Yes this weekend is ALL about Witches. Aug. 13-15 to be exact. Those Goddesses of Witches, are Diana and Hecate!
Diana: Goddess of the Wildwood, Lady of beasts, Moon Goddess, the Goddess of all Witches.
Oak groves were especially sacred to her as were deer. In Rome her main place of worship was the Aventine Temple. There was also a sacred grove of trees on the banks of Lake Nemi..
She was worshiped at a festival on August 13 called Nemoralia, the Festival of Torches during which worshipers of Diana would form a procession of torches and candles around the dark waters of the sacred Lacus Nemorensis, or forest-buried lake, near Aricia, referred to as Diana’s Mirror.
The ancient Greek city of Ephesus was another center for the worship of Diana. The goddess had a magnificent temple there that took 220 years to construct and was regarded as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The name “Diana” is also known as “Lucina”, or “Light Bringer”, and conversely, she is also considered the “Night Goddess”. A “Society of Diana” existed in Italy, where women met mostly during the night to work spells and worship her with ritual and celebration.
Goddess Diana is honored when you love Her animals and Her land. Leave food for Her creatures. Take the time to clean a yard. Go into the woods and send healing energy to the Earth. Each time you honor the Earth and its creatures, you are honoring Diana.
She is the Huntress of the forest seeking means of survival. She is the call of the wild, the beating heart of the forests, the animal spirit within, urging us to remember our origins. She awakens nature within us that we remember to feel the rustling wind through our hair, to hear the howling of a wolf or the echo of a voice in the forest. Goddess Diana calls to us to let our animal essence out and hone our inherent sensibilities. Dance and sing to the moon, run until our heart pounds to the top of a hill.
Caress me when the moon waxes and wanes.
I am Diana
In fact, Diana is mentioned by name in the Bible.
Yet, the miracles of Diana could not be quashed by the monotheistic faiths. More specifically, the Roman Catholic Church. Her worship was merely driven underground. She would not remain underground, however. In 1899, Charles G Leland wrote Aradia, The Gospel of the Witches. This highly controversial book allegedly comes from an Italian witch known only as Magdalena. It recounts the story of Diana, and tells how She is the mother of all Witches.
“Whenever ye have need of anything, Once in the month, and when the moon is full, Ye shall assemble in some desert place, Or in a forest all together join To adore the potent spirit of your queen, My mother, great Diana.” Aradia, Gospel of the Witches
Protectress of Her daughters,
Infuse my spirit
With purpose and valor.
As I will it,
So mote it be!
As goddess of the moon, she had a changeable, unpredictable nature. As goddess of the dark world of the dead, she was unforgiving and bloodthirsty.
Celebrated August 13 at moonrise by torchlight, the Festival of Hecate
Honoring Hecate as Goddess of magick, Protectress of Witches, personification of the Moon (often combined with Diana and Persephone), and representative of the dark side of femininity.
Hecate: Greek Goddess of Witches who was worshiped at the dark of the moon at places where three roads meet. She has been said to be able to look in three directions at once because she had three heads: serpent, horse, and dog.
She is a Goddess of the Moon, of the Underworld, and of Magick. She is also considered the protectress of flocks, sailors and of course, witches. Hecate is the protectress of far-away places, roads, and byways. She is considered the Goddess of The Crossroads,the night, moon, ghosts and necromancy.
I am the dark Goddess, I am Hecate
I am the Darkness behind and Beneath the Shadows
I am the absence of air that waits at the bottom of every breath
I am the Ending before Life begins again.
Maiden, Mother, Crone…I am all these and more.
As the Mother of Magic she has the power to transform, anything she touches, is changed and she shares this ability with those who honour her, teaching us how to create a world to fulfill our visions.
The Gate between the worlds you guard by rights,
Midwife and Queen, be present to our rites;
Propitious, grant our just desires’ success,
Accept our homage; this, our magick, bless.
CMC Green in Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia offers this plausible explanation: “The identification of Diana with Hecate (a Greek name) has been made unnecessarily complicated. Diana the Huntress was identified with the moon, as Apollo was with the sun. As the moon grows dark once a month it is inevitable that a moon-goddess will have some part of her identity located in the underworld. Hecate is simply the Greek name for that part of her identity.”
In Ancient Greece, altars to Hecate were often placed at crossroads, and people who were traveling at night would often leave offerings at crossroads for safe passage in return.
In our modern time, she is known as the goddess of change, witchcraft, magic, life, death, crossroads, and psychic abilities. She is also associated with truth, the dark moon, and fertility. Hecate is known as one of the dark goddesses who rule over what we perceive as the darker elements of life such as magic, rebirth, death, spirits, ghosts, and the Underworld.
Small household shrines were erected to Hekate to ward of the harmful influences of witchcraft and the power of the evil eye.
She is the medieval Mistress of Magic and Goddess of Witches, a crone traveling through the night with her entourage of black dogs and spirits. In this she is nothing less than the leader of the Wild Hunt.
In Greece, the Festival of Hecate was celebrated at moonrise on August 13 by torchlight and was intended to avert powerful tempests that could have potentially devastated the coming crops.
These Goddesses, Diana of the Wildwood and Hecate, Dark Mother of the Moon are with us now, and can be called upon for strength as well as inspiration.
One thought on “The Witch’s Goddesses”
I’d like to add a couple more: Holle, called “the witch Holda” in the Corrector Sive Medicus a thousands years ago, and other spinning goddesses like Perchta, Laima, and Andra Mari of the Basques. I talk about most of these in my new book Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion, 700-1100, which has just come out: http://www.veleda.net/