In honour of Her whom I serve.
It’s amazing what a question, some google time and a bit of logic can do for us.
My curiosity centered around Hekate’s Suppers, something that’s been mentioned repeatedly but casually around me (people, internet, etc.). So I went looking for specifics and this is what I found. Please note, this information is not properly cited and so I cannot guarantee the accuracy of any of the details, aside from those things that are simply my own experience and perception.
In case you don’t know, Hekate or Hecate is a Greek goddess of antiquity typically known as a Goddess of magic, crossroads, witches, etc. She is also a psychopomp.
There are two points I’d like to bring to you regarding these suppers, first on the timing of them, the second on the purpose.
Most references I have found to a ‘date’ for them is on the 29th or 30th of the month. However, this is not based upon our calendar! Something that I think most people forget. Using the old roman calendar (not the Julian calendar and not our modern Gregorian calendar, and boy, that was a fascinating little trip into wikipedia) led to an interesting realization. I did not look at the ancient greek calendar given that every city-state had their own calendar and most weren’t recorded. Besides, the early Roman calendar may well have been based upon a Greek lunar calendar.
Right, so the ancient roman calendar was largely based upon the moon cycles. The month would start on the day of the new moon, when the crescent was first visible. This would put the 29th or 30th of the month on the dark moon (1-2 days before the crescent would first appear). Their calendar system is complicated but the idea that the “date” for Hekate’s suppers is actually on the dark moon seems both logical and fitting for the Dark Goddess of the Crossroads.
Second, Hekate’s suppers, classically speaking, were offerings left at crossroads. It seems that part of the purpose of this may have been a round about way for the rich to feed the poor. The rich people would leave offerings to Hekate at street corners that the poor would take up. I don’t know, but it seems plausible, particularly when we remember that most offerings by the temples to the Gods would ultimately result in a feast that would feed the locals. Often it was the only time that poor people would get meat (this is from a class I took long ago).
CORRECTION: If you check out the comments, you will see a post from Dver explaining that while many offerings were of a nature to share with people, Hekate’s suppers do not fall in that group. The comments also give a link to their own post which includes an explanation of where this misconception comes from. Not that giving to the poor or the foodbank is bad, just that it doesn’t fit with offering to Hekate on the dark moon. Now back to the original post:
Experience says that it doesn’t make sense to take a whole plate of food to a crossroads. Instead, I would suggest two potential ways to honour Her through a supper. One is the offering of an egg at a crossroads (though if the animals don’t get to it, the smell could be most unfortunate), the other would be an offering of food to a homeless person who was at/near a crossroads. But as always, in the end it is your intention, will and passion that determines the purpose of what you do. There are, of course, a multitude of ways that She can be honoured through the use of food, offerings, and crossroads. It’s just a matter of personal choice.
Now taking this one step further, and from personal practice, Hekate’s Supper can also be an opportunity to sit down to a meal with her. Invite her to your table, or to a setting near a crossroads, and eat your meal knowing she is there with you. And yes, I don’t see why this couldn’t be done with any deity with a time and location suitable to their nature.
One of the wondrous things of being pagan is being able to bring the spiritual into any aspect of living. In this case, it’s bringing deity into our meal, rather than simply leaving something for them. Truly, we are blessed.
11 thoughts on “Hekate’s Suppers”
At this time of the month she was primarily honoured as the protector of boundaries and the Oikos (household) too.
The deipnon is a great time to clean your house both magically and mundanely and ask for her protection and blessing.
Very cool, particularly about the household, I did not know that.
I’ve donated food to a food bank in Hekate’s honor. I figured this was the best modern interpretation of the ritual to give food to those in need.
What a fabulous interpretation. I really like this.
Just found your blog via Witch of Forest Grove and wanted to say something here…. it’s a common misconception about the idea of the deipna being a roundabout way to feed the poor. That comes solely from a line in a comic play, where the author is ridiculing those who might steal food from the plates left for Hekate. It was NOT something that would have been encouraged or even accepted, as it would be considered very bad form to take food from a goddess such as Hekate (or any god, for that matter). Hekate’s suppers were NOT shared like many other Greek sacrifices, nor were they traditional “meals” but rather collections of mostly-food offerings. You were to leave them at the crossroads and then walk away, not looking behind you.
While the modern “interpretation” of giving food to food banks in Her honor is admirable, it should never replace the actual offering to Hekate, and personally I would shy away from naming it as such in case the recipient suffered any ill-effects from unknowingly partaking of a deipnon that should rightfully belong to Her. (Offerings to homeless would more appropriately belong to Hermes, or perhaps Zeus Xenios).
I believe a good, thorough overview of this, along with other related practices for Hekate on the dark moon (such as disposing of the house’s sweepings and sacrificial remnants) can be found in The Goddess Hekate by Stephen Ronan.
Hey, this actually inspired me to make a full post on my own blog about the subject, with more references, if you care to check it out:
Ah, another example of the limits of internet research. 🙂 Thank you for this, correcting misconceptions is the only way we can get (as a group) closer to a clearer reality.
Interestingly, after I posted this and while I really like the idea of having a pagan incentive/banner?/idealogy? for donating to the food bank, emotionally I wasn’t reconciling this with Her suppers. I also enjoyed your post and the explanation of where the misconception comes from. Thank you. 🙂
You’re welcome, and I’m glad it was helpful.
As I said, there is definitely a precedent for a Hellenic overlay on donating to the “less fortunate” but it probably belongs more to Hermes or Zeus than Hekate.
I dont understand, and also i am close to starving as i am a broke student so i dont know what to do to honor her?