Following further with domestic worship, I wanted to address further the roles of Hekate and Artemis in domestic worship. In my previous post, it can be noted, that among those gods that were listed as gods important to the domestic worship, Hekate, not Artemis, was mentioned. Yet I feel it would be a great error to assume that Hekate filled the functions of Artemis within the household or rather that she replaced her. At first glance it may seem as such since Artemis is a goddess of the portal just as Hekate is, but in the home it is Hekate specifically who dwells at the doorway of the home (the most immediate portal that we possess into our intimate space after passing the first portal between the world and our homes at the gate guarded by Hermes and Apollon. Of course as I have mentioned before that due to the structure of most modern homes it has rendered us without courtyard and gate so we end up with a gathering of all three deities at the front door usually. But it seems to me that this traditional format served a very important symbol. Hekate is at the door, at the most intimate portal because this is the door closest to us in our regular life and experience. In the case of a old style home with a courtyard, family life continued to different extents outside of the house within the courtyard but was typically of a different character of the more intimate life within. Symbolically this can represent the house as the self, and the courtyard as a buffer zone between the self and the outside world, and at the edge of this traditional buffer zone was Apollon and Hermes who master the greater entrance.
At this point you, my dear reader, are probably wonder how the heck Artemis has anything to do with this. On the outset it appears that Artemis herself is of the outter zone without any relation to the gate, courtyard or the inner home. This may be true in some ways as Artemis was often traditionally associated with the wild spaces, but Artemis is not absent from the household. We do know that she and Hera were part of the rituals of birth, and that the doorway of the house was decorated in her honor if a girl child was born within the house (just as a male child has a different decor in honor of Apollon). And we also know that upon returning from the wilds, from the hunt, offerings were delivered to Artemis upon the return as seems evident to any who have read Hippolytus who, upon returning home, carried with him garlands he had made in virgin meadows, in order to present them to Artemis upon his return (and spurning Aphrodite). Therefore we can see Artemis as a goddess who is distinctly moving through the outter most areas into the most intimate. I even strongly feel that this is somehow related to Proclus’ statements about Artemis being the goddess who gives forth the pure spring (or something of this nature…in my mind I consider it divine goodwill and pure energies) on the part of the high gods to mankind. She acts as a vessel of a kind of divine spring from what I understand. This seems to follow in this line that the goddess is encompassing that area between the Olympians and man. This is part of her function as goddess of the portal in addition to her placement in regards to death and birth which are portals between the living and souls of the dead.
The thing that is especially curious then is how Hekate and Artemis relate to each other. There are some pagans who believe that they are in reality the same goddess, either directly or, more popularly in neopaganism, as part of a maiden-mother-crone trinity that did not exist in ancient Hellas. This trinity is based off a kind of trinity that did exist which unified the domains of Artemis, Selene and Hekate, but there is nothing to suggest that even in such depictions that they were considered the same goddess, and Artemis and Hekate at very least were both depicted as youthful maidens. How it relates to moon worship is also often thought of Artemis is honored at the waxing moon, Selene at the full and Hekate in the waning or new moon, which is also a modern interpretation. Hekate was honored at the Deipnon during the dark of the moon, the boundary between the end of the old lunar month and the beginning of the new one. It is the passage through the unknown, the death and rebirth of another being. Artemis meanwhile has no known worship with the waxing moon, other than the convenient fact that the 6th and 7th of the lunar month.. both occuring within the first quarter of the moon…were sacred to her and her twin. Instead, the 16th of the lunar month, the fullmoon, was known to be sacred to her and she had an important fullmoon festival every spring.
Does this make Artemis a so-called fullmoon “mother goddess”. No particularly no. But Artemis is the nurse of youth, and images in which she gathering forth the eggs in her statue at Ephesos, her statue at Messilia in which she has a small child gathered to her chest etc, are less examples of Artemis as a mother, for she bears no young herself, but acting as a nurse to all living things. Artemis nurses them through their youth into the fullness of their adulthood. Therefore Artemis being honored at the fullmoon, the height of the month and full maturity of the moon, seems logical and reasonable in honoring Artemis as the nurse of all life and less as a “moon goddess” for which Selene is honored as the mother of the months and the passage of time via the lunar calendar.
So calendrically, with Artemis being honored more commonly on the fullmoon and Hekate at the dark of the moon it would seem that we have a polarity issue going on, except if we consider that Hekate at the dark of the moon is heralding the productive period of Artemis. Anymore I consider Hekate the handmaiden of Artemis, the herald of the goddess. And some of this was inspired by a fragmented vase that I once saw in an article in which Hekate was approaching Zeus with her torches outstretched, and just behind her a deer-drawn chariot of Artemis. This would also explain some of the confusion regarding Artemis and Hekate in places like Sicily and Eleusis in which they appear to share epithets and functions. Just before the temple of Demeter in Eleusis for example there is a great temple to Artemis of the Portal, the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon. One such myth that could shed some light on this is a version of the kidnapping of Persephone. Artemis had been playing near by and chased after Hades’ chariot as far as she could. This could be what some running goddess images typically associated to Hekate could be refering to in part. Hekate, meanwhile, heard the passing of Persephone and is depicted artistically in escorting the goddess back to Demeter and her company with the gods. Therefore it is reasonable to see Hekate, though a seperate goddess, intimately connected to the movement of Artemis, and though some myths attribute Hekate to teaching Artemis the art of hunting, Hekate herself is largely sedintary, dwelling in her zone in communication with Artemis. As such a kind of handmaiden, Hekate could then be seen as an extension of Artemis’s domain and influence serving very specific functions, especially when it comes to areas (like among the dead) into which Artemis doesn’t venture.
Therefore in the household worship they perform a kind of interrelated dance together, and would not be entirely inappropriate to have images of Artemis near the doorway with that of Hekate as a visible presence of Artemis. Such was not unheard of Rome for example from where there are remenants of images of the Ephesian Artemis that were installed outside the doorway (an interesting contrast really to Hekate’s place inside the doorway).
Some years ago I had an altar set up across from the front door (because really there was no room beside the door to fit it) on which I had images of Artemis (the Ephesian Artemis because this one was then as it is now one of my favorite depictions of the goddess) and another of Hekate. Of course back then in my early 20s being a bit more literally minded when giving libations I didn’t pour them into bowls but rather tipped a cup of wine at the mouths of the statues and when the wine dribbled down to the foot of the statue then it was enough that the statue had “drunk its fill” when the wine reach the foot. So if a person walked in that front door within an hour of the ritual (because I waited at least that long before cleaning up) I imagine it looked rather gruesome nevermind that it was only wine! And while such memories make me smile I would advocatea less gruesome presentation of Artemis and Hekate (as if Hekate didn’t already get enough bad press!) and use a bowl, or my preferred tool…an oil warmer to evaporate the wine.
Incidentally I still have one of the small statues of Artemis that once graced that shrine, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if reminants of wine could still be found in the folds of her clothes despite washings 🙂 The little smile on her lips is like a secretive smile since this was the very first statue of Artemis I bought, and she has really seen it all!