Hecate has many aspects and has gone though many
transformations depending on the times, geographic location and by whom she was worshiped. It is understandable as to why
if looking over the reference materials that are available, you can see how she evolved as attributes associated to her developed.
This is why there
are so many symbols associated with Hecate, some of which may seem out of place with some modern perceptions.
It is believed that
her worship originated in Thrace, which she was associated with the wilderness and Thresholds of "between" places
(This is not hard to see why she becomes known as the Gate Keeper.) Due to her association with gateways and openings,
she also became associated with childbirth, the threshold to "life." Hecate
was the Goddess who was called upon to guide the new soul into this world.
Hecate was originally
considered to be a benign Goddess who watched over crops and made them fertile, through gentle rains or destroyed them if
displeased by devastating storms. This begins her association with agriculture.
Within Greek mythology
Hecate’s attributes begin to take on many aspects that are more inline with popular thinking. It is important to note,
that she was incorporated into Greek mythology, with the pantheon of the Olympians already in place. Within this Pantheon’s cosmology, her "gifts" where granted to her by Zeus. Although it is my opinion
that she already had these attributes but in order for those worshiping the Olympic pantheon to accept her, it was necessary
to incorporate them into her "birth," of which there are several, Gaia and Uranus, (Earth and Sky) Astara (a Star Goddess)
and Perseus, which would make her a Titan descendant, and reference to being the daughter of Rhea.
The most notable work,
that describes her aspects and dominion within the Olympic pantheon, are the works of Hesiod. In which he describes
Zeus as honoring her above all. Zeus gave her the gifts of the earth, the heaves and the sea. Taking none of her portion away
that she had among the Titans.
Within the works of
Hesiod, her attributes are many. From a fertility Goddess, a Goddess of the battle who grants victory, as well as granting
victory for games. She also was partitioned by fisherman for a plentiful catch, to name a few.
The chthonic and
underworld associations seem to have developed in part by the myth of Persephone, in which Hecate played
an intricate roll. Hecate was one of the only people to hear Persephone’s screams when Hades abducted her and took her
into the underworld. Hecate aided Demeter (sent by Zeus) in locating Persephone and then chose to become Persephone’s
attendant/companion while Persephone resides within the underworld for one half of the year. (I will be adding a page with
this myth at a later time.)