A “dark moon” describes the moon during that time when it is invisible against the backdrop of the sun in the sky. The duration of a dark moon is between 1.5 and 3.5 days depending on the orientation of the earth and sun. In astronomical usage, the New Moon occurs in the middle of this period when the moon and sun are in conjunction. This definition has entered popular usage so that calendars will typically indicate the date of the “new moon” rather than the “dark moon”.
As Goddess of the Crossroads, Witchcraft and Sorcery, Hekate was depicted as walking the night while her celebrants prepared suppers (Deipnon) named in Her honour on a lunar cycle. Hekate is associated with death, the underworld and rebirth and therefore affiliated with spirits and darkness. Some say the last day of the month is dedicated to Hekate, others the 29th, this would all depend on which calendar one wishes to work from. In actuality it is on the Dark Moon.
For divination on the Dark Moon, the Greeks used an instrument called ‘Hecate’s Circle’, a golden sphere with a sapphire hidden inside it. The Athenian Greeks honoured Hekate during the Deipnon. In Greek, deipnon means the evening meal, usually the largest meal of the day. Hekate’s Deipnon is, at its most basic, a meal served to Hekate and the restless dead once a lunar month on the night when there is no visible moon, the Dark Moon.
The Deipnon is always followed the next day by the Noumenia when the first sliver of moon is visible, and then the Agathos Daimon the day after that. The main purpose of the Deipnon was to honor Hekate and to placate the souls in her wake who “longed for vengeance.” A secondary purpose was to purify the household and to atone for bad deeds a household member may have committed which offended Hekate causing Her to withhold Her favor from them. The Deipnon consists of three main parts: the meal that was set out at a crossroads, usually in a shrine outside the entryway to the home, an expiation sacrifice and the purification of the household.
The Deipnon (Hene kai Nea) or Hekate’s Deipnon and is the traditional time to end the old month and prepare for the new one, hence New Moon. In Ancient Greece, traditional foods for the Deipnon or Hekate’s Supper was made up of leek, egg, cakes, fish, onions and garlic and set out at the outside shrine to Hekate or placed at a crossroads as an offering to Her as Hekate Trioditis, Goddess of Crossroads.
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