Historical evidence for Hekate
Let's see when and where Hekate is shown in history, ancient writings and archaeology.
Hekate, the One who comes from far away
Some people still believe that Hekate is the Triple Goddess of Maiden, Mother, Crone concept. Some others believe that Hekate is the Crone on that concept. Well, in short, nonsense! Hekate is the Triple Goddess but all her faces are young. She is a young Goddess and one of the most ancient ones. Her hymn is the first in Orphics, the first religion in earth. She is a liminal Goddess, a very powerful one, who was well respected in all ancient world. She participates in many well known mysteries of Hellas: Eleusinean, Kabeiria (Samothrace), Aeginas and Argous. She is the Goddess of Magick who protects people who walked the roads, that's why Her statues were at the crossroads. She is caring with her followers and her cult was characterized by ver powerful notable witches like Kirke, Media and others. I know, that you have many questions, but the amount of misinformation spreaded through websites, forums, applications, blogs, literature, movies, tv shows is not something that it could be confronted easily. So, let's see the facts.
Hekate is alive in archaic period, classical period, hellenistic period, roman period, byzantine period, nowadays. She never stopped to exist and worshipped all over the years in Hellas. She is the Triple Goddess, a chthonic as well as a sea Goddess as well as a psychopomp and a mistress of the Underworld. She has too many powers because she is actually a Titan, she existed before Olympian Gods and she helped the Olympians to kill the Titans. Zeus gave her honors and powers over earth, sea and sky. As years were passing by, Hekate's power is becoming stronger and to the hellenistic period she is the Soul of the World, the Ultimate Goddess. So, Hekate evolved as all the divine spirits do.
Mysteries of Hekate could be found in Samothrace, Aegina, Eleusis, Sicily, Argos. So, when the Hellenes lived, Hekate was there. In Asia Minor she was worshiped in Caria as the main Goddess. In fifth century, we see her cult in Athens, Sparta, Miletos, Aphrodisias, Hydrias, Aegina...
Let's see the archaeological evidence in Hellas. In Aegina, Orpheus (the founder of religion) established her cult. In Eleusis the Mysteries of Demeter (Hekate played an important role) were active at 1409 b.C. In Sparta there was a Temple of Hekate before 7th century b.C. In Mylitus before 5th century b.C. there was a Temple of Hekate and in Aphrodisias. In Acropolis of Athens, Alcamenes had made a statue of Hekate close to the temple of unwinged Nike. Hekate acted as a protectress of the place. In Samothrace a Temple of Hekate was, as Nonnos and Suidda Lexicon writes down. In Byzantium Hekate lighted the torches of the city walls when Philippos attacked, and she saved the town in 339 b.C. Citizens changed their coins in order to honor Her. At 4rth century in Ferai of Magnesia, Hekate is connected with Enodia. In Pergamus Hekate is pictured in a sculpture fighting Titan Clytios with Artemis fighting Titan Otos. In Caria, at 2nd century b.C. a ceremony was called Kleidos Agogi, in which maybe the sacred Key of Hekate was blessing the whole town through a route in the streets of the city. In Ephesus at the temple of Artemis (the greatest wonder of the ancient world)there was a statue of Hekate, according to Pliny.
Travelling to poetry, Pindar, Homer, Hesiod, Alkman, Hippoanax (6th to 7th century b.C.), Sophocles, Aristophanes all ancient writers have written poems for Hekate.
If we look all ancient Hellenes writers, Hekate is refered by:
Herodotus, Ippocrates, Theophrastus, Eupolis, Vachyllydes, Lycophos, Apollodoros, Ksenophon, Apollonios from Rhodes, Anaxilas, Kallimachos,Plutarch, Pausanias, Klemes and others like Seneca, Ovid, Virgil, Apouelios, Ailianos, Katolos, Zozephinos 1200 hellenic towns in Asia. The map is designed by prof. C. Georgakopoulos
Hekate appeared in Mythology and I have to mention that in Theogony of Hesiod, a big part is written for Her. In Homeric Hymns, Hekate is mentioned in the hymn to Demeter. We see her role as psychopomp, propolos... and we see some parts of her character. She is kind, determined, fair... Let's go back to history.
Hekate was too famous in ancient Hellas. Outside of every house, it was usually to be a hekataion, a temple for Hekate, as a protectress of the house. The worship of every house was a common thing in Hellas. There was the basic public religious celebrations, but inside the house every citizen performed acts of worship in the Gods, including praying, offerings and divination. The same thing we see in praying. In ancient Hellas there was the atomic praying and the group praying. Sometimes, the citizens of the town were gathering to pray all together for one cause. Hellenes were praying three times per day, following the sun, just like there is today in yoga or thelema. Hekate was also very well respected and sometimes she was feared by superstitious people, as we can read on Theophrastus work, In Piety.
Some people have connected Hekate with evil. Some modern people. In 2nd century a.C. we read in a plaque the following: «Πυρσοί της Εκάτης Ενοδίας, με την τρομερή φωνή, η Θεά που φωνάζει βαρβαρικές λέξεις οδηγεί στον Θεό.» It says that torches of Enodia Hekate, she with the terrible voice and barbaric words, leads to the God.
Hekate is associated with the souls of the dead and with phantoms, ghosts, etc. That's true and this is the reason we offer suppers every dark moon. Let's see what Euripides writes: Ὦ φωσφόρ' Ἑκάτη, πέμπε φάσματ' εὐμενῆ. This is a praying to Hekate to send phantoms that are good. So, in ancient world, we had dreams, visions and the ancient Hellenes believed that those metaphysical creatures were controlled by Hekate.
Hekate has been connected with barbaric shouts. It is believed as we can read in Iamblichus works, that Hekate was happy when a witche called her by mystical barbaric words. We read in chaldean oracles the following: "Μετά το χάραμα, με τον αέρα, το δίχως όριο, γεμάτο αστέρια, έφυγα από το αμόλυντο σπίτι του Θεού και κατέβηκα στη γη που φροντίζει τη ζωή, ύστερα από την παράκλησή σου και με την πεποίθηση τως ανείπωτων λέξεων, με τις οποίες ο θνητός άνθρωπος απολαμβάνει να χαροποιεί τις καρδιές των αθανάτων." It says that Hekate left the house of the God and came to the earth after the invocation of unsaid words that give happiness to the hearts of the immortals.
In Theocritus work, Eidyllia, of 270 b. C. we see a binding spell. Hekate plays a great part on it. In ancient world, it was very common to see the practice of binding magick, especially with the use of nails, parchment, lead tablets... At an attic defixio of 3rd century b.C. Hekate is invoked to bind a woman and in another atheniean defixio of 1st century a.C. Hekate is invoked. It is very common to read about the chthonic aspect of Hekate in binding techniques.
In Greek Magical Papyri we could read many spells and ceremonies with Hekate. For example, in PGM CXIV 1-14 we see some excerpts of calling Hekate to heal epilepsy.
In Pergamos, at 2nd century b.C. we see an anaglyph with Hekate fighting giant Klytios with torches. Next to her, we see Artemis fighting giant Otios. In ancient Sparta of 7th centrury b.C. we see a group of women holding torches to honor or escort Hekate.
Eusebius quoting Porphyri (234 b.C.) transfers to us the words of Hekate: "Do all anon: a statue too therein;my form - Demeter bright with autumn fruits, white robes, and feet with golden sandals bound. White robes and feet with golden sandals bound. Around her waist long snakes run to and fro..." Eusebius writes also that Hekate holds a scourge, a torch, as sword and a serpent i around her. Those symbols are used today in statues, drawing and we can read about invocations and visualization exercises. We can also read in his book that Hekate is giving a spell with the following materials: lizard, rue, resin,myrrh, frankincense. The resins are commonly used today in witchcraft and the rue has a special connection with her as a protecting herb.
Moving to Ephesos, we see the bigest temple of ancient times, the Temple of Ephesia Artemis. Archaeolgical findings proove a connection between Artemis of Ephesos and Hekate. After the hellenistic period, Hekate and Artemis were identified as one Goddess.
I wrote in the begginning of the article that at crossroads there were statues who had three faces or four to look at all roads, in order to protect the traveller, the citizen, etc. Ovidios writes about it:"You see Hecate’s faces turned in three directions, to guard the crossroads branching several ways:" (Fasti, Book I, 141) In the Root-cutters of Sofocles we read that Hekate dwells in the triple ways.
We see the connection with Hekate and dogs in Theocritus work: Eidyllia, "Σελήνη, αθόρυβη θεά, φέγγε γλυκά και λάμπε· στα μάγια πριν καταπιαστώ θα τραγουδήσω εσένα και την Εκάτη πούρχεται μέσ' απ' της γης τα σπλάχνα και τριγυρνά στα μνήματα και την φοβούνται οι σκύλοι. He calls Hekate who walks in the cemeteries and she is afraid by the dogs. In pottery of ancient times, we see Hekate with Kerberus, the triple headed guarding dog of hades.Hekate is also connected with lions. We see lions in the frieze of her temple in Lagina, in PGM and in chaldean oracles.
In the 6th century a.C. we read in John Lydus about the animal headed Hekate. I have written another article about that subject but it refers the bull, the horse, the dog and the snake. This reference has been used by the famous writer Jason Miller in his book: Protection and Reversal Magick.
In PGM we see the connection of Hekate with black dogs, serpents, keys, torches, bronze sandals, lodestone, wands. (IV 2334-38, VII 780-85, LXX 4-25 etc.) Let me add that dogs are related with the dead and the eath and serpents with the earth, So those two are chthonic symbols. The wand was a magical tool to form the circle and invoke the Gods. Torches are symbols of chtonic deities like Artemis, Persephone and Demeter. Cross torches are the symbols of the Goddesses of Eleusis. They symbolize the divine light in the earth. Keys are symbolic for power and access to parts of the world and reality.