In ancient times, the goddess Hekate was worshipped as the Leader of the Dogs (Skylakagetis in Greek). Black dogs in particular were sacred to her and were often sacrificed at her temples and sanctuaries. These ghostly hounds and their corporeal counterparts were said to herald her comings and goings and to accompany her on her night wanderings.
Then earth began to bellow, trees to dance,
And howling dogs in glimm’ring light advance,
Ere Hecate came. “Far hence be souls profane!”
The Sibyl cried, “and from the grove abstain!
In the above quote from The Aeneid by Virgil, we receive a hint of magical knowledge regarding the Hounds of Hekate. Not only are they her heralds and escorts, but they can also serve as guards and protectors against ghosts and other straying spirits. Like Kerberos, Hekate’s Hounds can check wayward spirits and keep them far from your home and/or spiritual rites. In mundane matters, the Greeks, and Romans too, were no strangers to employing dogs as protectors. Large black mastiff hounds were essential aids in the work of protecting homes and farms. They were also trained as war-dogs, renowned for their bravery and strength in defense. Given these sacred and oh so practical associations, I have begun to incorporate Hekate’s Hounds into my magical work. In my rites, it is not uncommon for them to appear as mastiffs, though other breeds make appearances (especially greyhounds, which were hunting dogs in ancient Greece and Rome).
As the sun wanes and the darkness waxes, the cold lonely nights harbor many wayward spirits and souls. In these times, I am especially inclined to call upon Hekate and her Hounds to guard and protect me and mine. Not too long ago several witches gathered to adore Hekate and I was responsible for establishing the protections that would bar us from harm for the duration of the rite. Below is the warding that I created. It centers the Hounds of Hekate. This warding works well as a part of a larger ritual or, slightly modified, as a standalone ward for one’s home or other property.
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Purify and consecrate the space. Once that task is complete, take in hand a bronze sword from the central altar and speak the following lines (or something similar) with a resounding voice:
I call the Hounds of Hekate to avert any evil that may threaten our Work.
Then go to the north and with sword held point up, say:
By the Hounds’ firm footfall in the North,
Proceed slowly to the East:
By the Hounds’ keen senses in the East,
Walk to the South:
By the Hounds’ dreaded bark in the South,
And to the West:
By the Hounds’ deadly bite in the West,
Return to the North and then walk back to the center altar and say:
The ward is set.
Raise the point of the sword to the sky and then bring the point (gently) down to the ground. Return the sword to its proper place on or near the altar.
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During the entire warding process I use a resounding voice and I keep rhythm as I speak and walk the perimeter. The rhythm is important to maintain. With regard to the use of the sword, it feels energetically appropriate to hold the sword point up (hilt about heart level) when speaking the line for each direction. Between directions (while walking from cardinal point to cardinal point) I turn the blade down to point at the ground and raised it up again when I arrive at the cardinal point and begin to speak. This ward works well when moving slowly, allowing time to reach out to Hekate’s Hounds and pray for their attendance and acceptance of the charge. Once the ward is set, make an offering of fresh water and quality meat to the Hounds. Also, pour a libation or give another offering to Hekate in thanks for her Hounds’ service.
Intuition may guide you to execute this ward differently. I’ll leave that to Hekate, to the Hounds, and to you.
- Dogs in Rome and Greece. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/miscellanea/canes/canes.html
- HECATE (Hekate) – Greek goddess of witchcraft, magic & ghosts. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Hekate.html