From pop culture references to this Goddess of the Underworld, to spiritual writers contemplating her archetypal meanings, Hekate has emerged as a Goddess of Our Time. More importantly, as the Witch Mother, Hekate has appeared to her chosen offspring in ways that can be startling and overwhelming. A common theme within this intimate experiences of Hekate is that she appears during our darkest moments. Hekate is primal power, the source from which all life flows. She comes in many guises, from the ancient crone to the mighty sovereign women. In all of these faces, she speaks of healing, power, and a call to return to her crossroads.
The Crossroads Where Culture and Experience Meet
Indeed our culture is a crossroads. Sometimes called a “Tower Time,” in reference to the tarot card that symbolizes a great downfall, we are living in an age where the old systems are in rapid decline. Piece-by-piece the tower that was the dominant Christian patriarchy is tumbling. This isn’t a lesson in the history of the world since World War II, but to recap (just in case you forgot) the heteronormative, racist, bigoted, sexist Christian white male setting all the rules for society has been served his notice. While this very moment may seem like a backlash from these types, overall the walls they built around us all have been cleaved by movements from a plethora of groups they used to control.
What’s all this have to do with an ancient goddess of witchcraft? Plenty.
Hekate is a primal force that arises when society, or individuals, reach a crossroads. For individuals, she appears in dreams and visions, hearkening us to the deeper world within. At the cultural level, she reflects the zeitgeist of tipping points in history.
She is the embodiment of all those who have had enough of being pushed aside, raging at her abusers, yet she is also the tender healer who guides us through the necessary underworld journey so that we can stand in our power. Far older than the Greeks who adapted her from cultures they conquered. Much more than what history portrays her as. She is the Witch Mother who burns her torches and awaits at the crossroads.
Hekate Emerging: The Dark Mother Returns
What emerges is a complex goddess who governs over witchcraft, but who is also associated with women, children and the rest of the marginalized. She leads a ferocious horde of spirits, yet she is sometimes the tender-hearted one associated with deer. To read more about Hekate, refer to my analysis of her themes in Hekate: Goddess of Witches, Dark Mother And Keeper Of The Keys.
I’ve written before of the The Rise Of Hekate And Her Witches, in a more mythic-poetic manner, but Hekate’s undeniable presence in culture and in many of our private lives deserves a more formal analysis.
Exploring Hekate’s Roles From A Grounded Perspective
I’ve been studying Hekate across different milieus for over a decade using a grounded theory approach. This isn’t about staying balanced in our energies, but refers to a systematic method of data analysis. In this time, I’ve explored many ancient sources that exist today, and their diverse academic interpretations. The resulting database I’ve created on the academic knowledge of historical Hekate provides a framework for comparing how she presents herself today with the evidence of how the ancients knew her. Separate from this scholarly literature is the occult and pagan common understanding of her. Add to this is how books by witches describe her, as well as the more spiritual authors who have discussed her.
As a qualitative researcher, I use a type of analysis that allows for themes to emerge from the data rather than hypothesis testing. It’s an important distinction to make because most of the research we’re presented with is analyzed by testing a specific question. The researchers set out to test an idea and then look for data that supports this hypothesis. A grounded approach collects the data and then the analyst looks for naturally occuring themes within the reports.
When The Dark Mother Rises, Dogma Surrenders
All this may sound irrelevant to the discussion outlining Hekate as a Goddess of Our Time, but so much of what is commonly believed about her stems from what we researchers call a logical positivist approach that it is highly relevant. Positivism posits that there is one objective truth which eradicates all other possible explanations. For example, there is one “factual” version of Hekate and any deviations are incorrect. I’ve seen more than enough blustering by someone who believes they possess the “truth” about Hekate. The only truth regarding Hekate is that she is a force far beyond our understanding. To adopt a positivist mindset is dogmatic, and I’d argue that it is a carryover from Christianity. There is no one truth to be had in this postmodern world of ours. Hekate, if she can be categorized as any one thing, would be that of a post-modern goddess; she is complex, diverse and not amenable to rigid dogma. Although there are those that try.
Go deeper: Not My Hekate: Reflections On Different Views
Contemporary Understanding of Hekate
I get asked a lot of questions about Hekate and practicing her witchcraft. In fact, we’ve recently established a “Hekate’s Help Desk” that’s staffed by Keeping Her Keys Mentors who answer the many queries I receive. I run a mystery school and have led large online groups dedicated to Hekatean Witchcraft. From my students to the hundreds (maybe thousands) of messages I’ve received, there are some common emergent themes about how Hekate presents to individuals. These are not completely disparate from her historical portrayals nor from pagan or pop-culture versions of her. However, there are three distinct themes that diverge from these views that I’m discussing in this article:
- Goddess of Our Darkest Hour
- Guardian of the Marginalized
- Bringer of Sovereignty
For more analysis of these themes, read many of my other articles on Hekate that are more about data analysis than my musings or spiritual teachings, such as Hekate: Guardian, Guide and Gatekeeper.
Goddess of Our Darkest Hour
When I wrote “When Hekate Calls” I was really just talking about what I had noticed. Since that article was published, I’ve received so many messages and comments about how she came when someone was at their weakest. I have no explanation for this, but there is enough data to conclude that this is an established phenomenon.
Contemporary Hekate is a Goddess of Our Darkest Hour, morphing her ancient role as an Under World deity to a thoroughly modern one of being there when we are in our personal Under World.
“These encounters are usually spontaneous, and have clear imagery associated with Hekate (like torches, keys, dogs). Often, this calling comes to someone who had little (like me) or no existing knowledge of Her at the time. Sometimes, the imagery is not mental but an actual out-of-the-blue event.”
(I’ve often wondered how this “calling” thing works. I had my DNA analyzed last year, finding out that about 50% of my genes are from an area associated with her most ancient cult. Perhaps this is another way we can bring her into the future, by discovering how our physiology is connected to our understanding of her.)
Her Torches Shine On
I believe this event on the micro (personal) level is also happening on the macro (societal) one. I’ve written about that before, when I called it The Holy Darkness. While I like this term, some didn’t. To me, it is about the return of her energy to dominance in the world. My understanding of her is that she’s shining her torches to get us all out of the shadow time in which we live. Maybe I should revise “Holy Darkness” to be “Time of Torches.” Her fiery nature is at the very heart of contemporary understanding of Hekate. She is all aspects of fire from the warmth of the hearth to the Phoenix rising again, no wonder so many people are finding her these days.
Ten years ago, I was at a dinner with an impressive group of women from diverse paths, including leaders of the First Nations peoples here in Canada. I was speaking about secondary traumatic stress at the conference we were attending. We had a great discussion of how now was the time for great change. Although we called The Great Mother by different names, there was a consensus at our table that She was taking control by recruiting people willing to do Her work. There has been a shift. The old system is teetering towards collapse. This is the crossroads. In times of great change, those in the old power structure will lash out with their remaining strength in vain attempts to regain their dominance.
Hekate’s Sacred Fires
Her Sacred Fires have become a unifying force under the leadership of Sorita D’Este and others. The eponymous annual ritual being held world wide as I write this demonstrates the intense loyalty that she creates in many of her followers. Many of us are misfits, I certainly am. We have found a community through Hekate that is largely online. How very contemporary. Many of us all solitary practitioners that share little else except Hekate. Most of the time we get along well, respecting each others beliefs and defending everyone’s rights to do their own thing. Her fires burn differently for each of us, reflecting the soul spark within us and Hekate as an outside force.
Hekate: Guardian of the Marginalized
Hekate’s fires extends to activism for some of us, but she offers a secure base, comfort and support for all marginalized people.
There’s a common belief that Hekate, the ancient goddess of a thousand names, has a special association with those of us who don’t fit into mainstream society. As a misfit myself, I’ve personally felt this way since I started my path as one of her followers. I believe she calls out to those on the fringes of society, offering guidance and acceptance.
Hekate also comes forward during times of great social change, whether today or during ancient times. I offer no theory about this. She also represents those who challenge the status quo through lifestyle or commitment to progressive change. In addition, she is a voice for those who are silenced. A Mighty Guardian of the Marginalized.
Hekate: Mother of All
For many, she is a maternal figure, as a personal surrogate or a Mother Goddess. While she was referred to as such in ancient works, the way we conceive her as Mother of All is entirely contemporary. Particularly, those of us who understand Hekate as an energy current fueling creation (and destruction) borrow from Chaldean ideas, but interpret them in completely new ways. As a Crone Goddess in some forms of paganism, she is a new version of a historical perspective. In her Under World aspects, she remains a powerful Queen of Hell, ruling over death and terrifying things. Through this role, she offers those so inclined with an opportunity to conquer their own darkness through her.
There’s also the modern application of the Crone symbolism to Hekate, an idea that I’ve never been able to wrap my head around. However, if there is one thing I know for sure about Hekate it’s that she presents herself in vastly differing ways. Whether or not you see her as the Mother of Gods, the Mother of All Things, the Great Mother, the Dark Mother, the Mother of Witches, your spiritual mother or nobody’s mother is entirely up to you.
Hekate: Goddess of Sovereignty
I’m concluding my observations about Hekate as the Goddess of Our Time by talking a bit about personal sovereignty. I’ve mentioned that there is great diversity in how people perceive Hekate and in how they interact with her. Contemporary Hekate is all about “you do you.” She’s also about standing on your own two feet rather than blindly trusting in her to intervene on your behalf. Most of her followers that I know are action oriented and committed to personal development. This is not a Goddess for Passive People.
If we answer her call, we become activated to do more, be more and experience more. Some of this express this through witchcraft, some through service and others through research. Then there are those that do all of the above. I can’t even say how I got this involved with Hekate. Like being called by her all those years ago or my bath tub encounter, it just happened. There are so many similar stories that I’ve heard. What I’ve never heard is that she punishes anyone for not listening to her, or flubbing an offering or anything else. There is a respect I feel from Hekate that I suspect others feel, too. What I am certain of is that we all know that Hekate is the Goddess for Our Time.
If you enjoy my mixture of data analysis, spiritual experience and mythic-poetic musings, perhaps my book is what you are looking for, or consider joining my online modern coven.