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Hecate Physis Heimarmene - Goddess of Nature and Fate

Those who become familiar with the Goddess, Hecate/Hekate, soon learn She has a lot of epithets and is connected to many Gods and Goddesses throughout time and place. Most often we hear of Hecate as a triple-faced Goddess of witchcraft, the Underworld, and baneful herbs who unveils your shadows in dreams and guides you with Her torches through personal transformations at the crossroads of life. She is usually seen as a Dark Goddess rather than as a Goddess of Nature and although we frequently hear of Her being associated with the Fates/Faeries and know Her mother Asteria was a nymph, we rarely hear Hecate being called a Faery Queen. Hecate is often conflated with the Roman Queen of Faeries, Diana, and by that association alone we could call Her a Faery Queen but fortunately we have a lot more evidence linking Hecate and the Fae. Hecate’s Faeries are different from Faeries in other cultures though and they’re certainly nothing like the ones we see on TV. They are enchanting and nerve-rattling, beautiful Elements of Nature who determine your fate.

The most abundant evidence we have portraying Hecate as a Goddess of Nature and Fate is found in the Chaldean Oracles; a compilation of fragmented texts from around 2nd century CE. In these Oracles, Hecate is the source and mediator of three worlds: the material (our world), the etheric (spirit world) and the empyrean (divine world). In the empyrean world we see Hecate as a Savior (Soteira) where She connects the spirits of the etheric world with the Gods of the empyrean world. In the etheric world She is the Cosmic Soul and is associated with the Moon (Selene); She connects people of the material world with the Gods through interactions with Her ethereal spirits (angels/messengers). In the material world, Hecate is seen as Phusis/Physis (Nature) and draws spirits/daemones down from the etheric world into our material world. According to the Oracles, however, Fate is derived from Nature and we are advised to avoid all contact with either and we are told to avoid drawing down the Moon:

"Invoke not the visible Image [the Moon] of the Soul of Nature."

- Chaldean Oracles 148. Psell.,15; Pletho, 23. Z.

“Gaze not upon Nature, for Her name is Fatal [Fate].”

- Chaldean Oracles 149. Proc. in Plat. Th., 143. Z.

There’s an explanation for these warnings in Stephen Ronan’s book titled, The Goddess Hekate: "Nature (phusis) is the level of cosmic soul engaged in animating and ordering the physical world. Being in a physical body and being constrained by the physical world - this is Fate (heimarmene) - are seen as bad for the soul, so this accounts for the very negative view of physical existence propounded by the Oracles and other contemporary spiritual philosophies. In fact, Nature often appears in the Oracles in a very negative light.” -The Goddess Hekate, edited by Stephen Ronan, 1989. This seems similar to some religious philosophy that tells us we need to live a life of austerity in order to become enlightened or ascend to Heaven. Like with all oracles and myths, you have to consider the time and environment in which they were written. Today, we know we can live our lives passionately, follow our heart’s desires, and still unite with the divine.

I cannot fail to mention the important views Sarah Iles Johnson provides in the book, “Hekate Soteira”. Johnston, who has studied the Chaldean Oracles extensively, describes Hecate and Physis as separate but connected divinities. One reason Johnston believes Hecate is not Physis but is more likely the Source of Physis, the Mother of Nature, is because in the Oracles it says: “Physis is suspended from the back of the Goddess”. Johnson informs us that Physis controls the “soul-devouring” daemon dogs who rule the material world and all its temptations. Johnston says the Chaldeans likely divided Hekate into two Goddesses, “the celestial Hekate/Soul and the earthly Physis”, to free Hekate of Her less desirable traits and emphasize Her as a Savior Goddess: “The Chaldean system divided the traditional Hekate; everything within her that was beneficial to man became Hekate/Soul; all that threatened him or retained his soul in the hylic [material] world became Physis and her dogs.” -Sarah Johnston, Hekate Soteira, chap. IX, 1990.

Additional evidence linking Hecate with Nature and Fate can be found in hymn number nine of the Orphic Hymns where Physis, the Goddess of Nature, governs the world and gives life to all living things: “Intrepid, fatal, all-subduing dame, life-everlasting, Parca, breathing flame. Immortal, Providence, the world is thine, and thou art all things, architect divine.” -excerpt from Orphic Hymn IX to Nature. The Parcae (plural form of Parca) mentioned in the hymn are the Roman equivalent of the Greek Moirai, who with Hecate’s direction, determine the fate of all humans: Clotho spins the thread of life, Lachesis (Heimarmene) measures out the length of our life, and Atropos cuts the thread of life at the end. Since the Morai/Fates are closely conflated with Hecate, She can be identified here as the Goddess of Nature and the Fates.

Hecate is also mentioned frequently in the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM) where She is often referred to by a multitude of epithets and associations, such as, Selene, the Moon. Hecate’s “Goddess of Nature” and “Mother of All” aspects are very evident in the following fragment of a spell:

“Mistress of night and chthonic realms, holy, black-clad,

‘Round whom the star-traversing nature of the world revolves

Whene’er you wax too great.

You have established ev’ry worldly thing,

For you engendered everything on earth

And from the sea and ev’ry race in turn.

Of winged birds who seek their nest again.

Mother of all, who bore Love, Aphrodite,

Lamp-bearer, shining and aglow, Selene,

Star-coursing, heav’nly torch-bearer, fire-breather.

Woman four-faced, four-named, four-roads’ mistress.

Hail, Goddess, and attend your epithets.”

-Spell to Accomplish Anything, PGM IV. 2550-56

This comes with another warning as well: “Use this for the spells of coercion, for it can accomplish anything, but do not use it frequently to Selene [the Moon] unless the procedure which you are performing is worthy of its power.” -Greek Magical Papyri, PGM IV. 2568-72, trans., Betz. My personal interpretation is that it’s warning us not to be so focused on wishing that we stop trying to do things for ourselves.

From the Greek poem, “The Theogony”, written around 700 BC, Hesiod tells us that Zeus awarded Hecate privilege in the land, sky, and sea. Is this not Nature? Of course it is! This just gives us yet another example that She is indeed the Mother of Nature: "Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos (Cronus) honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods..." -Hesiod, The Theogony.

We see a similar description in Roman literature where we find Hecate referred to as the Governess of the Elements: “I am she that is the natural mother of all things, mistress and governess of all the Elements, the initial progeny of worlds, chief of powers divine, Queen of heaven! The principal of the Gods celestial, the light of the goddesses: at my will the planets of the air, the wholesome winds of the Seas, and the silences of hell be disposed; my name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners, in variable customs and in many names, for the Phrygians call me the mother of the Gods: the Athenians, Minerva: the Cyprians, Venus: the Candians, Diana: the Sicilians Proserpina: the Eleusians, Ceres: some Juno, others Bellona, others Hecate.” -Lucius Apuleius, “The Golden Asse”. Trans., William Adlington, 1566. [minor spelling corrections]

Looking back in the Greek Magical Papyri, and also in Shakespeare’s plays, we find additional evidence linking Hecate to Nature and the Fates. It becomes evident that Nature and Fate cannot be separated, they are one and the same. First, in the “Document to the Waning Moon” (PGM IV2241-2358), we see Hecate being associated with Klotho/Clotho, Fate, and the Moirai:

Line 2248 “For Klotho will spin out her threads for you”

Line 2281 “Spinner of Fate, all-giver”

Line 2319 “The Moirai throw away your endless thread”

Then, in the “Prayer to Selene For Any Spell” (PGM IV2785-2890), we have further evidence of Her as the Moirai and Mother of Nature and all things:

Line 2795 “You're Justice and the Moira’s threads: Klotho and Lachesis and Atropos”

Line 2832 “Mother of gods and men, and Nature, mother of all things”

Line 2859 “You’re Moira and Erinys, torment, Justice and Destroyer”

Line 2815 “ Wherefore they call you, Hekate”

Author of the books “Seeking Faery” and “So Potent Art: The Magic of Shakespeare”, Emily Carding, does a lot of the footwork for us connecting Hecate with these Fae. They write: "In Shakespeare's time, witches and fairies were strongly linked, with the power of witches said to derive from visitations with fairies or even Faery Queens before the shift in politics and religion brought more emphasis onto the devil and evil dealings. Hekate is a triple Goddess, reflected in the triplicity of the weird sisters, and her appearance emphasises the importance of this triplicity." -Emily Carding, "Invoking Hekate with Shakespeare'', Llewellyn, 2016.

We can see in the following excerpts from Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Macbeth, that Hecate is called the Mistress of the Weird Sisters (Fates/Moirai) who contrive to control the supernatural Elements of Nature and the human mind. Hecate scolds the three witches for meddling in Macbeth’s affairs without consulting Her, then after some instruction, commends them on a job well done and likens them to Fairies:

“And I, the mistress of your charms,

The close contriver of all harms,

Was never called to bear my part,

Or show the glory of our art?”

-Hecate’s speaking in act III, scene 5

“O well done! I commend your pains;

And every one shall share i' the gains;

And now about the cauldron sing,

Live elves and fairies in a ring,

Enchanting all that you put in.”

-Hecate speaking in act IV, scene 1

There’s no doubt these Fairies belong to Hecate because Shakespeare names Her outright as their team captain in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”:

“And we fairies, that do run

By the triple Hecate's team...”

-Shakespeare, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, act V, scene 2

Extensive evidence linking Hecate with Nature and the Fates has also been unveiled by author, Sorita d’Este, in her books, “Hekate Liminal Rites'' and “Circle for Hekate”. Sorita provides us various reasons for seeing Hecate as a Queen of the Fae in her book, “The Faery Queens'', where she writes: “In his epic work ‘Albion’s England’ (1586) William Warner describes Hekate as the queen of hell, or possibly the otherworld and links her with faeries and elves who act as her servants, which seems to imply that they are her servants and therefore that she might also be considered to be a faerie queen in this context.” -Sorita d'Este, The Faery Queens, Avalonia Books, 2013.

The links between Hecate, Nature, and the Fates/Fae are too plentiful to list here, however, if you’re satisfied with the evidence provided and feeling ready to meet Hecate’s Fae, one of the simplest ways of connecting is through an early morning welcoming ritual. You simply greet the sunrise and welcome the Fae with offerings of sweet herbs and flowers like rosemary, lavender, thyme, and basil sprinkled in each of the four directions. As you make your offerings, kindly ask the Fae to join you for the day or invite them to your garden for a midsummer’s stay. To gather the herbs for the rite, it’s best to first ask for the Faery Queen’s guidance on a Full Moon night, just as Medea did according to Ovid:

“Triple Hecate, you who know all our undertakings,

And come, to aid the witches’ art, and all our incantations:

You, Earth, who yield the sorceress herbs of magic force:

You, airs and breezes, pools and hills, and every watercourse;

Be here; all you Gods of Night, and Gods of Groves endorse.”

-Ovid: The Metamorphoses, Book VII:179-233.

Torchbearer Essay by Cece Pitts

(originally published in Noumenia News issue 68)


d’Este, Sorita. “Circle for Hekate Volume 1”, Avalonia Books, 2017. ISBN: 978-1-910191-07-1

d’Este, Sorita and Rankine, David. “Hekate Liminal Rites”, Avalonia Books, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-905297-23-8

Schlie, Florian. “Understanding Hekate- Part 2: The ‘Chaldean Hekate’”, Blog: Where Three Roads Meet, Archetypal Witchcraft, 2014.

W. Wynn Westcott. “Chaldaean Oracles by Zoroaster”, trans., Thomas Taylor,1895.

Orphic Hymn IX to Physis, Goddess of Nature.

Ronan, Stephen. “The Goddess Hekate”, Chthonios Books, 1992. ASIN: B09B5HH47P

Johnston, Sarah Iles. “Hekate Soteira”, American Philological Assn., 1990. ISBN: 1-55540-427-8

Betz, Hans Dieter. “The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation”, University of Chicago Press, 1985. ISBN:0-226-04444-0

Hesiod. “The Theogony”, Trans., Glenn W. Most, H G. Loeb Classical Library, 2018. ISBN-13: 978-0674997202

Apuleius, Lucius. “Metamorphoses of The Golden Asse”, Book 11, Chap 47. Trans., William Adlington, 1566.

Carding, Emily. “Seeking Faery”, Llewellyn Publications, 2022. ISBN-13: 978-0738766065

Carding, Emily. “Invoking Hekate with Shakespeare”, Paganism & Witchcraft, Llewellyn, 2021.

Hecate in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, Tower Notes.

Speeches (lines) for Hecate in Macbeth, Open Source Shakespeare.

Carding, Emily. “So Potent Art: The Magic of Shakespeare”, Llewellyn Publications, 2021. ISBN-13: 978-0738756790

Book of Shadows Print. “The Veil Thins at Beltane: Connecting with Spirits and Fae”, Medium, 2024.

d’Este, Sorita and Rankine, David. “The Faerie Queens”, Avalonia Books 2013, ISBN 978-1-905297-64-1

Ovid. “The Metamorphoses”, Book VII:179-233, “Medea summons the powers and gathers herbs”, Trans., A. S. Kline, Poetry in Translation, 2000.

Heimarmene, Goddess of Fate/Destiny.

Image Source: The Night of Enitharmon's Joy (showing Hekate and the Moirai) by William Blake, 1795. Tate Gallery, London

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