Hecate at the Crossroads is a fictional tale to go along with my Hecate artwork. Let's begin:
Hecate At The Crossroads
You’re walking a dusty road just after sundown. Your boots crunch on the mix of gravel and dirt, and you’re pretty sure there’s a blister on your left heel. The birds have finished their evening song, and the wheat fields to either side are swishing like snake tongues in the slow breeze. You’re so tired. And a little hungry. There’s a dim glow ahead from what you think is the next town, but you’re having trouble judging the distance. The road undulates in a sluggish sine wave, and you can’t count the crests in the twilight. Keep going, turn back, or turn off behind that hedge and try to get some sleep?
Back behind you is everything you know. Not safe or comfortable, but familiar. Ahead is every unknown possibility and unanticipated danger. With no progress but no actual loss except time, here is just here.
You crest a slight hill and see a crossroads come into view. Beside it, to your surprise, you see the silhouette of a woman. It’s getting dark, and the crescent moon rises behind her like a pair of off-kilter horns. You can’t see her eyes, but you feel that she’s looking straight at you. After the rabbit freeze of surprise subsides, you remember that you’re not a prey animal, and maybe she can give you directions.
She resolves into a complicated, terrifying figure as you tread closer, one foot in front of the other.
She holds a torch, lighting the way, but also a key and a snake. You remember the symbols and their meanings: life, death, eternity, fertility, poison, and mystery. She has too many hands. Is she one woman or three? Should you keep going, run away, or stay where you are? Left, right, or middle path? Love, hate, or indifference? You find your grit and keep walking. She turns each face toward you. She jabs at the tender spot where courage comes from, just below your solar plexus, and you have your answer.
Why Hecate Artwork?
That feeling of mystery, courage, and decisiveness is why I make Hecate artwork.
I started reading about Hecate while working on a portrait series of challenging, dangerous women from mythology. The series includes Morgan le Fay, Medusa, and Baba Yaga. I was looking for characters from mythology and folklore with complexity and nuance. Not all good, not all bad, and mysterious enough to leave room for inspiration.
Who Is Hecate?
Hecate’s origins are unknown, and her stories are varied, but most traditions trace her to ancient Greece. She is associated with the moon, the underworld, witchcraft, and boundaries or liminal spaces. Hecate shrines could be found at crossroads, gates, and doorways, making her a protection figure. She is described as having power over the sky, land, and sea, with the ability to give wealth and blessings to daily life.
Her iconography includes a torch, keys, daggers, and snakes. The torch could light travelers’ faces to decide if they should be allowed to pass or shine their way on their journey. Even her keys could open or close doors at her will. A traveler could hope that she didn’t decide they deserved a snake or dagger, especially if the blade was dipped in poisonous Yew, another of her symbols.
She is depicted with three bodies standing back to back or one body with three heads facing out. Her triplicity associates her with the moon, alongside Luna and Diana, and she also forms an earth triad with Demeter and Persephone. With her multiple perspectives, she is similar to Janus, looking forward and back, but with a third path or possibility; the middle path.
She fought the titans, searched for Persephone in the underworld, and worked as a sorceress and midwife. Hecate has many aspects and stories, but I returned again and again to the theme of crossroads and decisions.
Purchase My Hecate Artwork
Indecision can sap motivation until there’s only enough energy for Netflix and facing the next day. When things are stale, it can feel easier to stay in a situation that isn’t ideal rather than face the risks involved with change. Every decision is a crossroads, with Hecate and her three faces standing just to the side. She won’t hold your hand, but she may point the way if you can be brave enough.