Posts tagged hekate
Posts tagged hekate
As I grow as a practitioner and pagan it is astounding to literally see my practices evolve and delve deeper becoming less of practice and more of a natural religion. One place I find this most prevalent is in my altar and shrine set up. For most of us, we began our journey at the path that had the greatest wealth of information: Wicca. I typically shy away from judging the faith of others but, while the idea of a universal god and goddess was appealing, I always found myself reverting back to the ancient gods of Hellas. For years I set up my altar, god side, goddess side, pentagram in the middle and so on. This worked for a time but it felt more like a table with pretty things than a great altar to the gods. After about 4 years as a Wiccan and then 3 years unidentifiable pagan I heard the call of Hekate, a divinity I knew little about and had no interest in. She was the goddess who first forced me to recognize a specific deity by name and practice and forsake the idea She was just a mirror on some divine goddess disco ball. After this experience She took center stage and the transition started to take place, little by little.
At that point, most of my worship was conflicted and while I never had any problems with the craft, the religion part always felt as if something didn’t fit or, rather, I was struggling to make sense of my new goddess and the nameless gods I was use to. I was torn between my old ways of doing things, the Wiccan ways, and the ways a real and physical goddess was telling me to practice. Before long I found myself only praying to Her and not the “Lord and Lady” and confined them only to worship on the Wiccan Sabbaths. I then set up a shrine for Pan, and again, started to see Him as separate from the Horned God I use to know. For the next three years I left this set up. Goddess of the left, Hekate in the middle, Horned God on the right, and Pan on the floor. This somewhat satiated my viewpoint but still, something was missing. While my communication with Pan and Hekate was growing, my need for these nameless gods was waning and their purpose was almost exclusively nostalgic.
It was when my partner, Docteur Caeli D’Anto, began to have visions of Hekate in Her most ancestral form that I knew I could be so much more, and get much more from my faith. I decided, with his help that things needed to change. The god and goddess of Wicca had to be removed from the top of the altar! While I do still believe there is a grand Creator, male and female, my view on them is that they are far too large and far too distant to hear our prayers. That is why for thousands of years man spoke to the many gods right here in our own world. For evidence of this one must simply think on the idea of the Universe. The entire expand of space and time. While we cannot hope to explain the supernatural with the laws of the natural, the idea that the grand creators, the Lord and Lady, are swirling through the cosmos in the grand dance of Creation, yet somehow accessible to us, here on this tiny spec of the whole of what they began. My thought process began to manifest the gods, not as energies or thought forms but as physical beings and this concept that they can be bothered or interrupted from such a profound thing as Creation seemed unimaginable to me. That is when I realized my faith, my religion, was lost trying to connect with them. So I moved them to the bottom shelf of the altar and recognized their place in my history where they assumed my presumption that they were honored for the sake of leading me here, and of course Creation itself. Hekate then received the whole of the altar and it literally went from shrine to temple. The energy was no longer blocked and the connection I feel to Her became indescribable, I could feel Her everywhere! I could hear Her whispers! As a result, this lead me to a greater understanding of Pan and shortly after I had my first lucid encounter with Him. I have since started to honor them based solely on their traditional worship and instinct. Before, I was well versed on how to, I just made exceptions to accommodate my prior way of doing things. I removed the pentagram from my practice along with the Wiccan Lord and Lady and even began to offer wine in, not modern fluted wine glasses or gothic goblets, but traditional kylix, offering bowls, which were gifted by the good Docteur. I have always offered traditionally as far as dishes scattered around the gods as an almost feast, something that is very traditional in Helenic practice and would always casually give them fruit, bread, honey, milk and coins not for favor but as worship and symbols of devotion. Along with my hand blended incenses which I reserve for ritual, I now burn traditional resins like frankincense, and benzoin which is a traditional incense to chthonic gods. I also forced myself to find an adequate triple crossroad to offer to Hekate and the wandering dead, something I did not do frequently in the past. Before the altar of Pan, I keep an oil lamp burning and offer both fresh olive oil and fragrant essential oils traditionally used in Hellas. This is no longer my path, it is my religion. My altar is no longer simply an altar, it is my temple and now it feels like one.
In relinquishing the confines of modern new age practices I find that I now view my faith as something more than I had before. While this post may seem as though it is merely about the decor of an altar, it is far more. It is about the fact that many of us have lost the will to preserve the authentic practices of our gods. In finding and reviving these practices, the connection to the gods grows from a trickling stream to a torrential river. We must always remember the gods are very real, just as real as you or I. To build a lasting, powerful relationship to the gods we must give them what they have preferred for thousands of years before we interjected our need to make them socially acceptable to an Abrahamic, monotheistic society. If we hope to truly revive the gods we must do so by reviving their most ancient and powerful of practices. I discovered the true power of this and I can attest that it is life changing!
We all have our histories. Regardless if we liked them, found them particularly profound, or suppress them to only memory, the fact remains our histories mold us into who we are. There is a trend in the occult community to embellish or fabricate history in an attempt to find a prominent place within the community. The fact remains, we are all who we are because of what really happened in our lives, however great or small. Here is my story of my occult fascination and like most of us, I wasn’t particularly impressed with it as I was living it, but now I realize the importance it had on who I am today.
It is important to realize where, exactly, it started and the best I can remember is at that place in the deep woods around the campfire. I was probably around 5 or 6 when my dad and mom were telling the story of a witch who lived in the woods and would kidnap campers as they slept. By the end of the story, almost on queue, a cackle came from the deep woods which terrified my sisters and I. The next day while hiking we stumbled across a peculiar thing, a hay silo, abandoned and overgrown. Of course my dad told us we inadvertently stumbled on the witch’s house making his myth a reality to us. This type of thing was not uncommon growing up. We spent most of our summers camping at Alexandria Bay in upstate New York and were always entranced by ghost stories allowing our imaginations to run wild on the hikes and visits to abandoned places like Bolt Castle the following day. Little did my parents know they were developing a fertile imagination into the unexplored in the three of us, my sisters and I.
Coming from a Catholic family, mostly Irish, we were raised very superstitiously. My whole family believes in the supernatural and it seemed at every family gathering the subject of ghosts and demons was always brought up. There were even times phenomena would play out in front of the entirety of the guests. Lights would turn off and on, specters would be seen out of the corner of our eyes and noises would echo from the uninhabited rooms. This caused my sisters and I to begin ghost hunting at an early age. Around 6 or 7 we even tried to look for Hell, more specifically, the Devil himself. The result was digging holes in the yard and foundation of the house, an old mansion that was turned into an inn on the upper floors which was long abandoned creating a perfect habitat for the spirits of the wandering and restless dead, with a blunt ax resulting in getting my finger chopped by my cousin on a wayward swing (in my defense I thought I saw Satan’s horn and was merely pointing it out). We also believed there was a demon living in my parents closet which we regularly fed our cereal in order to avoid being eaten.
The greatest leap into the occult came when we moved from Syracuse to Kirkville to a house almost 200 years old surrounded by forest and field. When we moved in it still had it’s crumbling walls, tattered curtains and archaic layout. My room was particularly special because, as is the case of most Victorian houses, there was a sick room just beyond it which was accessible by a small wooden latched door. If you don’t know what a sick room is, basically it is a room off the main house where they would put sick and dying family members to keep them from contaminating the rest of the family. Shortly after we moved in my sister had her first experience. She was going downstairs and saw a girl sitting on the living room floor. Naturally this was both frightening yet intriguing. We began to play with the Quiji board where we were introduced to Alice. She apparently died in the house and wanted to cross back to this world and was happy to instruct how to do it. The primary thing we needed was a sacrifice. As kids, the concept was obviously foreign and the first spider that we saw, we (more specifically my cousin Jessica) sacrificed to the Infernal gods, namely Alice. I guess this wasn’t exactly the sacrifice Alice had in mind and she did not appear as she said she would.
In the following years, it was my mom who sparked the interest in witches! She has always been a Halloween fanatic, as were we because of it. Did she dress us as cute cowboys and princesses? No, we were vampires, witches, and dead cheerleaders. She knew the value of exploring the darker things this time of year. We would watch movies like “The Worst Witch”, “Witches” and “Hocus Pocus” no matter the season and stole away pots to bring deep in the woods where we would build crude stick huts and throw ingredients from the forest floor to conjure spirits and spells. We made our own brooms with fallen branches and dead grass. We each had our familiar cat. Mine was a Russian Blue named Dusty, my older sister had a black long hair names Ashely, and my younger sister had a black short hair named Precious. To us, we were witches and the world was full of endless possibilities and forgotten spirits. Little did I know that time spent in the forest building temples in fallen trees and imagining that the trees were saying as they groaned had a huge impact on my practice today.
We knew the forests were special and would often invite and offer to the spirits living within them. We were sure faeries existed and made home in the tree roots. We even mapped out the woods and fields and gave them names and kings. There was a rock I was most fond of. I dedicated it to Pan, God of Forests and, to me at the time, God of Witches. I would always imagine Him sitting on that rock playing lonely songs on His flute at night. I would look out my window in darkness and gaze into the endless field trying to catch a glimpse of Him and concentrate to hear the distant cries of His flute. It was around that time I was learning about the Hellenic Gods and I was hooked on them! My extended family on my fathers side is large and almost fit perfectly with the Greek pantheon! My dad was Zeus, naturally. My grandmother was Rhea and grandfather Kronos (if you knew him you would understand, we called him Grumper instead of Grandpa) Aunt Sherrill was Hestia, Aunt Debbie was Athena, Aunt Gayle was Demeter, Aunt Cindee was Aphrodite, Aunt Robin was Hera, Aunt Jeanie was Artemis, Uncle Willie was Ares, Uncle Sean was Apollo, Uncle Scott was Hephaestus, Uncle Steve was Poseidon. I was missing Hermes but I always figured He was off busy traveling the World Highway. Since I was Herakles (first sign of ego? LOL) my mother was Alcmene. I believed the Hellenic gods were very real (beyond my family tree of course) and I began writing spells invoking Them which I kept in a leather bag along with rings, crystals and marbles. Pan was most certainly my favorite and was the Patron of the forests where I grew up.
I always wrote my own spells out of mere interest or hobby and had numerous books on Greek myth which began to envelop my life. I would project the ancient world over the world I was living in. It made more sense and I thrived in a world that was filled with gods and spirits. It was when I was 11 or 12 that I got my first “real” occult book. It was “Out of the Cauldron” by Bernice Kohn Hunt. In the back of the book is a section on Maleficia and Beneficia, black and white magic from historical accounts, superstition and inquisition, so naturally I tried it. The first spell I ever tried was to turn myself into a cat because i didn’t do my homework and the teacher was walking around checking it. My hopes were to turn into a cat and either run away or terrify the classroom into forgetting I didn’t do it. Needless to say, it didn’t work. From this same book, my cousin and I tried to summon the Devil and numerous Watchers through elaborate rituals which we, in the naivety of our youth, took liberties to omit and substitute things like offerings of rare occult herbs for things we would find in the woods. The next day we lifted the log we kept our book and tools under (in order to hide them from my Catholic dad) to find the entire back section where the spells were missing and almost charred. A summer barbeque shortly after that peaked our interest. While gathered on the back deck just after sundown my aunt noticed something coming from the distant woods. It looked tall and dark and knelt or sat down. My cousins and I ran out to see what it was but the closer we got the more it faded away. Needless to say we never found out what it was and while some witnesses say it must have been a dog, we found it rather curious. At that moment, the darker side of witchcraft and the occult had a hold on me. I wanted to know more and explore the wonders the Underworld held and it was from there my story took a more serious stance on the subject of witchcraft…
This was only the beginning, what lead up to my serious interest. It is unembellished and while most probably won’t read it due to its length, it is pivotal to who I became. I found the gates of Hades and was about to enter them. This history is why my later years were almost exclusively occult oriented but I will write that later…