Before the Titans ruled, an Ancient and Wise Old Woman, one of the Daughters of Night was called Hecate, “The Far-Fleeting” (one of several ways to translate her name). She was the Triple Goddess of Magic and Illusion, and her domain reached across the entire expanse of the Earth, the Depths of the Underworld, and the infinite reaches of the Heavens. It is said that whatever springs from seed, either in heaven or earth, are subject to her, and she governs the fates of all things. Indeed, she is also described as the order and force of the Fates, through whom all inferior things submit to the cares, calamities, and death which the Fates or Karma bring upon them.
As the Forces of Nature stirred and shifted, the Magic and Illusions of Her domain changed and evolved, and order grew out of Chaos: the Titans reigned Supreme. Hecate came to be born among the them as the Daughter of two Titans of shining light, the star goddess Asteria, and Persaios, son of Eurybia. Among the Titans She was revered as the Great and Wise Old Aunt, the Powerful Mis-tress who knew the Secrets of the Universe.
A tale is told of how her mother, Asteria, abandoned her in the common road, where she was taken up by shepherds, and brought up by them amongst the Phaereans. Thus she is known as protectress of flocks, and presides over all highways and open roads and streets. This kindness from humans She has never forgotten, and that has made “the Distant One” (another translation of her name) closer to humanity than many other ancient gods and titans, feeling for human suffering, taking more care to protect, comfort, and otherwise help humanity than they.
As the Mind continued to evolve and the principle of order itself became a conscious force, Zeus was victorious in His revolution against the tyranny of the Titans, and Hecate was born among the Gods as Daughter of Zeus and Hera themselves. Upon re-distributing power and status among those loyal to His cause, Zeus bowed down to the awesome wonder of this most respected goddess, Hecate, and attested to the expanse of her domain, calling her still, Supreme in Heaven, on Earth, and Tartarus (the Underworld). She was always honoured by Gods and men as a one easy to be entreated, kind, sympathetic to those who suffer, always ready to help people with their troubled fates, and generous with gold and riches, which are wholly in her power.
As Daughter of Hera and Zeus, “The Far-Fleeting One” (another translation of her name) shared with Hermes the title of Messenger of the Gods, because of the respect all the Gods had for her and because of her natural affinity for all peoples, all realms and all worlds, no matter how distant or alien they may seem to others.
As the Olympian Court grew older, when the Conscious Mind had become sufficiently vane with knowledge of itself and it’s power, the intrigues of the Olympian court involved great rivalry between Hera and Europa. When Hecate stole some beauty salve from Hera and gave this to Europa, Hera was enraged and sought revenge upon Hecate. The Messenger Goddess fled first to the bed of a woman in childbirth, and from her compassion for the suffering of humanity, became known as the archetypal mid-wife. It is said that this act rendered her “unclean” and “unfit” to attend the court of Zeus. Next, to hide from the wrath of Hera, she fled to a funeral procession, and from her compassion for the suffering of humanity, was known as a comforter of the dead and dying, Goddess of Birth, and Death, and Rebirth. Finally, after wandering the open highways for a time, she fled to the Acherusian Sea in the Underworld. and became known as the protectress of sailors, besides other travellers in general. It was here, in the Underworld where she was purified by the Kaberiroi, whence purifications of all types are sacred to Hecate, and these are her special power.
This encounter with the cruel pride and ego of the still young Conscious Mind, rendered Hecate loath to visit Mount Olympus, and rarely did she venture there in later times, preferring to spend her time in the underworld, or wandering the highways at night. In her place, one of her emanations, the goddess Iris became known as the Messenger of the Gods, and Iris came to be worshipped on the island of Hekate, near the island of Delos. Thus, as time went on, Hecate became associated only with the dark aspect of the Moon, and the dark spaces between the stars, the darkness of night on the Earth, and the dark places in the Underworld. With her torch, she illumined all things dark, mysterious, secret and unknown, and she presided over enchantments and visions, and mastery of all types of magic and witchcraft, so that all who practised magical arts called upon her.
When Persephone was abducted by Hades, it was Hecate who hear her cries from the dark recesses of her abodes, and helped Demeter find out what happened. After Demeter and Hades agreed to share Persephone’s company, each for part of the year, Hecate vowed to be Persephone’s constant com-panion and guardian thereafter, and to make sure the arrangement was honoured. Thus, Persephone, Queen of the Underworld and Hecate, Mistress of Magic and Witchcraft became close friends, the one never far from the other.
This dark Mistress of the Underworld appears in various forms, according to the harshness of her mood or purpose. In her mildest form, she is a beautiful woman, Goddess of the Moon, and we call her Artemis (who is also called Hecate at times). As the Wise Old Witch who knows the secrets of magic and herbs, she might appear as a crone, and her name might be Prothyraia, the goddess who helps women in childbed. At times she appears as three female figures, or she might appear as one woman with the same three heads as Cerberus: either three dogs heads or those of dog, lion and sow (but some say lion, dog and horse, and others say horse, dog and sow). An older, and more stark apparition of Hecate is described as having vast height, almost half a furlong, and her feet were formed like serpents. Instead of hair she had hissing snakes and vipers which fell upon her back, and around her shoulders. In this form, she is known as the snake goddess Agriope, meaning “savage face”. At other times she appears as a Great White Bitch, and in the Underworld, near the river styx, this mysterious goddess of magic and illusion often takes the form of a three headed serpent-dog, and in this form her name is Cerberus.
Though sometimes she wields a scourge, rarely is she seen without her symbol: the flaming torch, which guides one in her dark abodes… a symbol that reminds one of her ancient shining parents.
She is said to wander the roads and highways at night, followed by a retinue of ghosts, invisible to all but the dogs who howl and bark at her passing. She shares with Herne of the North, the reputation of leading the Wild Hunt of ghostly hounds and spirits through the night at each Equinox, and dogs were sacrificed to her as gifts, that they may join her eerie retinue. All types of hauntings are sacred to her, the most common being those at cross-roads, graveyards, and crime scenes.
She presided over highways and streets in general and every new moon the Athenians made a sumptuous supper for her in the open streets which was eaten in the night by the poor people, for which kindness she was thus known as the protectress of vaga-bonds and debtors. Particularly sacred to her are meeting-places of three ways, where the traveller has to choose from three roads to follow, as one must in the Temple of Malkuth. At such meeting places of three roads were images of her set up: three wooden masks upon a pole, or a threefold statue with three faces looking in three directions. At these places were performed secret rites, and food offerings were made. Sometimes dead criminals and people who died violent deaths were buried there that she might find them and whisk them quickly away to the underworld, so their tormented souls might quickly find peace, and not cause much grief to the living.
This Wise Old Witch is also credited with the knowledge of the use of herbs, having spent so much time hunting in the forests as did her close cousin and emanation, Artemis. Among her herbal specialties were poisons and those that alter consciousness. Especially sacred to her is aconite, or wolfbane, a powerful poison said to sprout where drool from the jaws of Cerberus touches the earth. Many of the ingredients in the witches “flying ointment”, wolfbane included, are sacred to Hecate.
The White Bitch
We must consider carefully the powers and characteristics of the human mechanism of automatic selective perception, which we have been calling Cerberus, whose name means “Guard the Secret”.
By carefully censoring some information and releasing others without your knowledge, he quite auto-matically alters what you think, what you see and how you act. As your loving servant, Cerberus decides what should be censored or not according to your primary intentions.
Being born of two ways in which the mind grasps and clings to some things, and slithers away from others, Cerberus is himself a universal grasping selfishness. For most creatures this is a selfishness for survival. If your main concern in life is for yourself, he will be very greedy for you: your selective memory, and your selective perceptions will be very “convenient”.
(Elemental Air) If for instance, you are an insecure person for whom survival is the primary intention, he will bias your perceptions, attitudes, values, (and writing) accordingly. Your character will be very suspicious and defensive, and your world will seem as a mixture of things “threatening” and things “non-threatening”… a world where battle and survival are the main themes.
(Elemental Water) If you are the type of person for whom pleasure (as in creature comforts) is the primary intention, Cerberus will bias your perceptions and thoughts according to their pleasure value. Your character will be quite hedonistic and your world will be seen as a place to take advantage of, or be taken advantage of.
(Elemental Fire) If power is your pleasure, he will dutifully tailor your experiences, your character and your perceived world into a chessboard of politics, social net-working, and favour-trading where you dominate those below your status, and you are dominated by those above.
(Elemental Earth) If possessions are your “bag”, he will place a value on every thought and every object, make you very materialistic and your world a place of “haves” and “have-nots”.
Because Cerberus is the architect of all your thoughts, your perceptions, your character, and therefore of your whole world, he is in a sense like a Dungeon Master in a fantasy game of Dungeons and Dragons. He designs your character and the playing board, the hidden chambers, the creatures and obstacles your character must encounter and explore and deal with. He decides the weight of the dice at every encounter and thereby decides each outcome to an enormous degree. All you need do is provide the intention, and Cerberus will make it real for you.
As creator of realities, architect of the boarders of the hidden and invisible, Master of Restriction and Release, of the illusions of Birth and Death, Cerberus is an aspect of Hecate, the White Bitch, the She-Wolf, Mistress of Magic and Witchcraft, Wise Old Woman, Archetypal Midwife, helping with people with birth, and archetypal thanatologist, helping people with inevitable death.
Magic & Witchcraft
As the snake-goddess, Agriope, Hecate shows that greedy, selfish side of her nature: the burning curiosity and desire for the fullness of life, and light and love. As such, she stands enormous, emanating an intense black light of crackling space, which, with the wave of her arms and the writhing of snakes she dances and swirls that pregnant space around herself into a colossal play of the illusions of existence, of sorrow, and pain and death, and illusions of discovery, of love, joy and release.
From that One Point of View, wherein your own Awareness is the only reality, Hecate is the ancient loving companion to that awareness, the collective kaleidoscope of illusions that you live in, and of which your life is composed. She is that characteristic of the mind and of space, to move and dance and respond like a lover entrancing the attention of that One Awareness to the rapture and ecstasy of experience. She is that automatic nature we all have, to “grow without our knowledge, and to breath whilst we are asleep”. Hence, she is older than the Titans, and respected by all since, and for good reason: they are all not only emanations of herself, but she is indeed the dungeon master of the entire universe of experience.
As the illusion grows more complex, the mind is convinced that what can be explained is real and what is occult, or cannot be explained is not real. Hecate, the mysterious, the inexplicable, the unconscious, automatic responsiveness inherent in all things, is banished to the underworld, to wander the streets and highways, ever thirsty and hungry for adven-ture, having no desire for a place in the carefully “proper” and predictable court of order and authority.
In this way, we restrict ourselves only to the realm of the “tried and true”, and what is alien is ignored or shunned. The vast majority of the illusion and the vast majority of our own powers, not to mention our true nature, if they cannot be explained, are ignored.
We are hardly aware of how the things we ignore shape our experience. Take, for example, the words on this paper. You see black shapes on white paper, and the black shapes convey meaning to you, so the letters are considered the important part of what you are reading. There is another powerful force at work though, and that is the white paper around the black letters. This white paper, the ground upon which the whole essay is written, is normally ignored, and taken for-granted. It is equally possible to see words in white, shaped by black ink, and to read the white shapes instead. When we look at the night sky, we usually see only the stars, and not the space between them, ignoring it. We place much importance on the thoughts and feelings that fly through our minds, but rarely are we even aware that there are blanks in between. Hecate is the living responsive, awareness of this whole ignored universe. It is out of the space between the stars that Hecate creates the illusion of stars. It is on the white paper that the illusion of words are carried.
For this reason, appealing to Hecate, is appealing to the responsive nature of all things, in particular, the responsive, automatic nature of the “hidden”, “dark”, “alien”, or “distant” (a translation of Hecate) ignored aspect of things. Hecate can be an enormous “trigger” for indirect contact and awareness of otherwise automatic and hidden functions of ourselves, and of our world. Likewise, learning about ourselves must involve learning about Hecate, and all those things sacred to her, and this includes the study and practise of magic.
The secret to magic is to realize that they are powers we already have, and are exercising every day, but that they are things we do automatically, unconsciously, without our direct awareness, very much like the functions our bodies perform under direction from the reptilian part of our brain, the autonomic functions.
Breathing is a good example of an autonomic function that normally happens without your conscious control, but which you can control if you bring the operation into your conscious awareness. You breath automatically when you aren’t aware of it. To attain the magical power of breathing, all you have to do is realize that you are already breathing, and bring the act into your awareness. Now you can learn to control this power, and breath deliberate-ly, on purpose, with intention, and even control the rate and rhythm of breathing. The beautiful thing about these magical powers that sustain the illusion of being alive, is that they happen all by them-selves, by the grace of Hecate in every one of us.
Obviously, breathing is an easy example, and it is for this reason that students of the occult are first taught breathing exercises, but the analogy does not stop there. Practising conscious control of an otherwise automatic function is gaining an appreciation for things we normally ignore, and as such, exercises and strengthens one’s magical ability. For example, some yogis have, as has a heart patient very close to us, learned to be aware of the heart beating, and bringing the action into conscious awareness, learned to do it deliberately, with purpose, and direction to the extent that the heart beat can be slowed or stopped at will for long periods of time, and then started again at will.
The point is, that we are all doing all kinds of things automatically. In fact, we ourselves are Hecate, dancing with the writhing snakes and spinning a web of experience out the black light of space emanating from our own awareness. We just do it automatically, without even being aware of it.
From this One Point of View, the magical powers of the thirty second path are quite clear:
Works of Binding, Malediction and Death
By learning about how we censor and restrict ourselves, each other and the world around us, we will see how, through acts of aggressive ignoring and denial, and through lies, we are continually casting black magic spells of inhibitions, Binding, Malediction, and Death. We will then be able to use these natural, everyday powers deliberately for the benefit of those involved. No longer will these things happen without our awareness, unconsciously, and out of selfishness as they normally do.
Works of Alchemy
Seeing how our own censorship and bias in thoughts, perceptions and character twist realities and create new realities, usually turning the precious and naturally beautiful into something heavy and dull and uninteresting by comparison, making lead out of gold. We will then discover the true value of all we reject and ignore, of what we find alien and unsettling. We can realize that “The Rejected Stone” has been the “Philosophers Stone” all along, and learn to make gold out of lead instead.
By making friends with Cerberus, we will understand how the physical world and every single thing in it, like every cell in a hologram, is the visible representation of all we know and all we hide. By practising awareness of selective perception, we will be able to see the unknown as easily as we see the known in every physical thing.
Making of Pentacles
When we can see that through selective perception, through “recognition” and “identification” we continually pigeon-hole or stereo-type everything we see, continually creating realities, or mandalas, or pentacles around ourselves. Then we will be able to make pentacles of our own design, with intention and benediction.
Facing the Dweller on the Threshold
When we face the secrets we keep from ourselves and the world, we are facing Cerberus, Keeper of Secrets, who is also called the Dweller on the Threshold.
Travels on the Astral Plane
When we are no longer afraid to venture beyond the “safe” world of appearances into the eerie world of “things better left unknown” we will realize that we have always lived on the Astral Planes even though we’ve usually ignored the experience. We’ll suddenly “wake up” in our dreams and, drinking from the waters of Leuthe (remembering), instead of the waters of Lethe (forgetting), we will become even more conscious and awake in the Astral world than we are in the physical. This is possible because the Astral world is not as slow-moving, solid, and dull as the physical, as any artist or genius with “vision” can attest.
Birth and Re-Incarnation
If we realize how our particular habits of selective perception slowly create a world around ourselves into which we are drawn by Fate (habit, Karma) and into which we are born, we will be able to choose to be born when and where we wish, and as what we wish.
If we understand how physical reality is a cumulative manifestation of our own selective grasping and rejecting, we will be able to manifest anything we wish, simply by wishing it, just as we unconsciously do all the time.
HECATE: Goddess of Purification
Of all the powers sacred to Hecate, by far the most important to us is that of purification. To be “impure” means to be not pure, but not pure what? By turning to that One Point of View, the answer is quite clear. Awareness has only one quality, and that quality is consciousness. Whatever con-sciousness is applied to is made visible thereby. Awareness is therefore like light, crystal clear in nature. Awareness is also like crystal clear water, naturally taking the shape and color of whatever it is poured into, identifying with it, and feeling like it, appropriating and grasping at the experience as its own, as itself, naturally, because the object is awareness itself.
But when we then forget who and what we really are, when we grasp too firmly at the illusions we have spun in dark clouds of space, our mind is seemingly clouded with those illusions. By bringing this automatic function into our conscious awareness, we need not even stop the illusions to be aware of the fact that they are illusions and that we are creating them. This utterly simple shift of View, to that One Point of View is enough to remind us that we are Pure Awareness, crystal clear and utterly un-touched by anything we may be aware of. A simple way to Remember who we are, and what’s going on is to become involved with Hecate, with the ignored side of the illusion, and thereby see that it is an illusion. For example, you can break free of the illusion that I’m talking to you from the ink on this page by simply looking at the paper for a second.
The worst thing about forgetting who we are, the worst thing about an impure mind is the suffering it involves. Recall that it was from sympathizing with the woman in childbirth that Hecate became “impure” and needed purification. Furthermore, it was from feel-ing the pain and suffering of the dead and dying, and those left behind that she was led to seek purification. Somehow, getting caught up in the illusions hurts a lot, par-ticularly when the illusions change and we have grown attached to the way the illusions were before the change.
A powerful symbol of purification is the scourge that Hecate sometimes carries. The scourge is a series of binding cords with knots in them, attached at one end to something, but not attached to anything at the other end. It’s as though the cords were once tied to something else with the knots, and have since been broken free. Indeed, the word scourge is latin for “break fetters”. The whole is used to lash a person or animal and thereby cause pain. The symbol and its name tell us that pain and suffering comes from the breaking of attachments, and that the breaking of attachments comes from pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering come from the breaking of attachments every time your lover leaves you, or a close person dies. Pain and suffering come from the breaking of fetters every time our hopes are dashed. Pain and suffering come from the “scourge” every time something to which you have grown attached changes and is no more.
Obviously, we suffer because we are attached and if we could break our attachment to whatever changes, we’d never suffer again, and we would again be aware of the “pure”, untouched and unaffected nature of our minds.
At the same time, the scourge shows us that the breaking of attachments comes from pain and suffering. It is only by our painful mistakes that we learn, and every painful mistake, if studied and remembered (or painful enough) can direct us to the correct alternative. If you are hurt enough times by putting your hand in fire, you will soon break your attachment to putting your hand in fire. Likewise, if you are hurt enough times by your attachment to things that change, you will soon stop trying to tie them down, break your attachment to them, and stop grasping at them and trying to appropriate them. As that One Point of Awareness, having broken your attachment to the dance and movements of Hecate, your Cosmic Lover, you can just sit back in the Throne of Consciousness and enjoy them for what they are, not being disappointed every time Her movements change.
Hecate has always been a kind and tireless aid to humans, because, of all creatures in creation, humans are the most confused and suffer more heavily from attachment to her illusions than any other. The situations she most notably works with are those that cause the most human suffering: childbirth, and death, hauntings, and the suffering souls in the underworld, of criminals, and victims of violence. She carries a torch of Illumination as a reminder that you are really the shining light of awareness and she carries the scourge a reminder to break the painful fetters of grasping at her ever-changing illusions.
If you befriend Cerberus, learn to know Hecate and learn the secrets of the illusions created by selective perception that they can show you, then you will learn that everything you see and everything you experience is in fact, You. You cannot then but “love all creatures as Thyself”; you cannot but say as the Goddess Herself says, “My Ecstasy is in yours, My Joy is to see your joy”; and you cannot but feel the pain and suffering of others as your own. Like the Goddess, you cannot help but “Wish to Know in Order to Serve”, and you cannot help but bow to the Scourge and be willing to “Suffer in Order to Learn”; you cannot help but wish to become a “Servant of Mankind” and wear the “Mark of Tau” on your Forehead wherever you go.
It is for this reason, having made clear our “Wish to Know in Order to Serve”, that Sandalphone first brought us to the fields of the earth. Here we witnessed in Demeter the suffering of every being who has been so caught up in the illusions of the seasons, and of the crops, and of the bitter struggles for food and survival and companionship, and the pain of losing a loved one, especially a child. These are the suffering of beings caught up in attachment to the things in life that change.
Then we took our first steps on the 22 paths to cross the river Styx as it flows above ground, tumbling from the high rock above. By stepping across that river, we are asking questions, and looking for answers beyond the limits of the “accepted” world, as a result of the suffering and desolation we have witnessed in our own lives as much as Demeters.
Who is the first being we meet in our search? Hecate herself, shrouded in darkness at the back of her cave asks us what we want, and hearing our intention, makes it so. She gives us her torch of Illumination, and we are shown the way to the forgotten depths of our own minds, led to a realm of experience from which we shall never return, for we are permanently changed by the experience, as though we were born as one of the Children of the Goddess, having been in her most secret place.
Our next encounter is with the poor wraiths that compose Hecates legions of lost spirits and hauntings, whom she tries to help by bringing us to them. Her servant Charron takes us across the hateful river where we meet Hecate again, in her most stark and terrifying form as Cerberus. Upon sensing that we are willing to suffer in order to learn, and that we truly are not afraid to learn the Truth behind the illusions, She leads us to the infinite shores of our Cosmic domain, and there as the Goddess of the Moon which She is, takes us in her arms and shows us the deep love and intimate companionship she has always had for Us.
This path has been an encounter with Hecate from beginning to the end, and an invitation to explore Her world, the other half of our true nature, to wander with Her the twenty two highways of the Mind. It has been a promise that Her torch will illumine all our future journeys for she is the protectress of travellers, and the highways of the mind are her domain.
We shall be like Persephone: having returned from the Underworld, her view of reality was never the same again. Through her constant awareness of that hidden side of nature, Hecate became her constant companion and guardian. This constant companion, this awareness of the ignored side of things, was to guarantee that Persephone would return to the Underworld regularly to continue her experiences there, and that she should return regularly to the world of the living, spending not too much time in either realm, lest either be taken to be more real than the other. This is so because the experience of Hecate, with her three heads, looking simultaneously down the three paths from Malkuth, is the Experience that all three views of the journey of experience, the journey through outer life, the Inner Journeys, and the Traveller him or herself, are all three One Being, One Organism, and none of them any more real than the others, for none of them are real at all.