PGM Initiation Ritual (Hekate Liminal Rites)

This is an extract from the book Hekate Liminal Rites by the authors Sorita d’Este and David Rankine, published by Avalonia in 2009. Reproduced here with kind permission.

PGM – “Papyri Graecae Magicae” , otherwise known as the Greek Magical Papyri.

An intriguing reference in one of the Greek Magical Papyri from the third or fourth century CE may hint at the survival of an initiation ritual connected with Hekate. The subterranean setting is appropriate, as may be seen from initiation ceremonies from other mysteries such as Eleusis:

“‘Askei Kataskei Erōn Oreōn Iōr Mega Samnyēr Baui (3 times) Phobantia Semnē, I have been initiated, and I went down into the [underground] chamber of the Dactyls, and I saw the other things down below, virgin, bitch, and all the rest.’  … and if you are led away to death, say it while scattering seeds of sesame, and it will save you.”[1]

The combination of the first two words of the Ephesian Letters (Askei Kataskei) with the reference to seeing “things down below, virgin, bitch” clearly hinted at Hekate’s involvement in the process. Hekate would be the virgin, and the bitch would be the black dog which accompanies her.

[1] PGM LXX.4-25, trans. H.D. Betz.


Further reading:
Hekate Liminal Rites, Sorita d’Este & David Rankine (Avalonia, 2009)
Hekate Her Sacred Fires, various contributors, edited by Sorita d’Este (Avalonia, 2010