Crescent

The crescent began to be associated with Hekate in the Roman Time Period and in Late            Antiquity as it appeared crowning Hekate’s head on statues and coins. The crescent moon and star were also popular symbols for Hekate in Byzantium (modern Istanbul). A legend tells that Hekate warned the people of the town against an attack by the Macedonians and after that the crescent moon and star were adopted as symbols of the city.

The crescent moon is also a symbol for the Noumenia, the first day of the lunar month when the first crescent is visible again the first time after the Deipnon/Dark Moon. This was an          important time in the ancient world connected to the household Gods and the family. Hekate was connected with this time of the month by different sources, for example Pausanius,          Porphyrios and a religious calendar from Erythai.

While Hekate was originally not a lunar Goddess, she may have acquired her connection to the moon through her fusions with Selene and Artemis and in the Chaldean Oracles, with the            Cosmic Soul with association and dominion over liminal spaces. Plutarch saw the moon as an intermediary and transmitter between the Sensible and Intelligible worlds, which was a function of the Cosmic Soul (psyche) for the Neoplatonists. The moon was seen as a place of spirits, souls and daimons and had a similar role to the realms of the Underworld. Hekate previously had significant chthonic attributes and symbolism attached to her and when the moon was seen as a resting place of spirits (like the underworld), it was logical that a goddess who was strongly associated to this theme became connected to the moon as well. The moon is also a symbol of the night and Hekate was connected to the night since the Classical Time Period 15.

In the Greek Magical Papyri Hekate is also connected to the moon and is fused with other lunar Goddesses such as Artemis and Selene. Porphyry describes Hekate in his work on idols as a         lunar Goddess:

“But, again, the moon is Hecate, the symbol of her varying phases and of her power dependent on the phases. Wherefore her power appears in  three forms, having as symbol of the new moon the figure in the white  robe and golden sandals, and torches lighted: the basket, which she  bears when she has mounted high, is the symbol of the cultivation of  the crops, which she makes to grow up according to the increase of her  light: and again the symbol of the full moon is the goddess of the brazen sandals. Or even from she branch of olive one might infer her fiery nature, and from the poppy her                productiveness, and the multitude of the souls who find an abode in her as in a city, for the poppy is an emblem of a city. She bears a bow, like Artemis, because of the  sharpness of the pangs of labour. And, again, the Fates are referred  to her powers, Clotho to the generative, and Lachesis to the  nutritive, and Atropos to the inexorable will of the deity. 

Also, the productive power of the corn and crops, which is Demeter, they associate with her, as the producing power in her. The moon is also a  supporter of Kore. They set Dionysus also beside her, both on account  of their growth of horns, and because of the region of clouds lying beneath the lower world.16

References:

15 Johnston, S. I. 1990. Hekate Soteira: A Study of Hekate’s Roles in the Chaldean Oracles and
Related Literature. USA: Scholar Press.

16 Gifford, E. H. trans. 1994-2009. Porphyry: On Images. Available at
http://classics.mit.edu/Porphyry/images.html

 

The Symbols of the Goddess Hekate
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