Hekate & the Perseids

T15.1Asteria

Asteria, Athenian red-figure amphora C5th B.C., Museum of Fine Arts Boston

“Also she [Phoebe] bore Asteria of happy name, whom Perses once led to his great house to be called his dear wife. And she conceived and bore Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honored above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honor also in starry heaven, and is honored exceedingly by the deathless gods.”

-“Theogony”, Hesiod

Hesiod’s Theogony is the oldest written account of the Greek Gods, and Hekate is described as being honored by Zeus above all others in this story. The Theogony also names Asteria and Perses as Hekate’s parents. Asteria was a Titaness; she ruled the  starry skies and her name means “starry one” or “falling star”. Perses was a Titan as well, and was the God of Destruction; his name means “Destroyer”.

The Perseids

The Perseid meteor showers are an annual stellar event that begins around the third week of July and typically peaks the second week of August, around the 10th or 11th and lasts a few days. The peak dates for 2020 are August 11th-13th. The meteors originate from the Perseus (a derivative of Perses) constellation. Because Perses is Hekate’s father and Hekate’s mother Asteria is associated with falling stars, the days that the Perseids are peaking are a wonderful time to honor Hekate (and Her parents).

Star Gazing

I love the night sky. Each evening before bed, I go outside and just soak in the beauty of the dark night. I gaze at the sky, and take note of every star twinkling like night’s own torches. I raise my hands to the sky, recite a portion of an Orphic oath from the Petelia tablet:

“I am a child of Earth and Starry Heaven, but my race is of Heaven alone”

From there, I utter words honoring Hekate, her role as guardian of the Heavens (as apportioned to her by Zeus in the Theogony), and recite epithets, chants – whatever I am moved to speak at that moment. There is no script, there are no written rules. Most often I will see a shooting star while I am speaking, or after I am done. I always humbly accept that as a sign that my words and offerings were received favorably and with gratitude. In turn, I express my own gratitude for Hekate’s recognition and presence.

That is my nightly ritual before I go to bed. Doing this each night feeds my soul like nothing else. It is a very fulfilling part of my devotional practice. When the Perseids are at peak, I spend more time outside, chanting and gazing in wonder at the night sky while this magical stellar event takes place.


© Melissa McNair / The Torch and Key


Sources:

  1. https://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Hekate.html
  2. https://www.theoi.com/Titan/TitanisAsteria.html

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