Hekate’s Symbols: Fire – History, Meaning and Uses

Hekate’s Symbols: Fire – History, Meaning and Uses February 2, 2018

Hekate’s five distinct types of fire make for powerful magick. Perhaps the most widely known type of Hekate’s fire are her torches. In addition to this powerful Underworld symbol, she is the lamp-carrying guide along our Middleworld journey. As the walker among the stars, she is the light of the Upperworld shining down on us. Beyond these realms, Hekate is the very fire of creation that lives within each of us. The Hekate’s Fires Pentacle Ritual merges these five sources with the iconic symbol of witchcraft, creating a new way for making magick.

 

Hekate’s Fire

One of my favorite passages from The Chaldean Oracles explains that Hekate is the fire of creation:

“…from there, a lightning-bolt, sweeping along, obscures the flower of fire as it leaps into the hollows of the worlds. For from there, all things begin to extend wonderful rays down below.”

Given that she is the fire of all creation, it’s not surprising that she is associated with many different types of flames. Within the Oracles she is associated with fire in many different ways, all of them being parts of her role as World Soul. I wrote about Hekate as The World Soul in a recent article. If you are interested in learning more about Hekate in The Chaldean Oracles, I highly recommended reading Hekate Soteria by S. I. Johnston.

Given that Hekate is the fire of creation, all other types of fire are an extension of her one source-fire. The four other types of fire I’ll be discussing are: stars, torches, lamps and our soul-fire.

Hekate and Stars

Hekate’s association with stars is found in The Chaldean Oracles and the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM) and other ancient sources.  An invocation spell in the PGM refers to her as walking among the stars:

“Lamp-bearer, shining and aglow, Selene, Star-coursing, heavenly, torch-bearer, fire-breather…” (IV, 2557). Note: In the PGM, Hekate is syncretized with other goddesses including Selene.

In ancient times stars were seen as mysterious sources of energy. Different numbers of stars were associated with different deities, types of power, and other things. In this magic coin, a six-armed torch bearing Hekate is depicted on one side while an oroborus encircling seven stars is on the other:

The British Museum. The Campbell Bonner Magical Gems Database

 Hekate’s Torches

Perhaps there is no more iconic contemporary symbol of Hekate than her torches.  There are several references to Her torches in various ancient texts. Sorita D’Este in Circle for Hekate writes:

“Torches are synonymous with Hekate, and she is sometimes shown with just one, frequently with two, and on a few occassions in her triple form with up to six torches, one for each arm.” (p. 166)

In ancient rituals, spells and tales Hekate is seen as lighting the way with her blazing torches. Perhaps the most commonly known is The Homeric Hymn to Demeter where Hekate’s torches light Persephone’s way to and from the underworld. Images of Hekate holding her torches can be found in ancient representations of her, including magical coins like this one:

University of Michigan, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. Campbell Bonner Magical Coins Database.

Hekate’s Lamps

My personal perception of Hekate tends to see her as holding one lamp, rather than any number of torches. It doesn’t matter what type of fire she uses to light our way. There are several ancient references to Hekate as Lampadios (lamp-bearer), including the example from the PGM that I quoted earlier.

Our Soul-Fire

Another application of torch-bearer symbolism is that we hold the light to our own way, perhaps bestowed upon us by Hekate herself. Taking this idea further is the idea that we hold within our soul a spark of Hekate’s creation fire.

Using Fire in Devotion and Magick

Many modern Hekatean’s include lamps on their altars, while others have two flames (usually candles) that symbolize her twin torches.

Unlike keys and Hekate’s Wheel, the lamp (or torch) is a symbol firmly resting in Hekate’s hand. We can hold a strophalos or key in our own hands, imbue these symbols with our own energy, intentions, and invoke Hekate’s energy into them. The torch is a very different type of symbol. We typically use it to represent Hekate rather than as a magickal tool. However, candle magick can been interpreted as a tool of Hekate’s fire when we involve her in our rituals and spells. However we choose to use Hekate’s fire in our personal practice, her potent energy is sure to accompany our magick.

Hekate’s Fires and the Three Realms

I find it helpful to organize the different types of flames according to their properties using the three energetic realms. All fires flow from Hekate’s fire of creation, so they are all part of that original fire. The torch is the symbol of the Underworld, lighting the darkness and providing guidance, as Hekate did for Persephone. The Upperworld is represented by the fiery energy of the stars. In the Middleworld, Hekate’s lamp lights the way through our earth-bound journey. All three realms are connected through  their individual fire energy. Hekate’s torches led Persephone back to the Middleworld after her time with Hades, connecting these two realms. The fire of the Upperworld gave birth to the material Middleworld.  When I do a journey with Hekate as a guide, she shines her lamp as I travel within the Upperworld and Underworld.

Hekate’s Fire Symbolism

I’ve focused on Hekate’s fires as sources of light that guides us in a variety of different ways. I also mentioned the power of her sacred fire of creation. I see the fires I use in my own witchcraft in a similar way – I often use fires as a tool of manifestation. In addition, I use fire in the way that many people see it – as a tool of destruction. For example, if I wish to release the past, I may write down a few words about this painful memory and then burn the paper.

Beyond using actual fire in magick, many modern witches use candles as symbols of both of these aspects of fire. We use various techniques involving fire energy in our candle magick. Often, we use candles when we create sacred space.

Hekate’s Fires Pentacle

Another tool that we often use in creating sacred space, and in magick in general, is the pentacle.  Hekate’s five types of fires can be merged onto this iconic symbol of witchcraft. The five fires are:

  • The fire of creation that fuels all the other types of fire below
  • The torch-bearer of the Underworld
  • The lamp-bearer of the Middleworld
  • The stars of the Upperworld
  • The soul-fire within each of us

The circle around the pentagram serves to contain all these different types of fires.

Hekate’s Fires Pentacle Ritual

This ritual uses the pentacle as a representation of Hekate’s five types of fire. You can represent each of the types as you feel led. I’ve used colors and the five letters of Hekate’s  name in Greek for the actual pentacle. I used candles to create fire energy.

Colors in the Pentacle

Black – Torch-bearer of the Underworld
Red – Lamp-bearer of the Middleworld
White – Star walker of the Upperworld
Gold – Fire of creation
Silver – Our soul-fire

Ritual Intention

Fire is both creative and destructive. We achieve balance in fire magick when we know how to use these two forces in the most effective ways. The ritual can be done as is or you can adapt it to a specific intention.

Ritual Preparation

You can create Hekate’s Fires Pentacle using all types of things. I made mine on a frame so I can easily move it, but still be able to put candles and other magickal things on it. The only thing you actually need are the five candles to represent the points of the pentacle. Using string in the five colors is an easy way to create the pentacle.

You should purify yourself and create sacred space before immediately before beginning the ritual. I typically burn herbs as a way of energetically cleansing my ritual environment and also to invoke specific types of energies.

Hekate’s Fires Pentacle Ritual

Once you are ready to begin, calm yourself by taking several deep, relaxing breaths. You can use whatever technique for grounding yourself that works best for you.

When lighting the candles, the energy focus is the destruction of all things that cause us harm. When we extinguish the candles we are creating all things for our benefit. Therefore, the candles should be lit counter-clockwise (banishing) and extinguished clockwise (creating).

Start with your soul-fire candle, then light the ones for each of the three realms, finishing with the gold one representing Hekate as the source of all fire. When you put out of the candles, start with this one and finish with your personal candle.

The suggested text for the ritual is below.

Hekate’s Fires of Destruction

Candle 1:

I light this candle to ignite my soul-fire,
Hekate’s flame than burns within.

Candle 2:

I light this candle as the light of the Underworld,
Hekate’s torch guides me through the darkness.

Candle 3:

I light this candle as the light of the Middleworld,
Hekate’s lamp lights my earth-bound journey.

Candle 4:

I light this candle as the light of the Upperworld,
Hekate’s stars illuminate the world.

Candle 5:

I light this candle as the source of all flames,
Hekate’s fire burns through all of creation.

Hail Hekate,
Grateful am I for your presence,
Thankful am I for your fires,
And for removing all that harms me.

Connecting to Hekate’s Fires

Take some time here to welcome Hekate to your ritual. You can say a few words to her. If you have a specific intention to add, this is the place to include it. Bask in the glow of Hekate’s fire as symbolized in the five candles. Contemplate the meaning of each type of fire. Relax into the flames. Soften your gaze. Feel your mind open up, connecting to the five types of fire. 

I always put candles out with my fingers, but you can use a consecrated snuffer.

When you are ready, extinguish the candles one at a time, saying something like this:

Hekate’s Fires of Creation

Candle 5:

I extinguish this candle of Hekate’s eternal flame,
Releasing the power of creation.

Candle 4:

I extinguish this candle of the Upperworld,
Calling upon the stars to bring their blessings.

Candle 3:

I extinguish this candle of the Middleworld,
Hekate’s lamp casts light on the way ahead.

Candle 2:

I extinguish this candle of the Underworld,
Hekate’s torch protects me from darkness.

Candle 1:

I extinguish this candle of my soul-fire,
Knowing that this light can not be put out,
For it always burns deep within me.

Hail Hekate,
Grateful am I for your presence,
Thankful am I for your fires,
And for creating all that benefits me.

Finishing the Ritual

Take some time here in the darkness to contemplate the balance of burning away the things that harm you and illuminating those that are to your benefit. Concentrate on the candles being open to receive messages. Express your gratitude. Return to your regular state of mind using whatever techniques work best for you. When you are ready, open the sacred space.

To learn more about Hekate’s Fires Pentacle Ritual, visit Keeping Her Keys on Facebook.

Here’s a video of the Hekate’s Fires Pentacle Ritual being performed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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