A Simple Devotional for Hekate

Hekate is a goddess of liminal spaces, of the basic elements of reality, of travelers and of magic. She is traditionally honored at the New Moon, in her role as care-taker of the dead, and alongside Artemis and Kourotrophos at a festival focusing on rearing children.

This series of devotionals is breaking from the ancient custom of honoring the deities at their festival times. Each region of Greece had its own calendar of festivals. In honesty, I think that each region of modern Polytheists needs to as well. A devotional, as such, is a framework. For home-crafted festivals, simply add activities or prayers specific to the occasion.

I want to put out a stern admonition, however, against focusing on only one or two deities in this vast pantheon. A pantheon is a whole: it represents the entire universe. In monotheistic religions, they have a deity who represents everything. In a Polytheistic tradition, the gods are not themselves in isolation. The more you understand the pantheon, the more deeply you will be able to connect to the deity in question. For more thoughts on this topic, read this.

A Simple Devotional

Materials

A wash cup (a coffee mug will do in a pinch)

A towel (for drying hands)

A bowl for khernips

A cup to make libations from

A vessel to make libations into if you are indoors. Anything will do, but a small fire is best. If outdoors, into the ground is fine for Hekate, since she is a Chthonic deity.

Make some khernips in advance. This is just a combination of water, salt and fire, but directions are here.

1. A hand-washing meditation

What separates us from Hekate is fear. We fear magic. We fear having our secrets uncovered. We fear self-knowledge. We fear what we do not understand. We fear death. She is a goddess of all of these things. As we wash ourselves with khernips, we purify ourselves of the fear which separates us from Hekate.

Say: “Water, purify me.”

2. Procession and Purification

Take a bowl of khernips in your hand, and process to your space, then process around your space, sprinkling as you go.

3. Offering to Hestia

Fill your libation bowl.

Say, “to Hestia, Sponde”

Taste the libation, and then pour the rest out to Hestia.

As a side note: really, as long as part goes to you, and part goes to the deity, you shouldn’t drive yourself mad over who drinks first, or who gets what portion. Iamblichus suggests that you should libate from a different side of the cup where you drink.

4. Call to Hekate

Read this selection from the Orphic Hymn to Hekate. I have left off the lines about incense, since this simple devotional calls for none.

“And to my holy sacrifice invite,
the pow’r who reigns in deepest hell and night;
I call Einodian Hecate, lovely dame,
of earthly, wat’ry, and celestial frame,
Sepulchral, in a saffron veil array’d,
leas’d with dark ghosts that wander thro’ the shade;
Persian, unconquerable huntress hail!
The world’s key-bearer never doom’d to fail
On the rough rock to wander thee delights,
leader and nurse be present to our rites”

You may, of course, read additional hymns or invocations, but this should be sufficient.

5. Libation to Hekate

Fill the libation bowl again.

Say, “to Hekate, Sponde”

Taste the libation, and then pour the rest out to Hekate.

6. Communing

You’ve called the deity, and now you should spend some time with her. Allow time for meditation.

You could do something creative to honor Hekate. Work on your Book of Shadows, if you have one. Write or read something applicable to issues she cares about. Create artwork that represents her.

You could spend time chanting, or doing a drum circle.

You might also choose to eat a meal during this time. If you do so, set aside a portion as offering.

7.  Closing thanks and libation to Hekate

Say: “Hekate, Lady of the Cross Roads, Three-Bodied One, I thank you for your presence in my home. May there ever be peace between us.”

Fill the libation bowl again.

Say, “to Hekate, Sponde”

Taste the libation, and then pour the rest out to Hekate.

8. Closing Libations to Hestia

“Hestia, by the highest decree, yours is always first and last, so that my hearth, my family and my home should never be forgotten. Thanks to you for the warmth of my home, that I may welcome the gods herein.”

Fill your libation bowl.

Say, “to Hestia, Sponde”

Taste the libation, and then pour the rest out to Hestia.

3 comments

  1. David Dashifen Kees

    Any suggestions for those of us who don’t, as a preference, perform libations?

    In the past, I’ve substituted incense (ironic that you removed references to it above) burning a cone/stick per offering. Primarily, this is because I tend to do my work indoors (procession is tough, too, but I sort of do the washing up parts in one room and process into the other) and, therefore, have no easy way of emptying libations onto the ground during ritual and don’t quite trust myself not to trip and spill the offering all over the place on my way to the outside!

    • Thenea

      Ah, yes. I was thinking of conditions where fire is forbidden, such as hotels (cons), dorms, etc.

      The last two lines of that hymn in the Taylor translation are: “Propitious grant our just desires success, accept our homage, and the incense bless.”

      I don’t think it matters what the offering is, to be completely honest. The important thing is that you are taking the time to honor the deities.

      Do you think you could swing a censer with a charcoal briquette? If so, one solution to not having to deal with messy libations is to libate a much smaller amount, and to libate it onto the charcoal. While the ancient custom was to taste the libation and to pour a huge amount for the deity, we have to keep in mind the context. Largely, these people were libating into a fire pit. In modern times, Hellenists may have the custom (following the accounts of Socrates) to libate a bit of everything they drink. To make this manageable, a straw is used to take out just what one napkin will absorb. Then, since the napkin, itself, is not the libation, the napkin can be discarded. I also know people who do their private devotionals in their kitchen so that they can have a hot pan on the stove into which they libate. The libation becomes steam, and blows out the vent.

      Hope that helps?

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