This post is part of a blog challenge series, 30 days of Devotion, to Hekate. Day 13 and we are looking at what, if any, modern cultural issues are relevant to Hekate and Her cultus.
I have decided to, on a whim, merge this with what would have been day 18 which asks, How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality, both historical and UPG. Why? Because that is a modern issue so I am unsure as to why it is separated. To separate it means I either cannot discuss gender and sexuality in this post, or I need to discuss it twice – and neither option is satisfactory to me.
Even merging the two together, I am finding this the hardest of topics. Modern issues often have little in the way of historical precedence – so that’s of little help. And when it comes to modern issues that are close to our hearts, sometimes it can be hard to tell what is my feeling that I am projecting onto the Gods, and what the Gods are projecting on to me.
Despite the whole dog (and other animals) sacrifice thing, and Her Artemisian role as a huntress, there is some historical precedence that shows Hekate is perhaps a bit of an animal activist. A surprising amount of ancient philosophers who wrote about Hekate were vegetarians and proposed that the Gods, including Hekate, preferred non-meat offerings. Many of these vegetarian philosophers were, or are thought to have been, devotees of Hekate.
Today as well, many Devotees of Hekate speak of the pull towards, if not animal activism, a care of animals – especially animals in need. Thus it is that many are wont to adopt rescue animals or look after stray animals. I myself do similar, taking care of orphaned bunnies until they were able to be released into the wild, taking in a cat who turned up on my doorstep and decided to live with me for a year, taking care of a duck who had injured its wing for a few days.
I can’t speak to this as being strictly historical as it mostly arises from a particular quote about Hekate that is maybe misinterpreted, maybe not.
“Ask Hekate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will tell you that the rich send her a meal every month [deipnon] and that the poor make it disappear before it is even served.” – Aristophanes.
Some take this to mean that the offering of Hekates Supper is in fact meant to be a charitable act to feed those in need. Others disagree and think that the starving and poor took great risk in stealing Her food – or perhaps they are simply allowed to do so by Hekate, but it still doesn’t mean we choose who gets the offering.
Either way, it’s a modern thought now that charitable acts, especially during the Deipnon, are a devotional act to Hekate. Which, since this can be considered SPG, makes Hekate a deity concerned with charity. But it’s not for everyone – in relation to Hekate – so it’s okay if you don’t connect the two. I still recommend being charitable where possible though.
Sexuality and Gender
There really isn’t much to go on historically. She had some eunuch priests, but that doesn’t tell us much really, especially since we don’t know why they were eunuchs.
Honestly, I don’t feel She really cares. By which I mean She doesn’t care what or who you are. I think She is more concerned with people making choices and realising truths – so in that I think She would be supportive of people coming out as trans or gay or whatever, because in this you make a choice to be who you are.
That said, as a liminal deity, it is possible She has a bit of a connection with trans people who could themselves be considered liminal – they are neither what they were nor what they want to be, they are somewhere in the middle, transitional and of two worlds.
The very movements themselves, trans rights movements and indeed all LGBTQIA+ movements might concern Her because the movements are liminal and transitional as well. They are movements that are reshaping our world, pulling our societies from one place and into the next. But we aren’t there yet, we are still in the transitional phases and as such, this would likely mean something to Hekate.
Maybe, kind of. Hekate is a maiden, but perhaps not in the virginal sense. In this She is an independent woman, She has no need of men even if She does work with Them at times. She is an example of what most ancient Hellenic women were not – walking around alone, including at night, unmarried, doing things for Herself. She is a leader and She is the one who protects – roles usually of men, especially in ancient views.
In the modern sense, SPG, we can look at Hekate as the Triple Goddess and Crone to see another role She plays in womens rights. The Crone is, from what I can tell, a modern womans way of getting rid of certain female stereotypes – that once we lose the ability to bear children we become useless. The Crone shows that being old and barren is not a bad thing, indeed it is something to aspire to. So Hekate as SPG Crone does play a role in feminism.
As the Triple Goddess, the one where She is Maiden, Mother and Crone, or when She is simply The Goddess (as She is to some people) She plays a similar role in feminism. Empowering and strong. But, we also know there are certain limiting things about the MMC idea that are not good for feminism. So, it’s a hard one.
As an Artemisian huntress She perhaps shows another way in which She has a role in feminism. The huntress is a masculine sort of female really. She is the strong and independent woman who can do all those things only men should be able to do according to stereotyping.
So, I think Hekate plays a big role in feminism, whether She wants to or not.
30 Days of Deity Devotion
13 – What modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?
14 – Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?
15 – Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?
16 – How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?
17 – How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?
18 – How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG)
19 – What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire? And find the most troubling?
20 & 21 – Art and music that reminds you of this deity
22 – A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with
23 – Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity
24 & 25 – A time when this deity has helped you, and refused to help
26 – How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
28 – Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently
29 – Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?
30 – Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?