January brings a new calendar year that’s often a time of reflection on the past and planning for the future. Hekate as Amphiprosopos is the all-seeing two headed Savior of the Chaldean Oracles. Her ability to look both ways provides a framework for exploring the idea of balance in life and witchcraft during the time leading up to the Spring Equinox.
A Brand New Year
Happy New Year! Here we are at the start of a brand new calendar. I love the smell of possibility that rises out of my freshly unwrapped Witches Calendar. As I take down last year’s, I find myself reflecting back on 2017. What a year! Adventure, travel, moving, new friends, saying goodbye to old ones…so much happened in twelve months. For some reason, the memory that popped into my head first was the image of lying on the floor of the hotel room with my two sons after we scratched the bucket list item of attending a Red Sox home game off our list. We just laid there on the sketchy hotel carpet with the A/C blasting, laughing at ourselves and talking about the day. Eventually hunger forced us to peel ourselves off the floor to forage for food. I love that memory.
My fond recollections of those truly magickal family times are there to tap into whenever I need, like when I’m away from home or when they’re driving me bonkers. While some memories warm my heart, there are those that cause so much pain. Since I started this blog last October, I’ve been writing about my own journey out of the underworld. Writing about these experiences gave me further healing and insight. Examining the past can be a powerful tool for personal transformation.
At the start of a brand new year it’s time to reflect on the past and look towards the future. A time to look both ways.
Looking Both Ways
While I was contemplating what the Keeping Her Keys theme for the month of January would be, I thought about Janus, that two-faced deity. Although Hekate is commonly viewed as tripartite, in the Chaldean Oracles (fragment 189) She is called Amphiprosopos. One translation of this term is “two headed,” but it doesn’t literally mean that. The reference is actually to Hekate as being able to exist in the material world and in the heavens. Basically. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s enough for now. A modern interpretation of this is that Hekate can look both ways – into the material world of humans and into the metaphysical world beyond.
My new year’s trip down memory lane while planning for the future is another example of looking both ways. When I am doing this not only am I creating my perception of the present, I am also provided with the opportunity to be present in the moment. This very contemporary idea of “be here now” is about holding space between times, events or ideas. In doing so we are engaging in a very liminal approach to life. As a practitioner of Modern Hekatean Witchcraft, I revere such in-between spaces as being most symbolic of Hekate. Having a liminal mindset allows us to look both ways.
The Duality of Opposing Forces
I’ve been fascinated by various constructs that are seemingly opposite since I did my undergrad Honor’s thesis twenty years ago. In my project, I conducted research on the ways people orient themselves in close relationships. This orientation is called attachment style, and one way to study this is by measuring the level of security a person has. Someone is viewed as having a secure attachment style if they have low levels of anxiety and avoidance towards others. The three types of insecurity are the possible combinations of high levels of one or both of the two dimensions. Looking both ways gives us a portrait of what attachment style is. This duality of seemingly opposing forces is found in most areas of our lives – our behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and in witchcraft.
There’s no way I could ever list the number of constructs that we hold as opposite ends of a continuum. The idea of time (past/future) or attachment style are just two. Another example that I’ve already written about in these blogs is the shadow – authentic self duality.
The Liminal Mindset
Inherent to a liminal mindset towards things is finding where we fit best on the continuum between opposing feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Some things, like the shadow-authentic self duality are often in a state of change. However, there is an ideal state where the shadow is tamed, letting the authentic self emerge. That is when balance is achieved. Having balance in all areas of our lives is a vital part of living an authentic – what I call virtuous – life. We can search for balance by looking both ways at things like control and chaos or dark vs. light.
Hekate and Janus
January seems like the perfect time to embark on a “looking both ways” study of achieving balance. After all, the month is named after Janus, that two headed Roman god. Besides sharing the ability to look both ways, Janus has other similarities with Hekate. He is associated with thresholds and childbirth as well. These are very fitting as I cross into the threshold of the new year and give birth to my quest for balance.
There is even more ancient evidence of a connection between Janus and Hekate found in Proclus’ hymn to both of them. I often leave out the bits about Janus/Zeus (a discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this already too long blog), but I’ve included them here since it seems fitting for the new year.
Proclus’ Hymn to Hekate and Janus
Hail, many-named Mother of the Gods, whose children are fair
Hail, mighty Hekate of the Threshold
And hail to you also Forefather Janus, Imperishable Zeus
Hail to you Zeus most high.
Shape the course of my life with luminous Light
And make it laden with good things,
Drive sickness and evil from my limbs.
And when my soul rages about worldly things,
Deliver me purified by your soul-stirring rituals.
Yes, lend me your hand I pray
And reveal to me the pathways of divine guidance that I long for,
Then shall I gaze upon that precious Light
Whence I can flee the evil of our dark origin.
Yes, lend me your hand I pray,
And when I am weary bring me to the haven of piety with your winds.
Hail, many-named mother of the Gods, whose children are fair
Hail, mighty Hekate of the Threshold
And hail to you also Forefather Janus, Imperishable Zeus,
Hail to you Zeus most high.*
Where Angels Tread
Proclus is writing about a Hekate that can deliver us from our darkness. My recent efforts to get out of my own personal underworld have resulted in a parting of ways between me and my long-serving spirit guides. In their place seems to be an…angel. I’ve always resisted angels, but I think I’m ready to be open to exploring this connection. In The Chaldean Oracles, Hekate is not only Soteira, but is The Mother of Angels, providing me with a framework for figuring out “how to look both ways” with my new “heavenly” messenger. I’m working on an article about Hekate and angels that I’ll post soon.
Time to Get Crackin’
I’m a bit wary of going where angels tread, just like I am about exploring what balance means to me. But, here I am at the threshold of a brand new year excited to give birth to a new understanding of myself, my life, my devotion to Hekate, and my witchcraft. Speaking of witchery, I’ll also be writing more about Modern Hekatean Witchcraft, including a sample initiation ritual and a “starter kit” for those just beginning this path.
Well, that’s enough about what I’m planning to do. It’s time to start doing it! Before I get crackin’, I just want to raise my mug to the new year, to my new quest for balance, to Hekate Amphiprosopos, and to you!
Happy New Year!
*Proclus Diadochus (410-485 AD)
Hymn VI: To Hekate and Janus
(Text: E. Vogt Procli Hymni Weisbaden 1957)
NOTE: The Two-Headed Hekate used in the image is adapted from this: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Relief_triplicate_Hekate_marble,_Hadrian_clasicism,_Prague_Kinsky,_NM-H10_4742,_140997.jpg