A dagger is a fighting weapon with a very sharp point designed to, or capable of being used to thrust or stab. The design dates back to prehistory. Many ancient cultures used daggers and adorned them in ritual and ceremonial practices, a trend which continues to the present day in the form of the Wiccan athame (black handled ritual dagger). The artisans and blacksmiths of Iberia in what is now southern Spain and southwestern France produced various iron daggers and swords of high quality from the 5th to the 3rd century BCE, in ornamentation and patterns influenced by Greek, Punic (Carthaginian) and Phoenician culture.
Throughout history, there are many representations and images of works where Hekate holds a dagger. In the Argonautica Hekate is described with a blade to cut the “Caucasian herb”, and Medea cuts the throat of a ram in sacrifice to Hekate 20. In the Aeneid, there are used the same way:
“The Sibyl [performing the rites of necromankia at the oracle of the dead at Cumae]”.
“Calling aloud upon Hecate, powerful in heaven and hell. While other laid their knives to these victim’s throats, and caught the fresh warm blood in bowls, Aeneas sacrifices a black fleeced lamb to Nox (Night)”. 21
The dagger is a symbol of ritual power and more than likely the precursor of the modern day athame. Hekate’s knife represents her role as midwife in cutting the umbilical cord (possibly symbolized by the rope) as well as severing the link between the body and spirit at death. It is also noted that Hekate used a dagger for herbology or the harvesting of herbs for her potions, to which it is written she taught to Medea.
The dagger is related to the curved knife that cuts delusion and is a symbol of power and judgment.
20 Seaton, R.C. trans. 1912. Apollonius Rhodius Argonautica. Loeb Classical Library Volume 1, London: William Heinemann Ltd. Available from: http://www.theoi.com/Text/ApolloniusRhodius1.html
21 Fairclough, H. R. trans. 1916. Virgil, Aeneid Book 6. Cambridge, USA: Harvard University Press. Available from: http://www.theoi.com/Text/VirgilAeneid6.html.
The Symbols of the Goddess Hekate
- Black Lamb
- Dark Moon
- Flower of Fire
- Garland (or Wreath)
- Golden Sceptre
- Herald’s Wand
- Lapis Lazuli
- Moon (New Moon)
- Mullet (Fish)
- Sandals (Bronze or Gold)
- Torch & Twin Torches