Fast Facts on: Hecate

Greek goddess of love and beauty

Aphrodite
••• Aphrodite gazes out from a window on the island of Milos, where the "Venus de Milo" was found. deTraci Regula; licensed to About.com

What is the story about the Greek goddess Hecate or Hekate? Find out about Greece's dark goddess of the crossroads - since you may be crossing many roads during your trip to Greece.

Basic Story: Hecate rules over the night, magic, and places where three roads meet.

Hecate's Appearance: Hekate's appearance is dark-haired and beautiful, but with an eerie edge to that beauty befitting a goddess of night (though the actual goddess of night is Nyx).

Aphrodite's Symbol or Attribute: Her place, the crossroads. Two torches. Black dogs. She is sometimes shown holding a key.

Strengths: Powerful magic, at ease with the night and darkness, unafraid of wild surroundings

Weaknesses:  Ill at ease in cities and civilization.

Hecate's Parents: Persis and Asteria, two Titans from the generation of deities prior to the Olympians. Asteria may be the original goddess associated with the Asterion mountain range on the island of Crete.

Hecate's Birthplace: Hecate is usually thought to have originated in Thrace, a wild northern region of Greece which is also known for its tales of Amazons. But see below for another possible origin of this goddess.

Hecate's spouse:  None

Children:  None 

Sacred Plants: Intoxicating herbs. Asafoetida, known for its bitter smell..

Some Major Temple Sites of Hecate: Shrines to Hecate were in the regions of Phrygia and Caria.

Interesting Facts about Hecate: The Greek name of Hecate may derive from an earlier Egyptian frog-headed goddess called Heqet, who ruled over magic and fertility and was a favorite of women.

The Greek form is "hekatos", "who works from afar" a probable reference to her magic powers, but may also distantly reference her possible origins in Egypt.

In Greece, there is some evidence that Hecate was originally seen as a much more benevolent, cosmic goddess. Even Zeus, the King of the Olympian Gods,  is said to have reverenced her, and there are hints that she was considered to be an all-powerful goddess.

Hecate was sometimes seen as a Titan, like her parents, and in the battle between the Titans and the Greek gods led by Zeus, she helped Zeus and so was not banished to the underworld with the rest of them. This is especially ironic since after this, she seems to have become more associated with the underworld, not less.

Other Names of Hecate: Hecate Triformis, Hecate of the three faces or three forms, corresponding to the phases of the moon - dark, waxing, and waning. Hecate Triodis is the specific aspect presiding over crossroads.

Hecate in Literature: Hecate appears in many plays and poems as the personification of darkness, the moon, and magics. She appears in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Much later, Shakespeare references her in MacBeth, where she is mentioned in the scene of the three witches boiling together their dire brew.

Now find out about Apollo, the Greek God of Light

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