Hekate: Liminal Rites

REVIEW – Hekate Liminal Rites – Sorita D’Este & David Rankine

‘Hekate Liminal Rites’ is a truly fascinating read. The authors’ writing is extremely well researched, and draws upon both accurate and historical material throughout this work. However, unlike so many other historical studies, this little book also manages to evoke such a presence of Hekate that it is almost experiential; and I found it impossible to continue reading without first lighting a candle (or three!!) for this deity.

The book is a total of 30 chapters, and each chapter focuses on a specific aspect of Hekate and her place in history, religion, ritual and magic. The work draws upon various sources, including the Greek Magical Papyri and many playwrights, poets and scholars. An early chapter of the book focuses on Hekate’s role in the ancient Eleusian Mysteries – and this was of particular interest to me. It was good to see this association being studied, as Hekate’s role in relation to this particular mystery tradition is often over-simplified in modern interpretations of the rites.

The book moves on to discuss the role of Hekate as mistress of herbs and herb lore (in particular, the use of the baneful herbs) and lists herbs which were particularly associated with the Goddess, together with their uses in ritual and magic. There is also a section on historically recorded food offerings and libation. The authors also present an interesting account of vegetarianism in ancient Greece; however, they do not hide the fact that ritual sacrifice was also a big part of Hekate’s rites – with domestic dogs and lizards both appearing on the Goddesses ‘wish list’ !!

‘Hekate: Liminal Rites’ defines the historical reasons behind Hekate’s association with the crossroads, and death; a subject which, in my opinion, has been long-overdue. The authors also discuss the offerings which would traditionally be made at the crossroads, and also go on to discuss misconceptions which surround this deity.

This work also suggests some interesting links between the Hekate rites (recorded in such documents as the Greek Magical Papyri and the Greek Hygromanteia) and the Grimoires. This is where I start to glaze over, as I am not AT ALL well-versed in the Grimoires! However this book has certainly given me a few clues as to their origins – which I for one will certainly be exploring. All in all, a fantastic read – illuminating, well researched, and leaves the reader wanting to explore the mysteries of Hekate for themselves.