Hecate (Hekate) is a goddess in Greek mythology associated with witchcraft, magic, the Moon, doorways, and creatures of the night like hell-hounds and ghosts. Hecate often carries a torch in her connection with the night, she carries the keys to the underworld and is often hailed as the goddess of Wytches. Hecate is often represented as single-formed, clad in a long robe, holding burning torches. In later representations she is triple-formed, with three bodies standing back-to-back, probably so that she could look in all directions at once from the crossroads. She was often accompanied by a pack of dogs. Her companions are the Furies (Erinyes), the winged creatures who punished wrong-doing.
For the Samhain Sabbat I wanted to depict Hecate, a goddess who has been by my side for a very long time. However I had not found my wytch muse to embody her and the energies of Samhain. It wasn’t till I had painted the Beltaine Wytch for this series did I finally make the connection between wytch, goddess and sabbat. I had been following online and eventually befriended a beautiful artist, writer and wytch Jo Thilwind from Cheshire, who was a soul sister to Michelle, my Beltaine Wytch. So as it often is the magick of intention, connection and synchronicity worked with me again and Jo was to become my Hecate. Jo also had another crucial connection to the goddess in her role as an animal rights warrior and protector of dogs, she and her pack of rescue hounds were a perfect fit for this piece. The hounds became pivotal to the piece, reflecting so much of the goddess’s magick and purpose, as guardian of the crossroads and guide to the underworld.
Maia was the matron of the pack and was with me during the whole process of this piece. Her gaze clear, calm and wise on the left hand side of the goddess, I felt very honoured and blessed by her presence… Barnaby, on the other side was much less clear but had a warm childlike presence, and then of course in the centre of the pack is the king, Pharaoh, who has the universe in his blind eyes, the milky cosmos at the beginning of time before it burst forth into stars and life began. They guard and emerge from the hollow in the oak, the door to the underworld.
The three faces of the goddess, reflect the aspect of maiden, mother and crone… the maiden offers ceremonial paint, the mother holds the torches to light the way of the initiate and the crone will ask for sacrifice… Unlike many depictions of Hecate as serious and unsmiling, I have chosen to present her as she comes to me, knowing, challenging and all to human.
The maiden smiles with encouragement and asks us to embrace the joys of the journey, the mother is both wicked and wise, her gaze direct and demands us to look into ourselves, her smile holds secret knowledge, she lights the way to ourselves. The crone holds the serpent and demands us to look into the abyss with courage and faith and not fear the bite of death.
I have chosen to reflect the number three in all parts of the image with the three faces of the goddess, the three hounds, three priestess Furies and three snakes around the portal, among many more. My intention is to amplify the wisdom of the triad, the third way. For me the world is never just two ways, right or wrong, black or white, there is always another way out of the trap of oppositional dichotomies. There is always another way than the two obvious paths… I wanted this to be the lesson in these times when war, destitution and starvation are forcing so many to go one way or the other, and the third way is forgotten in the rage and panic.
So let us remember the wisdom of Hecate and choose to take the third way, to step off the path and follow the goddess through the doorway, through the darkness and the unknown, to plant the seeds of the future deep in the earth.
Hail Hecate for she is the guardian of the underworld, keeper of the keys and watcher of the crossroads. The Maiden seducer, the Mother avenger and the Crone seer.
Honour her and follow her light through the darkest of night.
Through the Covid pandemic and several lock downs Jo rescued three hounds who were all older dogs with many additional medical issues and needs. This tale I will leave here for you to read, but as it is not my story I have left it with their mother to tell it. Please find the story of the hounds below. ( this will be added after Samhain 2023 as she is honouring the passing of Barnaby and Maia at the time of me writing this).
A3, A4, A5 Altar Card, A6 Mediation Card