Worshiping Hekate and Artemis

I really think that this topic is being driven by two things. One, is the book I am reading “Hekate in Ancient Greek Religion” by Robert Von Rudloff. The other, is that I have recently joined a group conversation-orientated on Hekate. Regardless, I do get the impression from time to time, which I particularly see from Hekate devotees though admittedly rarely from Artemis followers, that sometimes there is some tension for worshipers when it comes to the closely related functions of these goddesses, almost to the point that I get the feeling that there is some dismissal for the other goddess. Even in reading the book that I am reading I have found myself often puzzled by an almost anti-Artemis stance the book takes…as if when not dismissing her it is barely begrudging the fact that she has these historical ties and localized cult associations. Many times I got the impression that the author was trying too hard, and rather unsuccessfully to make a case in favor of Hekate over Artemis. And I see this among conversations that spring up too how Hekate is goddess of this and this and this and is this and this and this almost in a conclusive manner. I rather get the impression, and maybe I am just being sensitive, that there are people who would rather just forget that Artemis exists or the fact that she DOES share a great number of functions and honors as Hekate. And it really isn’t a matter of a goddess stealing from another goddess, though thankfully I haven’t come across people saying that so I am not liable to blow a gasket…because come on, really, both of these goddesses have a very long history prominant in their myths and worship. I don’t see where anyone could possibly show proof that Artemis stole any part of Hekate’s worship or honors or function because the things she is honored for are the oldest traditions.

Case in point…Kourotrophos. There in fact several goddesses which are called this, including Hekate and Artemis both, and yet it once again it is treated as an either/or situation. As if there has to be a “the” Kourotrophos when there are clearly others. The Hellenic gods are not so cookie cutter. It is one of the reasons that I dislike New-Age books that make classifications of the gods because it tries to sum a god up in just a few short titles, and often titles that they share on some level with other gods. In fact, the intersecting of gods is quite common. And, in the case of Artemis and Hekate, they intersect at a great many points, but this doesn’t have to be an either/or issue or even a problem. We can celebrate their commonalities and diversities without ignoring one goddess in favor of the other, or attempting to disassociate the history of one goddess in favor of the other. It shouldn’t matter that Artemis holds so many equal positions and titles with Hekate, nor that they share common bonds at Eleusis. There are ways that we can celebrate the powerful place of both goddesses, cousins no less (a relationship that forms a kind of triumvate descendency from Koios and Phoebe between them when including Apollon into the mix).

For instance, in the Eleusinian we can honor Artemis, the goddess who chases after the chariot of Hades in the abduction of Persephone, just as we can honor Hekate who hears the cries of Persephone and who becomes the companion of Persephone leading her up from the underworld. We can honor Artemis and Hekate of the portal at doorways and entrances. We can honor them together as Kourotrophoi during the festival Kourotrophos. This does not lessen their roles that they play in the areas they oversect, nor does it hamper their individualism in their more individual appearances where they divurge whether it be Hekate’s crossroads or Artemis’ woodlands for example. There is room for both goddesses, and acknowlding the history of one does not discredit the other. History should not be thrown away because it is a convenience to one’s ideas after all. I see that too much in the whole “Her-story” movement in feministic pagans in which much history is casually disregarded in favor of an unfounded pre-patriarchal version of the gods.

In the end my opinion is that reducing Artemis does not give more honor to Hekate, nor does ignoring Hekate give any honor to Artemis. They are deeply related goddesses who likely celebrate each other (as I take in consideration from the vase in which Hekate leads forth in front of the chariot of Artemis that they are not disassociated goddesses). They are goddess that nurture the young rearing it into maturity, and Artemis then takes the form of the pursuing goddess who hunts her prey to its death at which point she leaves off, and then we see Hekate again as an administar of the next world. So there is room for both of them, and such room should be maintained in our worship practices. In my opinon anyway.

This is why I honor four gods at the entrance of my home. I honor Apollon and Hermes of the gates and boundaries, and I honor Hekate and Artemis of the portal. And really when you think of it this makes a nicely balanced set with a fine pairing in which you have the divine twins, and Hekate with Hermes with whom she has been noted in myth enjoying the company of. When it gets right down to it, these two fearsome but kindly nurturing goddesses are the goddess that would give their grace and protection to our homes.


4 thoughts on “Worshiping Hekate and Artemis

  1. What you here describe these people doing, favoring one of these great Goddesses over the other or even downright dismissing the other, is blasphemy pure and simple. I know using a word like that is controversial in “pagan” circles, but I find it very fitting because the original Hellenic meaning was “to speak ill of, to defame”, which is exactly what such people are doing. Both of the Goddesses are Great and worthy of our reverence, respect, honor, and worship, and just because they share a lot of common domains and influences, is no reason to try and cut those ties into an either/or” scenario. These Goddesses ARE intricately connected, and should not – or rather can not – be disconnected by some ill-considered mortal opinions or preferences. Both are important and worthy of worship, to deny any of them the many domains she influences is defamation, and the belief that it can be done and is desirable is utter húbris and will surely invoke the wrath of the defamed Goddess, and of the favored Goddess as well. These people should remember the story of Hippólutos.

    • Granted most of what I said it based on impressions (since as I said thank goodness I haven’t actually seen anyone making dispersions or else I might have come a bit more unglued in my post hehe). But that aside, you are completely right about defaming goddesses..it is not a wise course to attend. And personally if goddesses are THAT connected to each other and share that many commonalities…certainly there must be a reason and so I prefer to honor them together in most cases when it is appropriate to do so.

  2. I’ve spoken to a number of (typically college educated) people, who have taken some history courses and then decide that they know every nuance of belief the Ancient and Classical Greeks espoused — and insist, of course, that they uniformly believed that the gods were just human understanding of natural phenomena. Which drives me up the wall with its complete dismissal of sophisticated (and varied!) expression and contemplation of the world, its place in the universe, and the nature of spirits and gods. I suspect that this treatment of the gods lead to the pigeon-holing we see within the New Age spheres. The plug and play. The taking out of historical context and dismissing a rich and varied (have I mentioned varied?) texture that comes with. No, I don’t worship Poseidon in a completely reconstructionist way, yes my personal relationship with Him has resulted in some unorthodox connections, no I don’t care if people agree or disagree, nor do I think we’re stuck in the past. However, I know enough of His historical significance that I’m able to honor it. Which is what I think people ought to have, at the very least.

    I love learning about overlapping areas with gods and goddesses, and the closer the better. It may hurt my head from time to time, but that’s generally fun, and I love the glimpses into humanity such overlap can give us. The desire to render one the True One and others copiers or thieves has got to be the influences of a monotheistic approach that’s more or less taken for granted and trained into us, don’t you think? Not that it’s done on purpose, but it seems to be at the route of, “There can only be one X,” to me.

    • Really I think that the Jungian archtype has a lot to do with this tidy compartmentalization of the gods. The problem with this is that the gods can’t really be compartmentalized, at least not effectively. Whenever someone tries to do so there are these roadblocks to which you can say well “what about this?” The gods are complex and possessing rich mythologies, attributes and inter-relationships. In fact the inter-relationships are quite fun I agree!
      For example, I personally get a kick out of the interrelationship between Apollon and Poseidon in some areas pertaining to the sea wherein you have the god who rules over all the seas, and the other being associated with dolphins as a guide of vessels and harbors (long way of saying journey on the sea) as well as storms at sea. All of those areas could easily be attributed to both gods though. So it is all fun fun fun 🙂 And hey it never hurts to have more deities to pray to for a given thing lol.

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