Hecate of the Greeks and Romans

Beloved of Neo-Pagans and Wiccans, Hecate is their God of Witches and Magic. Because of her connection with the Dead She is the Dark Goddess. Hecate is both the Queen of the Night and the Triple Goddess of Birth, Life, and Death.

Meanwhile, Romans feel ambivalent towards Hecate since She is one of the Di Inferi, the Gods of the Earth and the Underworld. Originally from Thrace, Hecate is associated with the Greek Eleusisian Mysteries. As Hecate Trivia, She is the Goddess of the Crossroads, and of Abandoned Infants. Virgil wrote of Her, “Hecate…Three in One…whose name is howled by night at the city crossroads!” In general, Romans prefer not to invoke Her.

Crossroads are liminal places where a person could cross into other worlds, because the worlds all met there. The Gates of the Dead open up at crossroads, which is why suicides and vampires are buried there. Instead of wandering the earth, they can enter the Underworld immediately. Since the Dead congregate at the crossroads, Hecate guards the Gates of Underworld. She see that no one leaves to bother the living.

For Romans, dogs are traditional doorway guardians. Therefore, hearing a howling dog at the crossroads meant that Hecate is present. In rites made at three-way crossroads, Ovid suggests sacrifices of dogs to Her, while saying nine prayers at midnight.


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