The Temple celebrates the Feast of Hecate on August 13th each year. I have had the pleasure of leading the feast multiple years, and Hecate has become an important goddess in my life.
I wrote the following story as a teaching story, but I am sure it was inspired by the Goddess herself. I read it to the people gathered at the Feast of Hecate while the priestesses and priests ready themselves to do oracular work. This story is about how I see Hecate. It weaves some of her traditional lore with my own experience of her. This story can also be found in the newest Copper Cauldron book, Foundations of the Temple, which premiered this past weekend at TempleFest. May her torch in the darkness guide us home!
Founder and Virgo lead minister
Hecate’s Choice: A New Tale of Hecate
by Adam Sartwell
Long ago when the world was young and the battles for the universe between the Titans and the gods had ended, the gods met with each other at the foot of Mount Olympus. They gathered to decide how they were going to divide the spoils of war. They deliberated about lands, animals, and other things under their domain until finally it was time to decide which humans they would champion. First spoke Zeus, king of the gods.
“I will take those the humans who rule over others and make the laws, men of prestige and significance. They will embrace justice in my name.”
Then spoke Hera, queen of the gods.
“I shall have the married women for my own and those women who are pregnant or mothers. They shall find succor and solace under my patronage.”
Then spoke Ares, lord of war.
“I will take the warriors and men of battle. I shall heap glory upon them all.”
Athena, goddess of wisdom, said on to the other gods: “I shall take the strategists, crafters, and lords of commerce. They shall thrive with the blessing of my wisdom.”
Then spoke Poseidon.
“I shall have the sailors and fishermen and bless them with the use of my ocean.”
Then announced Hades, “I shall take the dead that come to Tartarus and the Elysian Fields; they shall suffer or be pleased in measure of their past lives.”
Aphrodite said, “The lovers will be mine and those with shining beauty. I will grace them with fertility.”
So on and on the Olympians chose the best and brightest of their own perspective fields of influence and enhanced each one’s blessings.
In the end there were groups of people who did not fit these groups. These beings trembled and quaked unknowingly as each god passed them by. Then as it seemed all gods had made their choices, from the darkness came Hecate. The Titan who was still revered by all the gods even after their war. She looked at those still left to be taken. Her compassion moved her to speak.
“Greatest of gods, hear me. You have made your choices, and now I would make mine. I shall take all who have been left behind. The not chosen, the unwanted, the seemingly unredeemable, the outcasts, the lunatic, the poor, the malformed, the victim, the homeless, the lost, the murderer, I shall take them and guide them with my torch out of the darkness. I shall witness acts of violence both to bring compassion to the souls perpetrating and the victims to bring justice and succor in kind. I shall take the shades and specters, those who can’t find their way, to help them finish their business and lead them home. I shall take the unloved and scorned and hold them dear. I will remind them all of the power of choice, the wisdom of necessity, and the love of my compassion.”
All the gods were shocked at this choice. They saw how they had chosen only those who were bright reflections of themselves and their greatness. They had forgotten the lowly souls who needed them most. Hearing this compassionate choice, Zeus was moved.
“For this act of compassion and wisdom, I shall bless you alone Hecate with status above the other gods. I offer you three boons: You shall have the power that I have to grant any wish that is petitioned of you. I shall give you rulership and free passage over a place in Tartarus below, the world of men and the sea and the sky, so you may be with any who need you. I give you the keys to all kingdoms. Lastly I give you the power to chose your last boon. As I will it is so!”
Hecate replied: “I thank you, Lord Zeus, for this boon. I shall tell the people of the world that if ever they should need a thing and wish to petition me, let them go to the crossroads that are my sacred space, with a meal as offering and their wish writ on a slip under the dish. They shall leave both at the crossroads and turn away and not look back until they are home. This meal shall feed the dogs and poor homeless and I shall look on them with favor of what they truly need.
“For my boon I ask for a race of my own that shall like me span all the races and be born to all. They shall be born with the potential to bring success in love, to curse or bless, to speak to beasts, to converse and congress with spirits, to command the weather, to cast out blight, to read the messages of the starry heaven, to see the future, to conjure treasure and fortune, to heal the sick, and kill despair. Some shall be born and some shall be remade. They shall be all manner of people and trades. They shall be called Witches and may be loved or hated, and live between to shape them to necessity. They shall aid me in my great work to aid the forgotten and the rest of man.”
And so it was decided. The gods and Titans stood on the Mount of Olympus holding hands and said: “As we will it, so shall it be!”