Moon River Lady by Paula Belle Flores
Ancient Greek Helmet on display in the Olympia Archaeological Museum, Peloponnese – Greece.
I call upon you,
Mother of all men,
You who have brought together the limbs of Meliouchos,
even Meliouchos himself,
Entrapper, Mistress of Corpses
Hermes, Hekate, [Hermes?], Hermekate,
I conjure you, the daimon that has been aroused in this place,
and you, the daimon of the cat that has been endowed with spirit;
Come to me this very day and from this very moment,
and perform for me the NN deed…
PGM III 45-52 (of the spell III 1-164), trans. Betz.
The combination of Hermes and Hekate as Hermekate, or
elsewise Hermekateleth, according to the footnotes in Betz.
This is the only occurrence of this name of which I am
We don’t know if this is a combination of Hermes with
Hekate, somehow become one. Or is this the name for a child-god born of the
two? Or perhaps, as my friend over at A Witch Alone at the Crossroads suggests,
this is a Herm associated with Hekate?
The spell in the PGM that invokes the name also invokes
Helios multiple times, and seems to also reference Sekhmet-Bastet (according to
Betz). It is a complicated process, beginning with drowning a cat while
speaking the first formula (not something I could ever do.) Overall the spell
is a perfect example of the merging of many different cultures that occurred in
late antiquity. After all, here we see scraps of Coptic, Greek, Kemetic
alongside many voces magicae. Seth-Typhon is invoked to his responsibility as
the guard of Re’s bark. Satis too is mentioned. The spell’s ultimate goal is to
make a chariot race go in the favor of the magus.
None of which enlightens us as to the nature or meaning of
Hermekate. Some practitioners have built on it nonetheless to envision
(encounter?) a god that bears traits of both masculinity and femininity. This
would be far from the only such being. The epithets near the name suggest
elements of both Hermes and Hekate.
I have not worked with this being, and don’t really feel
called to do so, but others are obviously drawn that way for whatever purpose.
We each walk individual paths, even when they briefly seem to be going along
the same way.
Hekate Ourania, “Hermekate,” in A Witch Alone at the Crossroads: http://awitchalone.com/crossroads/index.php?post/2015/12/05/Hermekate
P. Sufenas Virius Lupus. “Gender and Syncretism: Rarely the Twain Doth Meet?!?”
in Speaking of Syncretism on
Betz, Hans Dieter. The
Greek Magical Papyri in Transalation: including the Demotic Spells, 2nd ed. Chicago, 1992.
Lysippos. “Young Seated Hermes,” bronze, photo by Marie-Lan
Nguyen (2011), from the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Found in the
Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum. Via Wikicommons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Resting_Hermes_MAN_Napoli_Inv5625_n02.jpg
Francesco de’ Rossi. “Hecate (the Moon),” fresco in the
Palazzo Vecchio Museum, 1543-1545. Via wikicommons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Francesco_Salviati_-_Hecate_(the_Moon)_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
Let me share with you a lesson my father taught me: curses don’t have to be so exhausting.
Look I’m not a huge advocate of them in the first place, and I think that casualcurses has a lot of good ideas about it. More complicated things, or more harmful things are just unnecessary and cruel and often in a dark gray moral area for me. But little curses add up, and they’re effective, and they can really ruin someone’s day without draining you. Not just that, but you don’t even have to be the one to maintain the curse of provide the bulk of the energy. You can make them do it.
Take, for example, this one time I was at a concert. This girl was going off about poser witches while we were on line. She was wearing all black and a zillion necklaces with bones on them, and was trying to be really, really overt about her practice. Which is fine, but not really my jam. In the middle of her ranting my friend must have rolled her eyes, or maybe this girl was looking for a fight, but she went off on us about how we wouldn’t know the first thing about witchcraft. And my friend, being one of my friends and therefore physically incapable of keeping her mouth shut, snapped at her something to the effect of “and you’re a fucking bigot and not half the witch my friend here is”, which of course led to her trying to goad me into a pissing contest. Which wouldn’t have worked, because I didn’t really care, until she threatened to curse me with a pet death. I mean, shit. That’s a fucking fight. But ultimately I thought she was more fluff than substance and not really worth much, so I did what my father and his mother taught me to do: I made her curse herself. I stood very, very still, and raised my chin slightly and smirked at her as she turned away, and I said softly, but in a voice that would carry “so be it”. It was shitty, cheap theatrics, but I caught her attention just as she was walking away, and she tripped over her own feet and fell hard. I was lucky, she even drew blood on the pavement. And when she looked up, there I was, smiling at her.
Cut to two weeks later and she had tracked me down via facebook and photos from the concert and she begged me to take the curse off her. I hadn’t done shit, but every bad thing that had happened to her, she blamed me for. She had cursed herself, and her belief in me fueled that. I didn’t have to waste any energy on her at all. And lifting the curse took no energy either. I messaged her back that it would be gone by the next new moon, and sure enough, her belief that it would be lifted lifted it.
Its a bit shitty and cheap, but if you master it, its an excellent way to curse someone without having to exhaust yourself. Shit, it works just fine for Wiccans too, because you didn’t curse anyone, you just let it happen to them, and there’s no spiritual duty to rescue in that oath of yours. So that’s today’s lesson, children. Curse when appropriate, but remember that sometimes, vengeance is a dish best served in a fast food bag, quick and prepared entirely by someone else for your own enjoyment.
Lycophron, Strabo, Nonnus and the Suda each connected the
polis of Samothrake, and particularly Zerynthos, with Hekate. There were in that region
Mysteries dedicated to Hekate which included sacrificing dogs in a cavern
sacred to the Goddess of Liminal Spaces. In that location, we know that Hekate
was associated with the Kouretes or the Kabeiroi, and the rites were of a
distinctly raucous nature.
Simon Hornblower says that some of the references to Zerynthia in Lycophron is
actually Aphrodite instead. Aphrodite Zerynthia presides over fertility, and
was celebrated with maidens dancing and was hailed as some of the most holy
The masculine form of the epithet, Zerynthius, was given to Apollo in the same
region. This aspect of Apollo is associated with wolves, chasing and killing
them, as well as becoming one himself. His sanctuary seems to have been near
the Maritsa river. Ivan Marazov and Aleksandur Fol gives the epithet the
meaning of ‘beastial,’ or ‘rich in game.’
Unfortunately, little is known about what really happened in the rites
associated with the Samothrakian Mysteries, only that the initiates gained
benefits much like other groups. Initiates were said to gain benefits in the
afterlife. But the specifics beyond some vague suggestions of ekstasis and
Bakkhic characterizations, we know little enough.
And yet, I find myself drawn to this epithet. I am currently working on a
project focused on Aphrodite, in addition to my usual worship of Hekate, and I
was feeling particularly guilty about not spending all my usual energy on Hekate.
Shortly thereafter, a spot of research for Hekate pointed me off to a page
where there was a photo of two terracotta figures, the first of Aphrodite and
Eros astride a horse, and the other of Hekate with an equine aspect. It felt
rather meant to be, almost as an indication that the two were saying, “it’s alright.
We work well together.” And I found myself reminded of this epithet, which both
share, as well as this fragment of Sappho’s divine words:
golden-shining attendant of Aphrodite. (– fragment 23)
Bury, John Bagnell, et al. The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. 8, Cambridge, 1954.
Dimitar, Popov. Trakiia, vol. 11, In
aedibus Academiae Litterarum Bulgaricae, 1995.
Freeman, Edward Augustus. The History of
Sicily from the Earliest Times, Vol. 1, Clarendon, 1891.
Lehmann, Phyllis Williams, et al. The
Temenos: Text, Princeton, 1982.
Lycophron. Lykophron – Alexandra: Greek
Text, Translation, Commentary, and Introduction, trans. Simon Hornblower,
Marazov, Ivan and Aleksandur Fol. Ancient
Gold: the Wealth of the Thracians. Abrams, 1998.
Smith, William. A New Classical
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography Mythology and Geography, Partly Based
upon the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, Harper,
Theodossiev, Nikola. North-western Thrace
from the Fifth to the First Centuries BC, Archaeopress, 2000.
Hollar, Wenceslaus. “Apollo,” from The Greek Gods, 17th c. print, now in the Thomas Fisher
Rare Book Library, 17th c. via wikicommons:
Potuit, Felix. “Samothrace, Greece,” photo, 2008. Via wikicommons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samothrace_C%C3%B4te_Nord.jpg