November 16 is the modern celebration of Hekate of the Underworld. Although I’m not certain of the origins, I know I’ve been observing this festival for at least a decade. I did a bit of digging to try to find out where this event started and I found this link from 2009. Since that time the festival has evolved from being an all-purpose night honoring Our Lady to one that focuses exclusively on Hekate as Queen of the Underworld. Honestly, I have no idea how this happened. Let’s just say that Hekate wants it this way.
The Holy Darkness
In Modern Hekatean Witchcraft, this night is a vital part of the annual cycle of devotion. There’s another celebration, this one for Hekate of the Crossroads, coming up on November 30. Given that two of the three most important contemporary festivals are in November (the other annual event being Rite of Her Sacred Fires), I consider this month as the Holy Darkness for practitioners of Modern Hekatean Witchcraft. If you want to hear my rationale for this edict, read this.
Hekate, Queen of the Underworld
There is plenty written about why Hekate is Queen of the Underworld, from the tale of Persephone to modern interpretations of Her as Queen of Hell, so I’m not going to review that here. Do a Google search, you’ll find tons. People are fascinated by this aspect of Hekate. Instead I am going to explore the various ways that Hekate’s Underworld energy is of benefit to us.
The Internal Underworld
For me, practicing Modern Hekatean Witchcraft is for personal development first and foremost. I want to be the best me I can be. Part of that is leading a virtuous life and taming my shadow self. The shadow self is our own internal Underworld. It’s the depository of all our fear and pain. It can both protect us and get us into a helluva lot of trouble. If you’re interested in my approach to taming the shadow self with Hekate’s guidance, check out this article.
The Lesson of Persephone
Hekate, as Queen of the Underworld and Torchbearer, is our guide through our own dark times. She’s there to shine her torch along our path through the worst times of our lives. Such times, although miserable, are the times that we grow the most as individuals. Like Persephone’s journey to the Underworld and back, and thus giving us the seasons, we, too, have required phases. During these times I know that I have often felt completely alone, but as with Persephone, Hekate hears us:
“But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her
voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tender-hearted Hecate, bright coiffed,
the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave.”
– Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Evelyn-White translation, 1914.
Respecting Our Underworld Journeys
On Hekate of the Underworld Night (November 16), I will bow down with gratitude for all the troubles She has seen me through. This is particularly important for me to do this year as my life is currently bountiful. I’m busy with my two sons doing extensive renovations to our dream home that we just purchased. Oh, and I’ve finally gotten to the place where I can devote myself to Hekate through my blog. So, although we should always be respectful towards our times in the Underworld, it is most poignant when life is good. After all, it’s the healing and learning from those days in hell that propel us to new heights. Looking back, without my belief in myself and in Hekate’s guidance during horrible times, I doubt very much that I would have become the person I am today.
Underworld AbilitiesBeyond our own internal Underworld, there are other ways that Hekate in this aspect is incredibly helpful. For those of us involved in work as mediums or psychopomps, actively working with ghosts and spirits, this night has special relevance. When we communicate with the dead to bring comfort to a grieving loved one, help a stuck spirit move along, or get rid of unwanted metaphysical residents in someone’s home, we are honoring Hekate. If you have these skills, know that you are doing a vital service. I’ll be taking time on November 16th to express my thanks for these gifts and to also ask for Her continued guidance over my work in these areas. If you feel called to be of service in this regard, I urge you to ask for Our Lady’s blessing as you pursue training. Hekate of the Underworld Night is the perfect time to do so.
Some of us may engage in magick that directly calls upon chthonic (Greek – literally “of the earth”) energy. For example, I use dirt from my families’ graves when I seek to communicate with them. I’ve also used it as a symbol of Hekate as Queen of the Underworld when I need to do some heavy lifting witchcraft, like getting rid of an evil person in my life. Using blood in spells is another example of using Underworld energy. I occasionally do these sorts of things, so I will add my thanks and seek Her protection in this regard. There have even been times in my life when I’ve had a daimon hanging around in my metaphysical orbit, so there’s that to pay homage to as well. Hekate of the Underworld Night is a great time to reflect upon our use of these things, while expressing gratitude for these gifts. If you aren’t experienced in these aspects of witchcraft, then perhaps November 16 would be a great time to seek Hekate’s guidance and blessing if you are feeling pulled in this direction.
Hekate Accepts Re-Gifts
A final way to celebrate Hekate of the Underworld Night is to send to Her things that need to go there. Like yesterday. You can re-gift Her things that you must get rid of to thrive. If you’re living as your shadow self, if you’re holding onto the past, if there’s someone in your life that needs to get out, if you’ve got some sort of Underworld destructive energy stuck to you, if there’s something in the world you’d like to send straight to hell…you get the idea. Hekate will gladly accept these things as proof of your devotion to Her.
When Hekate Calls and Seeking Her
If you are currently experiencing a difficult period in your life, whether it’s a horrible job (or lack thereof) or a spiritual dark night of the soul, it’s usually during these times that Hekate calls us for the first time and when we should seek Her. Know that She hears your cries and will deliver you from your pain.
Without Darkness, There is No Light
Lastly, I want to say that without dark, there is no light. Hekate is the darkness, the lightness, and the balance of the two. Like Persephone, we are not meant to dwell in the Underworld full time. Hekate of the Underworld Night is a time to embrace Her in this aspect and to explore your own darkness. However, brighter days are ahead. Her blazing torches will show us the way, just like She did for Persephone.
Hail Hekate Chthonia, Queen of the Underworld!
Hear my humble gratitude for your protection
During my darkest times.
Accept my heartfelt praise for your gifts of