August 13 has become associated with the Goddesses Hekate and Artemis as a day/night to honor the Goddess and propitiate Her appropriately to ward off storms that could potentially destroy crops. While the observance of this day survives to present day, the origin and sources to back it up are not apparent.
Hekate was not an agricultural Goddess and Artemis was known for Her presence in “the wild”, not necessarily the fields. The date of August 13 does not correspond with any Greek harvests that would give us some answers to ancient sources. What we can determine is that the Roman Festival of Nemoralia – the Feast of the Torches honoring the Goddess Diana – was celebrated at the August Full Moon. Some sources state that during Nemoralia, Hekate was recognized as the Goddess of the Dark Moon and propitiated with garlic. Given that torches are one of the symbols of Hekate, it would make sense that the celebration of Hekate in August probably originated from Nemoralia, as well as Her being frequently associated with the Goddesses to Artemis and Diana.
Interestingly, On Images by Porphyry does make reference to crops when referring to Her and Her torches. It is likely though, that this reference is more about the Moon and then is given to Hekate due to Her association with the Moon and Her Triplicity.
But, again, the moon is Hecate, the symbol of her varying phases and of her power dependent on the phases. Wherefore her power appears in three forms, having as symbol of the new moon the figure in the white robe and golden sandals, and torches lighted: the basket, which she bears when she has mounted high, is the symbol of the cultivation of the crops, which she makes to grow up according to the increase of her light: and again the symbol of the full moon is the goddess of the brazen sandals.
Or even from the branch of olive one might infer her fiery nature, and from the poppy her productiveness, and the multitude of the souls who find an abode in her as in a city, for the poppy is an emblem of a city. She bears a bow, like Artemis, because of the sharpness of the pangs of labour.
Hekate as Dadouchos (torch-bearer) was frequently depicted in ancient Greek artwork and writings. She consistently carries two torches and several of Her epithets refer to Her light:
Phosphorus – Light Bringer
Purphoros – Fire Bringer
Certainly, as Hekate presides over liminal spaces, many of which require light and a guide, torches make sense for the Goddess of night, darkness, sea, air and land.
Another possible source for relating Hekate to storms (as a natural disaster) and propitiation is that the katharmata (offscourings) were frequently left at the crossroads to propitiate the Goddess.
The katharmata was the offering of portions of the sacrifice not used in the ceremony such as waste blood and water. In one of the few remaining fragments of his work, the fifth century BCE Athenian poet Eupolis mentioned these offscourings being burned. This term was also sometimes applied to people, specifically those used as scapegoats and sacrificed to deal with natural disasters where the gods needed to be propitiated, such as drought or plague. Hekate Liminal Rites by Sorita d’Este & David Rankine
In the Aletheia Journal for Fall 2013, I will be sharing some of my experiences as a Priestess of Hekate and components of a Hekate Supper. Devotion in modern day requires adaptation of ancient practices and a connection to the Goddess Hekate that is guided somewhat by tradition but also a current day spin. Thankfully, we are no longer leaving katharmata at the crossroads.
For tonight, time spent in meditation and reflection on the light that She shines into the shadows will be the order of the evening. Propitiation will include a modern day garlic pasta dish and a trip to the Crossroads to honor Hekate Enodia and make specific offerings to Her and the Horde. Traditional offerings that I have found to be appropriate are garlic, eggs, pound cake, red wine, honey, burnt offerings from your ritual.
What is most important in approaching Hekate (indeed any Goddess or God) is respect, research and an intention to connect at a comfortable level for you. For those initiating a relationship with Hekate, do not treat Her lightly. She is ancient, powerful and deserving of your time and attention to Her myths, traditions and history. Truly, this is the correct approach to meditation and ritual with any deity.
Wishing you a blessed night and may Hekate give your Her protection in all things!
This is a MUST LISTEN! Orphic Hymn to Hekate sung in Ancient Greek
Books recommended for Research on Hekate:
Hekate Liminal Rites by Sorita d’Este & David Rankine
The Goddess Hekate by Stephen Ronan
Hekate Soteira by Sarah Iles Johnston
Hekate in Ancient Greek Religion by Ilmo Robert Von Rudloff
Mysteries of the Dark Moon by Demetra George
*all links are Amazon Affiliate links and we receive 4-6% of purchase price which goes to site maintenance. Thank you!