August 19, 2021

August - Hecatalia

Thanks to SJ Tucker for her wonderful song Hekate's Blues, which seemed like just the things to start this post with.

As part of trying to get the site rolling properly, we're going to start posting about the Calendae we held for the month, after the fact. August is Hekate's month in our modern calendar, and so for it we held our Hecatalia, a festival of Hekate. (In case you're curious, Hekate is the Greek spelling, and the one I habitually use, while Hecate is the Latin spelling. Hecatalia would be the Latin word for a festival of Hecate, so it gets the Latin spelling.)

Here's the explainer from our Calendae ritual this month:

August is the height and the depth of summer, the Dog Days, ruled over by the Dog Star, which is Hecate’s own. In both Greece and Rome, there were festivals associated with her: In Greece, there was a festival dedicated to her as Kourotrophos, the child-nurturer. This was the equivalent of a child’s nanny. A loving carer who was often the center of a young child’s world, even more so than their mother. In Rome, August 13 was the Nemoralia, the torchlit procession of women to that Lake Nemi which we discussed last month, which celebrated the Triple Diana who was syncretized with Hecate.

While, to me, all of August is Hecate’s time, in every month her special night is the new moon. When there is no moon in the sky, Hecate walks the world with her hounds. And, in a ritual that goes back to ancient Greece, on these nights, many of her devotees practice the Deipnon Hekataia, Hecate’s Supper. This ritual involves taking food and wine to a crossroads, which is sacred to Hecate, leaving it as offering for her, and then turning and leaving without looking back, which would anger the goddess. It’s a common idea that the offerings are as much for the Dead of Hecate’s train as they are for Hecate herself, but I prefer to make separate offerings to the Many Dead.

Hecate’s Supper can be anything, from the simplest and coarsest of foods, to a sumptuous feast, depending on the resources of the giver. What is important is not the quality or the quantity, but the offering itself.

Our ritual including a performance of the Orphic Hymn to Hekate. Here are the text and a translation of it:

Einodian Hekate klezo, trioditin, erannen
Ouranian chthonian te kai einolian, krokopeplon,
Tymbidian, psychais nekuon meta bakcheuousan,
Pepseian, phileremon, agallomenen elaphoisin,
Nykterian, skylakitin, amaimaketon basileian
Therobromon azoston, aprosmachon eidos echousan,
Tauropolon, pantos kosmou kleidouchon anassan,
Egemonen, nymphen, kourotrophon, ouresiphoitin,
Lissomenois kouren teletais osiaisi pareinai
Boukolo enmeneousanaei kechareoti thymo

Translation by Apostolos Athanassakis:
Lovely Hecate of the roads and crossroads I invoke;
In heaven, on earth, and in the sea, saffron-cloaked,
Tomb spirit, reveling in the souls of the dead,
Daughter of Perses, haunting deserted places, delighting in deer,
Nocturnal, dog-loving, monstrous queen,
Devouring wild beasts, ungirt, of repelling countenance.
You, herder of bulls, queen and mistress of the whole world,
Leader, nymph, mountain-roaming nurturer of youth, maiden,
I beseech you to come to these holy rites,
Ever with joyous heart and ever favoring the oxherd.

We made offerings to the Dead using my (Rebecca Lynn Scott's) own A Litany for the Many Dead (which you can contact me at hexdotink@gmail.com to get a free ebook of, or buy a hardcopy of from Amazon). We told ghost stories, secure in the knowledge that Hekate Kourotrophos kept us safe from ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night. We heard her words to us. We served her Supper.

And that was our August Calendae.

Next month, on September 1st, we'll be holding our next Calendae, during which we will celebrate the Ludi Romani, the Roman Games! This is a time for fun contests and silliness, since our last two rituals were kind of heavy and our October Calendae will be, too.

Also, if you scroll to the bottom of any page on this site now, you'll find our calendar, which will hopefully have the next W&D or Calendae on it.