the underworld seems confirmed by several sources.

An ambivalent divinity, sometimes punishing and sometimes rewarding her allies, Hecate was certainly an atypical character who at least deserves our attention.

This is actually what we are going to do.

Contents :

Hecate and mythology

Hecate and Wicca

Hecate's wheel (or strophalos)

The Jerusalem cross, a statue of Christ and a Templar amulet

acquire power and knowledge

through ancient esoteric symbols

Discover

Hecate and mythology

The figure of the goddess Hecate is definitely surrounded by mysteries.

In fact, there is still debate among specialists about its origin, its character and even its real name. Unfortunately, we only know a few legends about her and she is not found in any official genealogy.

Don't worry: there are some theories about it, however.

Some say Hecate is the daughter of Erebus and Nyx, eternal goddess of the night, while others believe she is one of the Furies.

There is even a theory that Hecate is the last Titan to survive Zeus' attack.

Either way, if you're interested in Greek mythology, you'll likely find a wealth of information by taking a close look at our selection of Greco-Roman lucky charms.

Primitive statue of the goddess Hecate

Hecate and mythology: really a Greek goddess?

It is likely that the legends recounting her birth evolved as the social groups that revered her changed.

Some worshiped her quite significantly, yes, but no Greek clan ever claimed descent from Hecate (unlike most of the gods of the Hellenic pantheon).

This supports a surprising theory: that the goddess Hecate actually originated outside of Greece.

According to some historians, Hecate probably comes from the mythology of the Karians, a people of southwest Asia Minor.

It would then have integrated the Greek belief system around the sixth century BCE.

However, there is other evidence that suggests that Hecate evolved from the Egyptian goddess Heqet (who will be better described here ). (Héqet, Hécate… do you see the link?)

Protector of midwives, Héqet was represented with a frog's head.

In fact, in ancient Egypt, the matriarch, serving in the role of midwife of the tribe, was called the "heq."

It is interesting to note that the goddess Hecate is also associated with childbirth.

Head sculpted in sandstone of a Greek goddess

Hecate and mythology: meaning of her name

The name Hecate has several possible meanings.

She who does according to her will ” is the most commonly accepted, but some Hellenists will instead suggest that “ the distant one ” would be a better translation.

Still others will rather call it “ the brilliant one ”. Depictions of Hecate found in Greek temples dating from the 4th century BCE seem to support this theory. She is in fact represented there as a young woman who is both beautiful and powerful.

Last theory but not the least interesting: “Hecate” would be the feminine equivalent of “ Hekatos ”, an obscure epithet of Apollo, to which she is sometimes connected.

Regardless, the name Hecate is associated with a certain temperament and a lot of mysteries.

Painting representing the gods of Olympus, the Titans and certain Greek deities.

Hecate and mythology: family and genealogy

Most historians speak of Hecate as the daughter of the Titans Perses and Asteria (herself daughter of the Titans Ceos and Phoebe). These two characters being linked to light (in the divine sense of the term), this makes us understand what the goddess Hecate may have originally been.

Sometimes she is also described as one of the daughters of Nyx, the primordial goddess of the night. We therefore see it here in a much darker, more tenebrous light, which shows us the way in which it could be seen at the end of Hellenic civilization.

Throughout history, her attributions and her image have indeed evolved greatly, sometimes even causing her to be confused with other deities. In this regard, we can cite:

  • Artemis, goddess of the hunt
  • Selene, goddess of the Line
  • the nymphs Maira, Hercyna and Perseis
  • the Thracian goddesses Bendis and Kotys (Cotys)
  • and a whole bunch of other minor mythological figures

Obviously, through her lineage, she is linked to almost all the Olympians (Poseidon, Hera, Hermes, etc.) but also to the Titans (Cronos, Ouranos or Gaia).

Another item on this list is worth mentioning: its connection with certain Thracian gods. Indeed, many archaeologists believe that Hecate would likely be a “Greek-style” evolution of a divinity from this region.

Triple goddess against a threatening blue sky

Hecate and mythology: member of a larger trio

Hecate 's best-known appearance in the Greek mythological corpus is in Homer's hymns to Demeter.

Demeter's daughter Persephone, the goddess of spring, was playing in the meadows when Hades emerged from the Underworld and captured her.

Hecate witnessed the scene and hastened to reveal everything to Demeter. The two goddesses decided to go to the underworld to negotiate with Hades.

They all reached an agreement together: Persephone would spend part of the year on earth, and part in the underworld.

Furthermore, it would be Hecate who would guide her during her travels between the two worlds.

Since then, Hecate, Persephone and Demeter have formed what some call the "triple goddess", a figure from time immemorial and composed of a young girl, a mother and an old woman.

Some traces suggest that Hecate was associated with the young girl, while others designate her as the old woman.

Anyway, if this figure speaks to you, here is a ring of the triple goddess that should interest you.

At Mytilene, on the eastern coast of the Aegean Sea, there were temples dedicated to Demeter. Every year the Eleusis festival was held there, to which women went to participate in fertility rituals.

There is ample evidence to indicate that the goddess Hecate was also honored there.

Desolate landscape symbolizing Hecate's decadence

Hecate and mythology: the decadence of this figure

Little by little, the benevolent aspect of Hecate's aura gave way to her darker sides.

In more recent myths, she is depicted as a daughter of Zeus who ruled the underworld and the waning moon: emphasizing her darker sides, the Greeks eventually made Hecate the goddess of the dead and queen of witches.

Towards the end of Hellenic civilization, she was portrayed as an old woman wandering the earth on moonless nights, accompanied by menacing dogs and malevolent and vengeful spirits.

No other Greek deity was associated with such an atmosphere of evil and witchcraft.

How did Hecate go from a popular and bright young goddess to a dark and terrifying witch?

We may never know for sure, but there are some clues.

Crossroads where the observer has the choice between two paths

Hecate and mythology: the goddess of crossroads

Hecate has long been associated with a very specific symbol : a crossroads where three roads meet.

There is a Greek belief that should help us clarify all this…

After crossing the Styx, the famous river of the Underworld, the soul of a recently deceased citizen finds himself in a place where three roads met.

The first leads to the Champs Élysées, the home of the blessed, reserved for heroes and great men.

The second leads to the Fields of Asphodel, intended for all those who had led an irreproachable, although ordinary, life.

The third takes souls directly to Tartarus, a land of punishment where they would suffer for Eternity.

In Greek mythology, it was Hecate's task to choose which route each soul would be allowed to take.

Greek amphorae and vases painted with golden mythological figures on a black background

Hecate and mythology: Hecate's place in sacred art

Vases, mosaics, statues, epics: Hecate begins to appear in Greek literature and art around the 5th century BCE. Before that, she only occupied a minor place in legends like that of Demeter or that of Artemis.

This may indicate the relatively late arrival of the goddess in Greece (although she was considered a Greek goddess and not of foreign origin by the ancients).

From this period of Hellenic civilization, historians and archaeologists have found hundreds of representations of our powerful goddess.

Most often, vases show her as a young woman carrying a torch and a key, reminders of her function as guardian of the gates of Hades.

In sculpture, there is a way of representing it which is more… striking than the others. During the so-called classical period, Hecate is represented as a three-headed goddess from whom a halo of light escapes.

Historian Robert Graves notes that its heads could in some cases be those of a dog, a lion and a horse, which would be a nod to three constellations that cover the sky of Greece.

Known as hekataia, the first example of this triple form of the goddess Hecate corresponds to a statue which guarded the entrance to the Acropolis of Athens, the sculptor's "Hekate Epipyrgidia". The great altar of Zeus in Pergamum also shows us the goddess attacking a terrible giant.

Typically, it was a common practice to place images of the goddess at city gates and entrances to sacred sites. The Greeks believed that it protected them by keeping away evil spirits.

Primitive statue of the goddess Hecate

Occult powers?

The esoteric secrets of witchcraft

Discover

Hecate and Wicca

One thing is certain: Hecate is indeed the goddess of witches.

There are various currents from Wicca which worship sometimes very different deities. There is one, however, that will absolutely always be present.

You've probably already guessed, it's the goddess Hecate.

Among the most common attributes of witchcraft, it therefore occupies a special place.

In reality, this is not surprising. It is the original border, guardian of all crossroads and transitions from one place (or state) to another.

Because she controls these passages, she has access to all areas of existence: Earth, Heaven, Hell.

Hecate stands at the gateway between the Worlds. She is its guardian and guides us.

Hands of an old woman reading a book

Hecate and Wicca: the old woman of the triple goddess

Today, Hecate represents a facet of the triple goddess: the old woman.

In these traits, she appears protective, implacable but tender. She has all the wisdom in the world and knows all the mysteries.

She can see through illusion and lies as if possessing a blazing torch of truth.

The goddess Hecate, in Wicca, is very difficult to understand. In fact, his wisdom is so profound that no mortal can even hope to approach it.

If his actions and decisions can sometimes seem strange to us, it is only because we cannot understand his real designs.

Libra symbolizing Hecate's justice

Hecate and Wicca: a just goddess

Hecate could arguably be described as a “karmic goddess”.

Indeed, through her ability to decide the fate of the souls of the deceased, she enforces the laws of the universe.

Nothing escapes her, and she will not leave any of your actions without consequences.

So when working with Hecate, you need to be careful: you might get more than you ask for... or maybe less.

Even if she is implacable, she nonetheless remains merciful, generous and sometimes even full of tenderness.

On top of that, Hecate is the Grim Reaper, the goddess of death, the inexorable tide of time, much like a merciless mother who would always bring her children back to her.

And yet, her power can also heal because, as a mother, her compassion can be great.

Thus, she shares a little of her knowledge, particularly in the areas of healing and the use of medicinal plants.

Woman from the Wiccan tradition who uses her powers

Hecate and Wicca: her attributes and powers

Standing as a bridge to the spirit realm, Hecate is a goddess of immeasurable power.

Without being excessively sweet or cuddly, she is a grandmother, but not the grandmother of a family or a home: she takes care of all humanity (past, present or future).

She knows all your secrets, even the most shameful ones, and won't let anything slip.

Even if she loves us and wants to protect us, she respects our choices and will therefore not protect us from ourselves. If we decide to look for her, however, she will be there to guide us.

She comes to take the living to the land of death, and can therefore seem harsh or even cruel. However, his care and healings are authentic.

She is the original witch depicted in the tales that are told to children to frighten them.

She desires neither youth, nor beauty, nor love, nor wealth: all of this has no meaning for Hecate.

She knows the secrets of all mysteries and follows a wisdom she finds within herself.

All these qualities make it a first choice for the practice of white magic.

Queen of witches dressed in white

Hecate and Wicca: the queen of magicians and witches

Given all of her attributes, offering this title to Hecate seems entirely logical.

As witchcraft exploits the forces of creation, this type of practice could only find a representative in a being who could perceive all the secrets of the world.

Additionally, as Hecate is the goddess who manages the passages between worlds, it is natural for most practitioners of Wicca to show some interest in her.

For some of them, Hecate would have the power to transform matter. Everything she touches could be changed. She would also share this ability with those who honor her.

List of lucky charms linked to Wicca

Hecate and Wicca: lucky symbols

It was already associated with dogs by the Ancient Greeks, according to whom barking in the night necessarily meant that it was approaching.

Among other animals, the goddess Hecate was also linked to all creatures showing magical, or at least mystical, interest.

Horses, owls, ravens, snakes, frogs: all would be placed under the orders of Hecate.

Among its other lucky symbols, we can cite:

  • Plants inducing altered states of consciousness
  • Torches : to pierce the darkness of illusion and confusion
  • Certain types of knives : to definitively cut the paths that we have not chosen
  • The keys : to open the doors of wisdom and knowledge
  • Labyrinths : to be able to navigate them, you must have superior intelligence and wisdom.

Vector image of Hecate's wheel, also called strophalos

Hecate's wheel (or strophalos)

The Wheel of Hecate, also called strophalos is an ancient Greek lucky symbol dating back to around 2300 BCE.

As its name suggests, it is linked to the goddess Hecate.

The information we have about this lucky charm comes to us on the one hand from a certain oral tradition transmitted in a more or less secret way for millennia, and on the other hand from the writings of Greek authors such as Xenophon and Proclus.

All this allows us to have a more or less precise idea of ​​this magical tool.

Here you can find a copy of Hecate's Wheel.

Labyrinth made of cut hedges associated with Hecate's wheel

Hecate's Wheel or strophalos: a labyrinth above all

Many lucky charms from ancient times use a spiral motif.

If you look at its center, you will see what the strophalos was at the beginning of its existence.

As the level of civilization of those who used Hecate's wheel evolved, the spiral took on an increasingly complex labyrinth surrounding it.

The strophalos is therefore a magical symbol halfway between the new and the old.

Many Wicca practitioners use it today to decorate their altars, candles, and other ritual accessories.

The Labyrinth (with a capital “L”, to understand that of the legend of the minotaur ) is on the other hand not linked to the goddess Hecate in any way whatsoever.

Where the prison of this giant bull represents a most insurmountable ordeal, the wheel of Hecate is rather linked to the concepts of life, destiny and even energy.

Greek temple linked to Herates

Wheel of Hecate or strophalos: a Greek lucky charm

Strophalos ” literally means “ swirling wheel ”, the Greek verb is strophao translating to turn.

So the strophalos is something that moves in a circular motion.

From a linguistic point of view, the strophalos is therefore not necessarily a labyrinth.

As a practical magical tool, the Hecate Wheel is used in rituals aimed at invoking the eponymous goddess.

In the book by Sorita d'Este and David Rankine, “Liminal Rites”, we can read that:

The queen of the sharpest arrows, brought the spotted lynx from Olympus, linked to the four spokes of the indissoluble wheel of Hecate. »

In esoteric jargon, the lynx represents something that cries (in reference to the Greek verb iyzo).

Socrates in Xenophon's work, Memorabilia also refers to this Greek lucky charm. It describes the Hecate Wheel as a powerful magical tool used to invoke the goddesses Artemis and Hecate for love spells.

Philostratus of Athens also describes some places where strophalos is used.

For example, he describes how deities were painted hanging from a wheel of Hecate on the ceiling of the throne room of the king of Babylon.

Philostratus also speaks of a giant strophalos which would decorate the temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Clock showing the ancient age of Hecate's wheel

Wheel of Hecate or strophalos: its true age

Today, many witchcraft enthusiasts believe that the strophalos is a modern symbol.

As you may have read above, this is not the case.

The Mycenaean civilization (1600 BC) already used it in the making of clothing or jewelry.

Pieces found in Lerna of Argolis in a building called by archaeologists "the house of pottery" also bear the symbol of Hecate's wheel.

This was probably engraved using an official seal.

It is therefore a safe bet that the strophalos was linked to the power of the time.

Was it used as a simple emblem or did it have a more esoteric use?

On the other hand, we may never know...

Woman with mysterious gaze

Wheel of Hecate or strophalos: a symbolism difficult to decipher

One thing is certain: strophalos is linked to the goddess Hecate. (Normally, you should have it figured out by now.)

In this sense, it is considered to be able to serve as a first step towards knowledge of the arcane or the journey of the soul through the worlds.

Some rather consider this lucky charm as a manifestation of the “ nurturing breast of the goddess Hecate, this living flame which dresses itself in matter to manifest its existence”.

Still others will tell you that Hecate's wheel represents an emanation of divine thought (the central spiral) which we can only access after certain trials (the labyrinth).

Today, strophalos is mainly used by practitioners of what is commonly called the “Neo-Hellenic Enlightenment”, or in certain currents of Wicca.

Lucky charms featured in this article

author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.