Hekate is associated with many members of the animal kingdom, but perhaps her infamous hounds who patrolled the night with her and guarded the gates of the Under World are her closest four-legged companions. She has also been portrayed as having her own wolfish side more than once. Connecting to the energy of Hekate’s Hounds helps us find courage and to howl in our own unique way.
There are several animals associated with Hekate in the ancient sources, including bulls, cows, dogs, dragons, frogs, goats, horses, lions, pigs, polecats and snakes. Although there are many animal companions of Hekate, the three key ones are dogs, horses and snakes. There are examples of her as Triformis having a dog, horse and serpent head. In the ancient texts she is described by some as possessing either one, two or all three of these animals in her physical form, while in other sources she is associated with them.
Perhaps the dog is the best known of Hekate’s animal companions. In her ancient cults, dogs were associated with her as companions and they were offered to her as sacrifices. Her ‘hell-hounds’ were seen as guarding the gates to the Under World . She is also viewed as having a canine form herself in some of the writings, either as a single dog or even as a triple-headed one. Black dogs in particular were symbolic of Hekate in ancient times, like in this section from “Spell to the Waning Moon” in The Greek Magickal Papyri: “Her fillet, key, wand, iron wheel, black dog.”
Hekate’s Canine Characteristics
There are several epithets directly related to Hekates’ canine characteristics including: Kynegetis (Leader of Dogs from the Orphic Hymn), Kyneolygmate (Howling like a dog), Kynokephalos (Dog-headed), Kyon Melaina (Black Dog), Philoskylax (Lover of Dogs), Skylakitin (Lady of the Dogs). She is also referred to as “Lyko” meaning wolf-formed in The Greek Magickal Papyri. Hekate as Night Wandering Goddess of the Moon,where she roamed the dark searching for souls accompanied by her hounds to either devour or save depending on your perspective, is associated with many epithets starting with the “Nykt” suffix (“of the night”). For example, Nyktipolis means Night Wanderer.
Animal Spirit Magick
Working with animal energy is a potent type of magick. While the ancients sacrificed dogs to harness their energy, we have several more human techniques available to us. We can identify with an animal as a spirit guide, we can take on the energetic properties typical of an animal, they can serve as Hekate’s messengers, we can use animal energies in spells, and we can evoke them during workings.
Dogs are often sent as a sign by Hekate to modern devotees, especially when an individual is first called by her. In addition, some devotees volunteer time at dog shelters as a devotional act of service, replacing the sacrifice of old with a modern approach. While this can be done anytime, some practitioners do their service around the time of the Dark Moon as a way of honoring Hekate. Personally, I’ve had a couple of experiences with black dogs appearing unexpectedly during rituals. Be on the lookout for one! If one shows up, be prepared to receive a message from Hekate. You can read more about communicating with Hekate in this article I’ve written about seeking her or this one about getting her attention.
Calling Upon Hekate’s HoundsThere are other magickal ways that we can access the Under World energy of Hekate’s Hounds in addition to their role as spontaneous messengers. As our companion through our personal Under World, we can call upon them as protector’s. We can utilize their terrifying energy when we need to summon our own inner ferocity. Although Hekate’s Hounds are fearsome, they are also incredibly loyal and steadfast. If we need sustainable energy for a working, we can evoke these attributes as part of the correspondences used in a ritual or spell.
Hekate’s Hounds stand guard at the entrance to the realm of the Under World and to our own lower self. As you become familiar with them, you’ll see they are your greatest allies against your own fears. When you are afraid, you can turn to them for protection. Hekate shares the energy of the hounds with us abundantly.
Connecting with Hekate’s Hounds
There are numerous ways to connect with the energy of Hekate’s Hounds. I have a coyote jaw that I use whenever I am working with dog energy. You may have your own dog – I don’t right now, although I’ve had dogs my entire life – and you can connect to the mystical hounds of Hekate through your alignment with your pet. In addition, you can use your own dog’s hair and nails to connect with Hekate’s Hounds. If you don’t have bones or an actual dog, then you can use dog images or statuary.
Shape-Shifting into a Hound
Shape-shifting into one of Hekate’s Hounds is a great technique for accessing your inner courage and strength. You can envision your transforming into a fearsome black dog or wolf (more on that below). You can find imagery to support your visualization of this technique from the countless werewolf movies out there. Humans, like Hekate, have long had a wild, wolfish side.
Your Own Inner Hound
I started using the energy of Hekate’s Hounds for one of my personal development classes quite a few years ago. Because not everyone identifies with Hekate, I used the wolf as the symbol. The power of the hound/wolf is fantastic for helping us stand in our personal power and howl our truth. Here’s a link to the audio file of the Inner Wolf Journey from that class.
Long may Hekate’s Hounds (and you) howl!
I write about Hekate’s Animal Kingdom on the Keeping Her Keys Facebook page from time to time. Here’s a link to the Hekate’s Animals album I’ve created. You’ll find out more lore and tips for animal spirit magick.
Learn more about The Sacred Seven, my course on Applied Modern Witchcraft. Join the Keeping Her Keys Facebook community. Become a member of our group all about Applied Modern Witchcraft called The Witches’ Realm.