The Goddess Hekate: An Introduction
Who is the Goddess Hekate?
An Introduction to the Triple Goddess of the Crossroads
"Hekate is arguably the most mysterious and formidable of all the Goddesses of the Ancient world" wrote Stephen Ronan in his 1992 book, The Goddess Hekate. His book followed behind Hekate Soteira by S.I. Johnston which was published in 1990, and between them, these books inspired a whole new generation of people interested in the ancient religions of Pagan Europe and Asia Minor to look at the Goddess Hekate afresh.
By the 21st century Hekate started to emerge as one of the, if not the most, popular goddesses for those interested in Witchcraft, Wicca and Pagan spirituality. Hekate has attracted a diverse and international following, with many modern devotees taking a keen interest in the fascinating and mysterious history of the Goddess Hekate.
On this page you will find information to get you started on your journey to better understand Hekate, and the key concepts associated with Her. Remember as you read that Hekate's story evolved over many centuries, and continues to evolve today during which it passed through different geographic regions, languages and many cultural changes. Sometimes a story evolved in different ways in different locations, sometimes the way in which magic or devotion was performed also evolved and changed. When looking at sources - ancient or modern - we have to take this into consideration, where possible. For example, material written down by early Christian writers may highlight or exaggerate ideas which they considered to be undesirable in order to diminish the importance of a deity. Work produced by a devotee might, on the other hand, exaggerate the importance of the deity!
If you are just starting on your journey with Hekate, we recommend you read and listen through this page to the end, before exploring additional links provided.
The material on this page is © to the individual contributors.
Hekate or Hecate is a multifaceted goddess who has and continues to reveal herself in many different forms to devotees. - From: Circle for Hekate, d’Este – 2017
“The goddess Hekate continues to inspire awe today. She is one of the most ancient Pagan goddesses, closely linked to the worship of the Great Mother Goddess Kybele and the Ephesian Artemis, as well as with the Mysteries of the Grain Goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. She was worshipped alongside gods such as Zeus, Hermes, Apollo and honoured at the entranceways into cities, temples and homes, as well as crossroads. In Hesiod’s Theogony, the earliest and most complete surviving literary account of the Greek Gods, Hekate is given the unique position of being honoured by both Zeus and the other immortal gods.
“…Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos 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…”
She is described as a benevolent goddess, capable of granting success in many different aspects of life, as well as being a nurse to the young. Hekate is a shapeshifting goddess, manifesting in various forms and faces, single and triple-bodied, and with the heads of maidens as well as those of animals.
 The Theogony, circa 8th or 7th century BCE, Hesiod, trans. Evelyn-White, 1914.”
Other Titles & Epithets
"Many named Mother of the Gods" - Proclus in his Hymn to Hekate & Janus
Like many other deities, Hekate had many other theonyms, as well as epithets which provide us with glimpses into the roles, functions and qualities She had for her ancient devotees.
These are some examples (for pronunciation, see the video below):
Brimo - Terrifying or Angry One
Trioditis - Three Ways
Trimorphe - Three Formed
Enodia - Of the Roads
Chthonia - Of the Earth
Kleidouchos - Keybearer
Soteira - Saviour
Phosophoros - Light Bringer (also used for the planet Venus and other light-bringers, translates as Lucifera in Latin)
Dadouchos - Torch bearer
"Many named Mother of the Gods" - Proclus in his Hymn to Hekate & Janus
Some of the sacred names or titles given to Hekate can be difficult to pronounce for those of us who don't speak Greek or have an otherwise good working knowledge of ancient Greek. It is natural for us to pronounce names in our own language so that it can be understood, but knowing how the names are pronounced can be very helpful in ceremonies honouring the Goddess, or where She is invoked. With thanks to Christina Moraiti, a Keybearer who lives in Athens, Greece for creating this short video to help with some of the most popular and important epithets.
Images of the Goddess
"Hekate is single-headed, double-headed, triple-headed and sometimes quadruple-headed. She comes with the faces of a young or adult female, but also with that of a bull, boar, cow, snake, dog, wolf, lion, dragon, goat and horse." - Circle for Hekate, Sorita d'Este
Hekate is best known as being a Triple Goddess, most frequently depicted as three young, adult women standing back to back - sometimes around a central pillar. She was also frequently shown as a single body goddess, and in other forms as noted in the quote above.
Take a little time to carefully look at the image of the Goddess below. You will hopefully notice that there are repeating patterns, symbols, clothing and postures which these images, some of which has survived for more than 2500 years, have in common. Learning to recognise these are an essential step on the journey, whether your aims are devotion, magic or both.
Interested in exploring more images of the Goddess? Maybe you are travelling and want to know when to look out for something you might otherwise miss? CLICK HERE for link to Christina's Map.
Explore these historic images of the Goddess - by studying these and other images from history we can learn to deepen our understanding and through that our connection with this enigmatic and ancient goddess.
Hymns to the Goddess Hekate
There are a few, sometimes fragmentary, hymns that survive from the ancient world for the Goddess Hekate, the most famous and arguably the most important of these is the Orphic Hymn to Hekate.
What is a Hymn? A hymn is a song or words of praise offered to a deity by devotees, it sometimes includes requests for blessings or protection in return. There are stories of hymns being sung to Hekate at the Temple of Hekate in Lagina, Stratonicea (modern Turkey) and elsewhere and today all new members of the Covenant of Hekate produce their own hymn to Hekate as a devotional offering when joining the network. Hymns today, like in the ancient world, often form part of daily devotion, as well as special ceremonies on festival days.
The Orphic Hymn to Hekate was translated into English in the 1700's by Thomas Taylor, and by others subsequently. With the help of an Ancient Greek Language Scholar two of our Greek members, Christina and Kassandra, produced a new translation used by Kassandra in these recordings.
English translation by Christina and Kassandra, read by Kassandra.
Orphic Hymn in the original Greek, read by Kassandra.
The Goddess Hekate can be found in many different aspects of ancient religious and mythological life. If you want to explore this in more depth, it is always a good idea to go back to the stories or mythologies, or to the original literature where possible. This way you can reach your own conclusions and come to your own interpretations based on your reading and experience. If you are interested, see Hekate in Literature for some literary sources.
One of the most significant texts we have for Hekate's story, is the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. This is an epic poem in which the story of the Grain Goddess Demeter's search for her daughter Persephone (who was "taken" by Hades, the God of the Underworld) is told. Hekate has a significant role in this story.
The Homeric Hymn to Demeter - Read and Performed by Emily Carding using the Evelyn White translation. Originally recorded for the Hekate Symposium 2021, and included here gratis with permission of Theurgia Ltd.
Hekate's most important symbols
This is an overview of the most important historical symbols, animals and plants associated with the Goddess Hekate.
If you are interested in taking a deeper look, explore HEKATE'S CEREMONIAL ATTIRE & RITUAL OBJECTS - HEKATE's MOONS- HEKATE'S ANIMALS for mini articles created on these and many more things associated with Hekate through the collaborative efforts of members.
Hekate is often shown holding a key. A keybearing ceremony was held for Her in Lagina.
The key was likely for the city, or perhaps a special shrine area in a temple.
Hekate is described as being crowned with wild serpents, as having snakes around her wrists and waist, and is sometimes shown with snakes in Her hands.
Hekate is the Torchbearer. She is often shown with two torches, sometimes six, four or one also. Her Torches light the way in the dark.
Swords or Daggers
Hekate is shown holding a short sword, or dagger, in many ancient icons.
We often see Hekate accompanied by Dogs, flanking her or next to Her. This is similar to how the Goddess Artemis is depicted too.
Hekate became closely associated with the Moon during the early Roman period, perhaps due conflations with the Goddess Selene, Sister and counterpart of Helios the Sun.