I looked out of the window into the murk of a pre-dawn Monday to see that six inches of snow had fallen overnight, with whorls and eddies of the stuff tapering off slowly in the gloom. Blast and botheration. In my paying job I serve as an in-home caregiver to the elderly, and my current clients are a 45-minute drive away on a good day. Knowing I had to leave earlier in order to get to their house by 8:30am, I hustled through breakfast prep, not realizing until I sat down that I had completely forgotten to say my daily waking prayer to Hekate. It’s absolutely always the first thing I say the moment I’m awake, but today—worried about how much snow might have fallen—I had just barreled to the window and into the morning routine.
I stopped, spoke my prayer, and tucked into my breakfast hoping all the while that I would receive an early morning call from the Agency telling me my clients had cancelled due to the continuing snow storm. While driving through snow is infinitely better than having to drive on ice, I’m not entirely comfortable doing either—this old Texas gal had never even seen snow regularly until about 10 years ago. But, no such luck; no call meant I was going to be hitting the road (and hopefully nothing on the road).
My second morning devotional occurs after breakfast. I do a daily 4-card Tarot spread just to check in with things I might want (or need) to be aware of as the day spools out. Usually I don’t ask a specific question; I simply let my mind drift blankly as I shuffle and pull cards. Not today, though. Today I asked Hekate to keep me safe—it’s already part of the prayer I bookend my days and nights with—but, nervous about my looming commute on country roads, I figured a little more intentional asking couldn’t hurt.
And so I set off, slip-sliding down the street in the opposite direction so that I could make a decent run at the first hill and further altering my route to take me past the train station and onto the main street going through our little downtown. Not too bad, I thought to myself, but I had miles—and hills—to go yet.
As I was slowly rounding the second uphill bend, the first snowplow appeared before me. I snicked in behind it, felt my tension abate somewhat, and said a quick prayer of thanks to Hekate. Three lights later, we caught up to the second and third snowplows. As we trundled along they arranged themselves in a diagonal before me, sweeping not only my lane but the entire road clear of half a foot of heavy, wet snow for the next 15 miles, then peeling off as we crested the last big hill on my route.
So, what (if anything) does this little parable have to do with Hekate? Isn’t it perfectly rational, utterly predictable that snowplows would be out clearing the streets first thing in the morning? Isn’t it true that if I had really felt like I might be in danger I could have simply cancelled on my clients instead of hoping they’d cancel on me? How is any of this anything but profoundly mundane?
I experience Hekate as Guardian, Guide and Gatekeeper, and when I pray to Her I ask that I may see what I need to see and that I may be Her hands on Earth. If I’m serious about that then I’m not just thinking in terms of serving as High Priestess during Rituals. I’m thinking in terms of bringing a little bit, and seeing a little bit, of the magical into the mundane. It means I don’t take the way that’s easiest for me, as seductive as it may be.
I made a personal commitment to my clients—beyond the contractual commitment—to guard them against injury, to companion them as they do the hard work of aging. It means an act of kindness as mundane as telling a stranger at the grocery store that she can have the last carton of eggs that are on sale—a carton that is in my hands and halfway to my cart—can very possibly have a magically profound effect on her fixed-income budget. It means every step is sacred, every breath is a prayer, and every interaction I have is an opportunity to serve the Goddess.
Do I think Hekate sent her Sacred Snowplows to guide me safely to my destination? Perhaps not. But even so, I was sharply aware that I had asked for protection and there they were, arranged before me like a hoplite phalanx plowing down (apologies!) everything in their path. Even if She didn’t intervene by way of a group of vastly ordinary snowplows—and who’s to say She didn’t—I was still moved to give thanks for their timely appearance, and giving thanks to the gods is never inappropriate.
NOTE: I titled this post Hekate of the Sacred Plows, but of course this is not one of her many epithets. To learn more about some of the authentic descriptors of Hekate, check out Mat Auryn and Cyndi Brannen. Both have written well-researched, serious essays about the many epithets of Hekate (the names by which She is known).