Dream, Voice, Ornament, Offering
For this final of three planned posts on my work with the goddess Hekate I’ll refer obliquely to my journal of the past couple months, and some of the ways that this deepening relationship plays out.
“16 names of the goddess”
I awoke from a dream one morning in early March with those words in my head, and have since set out to express this mysterious message through my devotional practice.
Hekate’s many names and epithets embrace not just a few correspondences, duties, and spheres of influence, but multitudes. As the ultimate Power of Liminality, Boundary, Threshold and Journey, Hekate is approached through paradoxical multiplicities: beastly and regal, luminous and pitch. Her very name implies a journey. Her titles reflect the many roads and junctures to and from this “worker from afar”.
Out of perhaps hundreds of different epithets available from ancient and modern sources, these few below are some of the more commonly quoted by scholars and practitioners – I have chosen them here as illustrative of Her variability and reach:
Phosphoros – light bringer, guide
Brimo – monstrous, chaotic
Chthonia – of the earth
Empyria – of the heavenly realms
Soteira – savior, world soul
Borborophorba – eater of filth
Kleidoukhos – keyholder, keeper of the keys
Propylaia – before the gate, gate keeper
Enodia – of the road, entrances
Einalian – of the sea
My work with these and other epithets entails frequent chanting of Her titles- sometimes just one or a few, and other times a long recitation of Her names, qualities, roles, and relationships. (I haven’t yet settled on which sixteen names of the goddess I am called to wield according to the dream, nor even whether “16” means, literally, 16? Spirits speak in symbol, and I am happy to work and wait rather than rushing the conversation.)
In my syncretic approach to craft and folly I am attracted to the vocal emphasis implicit in the Greek Magical Papyri, and also to the cadence and symbolic fervor of the Psalms. The non-linguistic sound poems of Hugo Ball and the embodied jabberwocky eros of Lux Interior have something to say too, about rupture and possession.
In daily practice, I often intone Hekate’s names quietly to myself: during walks, in the shower, upon waking in the morning or during the night. In this way an energetic link is maintained and even mundane tasks become vivified in a mythic ambiance. Then in ritual proper – in which a consecrated space has been established through intention, symbols, materia, sensory triggers and/ or differentiated dress – connection is more easily achieved due to that ongoing daily groundwork. The recitation of names and the recounting of myths and folktales can then be borne into physicality through breath, movement, and emotive outpouring.
This altered state, whether it be whispered or frenzied, scripted or improvised, gives the ideation or the spirit a purchase, a threshold, a footing in the corporeal. Sometimes artists (or virtuosos in any field) understand this intuitively – when one’s ego attachments have parted and “the work” (whatever it may be) is just Happening.
This morning: after preliminaries, i cut an apple at the altar, left half there. Ate a splinter of the other half, then pocketed the rest. Took it with me walking the dog, and left it at a nearby crossroads. During the cutting I’d been chanting epithets quietly, and as I exited the house I settled, without realizing it at first, on NEBOUTOSOUALETH. I repeated this for the entirety of the walk, before and after depositing the apple.
Which brings me to the crafting of some of my recent artworks, because it is here, through our hands, that further estate can be offered to that-which-is-evoked. We accomplish this by ritualizing the creative process to these ends; incorporating visualization, song, movement, and spirit offerings in the moment, while carving or painting or stringing beads; while you’re recording your song or developing your film. By plying your trade and petitioning one’s chosen entity to “Come forth, and inhabit this place I have set.”
Some months ago, Portland artist Francis Dot brought me a gift of rose pulp they’d processed themself. Their sculptures often interrogate Catholic symbolism and folk psychogeographies, so this experiment with petals made sense when you consider the origin of the word “rosary”.
This gift was the impetus for me to begin a slow process of crafting beaded necklaces for Hekate – by which I mean, material vessels for Her energetic signature to reside; talismanic residencies. (There are degrees to this – not every talisman is a “spirit house”, and vice versa.) After rolling, piercing, and drying the rose beads to ritual specification, praying over them, fumigating them with burnt offerings and blessing them with song and dance, I moved on to staining wooden craft beads in my own mix of ink, foraged berries, and a specially ground herbal incense.
Early April- “Dreamt that I was preparing for a ritual to Hekate- someone was helping or advising me. I specifically remember that one of my new necklace ideas was complete, and I wore this. I also remember beeswax candles and [other materials] as previously communicated.”
Finally this past week I assembled both the stained and the rosy beads, along with snake vertebrae that I’ve been carrying from home to home for many years, into four unique talismanic necklaces. At each stage of the project I have infused the materials with magical intention via voice and movement, fumigation, and offerings to Hekate.
Originally I had planned to keep one for myself and offer the others for sale, but I am finding that I get a different feeling while wearing each- like a slightly different frequency or bioelectric rush. So for now I plan to keep them with me and use them to explore the terrain of the 16 Names. I crafted four necklaces because that’s all I had the materials for, but as it happens this gives me an additional opening: to break down the 16 into four parts of four epithets each, to correspond with the variations between the necklaces. I can’t help but be excited as well about the synchronistic congruence with the four legs of a crossroads, the four directions, Four Winds, the classical elements, etc. As I sit with the pieces, wear them, sing with them, I await further signs, clues, dreams, and adventures.
* * *
And this is where the thread lets off, for now. I may continue with updates in future posts, but for now I am keen to finish this three- part series on my ongoing devotional practice with Hekate. Please reach out with questions, critiques, and curiosities! Writing this has helped me immensely in ordering my thoughts and impressions about what I’m doing here in the so-called Dark of my private and liminal praxis, and I especially want to thank those who’ve read along all this way!
I am, as always, In the Beginning.
Jason Triefenbach, HFHR.
Jason is an artist, writer, and non-denominational minister with a garden and a lifelong interest in lurking around the Occult/ Paranormal shelves in bookstores worldwide. As Sun Duel they record and sometimes perform music with a variety of friends and loved ones. www.linktr.ee/JWT9000
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