In the earliest writings where Hekate appears, Hesiod’s Theogony, we see goats mentioned in relation to Hekate 41.
“She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if she will, she increases from a few, or makes many to be less. So, then albeit her mother’s only child, she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Cronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Dawn. So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young, and these are her honours.” (ll. 404-452)
In the Greek Magical Papyri (42), the offerings of virgin goats are mentioned in many of the spells as offerings to the goddess, such as the “Slander Spell to Selene” PGM IV. 2622-2707. The charm that accompanies this spell is directed to be a breathing magnet engraved with the image of Hekate. Within the charm itself and in the recommended coercive offering it states:
“… on the third day, also make an offering: it is a field mouse, fat of a virgin dappled goat, magic material of a dog-faced baboon, egg of an ibis, river crab, a perfect moon beetle, single-stemmed wormwood picked at sunrise, magic material of a dog, / a single clove of garlic. Blend with vinegar. Make pills and stamp with a completely iron ring, completely tempered, with a Hekate and the name BARZOU PHERBA.”
The mention of virgin goat fat is also found in connection with Hekate (PGM IV. 2708- 84) 42. In PGM 2785-2890, there is another love spell of attraction in the Prayer to Selene for any spell 42. Here the offering for the rite includes a goat, as well as a dog. The protective charm the wearer is instructed to create also requires a lodestone carved with Hekate’s image. The three-formed Hekate should be that of a maiden in the center, the left face of a dog and the right face of a goat.
In PGM VII. 756-94, the double-horned goddess, Mene, is named in this prayer. Here Mene is a name connected to Selene and Hekate. In the list of offerings, a female and a male goat appears.
41 Evelyn White, H.G. trans. 1914. The Theogony of Hesiod. From: Hare, J.B. 1999. Internet Sacred Text Archive. Available from: http://www.sacred texts.com/cla/hesiod/theogony.htm Accessed: 2 July 2010
42 Betz, H-D, ed. 1996. The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
The Symbols of the Goddess Hekate