Moon Magic & Hekate
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This article brings together information about Hekate and the different phases of the Moon:
Crescent / New Moon
The crescent began to be associated with Hekate in the Roman Time Period and in Late Antiquity as it appeared crowning Hekate’s head on statues and coins. The crescent moon and star were also popular symbols for Hekate in Byzantium (modern Istanbul). A legend tells that Hekate (as Phosphoros, the light-bringer) warned the city's people against an attack by the Macedonian leader. After that, the crescent moon and star were adopted as symbols of the city. Interestingly, the star and crescent are still symbols for Turkey today, seen on their national flag though different origins are claimed.
The crescent moon is also a symbol for the Noumenia, the first day of the lunar month when the first crescent is visible again the first time after the Dark Moon – this marked the first day of the new month in the lunar-solar calendars of the time. Hekate was connected with this time of the month by different sources, for example, Pausanius, Porphyrios and a religious calendar from Erythai. It remains an important day in household worship for polytheists today.
While Hekate was originally not a lunar Goddess, she may have acquired her connection to the moon through her fusions with Selene and Artemis and in the Chaldean Oracles, with the Cosmic Soul with association and dominion over liminal spaces. Plutarch saw the moon as an intermediary and transmitter between the Sensible and Intelligible worlds, which was a function of the Cosmic Soul (psyche) for the Neoplatonists. The moon was seen as a place of spirits, souls and daimons and had a similar role to the realms of the Underworld. Hekate previously had significant chthonic attributes and symbolism attached to her and when the moon was seen as a resting place of spirits (like the underworld), it was logical that a goddess who was strongly associated to this theme became connected to the moon as well. The moon is also a symbol of the night and Hekate was connected to the night since the Classical Time Period.
In the Greek Magical Papyri Hekate is also connected to the moon and is fused with other lunar Goddesses such as Artemis and Selene. Porphyry describes Hekate in his work on idols as a lunar Goddess:
“But, again, the moon is Hecate, the symbol of her varying phases and of her power dependent on the phases. Wherefore her power appears in three forms, having as symbol of the new moon the figure in the white robe and golden sandals, and torches lighted: the basket, which she bears when she has mounted high, is the symbol of the cultivation of the crops, which she makes to grow up according to the increase of her light: and again the symbol of the full moon is the Goddess of the brazen sandals. Or even from he branch of olive one might infer her fiery nature, and from the poppy her productiveness, and the multitude of the souls who find an abode in her as in a city, for the poppy is an emblem of a city. She bears a bow, like Artemis, because of the sharpness of the pangs of labour. And, again, the Fates are referred to her powers, Clotho to the generative, and Lachesis to the nutritive, and Atropos to the inexorable will of the deity.
Also, the productive power of the corn crops, which is Demeter, they associate with her, as the producing power in her. The moon is also a supporter of Kore. They set Dionysus also beside her, both on account of their growth of horns, and because of the region of clouds lying beneath the lower world.”
In the book Hekate: Liminal Rites the authors quote Aristophanes who “recorded that offerings to Hekate were made “on the eve of the New Moon” that is when the first sliver of the New Moon is visible. This chapter also refers to K.F. Smith’s essay mentioning “a possible connection with Hekate as a lunar goddess, rising like the moon, from the underworld on the night of the New Moon.” Here we have two references to the New Moon being the first visible fragment of the moon’s form.
So clearly there is confusion between the terms New Moon and Dark Moon. More descriptive names such as the “New Crescent Moon” may be used by those who are aware of the potential for misunderstanding, but other writers appear oblivious and make no clarification.
A “dark moon” describes the moon during that time when it is invisible to the eye against the backdrop of the sun in the sky. The duration of a dark moon is between 1.5 and 3.5 days, depending on the orientation of the earth and sun. In astronomical usage, the New Moon occurs in the middle of this period when the moon and sun are in conjunction. This definition has entered popular usage so that calendars will typically indicate the date of the “new moon” rather than the “dark moon”.
As Goddess of the Crossroads, Witchcraft and Sorcery, Hekate was depicted as walking the night while her celebrants prepared suppers (Deipnon) named in Her honour on a lunar cycle. Hekate is associated with death, the underworld and rebirth and therefore affiliated with spirits and darkness. The Dark Moon was the “last day” of the lunar cycle, and therefore the last day of the month in ancient calendars.
The Deipnon is always followed the next day by the Noumenia when the first sliver of moon is visible, and then the Agathos Daimon the day after that. The main purpose of the Deipnon was to honor Hekate and to appease the souls in her wake who “longed for vengeance.” A secondary objective was to purify the household – this would cleanse the house from bad deeds anyone in the household might have done in the preceding month, the spirits of the restless dead (especially after a death in the family) as well as other things considered unclean.
In Ancient Greece, traditional foods mentioned as part of the offering of Deipnon (Supper) might have included breads, leek, egg, cakes, fish, onions and garlic.
References and further recommended reading:
15 Johnston, S. I. 1990. Hekate Soteira: A Study of Hekate’s Roles in the Chaldean Oracles and
Related Literature. USA: Scholar Press.
16 Gifford, E. H. trans. 1994-2009. Porphyry: On Images. Available at
96 d’Este, S. 2017. Circle for Hekate (Vol 1). London: Avalonia.
78 d’Este, S. and Rankine, D. 2009. Hekate: Liminal Rites. London: Avalonia, pg 126.
79 Smith, K.F. 1992. Hekate’s Suppers. In Ronan, S. The Goddess Hekate. London: Chthonios Press, pg 56-64.