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 Eron Oreon Ior Mega Samnyer Baui (3 times) Phobantia Semne, 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” PGM LXX. 4-25 in reference 75.

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 76.


75 Betz, H-D, ed. 1996. The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

76 d’Este, S. and Rankine, D. 2009. Hekate: Liminal Rites. London: Avalonia.

Also see: Ephesian Letters

The Symbols of the Goddess Hekate
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