Personal development is a concept that has always been strongly linked to Hecate for me. While there have never been any clear statements in any historical text (to my knowledge) that links her to personal development, I do see a few things that connect her to it.
Whether it is about improving yourself mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, personal development starts with self-awareness and a need for change. By enacting this change, a new habit or mindset will change a person deeply. Such changes often lead to better relationships, more confidence, and is self-perpetuating. I strongly feel personal development is so inherent in a Hecate devotee that not undertaking it seems almost wrong! So here are a few things that I think connect the Goddess Hecate with personal development.
She is all about development
Her epithet Soteira means saviour which connects her with the Cosmic World Soul; the intermediary between the Divine and the Physical (Johnston, 1990). Through this role, Hecate aids the practice of Chaldean theurgy where the goal is for the soul to ascend and unify with the divine. The process of theurgy is to conduct rituals of action and reflection. Johnston (1990) describes it as a “philosophical or intellectual means of obtaining salvation” (page 77) which immediately implies a degree of thinking about oneself. The way to achieve this ascension is to purify the soul of materialistic desires. These can be greed or selfishness, or things that are perceived as “lower or negative”. The release of such lower traits can be equated to a learning process that a person must undergo, and therein lies the development. Hecate as the mediator can inspire this learning process and change. She is therefore helping and inspiring people to think about their own (soul’s) development.
Change can be anything (mental, emotional, or spiritual). But it will manifest in our daily lives as a change in behaviour and can have a ripple effect. It could be that someone develops their emotional intelligence (EI) something which I advocate for as a Hecate Einalian CoH Keybearer. EI enables a person to manage their own emotions in a more sustainable way, and help others with their emotions. This will ultimately have a positive effect on relationships, and make the person feel more confident in their emotional abilities. So how does she inspire people to change? I would argue she does the following:
She invites you to be contemplative
In the Orphic Hymn, Hecate is described as “solitary” and “nightly-seen.” She is comfortable being by herself in the dark which is incredibly introvert. These descriptions imply something deeply contemplative about Hecate where the silence and peacefulness of the night leaves a void which invites deep meditation of the self. Simply by association, she encourages her devotees to also enjoy the same environment and reflect on themselves.
She forces you to confront uncomfortable truths
By undertaking this contemplation, uncomfortable truths come to light. Although they can sometimes be comfortable truths! But Hecate’s association with darkness may imply an issue that some may refuse or be in denial about. These uncomfortable truths can be psychological, emotional or mental, and they affect how a person behaves in a certain situation. Some of her epithets and associated items can be associated with facing or confronting truths:
Hecate Phosphorous (light) or Dadochous (torchbearer)- She illuminates issues.
Hecate Kleidochous (key/ keybearer)- She unlocks a part of a person that they didn’t know existed within them.
By forcing (be it gently, or not) us to confront certain truths, it inspires us to think about what we can do. Is there something we need to accept and let go? Or is there something we can do to change ourselves?
She is about change and transformation
It is a bit hard to not do anything about a situation once you have had an epiphany about it. Ultimately, once someone knows that there is something that needs changing, that knowledge is enough to act on it. In that way, that is how she encourages change. But there are also very clear links between Hecate and change. She has a lot of associations that symbolise cutting away or destroying aspects that might no longer serve a person. For example, fire is cleansing, and a knife or dagger cut away the things we do not want. The crossroad is symbolic of that limbo state; between paths, choices, being, or the point where you know you are changing but you don’t know what the end result is. Hecate is also clearly associated with the serpent; a re-birth symbol, which could symbolise being on the other side of that change.
She is an understanding goddess
If you are going through something tough, she will listen and understand, and most of the time this will come from clear messages from her. All messages from Hecate are personal and she will make it aware to you that it is coming from her! She might even bring you something just to feel better temporarily. One of the most incredible “messages” I got from her was when I was upset with something in my work life. At the time, Hecate knew what I was going through as I routinely spoke to her. But on one day when I was particularly upset, I ended up at a market stall in town where I found a statue of her. The woman behind the stall said that she was given this statue to sell, and that the right person would know exactly who she was. I immediately interpreted this as a sign that she was with me and I was comforted by this. Her messages of understanding can also come through people who channel her, and of course dreams.
Statue from Anne Stokes bought at a stall in Sheffield
You can work with her to develop any aspect of your life!
One of the most fantastic things about Hecate is that she can be anything! Her symbols, associations, relationships with other deities, and her epithets means that she has a vast array of tools for any person to use. She also has a wide variety of personality traits which can be seen through her epithets. As Kourotrophos, she is gentle and nurturing. As Brimo, she is fiery. As Einalian, she understands emotions. You can choose to work with a certain aspect of her, or she will bring one to you.
She will level you up with the next thing
Once you have achieved or mastered something, she will bring something positive into your life and she will make it obvious that it was her who did it. She won’t brag, but instead it will be more like a signature as if she is just letting you know. This new positive thing in your life will be a reward of what you have achieved. But it will also present you with new ways to learn and develop yourself. They are things that will encourage the next cycle of development. For example, you finally land a job that you wanted for a very long time but you will have to learn a new skill. Or it could be you have met the love of your life. But you must apply everything you have learnt about emotional intelligence in order to keep that relationship.
The important thing about personal development is self-awareness: You need to be able to ask yourself harsh questions about your perceptions and emotions, and be honest with yourselves: What is it about what I said that upset my colleague? Is my friend really pissed off with me? Or am I projecting? Why do I feel guilty when I think I have done nothing wrong?
Finally, it is essential to have a growth mindset. You need to accept the fact that you are constantly learning, and that you will make mistakes and flaws that you will have to apologise for. But that is OK because you are working on them to improve yourself.
Now it is over to you:
How do you see Hecate’s relationship with personal development?
What issue do you want to work on?
Which of Hecate’s tools or epithets have you used to develop yourself?
And when was the last time you were truly honest to yourself?
Johnston, S.I. 1990. Hekate Soteira: a Study of Hekate's roles in the Chaldean Oracles and Related Literature. Scholars Press Atlanta, Georgia, USA.