Monday, 22 November 2010

My Path to Hekate

Classing myself as "pagan" since my mid-teens, I always believed in something more to life than the 9-5 and the mainstream religious alternatives. After starting out on a Wiccan-orientated path, I found over time that something was missing and it was at this time that I began to look into the possibility of developing a relationship with a patron God/Goddess.

And so it was whilst meditating on finding deity that a deity found me; a glorious picture of a magnificent and mature woman in fine ancient robes of gold and jade, chestnut hair and deep green eyes. She revealed Her name to be “Ceres”. I felt a compulsion to find out all I could about Her.

The name was completely unfamiliar to me and naturally, I began my search online and within the neo-pagan communities I related to at the time. It was there I found out that Ceres was the name given to Demeter’s Roman counterpart. At the time I tried focusing directly on Ceres, but the information was limited (outside of Barbette Stanley Spaeth’s The Roman Goddess Ceres) and continually brought me back to the more widely available information about Demeter specifically.

But the information I turned up seemed "flat" and inconclusive and on too many occasions did I keep stumbling upon the Wiccan archetype of Maiden, Mother & Crone. I mused for days on end, attempting to incorporate Demeter into my worship, but something didn't feel "right". I spent many hours trawling the Internet and pouring over books and while searching for more info and pictures on the Internet I stumbled across a site on Hellenismos and something "clicked".

Hellenismos, or Hellenic Polytheism, is an attempt to revive and re-create the religion of Ancient Greece with adaption to fit our modern, everyday lives and still retain meaning in that setting. Beliefs and practices are based on a multitude of rich and vibrant sources from the works of Homer and Hesiod to archaeological evidence and historical theory.

It was at that moment, during those furtive first days of exploration, that it seemed as though a curtain had suddenly been pulled back, behind which stood all the Gods of Ancient Greece; as if to say "surprise, we were here the whole time!"

After this "revelation", Demeter took a rapid step back as if to hand me over to the other Gods and first and foremost I was taken under the wing of Dionysos. During the time I learnt and built up my relationship with the Bacchic One I became more aware of another Presence.

This was where the Queen of the Crossroads made Herself known. For a long time She was merely abstract, a simple guiding force but in time I strove to know more about Who was watching over me so. My Lady was not one to give me what I wanted to so easy; She is all about trials and tribulations as well as blessings and rewards and it became clear that I was required to prove not only my dedication, but also my worth.

I prayed and libated; wrote poetry and drew pictures. I researched, meditated and mused. But at that time it was not the time for me to know Her.

It was not long after that I entered quite a dark time, dealing with a seven month bout of severe depression. During this time many aspects of my life were neglected, all seemed hopeless and pointless. Though I never stopped believing in the Gods, in some sense I felt like that they had stopped believing in me.

In the end days of my depression, when my counselling and medication allowed me to view things a little more remotely I began to approach my Gods again in the hope of discovering where to go next. Now was the time for Dionysos together with Pan to reveal to me why the last half-year of madness and fear had been necessary; I understood that I was being pushed to the deepest, darkest parts of myself. I had been forced to challenge thoughts and preconceptions, to heal and to adapt. I knew then that the depression had been a lesson from Them and coming out at the end I was finally introduced to the guiding and guarding force that I had been tracking previous to my ailment.

Radiant and kindly, Hekate finally made herself known. She was no innocent party in my suffering but had also seen the need to show me those things. I had passed that test. I had dragged myself out of the pit by myself. No one was going to get me out of there other than myself and though friends and family had encouraged, loved and aided – as had my Gods – I had to take that painful and terrifying ascent from my own despair.

Since that time I have nurtured my relationship with Hekate, continually discovering new facets to Her limitless being. She is wonderful and terrible; black and white and all the shades of grey in between. There is nothing I cannot go to Her with or about. We walk the Path together; She both within and without.

From where I sit writing this, Her shrine (newly decorated and expanded to coincide with the Rite of the Devotee of Her Sacred Fires, carried out at Sunday’s Full Moon) stands proudly to my left. Offering of garlic, pomegranate and Retsina are still fresh, as are the deep red roses. The lingering scent of incense is just detectable and at the pinnacle stands my treasured statue of Hekate that I was lucky enough to find in a little shop in Falmouth, Cornwall.

Not advertised as anything in particular, I was immediately drawn to it where it sat, semi-obscured at the back of the shop. I remember tentatively picking it up and then taking it to the counter to ask about it. In reflection it’s a little odd how the owner appeared a little surprised by the sight of the statue and when she only asked for £20 I had to snatch it up. I remember how she apologised for not having a box for it and how carefully she wrapped it up in layer upon layer of tissue and bubble wrap, all the while looking a little puzzled – as if she had no recollection of ever ordering the piece.

As far as I know, my Hekate is unique. She bears no markings or labels and I have never (to date) seen another like Her and many people have asked me about where I got Her. This year, I gave Her new life by accentuating Her existing beauty with metallic paint on the torches and robe in bronze, silver, gold, copper, pewter and pearl.

And so that is how I came to know Hekate.

In my next entry, I will write about the Hekate tattoo I am currently having done!

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