I have come across very few individuals as devoted to the goddess Hekate as Cyndi Brannen. Her first book, Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction To Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft is aptly named and presents two of the book’s strengths. The first is that the book is a great introduction and starting point in learning who Hekate is and building a relationship with Her. The second strength of the book is that it is indeed modern. That isn’t to say that it throws out or ignores the past – not at all. The book is rooted in the rich and complex history of this goddess and guides the reader in understanding that legacy. However, the book is modernized in the sense that the relationship that you build with Hekate is through modern witchcraft practices as opposed to reconstructing or reviving ancient practices. Through keeping one foot firmly planted in historical pagan context and one foot in modern witchcraft, Brannen presents something very special with this work – a relationship to Hekate that is alive, evolving, and approachable.
Whether you’re new to Hekate or to witchcraft, this book is a great starting point. Cyndi expands on many of ancient fragments of knowledge of Hekate that we have available, Her epithets and Her symbolism and provides her own interpretations of what those mean and how to work them into your craft, based on her own work with Hekate. Most books that deal with Hekate and witchcraft tend to dive into the deep ends of things, often incorporating other religions or practices into the mix with Hekatean names as substitutes, such as Hinduism or demonolatry in an attempt to bring something new to the table. Keeping Her Keys is neither, purely mixing a historically rooted understanding of Hekate with our modern innovations of witchcraft as a practice – which is very much in the spirit of Hekate Herself.
The magickal theory and practices she provides in Keeping Her Keys is sound and reliable from a witchcraft point of view and as such this book is approachable whether you’re a non-magickal pagan devotee of the torch-bearing goddess looking to learn witchcraft, or whether you’re a witch looking to incorporate Hekate as a central point of focus. My only complaint is that I wish the book was much larger, but because of its size it allows the reader to get to the point and read the book in a day or two at most. The book is full of exercises, practices, spell-crafts, and prayers – concluding with a self-dedication / initiation ritual to Hekate to become one of her Keybearers. This is definitely a must have for any witch who works with Hekate.