Ancient Greek Gods
Hermes and Hekate as Divine Consorts
August 9, 2018 at 1:03 pm #4158
Hermes and Hekate – As Divine Consorts
The Father and King of the Magickians and the Queen Mother of the Witches
Hermes and Hekate a divine pair? There is actually solid evidence of this relationship in antiquity. Of course, much historical evidence is lacking, but both Hermes and Hekate appear to have been originally “imported” into Greece from Egypt during the time that the Greek Priest-Kings, the Ptolmeys (of whom Cleopatra was their last Ruler and Queen), ruled Egypt. The Greeks were much impressed by the Egyptian priesthood and their neteru (divine beings), and in their typical syncretistic ways they joined the two pantheons together by overlaying their own gods and goddesses upon them according to their very similar attributes aspects (as any good Qabalist would, I might add). Because of these crossovers, some scholars feel that the tutelary and household gods of the early pre-Athenian Greek City States actually originated from the Egyptian pantheon in the first place via sea trade with the highly syncretistic Minoans and Samothracians.
In Alexandria the Ptolmeys contracted Hermes’ name as either Thoth-Hermes (Thoth being the Egyptian god of letters and messenger of Divine Wisdom) or Herm-Anubis (the guide unto the Du’aat or Underworld). On the other hand Hekate was known in ancient Egypt as Hekat, the divine midwife and goddess of both childbirth and initiation into the Mysteries, generally regarded as one of the many forms of the great Goddess Isis; and
among many other names, the Greeks called her Aedonaia (Lady of the Underworld). From ancient times to this day, he was universally regarded as the god of magick, and she as the goddess of witchcraft.
In fact, each were known by many names and in many forms. The Greeks called him Hermes, then the Romans called him Mercury, to the Etruscans he was Turms, while the Samothracians called him Kadmylos. Hekate (Hecate to the Romans) was also known as Aktiophis, Brimo, Bendis and Zerynthia. However, as the cultures changed, so did their relationships, and the names and even the function of the two eventually diverged and were lost to antiquity, only to be stamped out utterly (or truly, separated and forced underground) by the anti-pagan pogroms and witch-burnings perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church. But in researching the two historically, we find that they shared so many attributes across the board that one cannot help but make the connection! They were both:
triform in attributes
associated with sorcery, magick and witchcraft
strongly associated with serpents and dogs
deities of crossroads
psychopomps – guides of the dead to the underworld
guardians of doorways/thresholds and the gateways or porticos of temples (and more importantly Initiation)
invoked on defixiones (curse or magick tablets)
deities of the Mysteries of Samothrace and Eleusis
Both Hermes and Hekate also share several Greek epithets: Apotropaios (one who protects, blesses and banishes evil), Phosphoros or Luciferus (Light Bearer – especially Hekate with her torches) Propolos (shower of the way), Propalaya (guardian of the gate). Both were also named for their triple aspects:Trioditis (of the Crossroads or Three Ways) and Tricephalus (Three Heads) or Trimorphis (Three bodies) and Trismegistus (Thrice Wise or Greatest). Both have been called Angelos (Divine Messenger) – Hermes’ most famous epithet is to this day “the Messenger of the Gods.” And both were said to have the power to travel the three realms: the Earth, the Sky and the Waters.
Aside from these unmistakable crossover attributes, where is the historical evidence? There are few, but they indelibly show that the two, by their various names, were once considered Divine Consorts, and even were said to have bore one or two children, a male hero named Eleusis and the female enchantress Circe. Vide:
Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 38. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
“The hero Eleusis, after whom the city [of Eleusis] is named, some assert to be a son of Hermes and of Daeira [Hekate], daughter of Okeanos.”
Propertius, Elegies 2. 29c (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
“Brimo [Hekate], who as legend tells, by the waters of Boebeis [in Thessalia] laid her virgin body at Mercurius’ [Hermes’] side.”
There is also Homer’s allusion to the sorceress Circe being the daughter of Hermes and Hekate in his “Odyssey”.
Another connection can be found in the Mysteries of Samothrace (the unified mediterranean island states of Samos and Thrace). This pre-Hellenic mystery cult dealt specifically with the protection of seafarers and the general promise of a happy afterlife, similar to the Egyptian religions. From Theoi.com: “we may draw the conclusion, that the Samothracians and Lemnians worshipped a goddess akin to Hecate, Artemis, Bendis, or Persephone, who had some sexual connexion with Hermes, which revelation was made in the mysteries of Samothrace.”
Perhaps most notably, the pair are inextricably involved in the Eleusinian Mysteries, as Hekate was described as the consort of Chthonian (Underworld) Hermes in both the cults of Thessalian Pherai and Eleusis. Both gods were the divine guides of the spirits of the dead, and were associated with the return of Persephone from the Underworld on the Vernal Equinox. Hekate and Hermes are seen together on a vase housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, called “The Return of Persephone”, where they are pictured escorting Persephone back out of the Underworld to her mother, Demeter.
Another representation of the pair is found upon the golden diadem from Neapolis with a picture of the Goddess Cybele in the center, Hermes on one side and Hekate to the other, with additional male/female pairs of deities embossed upon it. In both of these, they appear to be the right and left hand helpers of an elder Goddess.
Here we have, for the Western Mystery Traditions and Pagans at least, a very powerful duo. Few are the initiates of the Western Esoteric Traditions of ceremonial magick who do not trace their Hermetic practices to Hermes Trismegistus. And few are those contemporary Pagans and initates of the Craft who do not consider Hekate the Queen Mother of all witches. And members of both recognize the powerful influence of the Eleusinian Mysteries in their own highest ceremonies and beliefs. I would even dare to go out on a limb and posit that the Divine Union of Hekate and Hermes as lovers is a true Revelation, the Remembrance of the true Women’s Mysteries and the true Men’s Mysteries, showing the how two occult currents are far stronger together than separated, nay, how their Union is really a Re-Union; for as initiates, as witches and magickians in the Western Traditions of Magick, are we not truly the living heirs of Hekate and Hermes?
I believe that the divine consorts Hermes and Hekate show us is that we have two Traditions in One; the Traditions of Hermes revealing the Divine Masculine, serving as the vehicle for Men’s Mysteries, and the Craft Traditions of Hekate unveiling the Divine Feminine, serving as a matrix for Women’s Mysteries, both under one aegis.
As a ceremonial magickian, as a syncretistic Qabalist, and foremost as a Thelemite, I found many missing keys in studying the Ancient Craft and Wicca, some of which I had suspected existed all along. I am deeply indebted to Paganheart for introducing me to her Gardnerian Wicca, and for being the catalyst bringing my Spiritual life out of it’s state of torpor. Conversely, I know that she too has found completion in her studies of the Hermetic Qabalah, and particularly through her interactions with the Egyptian godform Horus, which foreshadowed her introduction to Thelema. Together we have found wholeness in the Union of our two Traditions, and we believe that it is our duty as Light Bearers to assist others that they too may discover it’s fullness for themselves.
“Now ye shall know that the priest & chosen apostle of infinite space is the priest-prince the Beast, and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given. They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men. For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight.” ~ the goddess Nuit in Liber AL vel Legis
Ad Rememorari LVX Occulta
In Remembrance of the Hidden Light
Sources and bibliography:
The Kybalion, by Three Initiates
Propertius: Modernist Poet of Antiquity, By D. Thomas Benediktson
The Twelve Gods of Greece and Rome, By Charlotte R. Long
Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical Walter Burkert, by John Raffan
Hermes, Guide of Souls, by Karl Kerényi
The Gods of the Greeks, by Karl Kerényi
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.