Each November 16th, from sunset to sunrise the next day, is celebrated as Hecate’s Night, dedicated to the goddess associated with witchcraft, crossroads, magic, death, birth and rebirth.
A little history of Hecate
Hecate (pronounced heh-cat-ee) is a Greek goddess known for her expertise with herbs and poisonous plants, she is associated with crossroads – as she is both dark and light, death and rebirth – and can move between the worlds and communicate with the dead. She is associated with liminal spaces, boundaries, and the passing through of different rites of passage – such as birth and death. Rather than be confined to one form (although modern Wicca does tend to associate her with The Crone, as she is associated with the waning moon and being closer to the Underworld) Hecate encompasses all three stages, The Triple Goddess. Her name has been interpreted as coming from the Greek ‘Heketera’ meaning ‘both’.
Her Greek myth of origin states that Hecate was the daughter of the Titan Perses. Due to being honoured by Zeus she became co-ruler of the air alongside him, of the sea alongside Poseidon, and of the underworld alongside Hades. This triple rulership is often portrayed by showing her as a goddess with literally three bodies, in the form of Selene the moon goddess who controls birth, Artemis the earth goddess who controls life and Persephone, goddess of the underworld who controls death. Overall, Hecate is most associated with the underworld, the waning moon and the autumn season, although she can move between realms easily and encompasses all of them.
Several animals are associated with Hecate. The most-often portrayed with her is the black dog, which symbolises not only the night, underworld and passing between worlds, but also protection and guidance. It was believed in mythology that the black dog was not only Hecate’s familiar and companion, helping her to guide souls into the afterlife, but that she could also take the form of a black dog herself.
Snakes are associated in mythology with rebirth and transformation, as they shed their skin and therefore symbolise Hecate’s power to bring about change, and her dominion over rebirth and transformation. The shedding serpent also symbolises the shedding of old ways.
The owl is also associated with Hecate as a creature of the dark, able to see clearly and recognise truth from illusion, a symbol of wisdom.
Hecate's Night symbolism
On Hecate’s Night, it’s a time to honour and invoke the triple goddess. Think about choices you need to make, paths you need to take, and how you might shed old beliefs and be ‘reborn.’ It’s a perfect night for divination, to seek inner strength and protection, clarity and insight, or necessary change.
Hecate is also the protector of the marginalised and oppressed, and the patron goddess of witches. You may ask her for guidance on your personal path.
Some symbols associated with Hecate include:
Crossroads, torches and keys
Dogs, snakes, owls
Bread, mushrooms, honey, leeks, onions, garlic, wine, cheese, fish, pomegranate
Willow, Cyprus, Yew, Bay, Lavender, Myrrh, Belladonna, Cyclamen, Henbane, Jasmine, Mandrake, Wolf’s Bane
Moonstone, Obsidian, Hematite
Colours associated with Hecate are black, white and red.
How you can celebrate Hecate's Night
You can honour Hecate and give thanks for her presence in your craft on this night in lots of ways. It’s also the perfect time to perform divination in whatever way you prefer to work. Just remember to start everything after sunset!
Some ways you can celebrate Hecate's Night include:
Set up an altar to Hecate – decorate it with symbols associated with her, such as lavender, moonstone or keys, or offerings such as wine or honey.
Light a candle – to symbolise the torch that Hecate carries for illumination and guidance.
Burn incense – Lavender, myrrh or jasmine are all perfect for honouring Hecate.
Have a ‘Hecate’s Supper’ – serve up a meal including any of the following: wine, eggs, garlic, honey, mushrooms and bread. Leave this offering on the front doorstep of your home – symbolising a crossroad between spaces – or literally at a crossroad (although make sure not to leave any non-biodegradable litter). Invoke Hecate and ask for her blessing to protect your household, or to assist with anything you need help with, then walk away and don’t look back at your offering.
However you celebrate, we wish you all the best as the seasons continue to change and the growing darkness brings us closer again to the return of the light.
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