Guardians

Just a few minutes walk from the church of Santo Tomás in the center of Chichicastenango, there is a wooded hill. Atop this hill is an ancient rock with a carved face, known all over Guatemala as Pascual Abaj (Sacrifice Stone). This stone-faced idol, a shrine to the Maya earth god Huyup Tak’ah (Mountain Plain), stands amid a circle of squat stone crosses in a clearing. Said to be hundreds – perhaps thousands – of years old, it has suffered numerous indignities at the hands of outsiders, but local people still revere it.

Daily there are Maya priests and priestesses performing ceremonies there. People come there for all sorts of things: to bless a marriage, to pray for a good harvest or to give thanks for a good harvest, or to remedy a problem such as preventing thieves from stealing your corn. The rites are conducted by the aj’itz (maya priests).

Also known as:

  • Turcaj
  • Turk’aj
  • Turuk’aj
  • Turukaj

Pascual Abaj (alternatively written Pascual Ab’aj) is a pre-Columbian Maya idol at Chichicastenango that survived the Spanish conquest of Guatemala and which is still venerated by the local community. It is the best-known example of such an image or shrine to the Maya earth god Huyup Tak’ah.

After the Spanish conquest, the stone figure is said to have been carried away from a site in the village of Chichicastenango and reset upon the hill so offerings could be made away from the vigilance of the Catholic Church and the Spanish colonists.

The image was badly damaged in the 1950s by members of Catholic Action. Before it was defaced, the statue was described as a grotesque human figure with a large head and high, pointed forehead. It had two circular earspools in line with its mouth; its arms were crossed on its chest, with the fingers extended. A cord was sculpted around its waist, to which was attached the image of an inverted severed human head. It stood approximately 1 metre (3.3 ft) high. An observer in the 1950s noted that the figure appeared to have been buried sometime in the past.

Traditional Maya shamans regularly perform ceremonies at the shrine, by day and night. The statue is set upon a small altar surrounded by offerings, which include pine branches, crosses, flowers, copal resin, and items crafted from stone. The shrine has now become a popular tourist attraction where visitors witness traditional Maya ceremonies.

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The Black Dog is among Britain’s most famous spectral hounds. It may be dangerous and malevolent or helpful and benevolent. It usually serves as a guardian of treasure or a sacred place. If left alone, it usually leaves you alone, too, but if aggression is shown toward it, the Black Dog isn’t afraid to demonstrate supernatural powers, potentially causing terrible wounds, paralysis, or death before vanishing into thin air.

  • Manifestation: A shaggy black dog the size of a calf with glowing, red eyes.
  • Other names: Moddey Dhoo, Mauthe Doog, Black Shuck, Old Shuck, Old Shock

This ghostly canine is also known as Mauthe Doog, a calf sized black dog who haunts Peel Castle on the Isle of Man. Guards saw the specter so often, they eventually grew less fearful. But, according to lore, one drunk soldier went down a passage in the castle to confront the ghost dog. He came back too terrified to speak and died three days later. The passage was sealed and never used again. Mauthe Doog sightings, however, continued.

Black Shuck

Black Shuck, Old Shuck, Old Shock or simply Shuck is the name given to a ghostly black dog which is said to roam the coastline and countryside of East Anglia, one of many ghostly black dogs recorded in folklore across the British Isles. Accounts of Black Shuck form part of the folklore of Norfolk, Suffolk, the Cambridgeshire fens and Essex, and descriptions of the creature’s appearance and nature vary considerably; it is sometimes recorded as an omen of death, but, in other instances, is described as companionable.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name Shuck derives from the Old English word scucca – “devil, fiend”, from the root word skuh- to terrify.  The first mention in print of “Black Shuck” is by Reverend E.S. Taylor in an 1850 edition of the journal Notes and Queries which describes “Shuck the Dog-fiend”;

“This phantom I have heard many persons in East Norfolk, and even Cambridgeshire, describe as having seen as a black shaggy dog, with fiery eyes and of immense size, and who visits churchyards at midnight.”

Images of black sinister dogs have become part of the iconography of the area and have appeared in popular culture. Writing in 1877, Walter Rye stated that Shuck was “the most curious of our local apparitions, as they are no doubt varieties of the same animal.”

Descriptions of Black Shuck vary in both shape and size, from that of a large dog to being the size of a calf or horse. W. A. Dutt, in his 1901 Highways & Byways in East Anglia describes the creature thus:

He takes the form of a huge black dog, and prowls along dark lanes and lonesome field footpaths, where, although his howling makes the hearer’s blood run cold, his footfalls make no sound. You may know him at once, should you see him, by his fiery eye; he has but one, and that, like the Cyclops’, is in the middle of his head. But such an encounter might bring you the worst of luck: it is even said that to meet him is to be warned that your death will occur before the end of the year.

So you will do well to shut your eyes if you hear him howling; shut them even if you are uncertain whether it is the dog fiend or the voice of the wind you hear. Should you never set eyes on our Norfolk Snarleyow you may perhaps doubt his existence, and, like other learned folks, tell us that his story is nothing but the old Scandinavian myth of the black hound of Odin, brought to us by the Vikings who long ago settled down on the Norfolk coast. 

Dr Simon Sherwood suggests that the earliest surviving description of devilish black hounds is an account of an incident in the Peterborough Abbey recorded in the Peterborough Chronicle (one version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) around 1127.

This account also appears to describe the Europe-wide phenomenon of a Wild Hunt.:

Let no-one be surprised at the truth of what we are about to relate, for it was common knowledge throughout the whole country that immediately after [Abbot Henry of Poitou’s arrival at Peterborough Abbey] – it was the Sunday when they sing Exurge Quare – many men both saw and heard a great number of huntsmen hunting.

The huntsmen were black, huge and hideous, and rode on black horses and on black he-goats and the hounds were jet black with eyes like saucers and horrible. This was seen in the very deer park of the town of Peterborough and in all the woods that stretch from that same town to Stamford, and in the night the monks heard them sounding and winding their horns.

Reliable witnesses who kept watch in the night declared that there might well have been as many as twenty or thirty of them winding their horns as near they could tell. This was seen and heard from the time of his arrival all through Lent and right up to Easter.”

Abraham Fleming’s account of the appearance of “A strange, and terrible wunder” in 1577 at Bungay, Suffolk is a famous account of the beast.

“A straunge, and terrible Wunder wrought very late in the parish church of Bongay: a town of no great distance from the citie of Norwich, namely the fourth of this August, in the yeere of our Lord 1577. in a great tempest of violent raine, lightning, and thunder, the like wherof hath been seldome seene. With the appeerance of an horrible shaped thing, sensibly perceiued of the people then and there assembled. Drawen into a plain method according to the written copye. by Abraham Fleming.”

One of the most notable reports of Black Shuck is of his appearance at the churches of Bungay and Blythburgh in Suffolk. On 4 August 1577, at Blythburgh, Black Shuck is said to have burst in through the doors of Holy Trinity Church to a clap of thunder. He ran up the nave, past a large congregation, killing a man and boy and causing the church steeple to collapse through the roof. As the dog left, he left scorch marks on the north door which can be seen at the church to this day.

The encounter on the same day at St Mary’s Church, Bungay was described in A Straunge and Terrible Wunder by Abraham Fleming in 1577:

This black dog, or the divel in such a linenesse (God hee knoweth al who worketh all,) running all along down the body of the church with great swiftnesse, and incredible haste, among the people, in a visible fourm and shape, passed between two persons, as they were kneeling uppon their knees, and occupied in prayer as it seemed, wrung the necks of them bothe at one instant clene backward, in somuch that even at a mome[n]t where they kneeled, they stra[n]gely dyed. 

Fleming was a translator and editor for several printing houses in London, and therefore probably only published his account based on exaggerated oral accounts. Other local accounts attribute the event to the Devil (Fleming calls the animal “the Divel in such a likeness”). The scorch marks on the door are referred to by the locals as “the devil’s fingerprints”, and the event is remembered in this verse:

All down the church in midst of fire, the hellish monster flew, and, passing onward to the quire, he many people slew. 

Dr David Waldron and Christopher Reeve suggest that a fierce electrical storm recorded by contemporary accounts on that date, coupled with the trauma of the ongoing Reformation, may have led to the accounts entering folklore.

Littleport, Cambridgeshire is home to two different legends of spectral black dogs, which have been linked to the Black Shuck folklore, but differ in significant aspects: local folklorist W.H. Barrett relates the story of a huge black dog haunting the area after being killed rescuing a local girl from a lustful friar in pre-reformation times, while fellow folklorist Enid Porter relates stories of a black dog haunting the A10 road after its owner drowned in the nearby River Great Ouse in the 1800s.

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In Inca mythology, Apu was the name given to powerful mountain spirits. The Incas also used Apu to refer to the sacred mountains themselves; each mountain had its own spirit, with the spirit going by the name of its mountain domain. An Apu is simultaneously:

  • The sacred spirit of a mountain
  • The mountain itself
  • The spirit who lives atop the mountain.

Paradoxically, the Apu is inseparable from the mountain even though the spirit itself is completely mobile and perfectly capable of traveling far.

Apu literally means “lord.” Female Apus are address as “mama.” Apus were typically male spirits, although some female examples do exist. Female Apus include Mama Simona of Cuzco; Mama Patukusi of Machu Pichu; and Mama Veronica near Cuzco. Her Quechua name is Wakay Willca.

Every mountain peak in the Andes has its own Apu, but the most famous are the twelve associated with Cuzco:

  • Apu Ausangate
  • Apu Salkanaty
  • Mama Simona
  • Apu Pikol
  • Apu Manuel Pinta
  • Apu Wanakauri
  • Apu Pachatusan
  • Apu Pijchu
  • Apu Saqsaywaman
  • Apu Wiraqochan
  • Apu Pukin
  • Apu Senq’a

In the Quechua language—spoken by the Incas and now the second most common language in modern Peru—the plural of Apu is Apukuna.

Manifestation:

Apus frequently take the form of mischievous, playful, but helpful children. For instance, Apu Ausangate, considered the most powerful Apu of Cuzco, manifests as a blond, fair-skinned child wearing white clothes and riding a white horse. Don’t let their chosen form fool you ~ they are ancient and powerful spirits.

Gifts:

Small stones resembling animals or plants are sacred gifts from the Apus and may be used to bring whatever the stone resembles into your life. The resemblance may be enhanced by carving. These gifts are not limited to one person. They may be given to others or passed down through generations of a family. They may also be purchased at Andean pilgrimage sites. Modern versions of these amulets include miniature trucks, tools, and even passports.

Ritual and Offerings:

Travel to the Andes and visit the mountains to request their blessings and protection. Offerings include the following:

  • Coca leaves
  • Libations of water and alcoholic beverages

One of the most basic concepts of life in the high Andes communities is that of Ayni, or reciprocity, which connotes an ever-shifting, dynamic balance in relationship. This give and take informs not only connections that exist among people, but also the bonds between humans and the natural world, and most especially those between the people and the Apu.

The k’intu offering that reinforces this relationship has the Coca leaf as its main ingredient. Spiritual elders of the villages, or Misayoqs, say that the coca leaf is the favorite food of the Apus.

Three perfect coca leaves are infused with the breath of the Misayoq. This places his intention for the well being of the people into the offering. The k’intu is offered as a sacrament, to ensure his benevolent protection towards the people who dwell in his mighty presence.

An interesting account of an experience of talking with the Apu can be found here. It looks like they also offer trips to Peru, in case you are interested.

About The Inca Mountain Spirits

Inca mythology worked within three realms: Hanan Pacha (the upper realm), Kay Pacha (the human realm), and Uku Pacha (the inner world, or underworld). Mountains—rising up from the human world toward Hanan Pacha—offered the Incas a connection with their most powerful gods in the heavens.

The Apu mountain spirits also served as protectors, watching over their surrounding territories and protecting nearby Inca inhabitants as well as their livestock and crops. In times of trouble, the Apus were appeased or called upon through offerings. It’s believed they predated people in the Andes regions and that they are constant guardians of those who inhabit this area.

Small offerings such as chicha (corn beer) and coca leaves were common. In desperate times, the Incas would resort to human sacrifice.

Juanita—the “Inca Ice Maiden” discovered atop Mount Ampato in 1995 (now on display in the Museo Santuarios Andinos in Arequipa)—may well have been a sacrifice offered to the Ampato mountain spirit between 1450 and 1480.

The Apus in Modern Peru

The Apu mountain spirits did not fade away following the demise of the Inca Empire.

In fact, they are very much alive in modern Peruvian folklore. Many present-day Peruvians, especially those born and raised within traditional Andean communities, still hold beliefs that date back to the Incas (albeit these beliefs are often combined with aspects of Christian faiths, most frequently the Catholic faith).

The notion of the Apu spirits remains common in the highlands, where some Peruvians still make offerings to the mountain gods. According to Paul R. Steele in Handbook of Inca Mythology, “Trained diviners can communicate with the Apus by tossing handfuls of coca leaves onto a woven cloth and studying messages encoded in the configurations of leaves.”

Understandably, the highest mountains in Peru are often the most sacred. Smaller peaks, however, are also venerated as Apus. Cuzco, the former Inca capital, has twelve sacred Apus, including the towering 20,945-foot Ausangate, Sacsayhuamán and Salkantay. Machu Picchu—the “Old Peak,” after which the archeological site is named—is also a sacred Apu, as is the neighboring Huayna Picchu.

Alternative Meanings of Apu

Apu can also be used to describe a great lord or another authority figure. The Incas gave the title Apu to each governor of the four suyus (administrative regions) of the Inca Empire.

In Quechua, Apu has a variety of meanings beyond its spiritual significance, including rich, mighty, boss, chief, powerful, and wealthy.

Sources:

 

Many spells, especially those that request healing or protection for animals, or those to locate lost animals, suggest consecrating the animal to a spirit. Although there are also many others, the following have earned a reputation as renowned animal protectors. Incorporate them into your spells as needed:

  • Spirits that protect cats: Artemis, Bastet, Freya, Hecate, Lilith
  • Spirits that protect big cats (tigers, lions, leopards, etc): Dionysus, Durga, Hathor, Kybele, Sekhmet
  • Spirits that protect dogs: Artemis, Hecate, Ogun, Saint Roch
  • Spirits that protect horses: Anat, Demeter, Epona Poseidon, Rhiannon, Rla-mgrin (Hayagriva)
  • Spirits that protect toads: Agwe, Heket
  • Spirits that protect snakes: Athena, Ezili, Freda, Dahomey, Lilith, Mami Waters, Simbi, Lady Asherah
  • Spirits that protect cows: Brigid, Hathor, Hermes, Isis, Lakshmi, Maeve, Shiva
  • Spirits that protect fish: Atargatis, La Baleine, La Sirene, Yemaya
  • Spirits that protect pigs: Demeter, Seth
  • Spirits that protect animals in general: Aphrodite, Artemis, Baba Yaga, Faunus, Hathor, Lilith, Saint Anthony

Note: Saint Anthony is the spiritual detective – request his assistance when a pet is missing.

Found in:
Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells

This is a by no means complete list of the animals, mortal and supernatural, that were sacred to the ancient Egyptians, along with the deities they were considered to be sacred to. Pictures or statues of these creatures used during rituals will enable the subconscious mind to make a better link, thereby enhancing the ritual’s power.

  • AspButo
  • Ass – Set
  • Ape – Thoth
  • Bull – Ptah, MenthuMin 
  • Cat – Bast, Mut
  • CobraButo
  • CowHathor, Sati, Mut
  • CrocodileSebe,  Set
  • DogAnubis
  • FrogHeqet, Hathor
  • GooseAmen-Ra, Seb, Isis
  • HawkOsiris, Horus, Ra, Seker, and others
  • Heron – Sacred in general
  • HippopotamusTa-Urt, Set
  • IbisThoth
  • JackalAnubis
  • LionSekhmet, Mut
  • Lynx – Benevolent Spirit
  • PhoenixOsiris
  • PigSet
  • RamBa-Neb-Tetet, Khnemu
  • ScarabKhepera
  • ScorpionSelqet, Set
  • SerpentApep, Buto, Renenet
  • Shrew-MouseButo
  • SphinxRa-Temu
  • SwallowIsis
  • Tortoise or TurtleEnemy of Ra
  • VultureNekhebet, Mut, Neith, and others
  • WolfWepwawet

Hekate is an exceptionally powerful spirit. She holds dominion over life, death, regeneration, and magic. She rules wisdom, choices, expiation, victory, vengeance, and travel. Hekate guards the frontier between life and death. She is an intermediary between the spirit world and that of humans. She is the witness to all crimes, especially those against women and children.

Hekate (Hecate) is Queen of the Night, the Spirit World, and Witchcraft. Her epithets include:

  • She Who Works Her Will
  • The Most Lovely One
  • Influence From Afar
  • Three Headed Hound of the Moon
  • The One Before The Gate
  • Light Bringer

Although today most associated with Greek mythology, her name, meaning “influence from afar,” acknowledges her foreign origins.

Generally believed to have first emerged in what is now Turkey, she was not an obscure goddess. Hekate was at one time chief deity of Caria, now western Turkey, and was eventually widely worshiped throughout Europe, Western Asia, and Egypt. Records of formal worship date from eighth century BC to the fourth century AD, although as magic fell from grace she became an increasingly disreputable spirit. All Hekate’s myths clearly identify her as a witch and matron of magical arts.

Hekate is renowned for her expertise with plants and her knowledge of their magickal and healing powers. A famed magickal garden was attached to her temple in Colchis on the Black Sea, now in modern Georgia. Some scholars suggest that an ancient Greek women’s guild, under the divine matronage of Hekate, once had responsibility for gathering and storing visionary, hallucinatory and poisonous plants. The same work in Greek indicates “pharmacist,” “poisoner,” and “witch.”

Petitioning Hekate

Hekate is a goddess of life, death, regeneration and magick. She rules wisdom, choices, expiation, victory, vengeance, and travel. She is witness to every crime.

  • She is invoked for justice, especially for sexual crimes against women and girls.
  • Hekate is invoked when justice is not forthcoming from other channels.
  • Hekate has the power to grant or deny any mortal’s wish.
  • She may be invoked for protection for dogs and from dogs.
  • Hekate is petitioned for fertility, especially for female children.
  • She brings victory in battle.
  • Hekate may be invoked for healing, especially if medical solutions have failed.
  • She may be petitioned for swift, painless death.
  • Hekate can banish ghosts – or produce a ghost infestation.

Hekate typically responds to petitions via visions and dreams. If lost at a crossroads, literal or metaphoric, invoke her name and then pay attention to signs from her. She can be a shadowy, oblique goddess: her response may be subtle. Look for her animals: snakes, dragons, cats, and especially dogs.

  • Favored people

Midwives, witches, healers, herbalists, dog lovers and rescuers. She is the matron of women in general and protects those who ride horses.

A Living Altar

Hecate is most famous today as a Dark Moon Spirit and Queen of Witches. Those are but two aspects of this multifaceted deity. Hecate was once the chief deity of the Carian nation, now in Western Turkey. She is matron of the city of Istanbul. She has dominion over life and death and makes the journey in between, indicating her power as a healing deity. Hecate is matron of midwives and herbalists.

Her priestesses (the most famous was Medea) were trained herbalists. Those in need of healing or solace journeyed to the gardens attached to Hecate’s shrine in Colchis on the Black Sea, home of the Golden Fleece pilfered by the Argonauts.

Hecate’s assistance may also be accessed by building a living altar in her honor. Plant a garden outdoors or create a living altar inside with potted plants. Add some or all of the following:

  • Dog roses,
  • Garlic,
  • Lavender,
  • Mandrake,
  • Queen of the Night,
  • Roses,
  • Thorn apple,
  • Tuberoses.

Hecate’s trees include:

  • Black poplar
  • Date palm
  • Pomegranate
  • Willow
  • Yew

Place votive images of Hecate, together with her favorite creatures – dogs, dragons, and snakes – in the garden. To petition Hecate directly or to receive spontaneous magical inspiration regarding your healing needs, sit in or beside your living altar in the dark.

To Summon Hekate

Hecate, Queen of Witches, maintains office hours only at night: formal petitions and invitations must be offered after dark. A particularly ancient spirit, the only source of illumination she favors is fire.

Summon Hecate at night by a three-way crossroads. Ideally, light your way with a mullein torch. Offer her garlic, lavender, and honey. If you have a dog, bring it with you. Keep an eye on the dog; it’s likely to perceive Hecate before you do.

Why would you wish to contact Hecate?

Because she can teach you to do anything with magic. Because she can grant you enhanced psychic powers, fertility, romance, protection, freedom from illness, and magical restitution for any crime committed against you.

Hekate has been with us for at least three thousand years.

She was a liminal goddess who was present at all the boundaries and transitional moments in life. She was also an ‘evil-averting’ protector and guide. Her triple form emphasized her power over the three realms, these being the heavens, sea, and earth. Her primal nature was seen in the many animal heads she was depicted with, each emphasising different qualities of her manifold character.

Some of her well known titles include:

  • Chthonia – earthy one
  • Dadouchos – torch bearer
  • Enodia – of the ways
  • Kleidouchos – key bearer
  • Kourotrophos – child’s nurse
  • Phosphorus – light bearer
  • Propolos – companion
  • Propylaia – before the gate
  • Soteira – savior
  • Triformis – three bodied
  • Trioditis – of the three ways

To enhance your ability to summon Hecate, try this:

Dry dandelion roots, then slice and pierce them to create beads, forming a ritual necklace to wear when calling Hecate. Call – or think – Hecate’s name as you pierce, string, and knot each bead. For best results, string the necklace at night by firelight.

Another way to enhance your relationship with the Queen of the Night is to practice the Silence of the Night Meditation. It’s a very simple yet profoundly powerful meditation, especially when practiced for an extended period of time.

Manifestations

Hekate has been known to assume the shape of a black cat, a bear, a pig or a hen but most typically manifests as a mature woman or black dog. She has a particularly strong bond with dogs. Even when manifesting in human form, Hekate is usually accompanied by hounds. Somehow there will be a canine reference. When manifesting as a woman alone, Hekate often circles in the manner of a dog.

Artistic renderings of Hekate usually attempt to capture her spiritual essence. She may be depicted with three bodies, each facing a different direction. One hand holds the knife that is the midwife’s tool, another holds a torch to illuminate the darkness, the last bears a serpent representing medical and magical wisdom. Sometimes Hekate is depicted with a woman’s body but three animal heads – those of a dog, a horse, and a lion.

Hekate, Queen Witch, is a shape-shifter supreme. While her usual manifestations are as a black dog or mature woman, she may manifest as a haggard, decrepit crone or a sexy, elegant, seductive woman. She even has an occasional mermaid manifestation. She may wear snakes in her hair. Every now and then, she appears as a black cat, snake, or dragon.

Sacred to Hekate

Hekate’s sacred time is black night. All her festivities and ceremonies are held after dark, the only acceptable illumination is candles or torches. She only accepts offerings and petitions at night. Hekate is identified with the Dark Moon, the time of her optimum power.

The last day of each month is dedicated to Hekate. She also shared a festival with Diana on August 13th in Italy. Modern Wiccans, for whom Hekate is an important deity, celebrate November 16th as Hecate Night of the Crossroads.

  • Animals: Black ewe lambs, Boar, Bull, Cats, Cock, Cow, Dogs, Dragons, Fish, Goats, Horses, Lions, Mice, Mullet (fish), Polecat, Rams, Serpents, Toads, Wolf
  • Attributes: Key, Cauldron, Broom, Torch, Knife
  • Bird: Stork
  • Color: Black, also Red, White, Yellow
  • Emblem: Star and crescent moon
  • Food: Eggs, Honey, Amphiphon Cakes (a cheesecake with lighted candles stuck into it)
  • Fruit: Pomegranate
  • Minerals: Copper, Gold, Loadstone, Meteorite, Sapphire
  • Mount: Dragons pull her chariot
  • Number: Three
  • Planets: Moon (especially the dark moon), and Sirius, the Dog Star
  • Plants and herbs: Aconite, Anise, Belladonna, Garlic, Grain, Henna, Lavender, Mandrake, Onion, Poppy, Saffron,
  • Symbols: Dagger, Keys, Horned Crescent, Pegasus, New Moon, Three-Way Crossroads, Trident, Twin Torches
  • Trees: Apples, Black poplar, Date palm, Oak (leaves), Pomegranate, Willow, Yew

Her sacred place is the crossroads, specifically three-way crossroads. Among her name is Hecate Trivia. That doesn’t indicate that Hekate is trivial or that worshiping her was a trivial pursuit: Trivia literally means “three roads.” Hekate is Spirit of the Crossroads: her power emanates from their point of intersection. Hekate’s image was once placed in Greek towns wherever three roads met.

Hecate is the Goddess of the dark of the moon, the black nights when the moon is hidden. She was associated with deeds of darkness, the Goddess of the Crossways, which was held to be ghostly places of evil magic, an Awful Divinity,

“Hecate of hell
Mighty to shatter every stubborn thing.
Hark! Hark! Her hounds are baying through the town.
Where three roads meet, there she is standing.”

Rituals

Hekate’s ancient devotees held dinners in her honor, known as Hekate Suppers. Foods associated with her were prepared. The entree was usually fish, especially red mullet. Devotees feasted and celebrated. Offerings and leftovers were placed outside the door or at a crossroads for Hekate and her hounds.

  • The last day of each lunar month is dedicated to Hekate.
  • Friday the 13th – particularly if it falls in the month of August.
  • November 16th is Hekate Night
  • August 13th, in Italy, a festival is shared between Diana and Hekate

Even way back when, cynics scoffed that food placed outside was actually consumed by feral dogs and homeless people without realizing that this is Hekate’s intent: this is one way she accepts offerings. (The Church was still trying to eradicate this ritual as late as the eleventh century.)

Smaller, private offerings may be left at a crossroads, too:

  • Place offerings on a plate or flat stone and leave them at a crossroads after dark.
  • Make your invocation and then walk away without looking back.
  • Do not return for the plate, or any part of the offering, but consider it part of your gift.

Offerings can include the following:

  • Eggs
  • Garlic and honey (especially lavender honey)
  • Croissants and crescent shaped breads and pastries
  • Candles
  • Incense
  • Images of dogs, especially black dogs
  • Actions on behalf of dogs

Encountering or hearing a dog is an indication that your petition has been heard.

The Mythology

According to myth, Hekate once served as an Angelos, a messenger for the other deities. She stole Hera’s beauty salve to give to her rival Europa. Hera enraged, pursued Hekate, who fled first to the bed of a woman in childbirth, then to a funeral procession, and finally to Lake Acheron in Hades where she was cleansed by the Cabeiri. Hekate emerged more powerful than ever, a goddess of birth, death, and purification. She rules passages between realms of life and death and is thus invoked by necromancers.

Hekate is most prominent in Greek mythology for being the sole deity to voluntarily assist Demeter in her search for her abducted daughter, Persephone. Later, after Persephone eats Death’s six pomegranate seeds and is condemned to spend half the year in Hades, it is Hekate who accompanies her as Lady-in-Waiting. In some legends, she even becomes Hades’ co-wife. Ceberus, three-headed hound of Hades, may be Hekate in disguise.

Hekate becomes Persephone’s link to her mother and the land of the living. She guarantees that Death cannot break the bond between mother and daughter. Hekate is the Matron of Necromancy.

Hekate, daughter of the Titans Perses and Asteria, is older than the Olympian spirits. The eight-century BC Greek poet Hesiod writes that Hekate’s power dates “from the beginning.” Zeus was crazy about her: he eliminated all other pre-Hellenic deities (the Titans) but, having fallen madly in love with Hekate, he let her be.

Hekate is understood to be a triple goddess by herself, appearing as maiden, mother, and crone. She is also part of a lunar triplicity with Artemis and Selene, and also with Demeter and Persephone. Hekate dances in Dionysus’ retinue and is a close ally of Kybele.

Alongside her intense lunar identification, Hekate is also associated with the element of water: her first love affairs were with sea gods including Triton. Her great-grandfather was Pontus the Sea. Her maternal great-aunt was the sea monster Keto. Hekate is also related to the Gorgons and Sirens and may be the mother of Scylla, who was transformed into a sea monster by another relative, Circe. Prior to her transformation Scylla was a beautiful woman from head to waist, with canine hips terminating in a fish tale.

Hekate led a host of shape-shifting female spirits known as Empausas, whose usual manifestation was as a beautiful woman with one brass leg and one donkey’s leg; Hekate herself sometimes takes this form. The Empusas patrolled roads and apparently sometimes had fun terrorizing travelers. If one invoked Hekate, however, they left you alone.

Devotees feted the goddess by holding rituals known as Hecate’s Suppers at the end of each month at a crossroad. (The end of the month in lunar calendars corresponds to the Dark Moon, the new month begins with the first sighting of the new moon). The Church was still trying to eradicate Hecate’s Suppers in the eleventh century.

Post-Christianity, Hekate became among the most intensely demonized spirits, her very name synonymous with “witch”. Her symbols (toad, cauldron, broom) are inextricably linked with stereotypes of witchcraft. What were symbols of fertility became symbols of evil. Her sacred dogs were converted into the Hounds of Hell. This denigration served to camouflage Hekate’s origins as a deity of Healing and Protection.

An Interesting Historical Tidbit

Hekate was a goddess with an organized cult. In addition to Caria and Colshis, she had sanctuaries in Aigina and Lagina and a grove on the Aventine hill. She is the matron goddess and guardian of the city of Istanbul (previously called Byzantium and Constantinople).

Hekate is credited with saving that city from attack by King Phillip II of Macedonia in 304 BCE. His forces attempted to attack secretly during a dark moon but Hekate lit a crescent moon, creating enough light for the Byzantines to apprehend their danger and save themselves.

In gratitude, they began using her symbols (star and crescent moon) on their coins. The image still appears on the Turkish flag. The image predates Islam and was the official emblem of Byzantine Greeks.

Collected from various sources including Encyclopedia of Spirits

A great many cultures around the world have believed in beings that we call angels. These great helpers of humankind are described in nearly all the sacred books of the world religions. Among the ancient religions and races that believed in angels were the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Persians, Muslims, Japanese Shintoists, Jewish Qabalists, Hindus, and the Maoris.

The deep teachings of the Jewish Qabala called the the “shining ones.” The Old and New Testaments and the aprocyphal books of the Hebrews and Christians are full of references to these beings. Even the Arabic Koran tells of angels, especially the four main archangels. The Koran says that it is the responsibility of these archangls to watch over humankind from their vantage point near God’s throne and record all their deeds.

Some of the world’s greatest thinkers and writers believed in angelic existence. References to angels can be found in the works of Socrates, Plato, St. Augustine, Paracelsus, Thomas Moore, William Blake, Milton, Shakespeare, Pythagoras, Homer, St. Thomas Aquinas, Jacob Boehme, and Swendenborg.

The archangels and all classes of angels are considered spiritual, celestial beings said to be made of the Element of Fire, or pure radiant energy. They are said to have evolved from a different line than humans. In Rosicrucian and Illuminati writings, these celestial beings were further described as being like small suns with an aura of radiant energy that gives off streamers of force.

In most descriptions this force is described as a brilliant light that comes from the crown of their head and encircles their form, giving them an appearance of having wings of light. It was said that they propelled themselves by manipulation of this force-field.

The word angel (Hebru, malakh) comes from the Sanskrit word angiras, a divine spirit; from the Persion angaros, a courier; and from the Greek angelos, a messenger or one sent. The meaning is actually closer to the Greek word daimon, a supernatural being who mediates between God and humans.

There are angels for the months, the zodiac, the days of the week, the four directions, and a multitude of other things, including the hours of the day.

From: Magick of the Gods and Goddesses

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  • Also known as: Lases (Etruscan); Lassi
  • Manifestation: Lares usually come in pairs, either in human form or as snakes.
  • Sacred animal: Dog; Snake
  • Origin: Italy
  • Feast: Dec 23, The Larentalia

Lares are guardian spirits. Lares is plural but that’s fitting because they virtually always manifest in pairs. The singular is Lar. They are found inside the home, on the property they protect and also at crossroads. They make their home with the family they protect, usually dwelling by the hearth or beside the chimney.

The Lares themselves are usually depicted as dancing youths, with a horn cup in one hand and a bowl in the other. As progenitors of the family, they were accompanied by symbolic phallic serpents.

There were many different types of guardians. The most important are the Lares Familiares (guardians of the family), Lares Domestici (guardians of the house), Lares Patrii (guardians of the fathers) and Lares Privati (personal guardians). Other guardians were the Lares Permarini (guardians of the sea), Lares Rurales (guardians of the land), Lares Compitales (guardians of crossroads), Lares Viales (guardians of travelers) and Lares Praestitis (guardians of the state).

The Lar Familiaris protected all household members, free or slave, and was associated with a particular place, thus did not accompany a family who moved. Tradition holds that a family’s Lar would generously help those who honored him by devotionals and sacrifices. But the Lar would turn his back to those who would not offer him thanks or neglected him.

roman-larariumPresumed to be sons of Mercury and Lara, Lares are beneficent and friendly spirits, and deeply venerated by ancient Romans. In every house there was at least one little statue, and through these small statues, the Lare was presumed to take part in all that happened inside the house. Often a statue was put on the table during the meals, and other small statues were often placed in the higher places of the house, far from the floor, or even on the roof.

The Lares were worshiped in small sanctuaries or shrines, called Lararium, which could be found in every Roman house. They were placed in the atrium (the main room) or in the peristylium (a small open court) of the house. Here people sacrificed food to the Lares on holidays.

Care and attendance to domestic Lares could include offerings of spelt wheat and grain-garlands, honey cakes and honeycombs, grapes and first fruits, wine and incense. They could be served at any time and not always by intention: as well as the formal offerings that seem to have been their due, any food that fell to the floor during house banquets was theirs. On important occasions, wealthier households may have offered their own Lares a pig.

A household’s lararium, a shrine to the Lares Familiaris, usually stood near the hearth or in a corner of the atrium. A lararium often had the appearance of a cupboard or a niche containing a small statue, a niche painted on a wall, or a small freestanding shrine. Sometimes the Genius of the head of the household, pictured as a bearded or crested snake, or as a man with the fold of his toga covering his head, is depicted with the Lar.

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Iconography: Lares are usually depicted as two young men with a watch dog; if depicted in serpentine form, then they may be crowned.

The Lares Compitales, the guardian spirits who protected local neighborhoods were housed in the crossroad shrines which served as a focus for the religious, social and political life of their local, overwhelmingly plebeian communities. Shrines were erected at crossroads. These shrines were usually open in all directions so that the Lares could travel as needed.

More about the Lares Compitales and their festival and feast days can be found here:

 

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