Not My Hekate: Reflections On Different Views

Not My Hekate: Reflections On Different Views June 9, 2019

Hekate is seen very differently by both her contemporary followers as well as in works of art and historical records. There’s certain views of Hekate that I really don’t care for, including caging her in the past, as a crone and as a patroness. While these representations can cause me to rant to anyone willing to listen, they aren’t my biggest problem. After all, these are just perspectives that have nothing to do with my understanding of my favored goddess. For me, the real issue is whenever someone claims to speak the one truth about Hekate.

When Hekate Speaks

My most popular video on YouTube is about interpreting Hekate’s messages. This isn’t surprising given that many of us believe that she speaks to us in diverse ways. This may be a key in an unlikely place, a black hound inexplicably showing up, or a whisper on the wind. At times, I believe that she speaks to us through events.

Of course, whether or not this is what’s going on is up to personal interpretation. However, for me, looking at these things of signs from Hekate makes sense. I’m not claiming that this is absolute truth, but it is mine Perhaps it’s my Gemini nature that permits me to hold space for different views. It really grates me whenever someone attempts to speak the one truth about Hekate. She speaks to us as she does. Yes, there are some common themes, and there is that lengthy, extensive, complex recorded history of hers to consider.

I try to apply my ability to hold competing ideas, interpretations and theories simultaneously to others’ views of Hekate. At times, these perspectives are a bit much for me. When someone paints a portrait of Hekate that seems disparate from my understanding. There are also instances when there are historical and/or artistic inaccuracies. Being tolerant of the former is much easier than the latter for me. I often cite historical and/or artistic depictions of Hekate in my writing, such as the cover image I’ve chosen for this article. If I’ve made a mistake when discussing historical sources, I always sincerely appreciate it being brought to my attention. Like my annoying habit of spelling Theogony wrong. I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect others to be. Expectations are generally dangerous, just like putting anyone on a pedastal. Let’s reserve that for Hekate.

Chiaramonte Hekate in the Vatican Museum. I find the irony of this statue being in the Vatican Museum quite wonderful. Hekate is wearing a seven-rayed crown which is how I see her. She’s also Triformis, which is also how I perceive her. This is my Hekate: an ironic goddess whose history is as complex as her present understanding.

Reactionism And Ridiculing Are Not My Style

I’ve had three unrelated experiences lately where my writing has become entwined with very different views of Hekate than either the historical and artistic records (as I understand them) or my personal gnosis. The first case were comments on my article about Hekate as a Guardian of the Marginalized. The criticisms failed to heed the careful use of words that I used regarding using historical records to support Hekate in this role.

Read Carefully Before Commenting

After I built my theory for Hekate as Guardian of the Marginalized through a contemporary lens by applying various historical epithets and sources, I added this:

“There is additional evidence that offerings to Hekate were used by the poor found in Plutus by Aristophenes:

“Ask Hecate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will tell you that the rich send her a meal every month and that the poor make it disappear before it is even served. “*

Thus, her offerings directly helped the most vulnerable. I want to add that the wrath of the gods was also seen to come to those who partook of offerings to deities, so it is not completely clear that the poor would have eagerly consumed such food items. However, the most vulnerable were often seen as already cursed and really didn’t have much choice in where their food came from.” – from Hekate: Guardian of the Marginalized.

Note that nowhere in this passage do I claim that it was the intention of those making the offerings to help the poor. I’m quite clear throughout the article that the commitment to service that I believe honors Hekate is a contemporary construction. I never state that this is the only way to honor Hekate. However, since that article was published, there have been criticisms saying that I did both. I try to be precise with my language when I am connecting existing evidence with a perspective that I am advancing. However, it seems that my precision is lost on some.

Reacting To Criticism And Different Views

Whenever I hear of a criticism like this, I check myself. Did I actually say what I am being accused of? If the answer is yes, then I figure out if I am willing to accept it or should change what I said. If I have a personal motto, it might be “strong opinions, loosely held.” Learning from others’ perspectives is a valuable commodity to me. I always reserve the right to change my mind. Isn’t that what growth is about? I’m not interested in a stagnate goddess locked in the cage of the past, but I’m not telling anyone that they can’t see her this way.

Ridiculing Only Makes The Ridiculer Look Stupid

This is but one example of a persistent current where some claim to know the absolute truth about Hekate. If that is you, know that I’m not attacking you personally. Seriously, I have zero interest in personal attacks, either about how you perceive Hekate or anything else. I do, however, have a favor to ask. If you happen to encounter someone attacking me personally, do me a solid by not telling me. I’m not talking about when I a make a genuine mistake, but those who use their valuable time to pick on me. There’s no need for me to know about this nonsense. I have better things to do.

A couple of times, I’ve ranted when others engage in significant attempts to control or discredit me. Ignoring the ridiculers is easy for me. They only make themselves look stupid. I’m checking myself right now on the last few sentences. Am I being pedantic? Should I leave this section in? I’ve decided to risk it and let it stand. Ridiculers are often posers, desperately in the grip of their shadow self. I wish them well. How sad their lives must be that they can spare time to pick on me. Message received: being in the public eye requires a thick skin.

I’m currently burning this candle petitioning Hekate and other goddesses for reproductive freedom. Inspired by historical references to their roles as midwives and victims of sexual violence, I created a ritual and the candle.  It’s not my concern if you don’t share this view or what you believe. No one owns Hekate.

Hekate As A Crone Is Not My Hekate

Part of the publicity for my new book included magazine articles. If you’re a regular reader of Keeping Her Keys, you’ll know that I have a certain style. One of the magazines used an image of Hekate that resulted in me ranting to anyone who would listen for a day. While the image was quite lovely, I’ve never seen Hekate as a crone. I have a very strong aversion to the word. If you see Hekate this way and/or identify with the word, I’m not saying you shouldn’t. She’s not my Hekate. Curiously, I happened to watch a special featuring an author discussing the many times her book covers were not to her liking. She shared images of these covers, leading me to contemplate further the importance of how my work is represented by others. Add on top of this is the spate of plagiarized articles I’ve recently experienced. Message received: be careful of how my work is shared.

I’m not criticizing the artists’ depiction of Hecate (her spelling). It is a lovely Samhain picture. It’s not my Hekate. You can order this image at: https://www.paintingdreams.co.uk/product/samhain__a5-art-card

Owning Hekate: Claiming To Speak The ONE Truth

I’m not a believer that there is one truth for anything. Again, Gemini speaking. In my teaching and writing, I try to make this clear. My openness to individual understandings has been used as a criticism against me. Then there are those who have a problem with my applying history using a modern lens. I live in the liminal space that is the present. Looking forward, while learning from the past. Not at all perfect, but here everyday trying to be better. I’m fully aware that I can be a bit preachy at times, part of my growth is to learn how to speak my truth while creating space for others to share theirs without sounding like a supreme bossy-pants. Recently, there was an article published here on Patheos Pagan that made a whole pile of claims regarding a one true Hekate. The author appeared to have contradicted herself throughout the article. Another issue is that the author made several mistakes regarding Hekate’s historical records. The wonderful Sorita d’Este tackled those in this great rebuttal. 

There were a few topics outside of the historical errors that I’m addressing here. There’s two words in particular that I take umbrage with: servant and patroness. You can read my views about servitude here, so I’ll skip addressing them again now. Regarding “patroness,” this winds me up as much as “crone.” Guaranteed rant inflicted on whoever is within earshot. “Patron” comes from the Latin “pater” meaning “father.” If you see Hekate as a “father-ess,” that’s your decision. For me, she is my “matron” – a goddess whom I revere and whom, I believe, guides me. I loathe interpreting goddesses through the male lens. Not my Hekate. Message received: speaking out is sometimes required, if only to share my opinion.

Enitharmon’s Joy which was formerly known as Triple Hecate, by William Blake. Experts believe this not to be Hekate at all, but this painting is commonly used to represent her. Read more: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/18505/night-enitharmons-joy-formerly-called-triple-hecate

Now You Know The Rest Of The Story

When I was a child, I loved listening to a radio program that explained the backstory behind popular news items. There’s been several examples where someone speaks publicly about me and/or Hekate where I know the rest of the story. This is a challenge for me. On one hand, I feel like sharing the history underlying this person’s statements. On the other, I have a code of ethics that guides me.

My experience has been that people who claim to hold the only truth about Hekate seem to be desperately in the firm grip of their shadow selves. At times, they’ve spoken out because of things that’s happened between us, such as my refusal to do them a favor. They’ve attacked me in various ways. I try to go high when others go low. This past weekend it required me contemplating the possible lessons I can learn while spending two days working on my garden. Turning their hatred, which is really just the external expression of their private pain, into my power through transmutation is a topic I’ve written about before.

It can take me a couple of days to get to the place where I can sincerely wish the person who offended me well. This isn’t something I do for them, but for my own peace of mind. I don’t believe that forgiveness is necessary, but I need to make sense of it all. At times, I turn to Hekate, either through prayer, meditation or by looking to the historical records for guidance. This is my Hekate.

Not My Hekate, But I’m Not Telling You How To See Her

Whether it’s caging Hekate in the past, portraying her as a crone or involving a patroness/servant relationship, this is not my Hekate. Hekate’s history, from Hesiod’s Theogony to Shakespeare, is complex and diverse, so it’s not surprising that our personal views can be, too. Just don’t tell me how to understand her, and I won’t do the same to you. Like I wrote in Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction to Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft, we’re all in this together. Learning from others, and our own reactions to their views, is part of the great work of the witches’ journey.

Hail Hekate, Great Goddess,

May I value your diversity and complexity,

And continually try to understand my own.

May I always speak my truth,

And create space for others to do the same.

May I offer gentle correction when necessary,

And have the wisdom to know when it’s not. 

More musings related to this article:

Hekate: 10 Things Worth Knowing

Hekate’s Many Controversies

A Witch’s Understanding of Hekate

Don’t Tell Me What to Think: My Beliefs are as Valid as Yours

 

 

*http://classics.mit.edu/Aristophane…

About Cyndi Brannen
Cyndi is a witch and spiritual teacher, a trained energetic healer, psychic and herbalist. Her teaching and writing extends from where she stands at the crossroads of personal development, spirituality and witchcraft. Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction to Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft explores Hekate from her ancient origins to modern understanding through magic and personal development is available now from Moon Books. True Magic: Unleashing Your Inner Witch uses the magic of the elements and the three realms to activate your true witch powers and will be available later in 2019 from Moon as well. Connect with her on Facebook or at keepingherkeys.com to learn more about her teaching and writing. Cyndi lives in rural coastal Nova Scotia with her two sons where she can often be found wandering the cliffs or wild foraging plants. She lives what she teaches: fierce love, emotional courage and true magic. You can read more about the author here.
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