Hecate (or Hekate) is the Goddess of Witchcraft and of Justice. She is also a Goddess of the Underworld, Secrets and Wisdom. Hers is the power of knowing. She is often seen as a dark force, but she is a protector of women and those who seek justice. Her justice is like that of the hounds that accompany her: simple, direct, swift and uncompromising.
This Goddess' quest for pure justice, combined with her witchcraft and secret knowledge, can be seen as harsh by many modern cultures. As a result, this type of justice is sometimes seen by many people as vengeance. However, she is not interested in simple vengeance; justice is a much in raising up the just as it is in bringing down the unjust.
The Goddess is most often seen depicted with dogs. There is some debate about the meaning of this, but it is thought to be either a symbol of birth or of death. She is a Goddess of both. She is the Goddess of the Crossroads - not only in this world, but between this world and the next. Although most often associated with dogs, she is also associated with frogs, horses, serpents, cows and owls. In her three-headed form, she is often depicted with one or more animal heads.
This goddess is also associated with medicinal and poisonous plants, and the arts of using them. These plants include aconite (aka monkshood and wolfsbane), belladonna (aka nightshade) , dittany, and mandrake. Yew, Cyprus and garlic are also sacred to this Goddess. Yew in particular was used in Ancient Greek death rites and during sacrifices to the goddess.
This is one of the most confusing Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon. Depending on the region and historical period that one looks at, she is a virgin goddess, a crone, a young woman, a three-bodied Goddess, or a being with three different heads. She is associated with magic, witches, ghosts, crossroads, childbirth, nurturing the young, gates, walls, doorways, lunar lore, torches and dogs.
This Goddess' origins are as varied as her purpose. In some cases she was a Titan, in others, a child of Olympians. Most who study such things believe that she was the patron Goddess of a smaller culture that was conquered or absorbed by the Greeks. This is demonstrated in the way this Goddess was incorporated into major myths of the time.
Her Roman name, Trivia, means "Three (Tri) Ways (Via)", and has little to nothing to do with the modern English word "trivia". Small statues of her were placed at crossroads and at the entrances to private homes and cities. Statutes at crossroads often depicted her Triple Goddess, while those at entrances were usually of a woman carrying two torches.
The worship of Hecate often leads to difficult choices that are not often accepted by society. She is a Goddess of rebirth, and those who she chooses become stronger and more comfortable with themselves and their own choices. Many people first come to her seeking some form of vengeance, but learn that justice and their own strength is more important.The Urban Pagan › Gods and Goddesses › Hecate - Goddess of Witchcraft