When I’ve been drawn to celebrate a feast day for Hekate, I’ve always ended up doing several dishes; one of meat, one of vegetables, and a desert that always involves honey at some point. The last big feast I “shared” with her was succulent mutton, slow roast with garlic and herbs oozing from each morsel; a ratatouille made of huge chunks of Mediterranean vegetables alive with colour and bursting with flavour; crisp and fluffy potatoes roasted in olive oil and mustard, and a delicate cake with a honey sauce dripping all over it. This food seemed simple and balanced, yet indulgent, and fit for a queen, or indeed a goddess. It made me wonder what it is about these types of food, and some of these individual foods specifically, that makes them appropriate for Hekate?
Hekate has many different aspects and I think it is appropriate that therefore she has many different associations, including various foods. She is strongly associated with eggs but it’s hard to find where this actually originates. Selene (who is closely related to Hekate in imagery and her triple nature [“To You, wherefore they call You Hekate” pgm]), is strongly associated with the bull and imagery of the bull, and the ingredient for spells associated with her called “Bull’s Semen” is actually the egg of a particular type of beetle, showing the power associated with certain types of egg. The egg is pretty much universally a symbol for new beginnings, and also of sacrifice; a life that could have been, but has been given up or taken away. It also symbolises things hidden, perhaps forever, and therefore mysterious; you can crack the egg to find what is within, but then you have no egg, so is it better to live with the mystery, or get your answer at any cost? This highlights the magic of mystery and the power it has over us.
Garlic is another strong association and I thing a really useful one because you can cook with it; you can use it medically; you can grow it as part of a garden and you can use it as offerings on altars easily either as a whole bulb or individual cloves. Sometimes garlic used as offerings on altars will sprout but what I’ve tended to find is that it gets bizarrely preserved and even after being thrown out, doesn’t seem to rot, or grow, but remains static, as if fossilised. I like to think this is because the garlic-ness of it has been sucked out by the visiting goddess- what do you think? Presumably sprouting garlic is her leaving a gift.
Other foods that are commonly associated with Hekate are as follows:
Fruit with stones
Goat meat and mutton
Some of these foods are recorded as being involved with magical practices and some are recorded as being part of the “Suppers” left as offerings at crossroads or outside front doors in shrines. I’m sure that there are many more that could be added here, and it would be good to start an exhaustive list of foods people have found successful as offerings, and why. For example, blackberries from near my house end up being preserved and never rot when I put them on her altar. I think she appreciates the gesture of the effort gone into retrieving the fruit and the fact that it is seasonal and therefore a snapshot of the world right now. When I have participated in rites for Hekate we have almost always finished with a shared “floor banquet” of Greek style goodies including hummus, vine leaves, and olives; all subconsciously throwing our minds back: not to the birth place of Hekate, as that is debateable still, but to the lands where she was revered most at the previous height of her power as a titan and goddess. Perhaps as she becomes a part of our lives all around the world, we will find a whole new range of delicacies to her taste that we can record for the next generations of devotees.
Papyri Graecae Magicae- online excerpts, http://hermetic.com/pgm/
Atheneous of Naucratis. Deipnosophists Book 3 (regarding bread) and Book 7 (regarding red mullet, sprats) Translated by Charles Duke Young. 1854, H. G. Bohn.
Sanchez, Tara. The Temple of Hekate. 2011, Avalonia.
Rhodius, Appolonius. The Argonautica. Translated by R.C. Seaton. 1912, Loeb Classical Library.
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