Other Important Concepts
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Hekate has been associated with the crossroads since antiquity. The crossroads themselves were liminal spaces often found at the boundaries between different lands. They had a symbology that included being the place where a spirit “crossed over” and connected to Hekate as Psychopomp in that regard. Often the poor, suicides, and other ‘undesirables’ were buried at the crossroads so that their spirits would not molest the people who lived in the town. As such they became associated with the restless dead, which reinforced their link to Hekate in Her role as “Anassa Eneroi”, Queen of the Dead. Since Hekate was a guardian of the threshold that linked Her to the crossroads as guardian of the boundaries.
“It was probably her role as guardian of entrances that led to Hecate’s identification by the mid-fifth century with Enodia a Thessalian goddess. Enodia’s very name (“In the Road”) suggests that she watched over entrances, for it expresses both the possibility that she stood on the main road into a city, keeping an eye on all who entered, and in the road in front of private houses, protecting their inhabitants”.
Ovid in his work Fasti states that Hekate was three visaged so that She could “protect the triple crossroads” 18. Virgil refers to Her in the Aeneid as “Hecate whose name is howled by night at the city crossroads”.
An intriguing reference in one of the Greek Magical Papyri from the third or fourth century CE may hint at the survival of an initiation ritual connected with Hekate. The subterranean setting is appropriate as may be seen from initiation ceremonies from other mysteries such as Eleusis: “‘Askei Kataskei Eron Oreon Ior Mega Samnyer Baui (3 times) Phobantia Semne, I have been initiated, and I went down into the [underground] chamber of the Dactyls, and I saw the other things down below, virgin, bitch, and all the rest.’ … and if you are led away to death, say it while scattering seeds of sesame, and it will save you” PGM LXX. 4-25.
The combination of the first two words of the Ephesian Letters (Askei Kataskei) with the reference to seeing “things down below, virgin, bitch” clearly hinted at Hekate’s involvement in the process. Hekate would be the virgin and the bitch would be the black dog that accompanies her.