Greek Name: Ἑκατη Ἑκατα
Transliteration: Hekatê, Hekata
Latin Spelling: Hecate, Hecata
Translation: Worker from Afar
Hekate assisted Demeter in her search for Persephone, guiding her through the night with flaming torches. After the mother-daughter reunion became she Persephone’s minister and companion in Haides.
Three metamorphosis myths describe the origins of her animal familiars: the black she-dog and the polecat (a mustelid house pet kept by the ancients to hunt vermin). The dog was the Trojan Queen Hekabe (Hecuba) who leapt into the sea after the fall of Troy and was transformed by the goddess. The polecat was either the witch Gale, turned as punishment for her incontinence, or Galinthias, midwife of Alkmene (Alcmena), who was transformed by the enraged goddess Eileithyia but adopted by the sympathetic Hekate.
Her name means “worker from afar” from the Greek word hekatos. The masculine form of the name, Hekatos, was a common epithet of the god Apollon.
According to the most genuine traditions, she appears to have been an ancient Thracian divinity, and a Titan, who, from the time of the Titans, ruled in heaven, on the earth, and in the sea, who bestowed on mortals wealth, victory, wisdom, good luck to sailors and hunters, and prosperity to youth and to the flocks of cattle; but all these blessings might at the same time be withheld by her, if mortals did not deserve them. She was the only one among the Titans who retained this power under the rule of Zeus, and she was honoured by all the immortal gods.
“We are told that Helios (the Sun) had two sons, Aeetes and Perses, Aeetes being the king of Kolkhis (Colchis) and the other king of the Tauric Chersonese, and that both of them were exceedingly cruel. And Perses had a daughter Hekate (Hecate), who surpassed her father in boldness and lawlessness.”
~ Diodorus Siculus, Greek historian 1st Century B.C.
“If you think Latona [Leto] a goddess, how can you not think that Hecate is one, who is the daughter of Latona’s sister Asteria?”
~ Cicero, Roman rhetorician 1st Century B.C.
“Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos (Cronus) honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods . . . For as many as were born of Gaia (Gaea, Earth) and Ouranos (Uranus, Heaven) [the Titanes] amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Kronos [Zeus] did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her.”
~ Hesiod, 8th or 7th Century B.C.