The Goddess of Liminality: Hecate


5 Minute

The Goddess of Liminality: Hecate


Hecate, a mysterious figure of classical mythology whose origin is still disputed, is known as the goddess of crossroads, gates, nights, magic, witchcraft and spirits. The goddess, about whom the earliest information is found in Hesiod's Theogony, where she is mentioned with great respect as "the goddess of the sky, the earth and the seas", was not only respected but also aroused fear among the locals 


With some not to be underestimated claims that it is a goddess with Anatolian origins, it is generally believed that Hecate has a cult attributed to Caria, which was located in the northern part of the present city of Muğla.


The Hecate Sanctuary of Lagina, located within the boundaries of the Yatağan district in Muğla, houses the most important temple that has been found out about the cult.


Two faces of Hecate Cult: Respect and Fear


Of course, the region where the effects of the cult of Hecate are intensely observed in Anatolia is not limited to Caria and Lagina. Traces of the cult are also found in Lydia, Cilicia and Phrygia. Antiquities such as sculptures, friezes and coins depicting the goddess have been found in various regions of Anatolia. Because of the forces considered evil, such as ghosts, spirits, and magic, that Hecate represented, people, in order to please her, placed Hecate sculptures at road intersections that they believed were populated by these evil forces and at their house entrances to keep these beings away.


The artifacts of Hecate, usually depicted with three bodies, belong to the early periods. One of the animals associated with Hecate, depicted in some artifacts with dogs, is the marten. Among the divine animals of the goddess there are also lions, frogs and red moles. The name of the goddess with three heads, either one or all of which are represented in the form of animal figures, is also mentioned in connection with various plants, as she has a connection with medicine and poisons. Besides the yew with poisonous plants, garlic and cypress are also among the plants associated with Hecate. 


As the goddess of objects such as borders, keys, and gates that express "liminality," Hecate rules the journey to the afterlife as the goddess of all journeys and is therefore considered the goddess of the underworld. Hecate's close relationship with night and darkness led to her acceptance from the 1st century AD as a goddess closely associated with the practices of witchcraft.


Hecate and Byzantium


Another distinctive feature of the goddess Hecate is her relationship with Byzantium, which can be considered the first ancestor of modern Istanbul. It is believed that Hecate uncovered a night attack planned by Philip 2nd of Macedonia during the blockade of the city by lighting up the sky and is venerated as the savior of the city. 

Let's see where you can see the artifacts of this mysterious goddess in Türkiye... First of all, of course, we recommend you to visit the Hecate Sanctuary of Lagina, where there is a temple dedicated to the goddess. In addition, artifacts such as monuments, friezes and tombstones discovered on the Turkish borders are exhibited in museums in many parts of Anatolia. Some of the museums where you can see these artifacts are: Manisa Museum, Eskişehir Museum, Efes Museum, Afyon Museum, Kütahya Museum and Antalya Museum.