Hecate, Archetype of Psychic Intuition in Mature Women
Maiden, Mother, Crone
Hecate at the Fork in the Road
Hecate is the Goddess who can see the past, present and future all at once. Her special wisdom knows where you are coming from, and where those two daunting paths ahead may take you.
You know this archetype as you pay attention to your dreams or unusual happenings, draw upon your knowledge of the past, and then let your intuition decide which way to go when you reach a crossroads in life.
When you can link patterns from past relationships and situations, and see how they are affecting the present circumstances you find yourself in, using intuition can be a great aid. Hecate’s wisdom is born from experience, and helps us learn lessons from them as we grow older, and hopefully, wiser.
Sometimes an event happens in life that is so serious we know without a doubt that things will never be the same again. You cannot continue onward as before, but you do not really know how to proceed.
You could let your emotions take over and carry you onto a course of action without much thought or consideration. But a more mature person realizes that their actions may affect other people for whom they are responsible.
It is time to just stop right there, before acting, because what you do at a crossroads really matters. You must call on your inner Hecate to help you see the bigger picture, and stay at the crossroads until you are really feeling clear about the right path to take.
There are also times where you may find yourself at a significant fork in the road because your psyche, or inner self, is nagging at you that it is time to make some changes. Maybe you are at a point where whatever you are doing does not interest or fulfill you anymore.
Hecate is the Goddess at the threshold of all major transitions. She is there to help when there is a birth, whether of a life or a creative activity. She is there when a person needs to change outmoded attitudes, roles or friends who have been outgrown.
It is time to draw upon those inner reserves or inner Hecate when the activities we are undertaking in our lives are no longer life-affirming. These are changes called metaphorical deaths, when a person may make so many changes they seem to be reinventing themselves. Sometimes they must, in order to be happy in life.
Demeter Searches for Persephone
In Greek mythology, there once was a maiden named Persephone, who was gathering flowers in a meadow. As she reached for a large, pretty one, the earth opened up, and Hades, the Lord of the Underworld emerged and abducted her.
Her mother, Demeter, searched the world over, but could not find her. Finally, grief-stricken and defeated, Demeter returned to the meadow. She found Hecate waiting there for her. Hecate suggested that they seek information from the sun, who tells Demeter that Persephone was in fact abducted by Hades, with Zeus’s permission.
Finally Persephone returns from the Underworld and is reunited with her mother. Hecate greets them and says, “From this day on, I will precede and follow Persephone.” Now, it would be impossible for Hecate to both precede and follow Persephone at the same time. This suggests that Persephone would be accompanied by a spirit or consciousness that she acquired upon returning from the Underworld.
I have told you this myth for a reason, because it applies to everyone. We all have times where we are like Persephone, innocently gathering flowers, and then something unexpected happens. Our security is shattered by something completely unexpected, or someone we love has betrayed us.
Maybe someone close to us has died, or has a terrible illness. If we are plunged into a world of darkness and hopelessness, depression or despair, we too are held captive in the Underworld, wondering if we will ever be happy again.
If you return from your descents into the Underworld, you learned that both love and suffering are parts of life. You have grown in depth and wisdom, by making it through the hard times. Wise Hecate has become your companion, perhaps in the form of friends in support groups, who gain a positive perspective by listening, witnessing, and caring for each other.
Hecate consoled Demeter in her grief, just as friends or loved ones tend to do. But she also did something else of immense value. Her advice was to seek the truth .
People tend to think that sometimes they simply cannot face the truth. So they distance themselves by rationalizing, denial, or drinking and drugging to numb themselves to it. Only when a woman has learned she has the courage to face the truth and reality, no matter how bad it is, she becomes a Wise Woman like Hecate.
Your own inner self-helper is another name for Hecate. You may not develop this skill until some traumatic experience in your life calls this power forth.
Hecate is the psychic at home in the time of day known as twilight, because she goes back and forth between the visible and spiritual worlds. She may be a clairvoyant who sees with her third eye, or through visions. She may understand how to interpret dreams. She lives in a cave, the entrance to the Underworld, a passageway between the world of the living and the world of the spirits.
In Greek mythology, afterlife existed in the Underworld, where the spirits were transparent and recognizable. The Underworld is also what we call the collective unconscious.
Mediums can receive information from their own unconscious or the psyche of the one making the inquiry of the spirit world. Since psychic abilities, mediumistic gifts, and dream interpretation are all non rational ways of knowing or perceiving things, they are often discounted, ridiculed or feared, so people do not try to develop them while they are young.
As women grow older, they have had more opportunities to learn from experience and to trust and pay attention to what comes to them through psychic or intuitive perceptions.
Hecate, the Triple Goddess
The Third Stage of Womanhood
As women enter menopause, they experience sleep disturbances and introspective times of solitude, where “the veils between the worlds” become thinner. You are aware that you are entering the last third of your life, which ends in death.
So with this major shift in direction, questions about the afterlife become much more important. When parents and friends are dying, they may tell you that they are sensing the presence of those long ago deceased. Or, after they have passed on, you may feel their presence yourself, or have a “visitation” in a particularly meaningful dream.
Normally they just want to assure you that they are alright, and that they love you. This occurrence is completely normal, and you will awaken feeling much reassured about the person in question. You have entered Hecate’s realm in between both worlds. Plus now you are ready to “come out of the psychic closet.”
My love of 39 years passed on suddenly four years ago, and I was able to feel his presence very strongly at first. Now I dream about him, and can hear his voice very clearly then. We always believed we had been lovers before, so I believe we will meet again in the afterlife.
Some people are able to use their psychic abilities in their work. This is true of doctors who have diagnostic and healing talents that go beyond the norm. Their reputations would suffer if some people knew about this.
But some can actually be aware they have healing ability in their hands, or perceive energy fields around organs, or have telepathic connections with their patients. When this gets noticed, the gifted person will probably just say it was “professional intuition”, which is true in a way. I know that the chiropractor I see has these abilities, as he has helped me in so many ways for thirty years, although we have never spoken of this, except for my comments about his “magic fingers.”
Hecate is known as both a Midwife and a Witch. As you know, midwives stay with pregnant women throughout their stages of labor. They are reassuring, calming presences who reduce fear and pain as the woman gives birth. Midwives were the first to be killed during the Inquisition because they eased the pains of childbirth.
It may be recalled that God’s punishment for Eve’s transgression in the Garden was to curse her and all women, making sure they all suffered to give birth to children. Also, they would be dominated by their husbands, and feel a need for them, but did not deserve respectful treatment from them.
For a midwife to ease labor was a sin against a mean spirited God. Women feared pregnancy so much it actually led to desperate ways to try to avoid it or abort an unexpected one. Yet Woman is still the one who bears all this blame, when she suffers so to bring life into the world, and to nurture it as it grows.
This writer has issues with how anyone can worship a cruel and punishing God who clearly hates women, or respect politicians who make decisions about how a woman must bear a child, yet put through no legislation to help her provide for said child once it is born. These, however, are issues for another time.
Midwifery is an earthly calling, which necessitates an ability to rely on instinct and to have a discerning eye about physical transitions. An ability to see the divine in nature and to assist those in need is a sacred calling.
But there are also times when this transition is an actual physical death and a woman must help ease the natural passage of a soul as it leaves the body. Some “midwives of the Soul” may work in hospices, assisting dying people with calming attention so that they feel less pain and fear. Now they are called "death doulas."
Just as there are stages of pregnancy that signal the onset of labor, many women instinctively know what to do the first time they are with a dying person. This writer knows several people who volunteer in hospices and try to help others pass to the other side more easily.
When the Soul leaves the body of a person who is ready to die, this is a sacred moment to be shared by those present. You can do what you must because your inner Hecate is there to help you. She is always there at any threshold where a person needs to look at life and death from a new perspective, whenever we need to find new aspects of ourselves, or need to discover new strengths that were not apparent before.
Of Witches and Midwives
Hecate became known as a Witch because of her unusual powers and association with twilight. It appears that older women were irrationally feared because men suppressed the triple Goddess, whose Crone phase is the most mysterious and awesome.
Of course, the more feared they were, the more they were persecuted. Midwives, practitioners of herbal medicines, and those whose power just came from observations of nature were denounced and tortured. These women were called “stick riders” because in Rome the broomstick was used to sweep the threshold of a house after the birth of a child to rid it of evil spirits.
Old wedding customs included the newly married couple jumping over a broomstick, a ritual that was used in gypsy weddings and unsanctioned weddings of slaves in 19th century America. The persecuted ones were normally women who had authority, independence, knowledge, or else eccentric, powerless and demented women. Any woman of Crone age was at risk.
To survive, older women tried to stay unnoticed and invisible. Sadly, some of these women had money or property that men wanted, and the whole “witchcraft” era was a land and money grab for which the women paid with their lives. The motivation for making witch accusations was greed, and today the inquisitors’ fears would be diagnosed as pathological.
Many country women burned as witches were nominally Christian, but if they observed summer and winter solstices, or spring and fall equinoxes, or planted according to the phases of the moon, their knowledge exceeded that of the learned churchmen. The only “wrong” was to have more information about the cycles of the seasons and herbal remedies to heal people, because this came from the old religion of the Goddess. The accusation of being a Witch is still unofficially used against women who challenge church authority, though men would not admit to this in public.
When you tell the truth to someone, or ask for the truth, this can shake a premise, and become a fork in the road. Hecate is the Greek Goddess of Mythology and inner wisdom that prepares you to hear it. Or remember, “silence is consent”, and you may be alone at a moment of truth where you are the one required to speak out against whatever is happening. Do not be afraid. But if you allow a wrong to be committed to someone else and stand idly by without trying to stop it, you are just as guilty as those committing the crime.
Regardless of the effect you have, important moments of truth are soul shaping, and you should not avoid them. Do not forget that when Persephone came back from the Underworld, Hecate accompanied her for the rest of her life. This is true for us as well. This wisdom is found in our own life experiences, from having lived long. Hecate is with us, to help us remember we have the inner strength to face whatever we must.
Bolen, Jean Shinoda, M.D. 2001 Goddesses In Older Women Archetypes In Women Over Fifty Publisher Harper Collins New York Part 1 Goddess of Intuitive and Psychic Wisdom Hecate at the Fork in the Road pgs. 46-60.
Monaghan,Patricia 2011 The Goddess Path Publisher Llewellyn Worldwide U.S. Images of the Goddess The Crone Goddess pg. 23
Jung, Carl G. 1964 Man And His Symbols Publisher Dell Publishing New York Ancient Myths and Modern Man pgs. 95-156
© 2011 Jean Bakula