While her earthly birth place may never be known, Hekate’s origin story tells of her creation and powers. Written by Hesiod almost three thousand years ago, he enthusiastically details her governance over land, sea and sky while gushing about her ability to provide bounty. The veracity of Hesiod’s claims has often been debated. Some authors posit that his story didn’t reflect the common understanding of the times. Even that his family was somehow different in their understanding of Hekate. I like to think that they were. Then there are those academics who claim that it may not have even been Hesiod that wrote Hekate’s origin story into his Theogeny; that it is an early example of copying and pasting by a different writer.
The academics, with their picks and pens, never seem to tire in their attempts to figure out Hekate. She remains mysterious in spite of their efforts to place her neatly into one of their scholarly piles. This type of goddess goes here. Of course, Hekate doesn’t comply. I’m working on a novel telling her story from her perspective. I thought to share her origin story as told by Hesiod along with a bit of my version of it.
I am an only child.
My mother was the stars. My father, the darkness.
I was born of their great love.
The World Soul.
My childhood was a solitary one. Noticing my loneliness, Mother had Father change one of her stars from fire to earth.
Gaia was never my equal. She resented me from the outset, even though I lent her my power of creation. Foolishly giving birth to lesser gods who were selfish and cruel. The humans feared them while they worked diligently to destroy Mother and Father’s beautiful creation. Gaia, as usual, did little. Preferring to believe that her beloved creatures would come to their senses. I knew better.
The Earth troubled me. The humans were borne of me whether I liked it or not. I matched their weakness with strength. Their lies with truth, and their fear I tempered with love.
Still, they were Gaia’s offspring. I wanted my own children who would understand my power beyond all gods and goddesses. In my image, the witches were birthed. To them I gave the ability to use my energy for their own means. From my first daughter was born the man I called dearest Hesiod. Upon him I bestowed the responsibility of sharing my story…
From Hekate Speaks: A Novel (work in progress)
…Asteria, whom Perses once led to his great house to be called his dear wife. And she became pregnant and bore Hecate, whom Zeus, Cronus’ son, honored above all others: he gave her splendid gifts-to have a share of the earth and of the barren sea, and from the starry sky as well she has a share in honor, and is honored most of all by the immortal gods. For even now, whenever any human on the earth seeks propitiation by performing fine sacrifices according to custom, he invokes Hecate; and much honor very easily stays with that man whose prayers the goddess accepts with gladness, and she bestows happiness upon him, for this power she certainly has.
For of all those who came forth from Earth and Sky and received honor, among all of these she has her due share; and neither did Cronus’ son use force against her nor did he deprive her of anything that she had received as her portion among the Titans, the earlier gods, but she is still in possession according to the division as it was made at first from the beginning. Nor does the goddess, just because she is an only child, have a lesser share of honor and privileges on earth and in sky and sea, but instead she has far more, since Zeus honors her. She stands mightily at the side of whomever she wishes and helps him.
In the assembly, whoever she wishes is conspicuous among the people; and when men arm themselves for man-destroying war, the goddess stands there by the side of whomever she wishes, zealously to grant victory and to stretch forth glory. She sits in judgment beside reverend kings; and again, she is good whenever men are competing in an athletic contest-there the goddess stands by their side too and helps them, and when someone has gained victory by force and supremacy he easily and joyfully carries off a fine prize and grants glory to his parents; and she is good at standing by the side of horsemen, whomever she wishes.
And upon those who work the bright, storm-tossed sea and pray to Hecate and the loud sounding Earth-shaker the illustrious goddess easily bestows a big haul of fish, and easily she takes it away once it has been seen, if she so wishes in her spirit. And she is good in the stables at increasing the livestock together with Hermes; and the herds and droves of cattle, and the broad flocks of goats and the flocks of woolly sheep, if in her spirit she so wishes, from a few she strengthens them and from many she makes them fewer. And so, even though she is an only child from her mother, she is honored with privileges among all the immortals. And Cronus’ son made her the nurse of all the children who after her see with their eyes the light of much-seeing Dawn. Thus, since the beginning she is a nurse, and these are her honors.
– From Hesiod’s Theogeny (8th Century BCE)
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