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Hermes and Hekate

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Hermes and Hekate

Post  hhodios on Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:19 am

Just today in looking into Hekate, I was struck by the similarity to Hermes. There's the association with crossroads, the dead, gymnastics/contests, even an association with dogs. Yet the way in which they relate to what they preside over is interesting. To me, it seems significant, for example, that Hermes is a messenger of the Gods whereas Hekate is sort of a witch, which to me seem like opposite activities or at least attitudes in regard to the numinous or divine. Bringing ghosts up from the place of Hades is sort of similar, yet opposite to being a guide of souls. Hekate seems to have dominion over Chance whereas Hermes is a God of skill (as in thievery and business, e.g.). Hermes is associated with the watchful aspects of dogs, whereas Hekate with their heralding a coming presence. Still, they both have an aspect of liminality and transformation as was mentioned in the other thread on Hekate in this subforum.

So, is Hekate sort of an anti-Hermes? How is one supposed to think of their similarities and differences?
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Re: Hermes and Hekate

Post  hhodios on Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:24 am

(Is Hermes for men and Hekate for women?  Wink I say that partially facetiously, but it could be that they are gender-mirrored versions of each other.)
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Re: Hermes and Hekate

Post  Erodius on Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:27 am

There is a parallelism, certainly. But there will, of course, be parallels among any selection of deities, because they are, as everything else, related to (and, in many cases) 'born' of one another.

It should also be kept in mind that there are what one might call 'multiple Mercurii/Ἕρμεις and Dianae/Ἀρτεμίδες'. Upon exploration of higher theological domains, both have a set of Triadic reflections, an aetherial form, a sublunar form, and a terrestrial form. We have the aetherial Mercury, the embodiment of the speech of Jove, with the sublunar Mercury (the typical mythic Mercury), and then the terrestrial Mercury (of different parentage in the Orphic Teletae) associated with death, souls and the underworld. Likewise, we have the aetherial Diana, the complement of Apollo, the deity of the Law of Energy and pursuer of souls, driving them heavenward, with the sublunar Diana, goddess of hunting, wilderness and the moon (also, the typical mythic form), and the terrestrial Diana, goddess of childbirth, doorways/boundaries, the nighttime, and death (the form most like to Trivia/Ἑκάτη).

These forms are generalized, and certainly, the lines between them are quite often blurred. The Triadic structure is the basic structure of analysis in the Orpheo-Pythagorean system, but there are always subtler and subtler levels. This becomes important in understanding both Mercury/Ἕρμης and Diana-Trivia/Ἑκάτη in texts from mid-late Antiquity, wherein these two deities come to acquire characterizations dramatically different from the 'Homeric' versions. For instance, the 'Ἕρμης' of the Hermetica texts is very little like any Homeric 'Ἕρμης' — he is treated as, essentially, the second in command of the entire cosmos, embodiment of the words of the Supreme, narrating diving teachings to the world, while in other contemporaneous texts, Ἑκάτη is no terrestrial deity of liminal space and departed souls, but, rather, comes to be used as a name for the World Soul of Platonistic theology, as well as, in common religion, identical to Fortune/Τύχη, the most popular goddess in later Antiquity.

But there is no darkness in any god. The darkness ascribed to the terrestrial Trivia, (totally absent in Homer, to be duly noted) is a conglomeration of human misunderstandings arisen from, and blended with, the deity's status as a juncture between the divine light and the material darkness, between virtue and ego. This is why the deity's basal form in Orphism is described as two-colored, with a face and body with one side white, and the other black. She represents the mortal soul (the lowest stasis of the World Soul), with the soul's ability to look either to virtue, or to vice, and thus, also, either a driver toward heaven, or a guardian of the gates of the underworld, depending on the dominant face. Sorcery is egoism, vice and greed — a reflection of the mortal part of the soul, which is, of course, an offshoot of the World Soul. The true, aetherial Diana-Energeia has nothing at all to do with any such viciousness, but the human soul does. The stereotypical Trivia/Ἑκάτη of mid Antiquity onward is a hodgepodge of aetherial Diana-Energeia, the sublunar Diana-Cynthia/Delia, and the terrestrial Diana-Prothyraea/Trivia [Ἑκάτη], with usually the third predominating.

(Is Hermes for men and Hekate for women? Wink I say that partially facetiously, but it could be that they are gender-mirrored versions of each other.)

That is taking it a bit far. The two are not primary σύζυγοι (divine complementary pairs). Mercury's συζύγη is Vesta/Ἑστία (though Vesta does share a number of features with the terrestrial Dianae/Αρτεμίδες, albeit in a less ambivalent and more pro-virtuous form. Both are likewise characterized as a sort of domestic, accessible form of Ceres/Δημήτρα, the earth.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Hermes and Hekate

Post  hhodios on Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:32 am

Thank you! That was most helpful, though it'll take me a while to process/assimilate  Very Happy
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Re: Hermes and Hekate

Post  J_Agathokles on Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:26 am

Also note that Hekate's association with witchcraft only grew over time. She is a liminal deity, meaning she is associated with borders, and Hesiodos describes her as being given a share in Heaven, Sea, and Earth. As the companion of Kore Persephone during the time she resides in the Underworld withher husband, she is also closely related to the Underworld. At the end of each month in Athens she was honored with a Deipnon where the offerings are left (uneaten!) at the border of the household (in antiquity this would mean where the grounds of the household met the public roads), to placate her and compel her to take with her all miasma that the household has accumulated over the preceding month. During this time she roams the Earth in a dangerous, miasmic, vengeful guise (whence the need of placating her and supplicating her to also remove the miasma on the household), and she is accompanied by the spirits of the restless dead, who were not given proper burial and can thus not enter the Underworld. These too are dangerous and miasmic.

Now, witchcraft - especially when used to curse people - often involved leaving a lead plate with request at a burial grounds, especially in the graves of dead whose funerary worship has been neglected by their descendents, thus making them vengeful and thought of as easier to approach and get them to perform the request on the plate. During rites to make these curses Hekate was often invoked as she is closely associated with the Underworld and spirits of the restless dead. So her association with curses, and from that witchcraft in general, is almost accidental, and was not part of her original domain.

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Re: Hermes and Hekate

Post  Erodius on Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:56 am

Now, witchcraft - especially when used to curse people - often involved leaving a lead plate with request at a burial grounds, especially in the graves of dead whose funerary worship has been neglected by their descendents, thus making them vengeful and thought of as easier to approach and get them to perform the request on the plate. During rites to make these curses Hekate was often invoked as she is closely associated with the Underworld and spirits of the restless dead. So her association with curses, and from that witchcraft in general, is almost accidental, and was not part of her original domain.

Very true. Classical sorcery was primarily concerned with causing all sorts of odd and shocking harm to one's enemies or opponents, and thus, in practice, as a result of the central belief of sympathy between one's actions and their results, manifested, usually, in all sorts of deliberately taboo, antisocial, (and often bloody) acts. For divine aid in their schemings, practitioners of such sorceries, understandably, would seek out deities with one of two major characteristics: 1. some association with the restless dead (who were thought to be a major source of power for curses and magic bindings), or 2. being generally mysterious and unknown to most people; i.e. deities whose cult was not well known to the common people of the Empire. This included a variety of foreign deities, and, probably the most notable of all, the Jewish God. As odd as it may seem, the Jewish God was considered by the common, gentile Greeks and Romans to be very mysterious and of uncertain, and possibly very great power. Consequently, ancient Greek magical texts are full of invocations to Yahweh, and many even include the Jewish patriarchs like Abraham and Moses, and some even mention a newcomer and also rather strange figure who had odd followers, named Jesus. Oftentimes, as many deities would be invoked as could be fit into the space of the papyrus page. The purpose had nothing whatsoever to do with piety or with religion, but was simply a practical attempt to add to the likelihood that, if you ask 25 different deities to help you, at least one of them might.

I'm paraphrasing, but a reading of the PGM will give you invocations along the lines of "I call on the Moon, and Venus, and Egyptian Isis, with Horus and Sabazius and Mardochaeus of Chaldaea, and the soul of Homer, and Ereschigal, oh Yahweh, Moses, Abraham . . ."

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Hermes and Hekate

Post  hhodios on Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:54 am

Well, here's some synchronicity for you. I was thinking that I'll have to ask you what the PGM is. I was thinking that since Yahweh was considered a mysterious and powerful God, I'll try to make up a joke about wanting to cast some revenge spells using Mithras, since he's a mysterious God. For kicks and giggles, I looked up Mithras in Wikipedia and then clicked on Mithras Liturgy, which mentions that the liturgy is part of the Greek Magical Papyrus (PGM) right in the first sentence. Problem solved. Thanks, Mithras. Smile
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