What do the gods really look like? Is this depiction of a deity accurate or inaccurate? If you follow any discussion around a deity like Hekate, you’re going to get arguments. Some will say she’s a crone, some will argue that she’s anything but a crone. So, what does she really look like? Here’s the thing I think most people are forgetting, the gods don’t have form, not in the way that we experience the concept. In my experience, the concept of “form” only truly exists on the denser levels of reality – the astral, the etheric, and the physical. The gods transcend those levels of reality. The names of the gods and their appearances are more about us working with them, than what they really look like. While the higher levels can be perceived as form, I find that it’s just a translation of that into astral.
“…every single time I have made my mind up on what the gods are or aren’t, they actively defy that belief to keep me from putting them into concrete tidy little boxes. They keep me on my toes to keep me from the poisons of fundamentalism or the hubris that I can definitively say who and what the gods are and are not. My gods are wild and alive, they are shapeshifting and paradoxical, and they will not be tamed by human perception or how we demand them to be. They are an eternal mystery. We can know them through the interactions they have with us, but I don’t think we can ever really know their true nature while upon the Earth in flesh. To state otherwise is a bold claim for anyone to make.”
– My Gods Are Wild And Alive
How I’ve Perceived Hekate in the Past
I was once adamant that Hekate is never a crone, and any such representation of her as a crone was not only incorrect but offensive. That was until she decided to show up as a crone, with a feeling that she was relaying the message, “I will show up however the hell I please”. I will always take her word about herself over that of others talking about her in ancient writings. It would be ridiculous and arrogant not to.
Hekate has shown herself in many forms to me, and I know it’s her because there’s an underlying energetic signature to her appearances when I tune in psychically. She has appeared commonly as a Titaness, as a stoic figure that vaguely reminds me of the statue of liberty in appearance with a simultaneous old and young appearance. I commissioned a painting of her in this form from Laura Tempest Zakroff and she pretty much nailed it:
The other main form that she comes to me the most often is that of a beautiful young woman (around the age of 18-27) with long black hair and an olive complexion. But I’ve also had experiences where she was atavistic and animal-headed and she’s once also appeared as a young girl running for me to follow her through a maze. She’s appeared as a singular figure at times and a triple figure during other times. A deity as ancient, complex, and powerful as Hekate cannot really every be fully depicted to display all that she is.
“While ruminating on this idea, a friend of mine described this succinctly as being focused on the glove instead of the hand inside of the glove. While there’s power in the glove, the glove shouldn’t be confused for the hand beneath the outer garment. This doesn’t mean a red glove and a blue glove or the same exact glove. But it does mean that the glove may just be worn for a specific need, and that the glove is pointless without the hand inside of it animating it. Sometimes we get hung up on the cultural trappings, which create blinders and limiting boxes which we can sometimes get hung up on.”
– Missing The Forests For The Trees
Egregores & Thrones
So is the way that a god appears or the form that we visualize or depict them unimportant? I don’t believe that it is unimportant. They appear in certain ways for certain reasons. Their image conveys a power and how we relate and work with them. An egregore, for example, is an agreed-upon form created by a group, which comes to life and is autonomous in its nature. An egregore can also be a deity. A culture such as the Ancient Greeks can say “This is what Hekate looks like” and all agree upon it and the deity will step in and assume that form, creating a bond with that culture, that tradition, and that current of power. In this sense, it’s almost like a social contract between a group of humans and a deity in how the goddess looks, how to depict her, and visualize her for the purposes of worship – which maintains this current of energy between the devotees and the goddess. It’s sort of like meeting in the middle for the purposes of interaction.
A similar concept is that of “thrones” which Jason Miller teaches in the Sorcery of Hekate and which are used in his book Protection and Reversal Magick. In the course, you’re taught to visualize Hekate (and other related spirits in the arcana) in very specific ways for very specific purposes related to the sorcery. He teaches that specific visualizations create very specific “seals” of the spirit. By visualizing the specific form you create a “throne” which he likens to a container on the astral to which the spirit of Hekate can come and “possess” when paired with the right invocations for that seal (throne).
“This is of course not the “true” form of Hekate, this is a specific form we use in order to tap into her main functions, the form she has manifested for these arcana. The visualization is a throne, an astral “container” for the actual being we are calling.”
– Jason Miller
The Sorcery of Hekate Course
A throne is given by a deity or spirit through a vision. Jason further clarifies that even the vision itself of a throne should not be taken as being a throne just because a deity has appeared that way in vision. It should have omens surrounding it and be tested for authenticity. A throne is not constructed like a servitor by a magician thinking “this would be cool” or like an egregore created by a group’s psychic ability on the astral in which a deity or other spirit can empower.