Pagan Portals – Hekate: A Devotional by Vivienne Moss
Pagan Portals – Hekate is a slim tome, 96 pages in length, detailing Vivienne Moss’ journey of meeting and devoting herself to Hekate.
Hekate is a very popular goddess in the pagan community, who appears in different ways to different people. Some of these appearances are in keeping with ancient writings, while others are modern representations. There are also numerous ways of honoring her. Ms Moss’ path is one of devotion and she sees her as a combination of traditional representations and those channeled through UPG (unverified personal gnosis). This is not surprising, as working with a goddess invariably leads to channeled information, as would happen in any other relationship.
I consider Pagan Portals – Hekate to be an intermediate level text, as it presupposes a fair amount of basic knowledge. You need to be able to create a sacred space, an altar, consecrate tools, compound incenses, and safely invoke a goddess for meditation and magical workings.
I would also recommend that readers study the book from cover to cover before embarking on their own journey. Altar recommendations occur in a number of points in the text. Information about the required magical tools and incenses is to be found at the end of the book. It’s also a good idea to have an idea of where you’ll be headed once you begin.
Ms Moss describes herself as “a Cottage or Hedge Witch is one who lives on the borders of this world and the Otherworld. When she rides the hedge she often meets Spirits, both kindly and malevolent. Having Hekate as guide and companion is a wise choice to make.” Hekate enables these voyages and experiences.
Regarding the book, Ms Moss states:
“This book is part devotional, part grimoire. Throughout these pages I will share my thoughts and feelings on Hekate, Queen of Witches. I know others will view Hekate differently, and that is okay, for we are all unique beings. … This is not an academic tome, nor one that is set in historic tradition. This is a modern view of Hekate as seen through the eyes of a solitary Hedge Witch.”
Creating an Altar to Hekate
Ms Moss first encountered Hekate in a cave within a dream, at the conclusion of which she dedicated herself. Importantly, the dream describes the altar in the cave:
“On the floor of the cave was a small altar decorated with skulls, feathers and all manner of found baubles. Fruit, honey, and wine were laid out pleasingly, ready for this shrouded figure to consume.”
Ms Moss appears to use the altar in the cave she visits in her dreams as the inspiration for her own shrine to Hekate, where much of her work includes her Ancestors and the Mighty Dead:
“A shrine dedicated to them is a main focal point in my home. … Oddments of witchcraft can be found throughout my home. A feather here, a solitary stone there, an old and weathered bone tucked neatly beside a candle. The hearth houses my Ancestor shrine, candles are lit daily, fresh water offered at first light. Prayers of gratitude and reverence are whispered on hallowed breath. Trinkets of loved ones are placed lovingly on the shrine. Pictures, a pipe, a shell casing from my brother’s funeral and a rose for my grandmother are but a few of the items to be found on the shrine.”
Ms Moss provides more information about her altar, and its non-static nature:
“My ever-changing altar reflects the seasons and sometimes my moods. Always present is Hekate, for it is Her altar. Here I pray and make offerings to my Queen. The lighting of Her candles and incense are a sacred event. My morning and nightly devotionals are done here, they change from day to day. I speak from the heart when addressing Her at these moments. … “
Ms Moss also has the luxury of an outdoor altar:
“When weather or time do not permit me to leave offerings for Hekate at a crossroads, I make use of my outdoor altar. It sits low to the ground like most altars for Chthonic Deities. Here I carve a crossroads into the ground, placing my offering near it. Leaving it overnight, I then bury the offering the next day. The erecting of altars is a sacred and hallowed act. It is a gift to the Gods, one that you put your heart and soul into constructing. The objects that we place on them hold special meaning to both us and our Gods. The making of charms are done there. Prayers are raised to the Starry Heavens. We cry, pouring our hearts out to the Spirits and Ancestors. Reading of runes and scrying for remnants of the past and snippets of the future are done at this sacred space. Enchanted waters and potions of healing are left on altars for the Gods to bless. All manner of witchery is done here, making this one of the most magical spaces of my home.”
Ms Moss give a few additional details about her altar:
“As a Hedge-Witch, I have a love for bones and other baubles that Nature graces us with. The finding of discarded feathers, bewitching stones, and the death-like remnants of flora and fauna bring charm and magic to my everyday life. I use them for all manner of magical workings and the decoration of altars and tools. The bones that I find not only help me in connecting with the Death Current, they remind me that we are all destined to be in the arms of Death. Hekate, Mother of Bones, will welcome Her children into Her home when Death calls our name.”
Ms Moss makes recommendations as to how dispose of offerings placed on Hekate’s altar:
“Offerings of drink, food, art, and sacred objects can be placed on Hekate’s altar and later disposed of by burying or burning. What is offered to the Gods should never be consumed or used. These are gifts to the Holy Ones and should be considered taboo to eat unless sharing a Sacred Meal with the Gods and Spirits.”
Ms Moss suggests an incense to be used for one aspect of Hekate:
“Seducing me with the promise of inspired bliss, the Dark Muse consumes my every thought. Robed in the palest of green, perfumed with the scent of anise, and the diabolically sweet taste of sugar upon Her lips sends my senses into a whirlwind. Drowning in Her warm embrace I succumb to the ecstasy of the moment. Hekate, Dark Muse of the Starry Heavens, intoxicates my mind, unleashing the madness within…”
Here is another incense suggestion for another aspect of Hekate:
“Draped by a Sandalwood and Jasmine scented mist, the Spirits of the Shadow-Lands join me in the mystical and magical dance of the Cunning Craft. Incantations are whispered, charms of making spoken in a long-forgotten tongue, and arcane symbols are drawn out with grand array. Hekate, Daemoness of Sorcery, can be felt on the boundaries of the Seen and Unseen Realms.”
There are many more incense suggestions towards the end of the book.
Towards the end of the book, Ms Moss mentions some of the magical tools she uses:
“The cauldron and the stang/staff are the two tools I use most often in my craft (besides my mind and spirit). The stang aids me in access to the World Tree and the cauldron aids in the access of Hekate’s Cave. Both connect me with the Realms of Faery and Shadow, allowing me to ride the Currents of Enchantment. The stang/staff can be decorated with horns, antlers, and feathers and the cauldron can be a cast iron cooking pot or any other vessel you feel drawn to. There are many other tools that I use in the Craft—a wand, knife, herbs, and enchanted waters all aid me in their own unique way.”
Using Hekate for Home Protection
Ms Moss also uses Hekate to protect her home:
“On the threshold of my home hangs a solitary skeleton key. This is Hekate’s Key, She who Guards the Gate. With the presence of this Key only those who mean no harm may enter. It has been charged with protective charms and blessed on the altar of Hekate. Hekate is very protective of those who show Her devotion. One of Her earliest manifestations is as a Household Goddess. She was called upon to protect the home and those living within. Hekate was invoked to protect loved ones while traveling and small shrines were erected in Her honor outside the home’s entrance. Every Full Moon I recharge Hekate’s Key for the protection of my home as well as my loved ones. It has not failed me nor do I predict it ever will.”
Traveling to Spirit Realms
Ms Moss uses flying ointment to access the crossroads where Hekate is to be found:
“Hekate’s Crossroads are not found in the waking world; they are found betwixt and between worlds. They can be found on the threshold of insanity, where the control and order of this world meet the chaos and uncertainty of the Otherworlds. It is through trance states that I have found the Crossroads. Spirit-Flight is no easy task, much care and protection must be taken. Connecting with the child within helps greatly in the preparation for the journey to the Shadow-Lands. There are Flying Ointments that a witch can use to help her in the Spirit-Flight. One must find the recipe that works best for them. Many of the herbs and oils used in Flying Ointments are of the baneful nature and one must be very careful in the preparation of these enchanted salves. To travel to Hekate’s Crossroads I have used herbs sacred to Her in the Flying Ointments and Powders I make. …
I have what I call a Spirit Stone that I use for ‘traveling’. It keeps me connected to this world and helps in the transition to the Crossroads. The making of this stone is a sacred act, the symbol I use for many Otherworldly workings.”
Sadly, Ms Moss doesn’t disclose what her Spirit Stone is. Perhaps readers have to determine what stone works best for them?
Ms Moss discusses a number of available methods for Spirit-Flight:
There are many ways in which we can travel to the Spirit Realms, finding what works for you can take many attempts of trial and error. Swaying, drumming, hissing, dancing, and deep meditation are just a few ways of gaining access to Spirit Flight. The creation of Flying Ointments can be dangerous if toxic herbs are used in their making. There are ways to make the ointment without the dangers of poisonous herbs, finding the right concoction for you is the trick. Again, it’s all about trial and error; that, of course, is what’s so rewarding about Witchcraft—the magic and enchantment that fills our lives.”
Ms Moss is absolutely correct in cautioning readers against traditional flying ointments which are made of toxic ingredients. Should you elect to go down that route and have access to either the raw ingredients or the finished product, consider having a trained medical professional or shaman with you in case something goes wrong. There are safer alternatives, but arguably they won’t be as effective.
Seals and Sigils
In her conclusion, Ms Moss writes:
“As I close my eyes and fall into the Deep Trance of the Dreamworld, I find myself at the entrance of Hekate’s Cave. The scent of burning herbs lingers in the moist, ocean air. Softly glowing within are candles inscribed with occult seals and sigils; enchantment emanates all around me.”
Sadly, these seal and sigils aren’t specified, but an internet search will yield a few possibilities.
I enjoyed this book as it outlines a devotional path which I feel has worked very well for Ms Moss. I would encourage readers who resonate with this path to use her invocations and techniques initially. Once you develop your own relationship with Hekate, you’ll be in a position to optimize Ms Moss’ techniques for your own path. I am grateful that Ms Moss shared a number of her visions as this will enable readers to have an idea of what they can expect and also gauge their own progress. Obviously visions will vary from person to person. As stated above, this is an intermediate level text, so readers will want to have worked through at least one primer text first.