The subject of Greek mythology is one that still holds our interest, and the stories continue to captivate us regardless of how many times we have heard them. Some of the most interesting Greek legends are the ones about the gods, and goddesses, that the civilization worshipped. Among these was the beautiful, powerful goddess of the crossroads, Hecate. Normally pictured holding either a key or two torches, she was the only Titan that Zeus allowed to retain a position of influence and authority after he conquered them. She was also the only one, among the gods, that he shared the secret of granting humans their every desire with. This shows the level of respect and appreciation that he had for her.
Hecate was the goddess of crossroads, magic, entranceways, the moon and light, as well as being associated with the earth, the sky and the sea. As one of the protectors of shepherds and sailors, she had the power to calm or create storms.
Whenever the goddess was seen at night, in some of the legends she appeared as shining and luminous and in others she was barely visible. This luminescence was the basis of her strong association with the moon. She became known as ‘The Queen of the Night’ because she possessed the ability to see into the Underworld. Ghosts and other spiritual beings chose to travel with her and her closeness to these creatures meant she was greatly feared, yet highly respected.
Hecate loved her freedom and chose to retain her independence by not getting married. Her constant companions were her sacred dogs, and both the goddess and her canines were believed to have three heads. This gave them the ability to see in every direction at once as well as to look into the past, present and future. Offerings were left at Y-intersections to honour her and travellers hung three masks here, so that she would guide them in choosing the correct path.
Believed to be the goddess that protected Athenian households, she would also grant the family prosperity and daily blessings. As a deity of both life and death she was the protector of women in labour and helped eased their pain, as well as comforting the elderly on their death beds helping them to feel as little fear and pain as possible when making the transition from the land of the living to the land of the dead.
Hecate was also fiercely committed to her protection of the poor and less fortunate, but still insisted on dispensing justice fairly and equally when it was necessary. Leftovers from the evening meal were put outside as offerings to her, and the homeless would be the direct recipient of these. In this way she took care of all her worshippers and, even though she was known as ‘The Distant One,’ was quick to reward those that were loyal to her using the special abilities that Zeus had granted.