Polytheist

31 Days of Devotion: Hekatean Symbols

Day 3 of the 31 Days of Devotion asks, “What are some Symbols and icons of this deity?” Hekatean Symbols are manifold for the Goddess of a hundred faces. I’ve included below a few of the more prevelant ones and ones I resonate with the most.

Torches – Hekate is a psychopomp and a guide at the crossroads. She guides the young Persephone to and from the Underworld. She also guides Demeter to finding Her daughter. Her torches are not just guiding lights, however. Hekate is the light bearer and bringer of flame as protectress. Her twin torches are Her weapons in the battle between the Olympians and Titans. It is her light that can cast armor over those She protects.

Thresholds and Crossroads – Her locations are all places liminal where we stand in transition. Where we have to make choices, She guards over us.

Animals – There are many animals associated with Hekate and these animals are often used as symbols to signify the Goddess in art, magick, writing, etc.

  • Dogs (especially black)
  • Serpents
  • Horses
  • Bulls
  • Polecat
  • Frogs
  • Boars
  • Fish (especially red mullet)
  • Goats and Sheep (black ones)
  • Owls (probably a conflation with Artemis

and in the modern following black cats and ravens and/or crows.

Keys – probably my favorite Hekatean symbol. She opens the gates, unlocks the doors. These are part of Her role as gatekeeper and Lady of the Threshold.

3 – Hekate’s number is 3. She is Hekate Triformis (three-formed) and is often depicted as 3 figures. In this her sacred geometric shape is the tetrahedron (which has 4 sides but you can only truly see 3 at a time and also connects Her to the philosophy of 4 elements which was taught by Her devotee, Empedocles)

Hekate’s Wheel – also called the straphalos, this is the main symbol of modern Hekatean witchcraft. This wheel is based on a few ideas – Hekate Triformis is seen in the 3 parts of the wheel. It has a snake-like structure harkening back to one of Hektate’s main animal symbols. The circle relates to Hekate as the World Soul. The central six pointed figure is either a flower (relating the Chaldean Oracle reference to Hekate as the fiery rose) or a fiery star like torches in the night sky (one of Her domains). This symbol is used in modern ritual and as a way Hekatean witches can recognize and relate to each other with a common symbol much like Wiccans with the symbol of the pentacle.
This is a modern symbol and there isn’t any classical text that claim it has a history. In fact, scholar, Sorita d’Este suggests that this actually was simply a symbol on a brooch found.

Weapons – daggers, scorge or whip, and, as previously mentioned, Her torches.

Colors – often shown in black, red, or saffron colored (golden or yellow).

Crystals and Stones – Lodestone, Bronze, Gold, and modern connections to black stones like Obsidian.

Hekate’s Labyrinth – see video below on how to draw or design. This is a labyrinth that begins with three sections and, like all labyrinths, can help the person journey inward or back outward in a spiritual journey.

Resources:

The Many Uses of Hekate’s Wheel by Cyndi Brannen

Theoi’s Hekate page