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Hekate and Tara

February 4, 2010

Nothing drives me crazier, when I’m researching, to see Hekate described as only “x”.  My experiences with her place her in a very broad category.  Instead of the Greek view of her…maiden, torches, ghosts, liminal areas, etc.  I seem to experience her as she was BEFORE she entered the Greek awareness.  Maybe as she was in Karia though there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information on her from that time.

To me Hekate is all-encompassing.  I have seen here as a veiled woman on the edge of a lake; as a winged and serpent tailed female (much like Naga Kanya) on top of a mountain/cliff; as a Grandmother in the opening of a cave; as a mother figure chastising me for getting in my own way.  She rules not only the in-between areas but also in the sky, earth and sea.  She is everywhere and involved with everything…birth, life, death, magick, homelife, fertility, etc.  I can’t imagine saying she is only anything!

So where does Tara come in?  That’s what I’m wondering.  I’ve been trying to exercise more, so I’ve been recording shows off of FIT-TV.  One of them is a yoga show.  The last one I did ended with a pose where one hand is resting face up in your lap and the other is chest high, palm out (as if to say stop!).  It was described as a giving and receiving pose.  The next day I did a meditation that involved Zeus and Hekate.  One of the things that was mentioned was that pose and a hint to use it.  Then I drew a tarot card and my research into that card brought to me to Tara of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. I could see some strong similarities to the way I see Hekate and the way Tara was described.

It all makes my head hurt. I really don’t know what to think.  I was led to the Greek Pantheon and away from the Celtic and Wiccan methodology.  Now I feel like I’m being lead back to the Wiccan duo-ology.  When I asked about Them, during the meditation, about polytheism and duotheism I didn’t get any clear answers.  It was like they didn’t know how to explain it.   I got images of all the gods being connected to them, yet them being individuals too.  Kind of like split personalities but ones that manefest in their own bodies.  Yet the Wiccan mantra of  “all gods are one god, all goddess are one goddess” didn’t fit either.  Then I was told that it didn’t matter that whenever I called upon them they would answer my need if it was in my best interest.

So I’m comforted and confused at the same time.  I don’t know how to honor them…Hellenic-style, that style, this style.  I’m beginning to think that it doesn’t matter…how or what one does as long as you do something.    Which drives me crazy because I want some form and function not just “wing it”!  I’d beat my head against the wall but A) it would hurt and B) I think they’d just laugh t me.

I can see Zeus as nothing but Zeus because I’ve always seen him as all-encompassing yet not the be all and end all.  Hermes, for example is his own deity.  But I see so many different aspects of Hekate:  Aphrodite, Hestia, Tykhe, Nemesis, Artemis, Kybele, Naga Kanya, Tara, Bast….  I could call her all the time by the name she gave me, but that would just confuse others…others who I want as a community.  Maybe that is the point though…I don’t believe as others do so why try so hard.  Yet that is so lonely.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Turner permalink
    February 5, 2010 6:42 AM

    Really nice love the color combination’s and the way you have integrated the charts.

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  2. February 5, 2010 9:04 AM

    Thanks! Did you know you left this comment on a different blog post though? 🙂

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  3. henadology permalink
    February 5, 2010 11:25 AM

    Regarding Wiccan duotheism—and understand, I speak here as someone who’s never been Wiccan and thus has no intimate knowledge, just as an outside observer—I have always suspected that the point of it is not to say, all the Gods are one God and all the Goddesses are one Goddess, but rather that it is a practice centered around the worship of a God and a Goddess, rather like Tantra.

    In Tantra there is a God and a Goddess, but their identities are left open, so that almost any Hindu Goddess may be worshiped in this fashion, i.e. as the Shakti, and a variety of Gods, Shiva most typically, of course, but there is also Tantrism with Vishnu, Ganesh or Surya as the God-figure. Within the context of such a practice, one may regard the God and Goddess of one’s choice as sufficient and all-encompassing, but the point of it is not figuring out how many Gods there are, but rather the relationship between the God and Goddess.

    As for your continuing issue about Hekate, I think that if you really feel that the Goddess you are dealing with is Hekate, then there is no problem in recognizing that, from a polycentric point of view, all the other Gods and Goddesses are in Hekate, and so there is the Aphrodite in Hekate, the Tykhe in Hekate, the Naga Kanya in Hekate, and so forth.

    If your understanding of certain of these aspects grows over time, you may find that you are dealing no longer with, e.g., the Hestia in Hekate, but with Hestia, period. Or you may even come to feel that in dealing with Hekate, you are concerned with the Hekate in Hestia. And all of these options can be open and alive at the same time.

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    • February 5, 2010 11:43 AM

      I can’t say I was ever a Wiccan but this is my understanding from my studies.

      I know the important thing is your relationship with your chosen deities. But if I don’t know WHO they are exactly how do I decide to honor them? Trial and error unless they actually express a preference, which they haven’t. I find that frustrating. Maybe it is my engineering background, that old logic circuit that I’m having trouble getting around. I want to know how and why. “Because” isn’t good enough.

      I admit you lost me on the polycentric part. They either are her or they are not. Or is that my logic function again?

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  4. henadology permalink
    February 5, 2010 12:02 PM

    When you say, “They either are her or they are not,” I cannot agree. According to the doctrine of polycentric polytheism, all the Gods (and Goddesses) are in each God/dess. So there is, for example, Hestia in Hekate, and Hekate in Hestia. These are not the same, strictly speaking, because one is talking about either the Hestia aspect of Hekate or the Hekate aspect of Hestia. With the right example I could show how different these can be. For the moment, though, let’s make do with the image of the one case having Hekate at the center and finding somewhere out at her periphery how she manifests herself as Hestia, and in the other case, having Hestia at the center and finding out on her periphery her manifestation as Hekate. This sort of thing is the bread-and-butter of Egyptian theology; it’s how almost every Egyptian hymn is written. None of this means that Hestia and Hekate are not autonomous and self-sufficient individuals, because the inclusion goes both ways: all are in each. It’s actually what guarantees their individuality, rather than undermining it.

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  5. February 5, 2010 12:20 PM

    I’m not trying to be obtuse, I really don’t understand. The concept of aspects is never one I’ve understood completely. I’ve always tried to look at it in this manner: I’m a wife, a daughter, a mother, a sister and a friend. These are my aspects but they are all still me. My husband knows me as a wife and a mother. My sister knows me as a sister and a daughter. Etc. They are all me though.

    So the Hestia aspect of Hekate, would be the domestic aspect?

    So the Hekate aspect of Hestia would be the traveling torch bearer?

    All this would mean is that Hekate is always Hekate (whoever that is) and Hestia is always Hestia. While they may have similar functions at times they are still different.

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  6. henadology permalink
    February 5, 2010 4:04 PM

    The indwelling of all God/desses in each presupposes the common aspects such as you point out—and indeed, it’s a very good example you give, of the domestic aspect of Hekate and the torch-bearer aspect of Hestia—but it goes further, too, as in a hymn to Khnum, where we read “Wake, Shu, strong-armed, his father’s champion, slayer of rebels, in peace, awake peaceably!” Here Khnum is literally being called Shu, as though Shu is an epithet of Khnum, even though no Egyptian would think that Khnum and Shu were the same, and that’s not the point of the hymn at all. It’s a particular aspect of Shu—his aspect of solar champion—that is being picked out in Khnum, but the underlying doctrine that Shu is in Khnum just as Khnum is in Shu means that there could always be more. And, of course, the process is completely reversible as well; if one looked hard enough, one might be able to find a hymn to Shu where he’s called Khnum at some point.

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  7. February 5, 2010 5:06 PM

    So what you are saying is that Hekate is always Hekate but sometimes she is loving (Aphrodite), within the domicile (Hestia), out in the woods (Artemis), a shape shifter (Naga Kanya), retribution (Nemesis), fortune giver (Tykhe), savior (Tara), mountain mother(Kybele), etc. But at all times she is only Hekate?

    If so that would explain some things but make more questions too. Sheesh some cut and dried answers would be nice for a change. 🙂

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  8. henadology permalink
    February 6, 2010 9:38 AM

    Most likely I am simply overcomplicating the matter. It is probably either a matter of seeing these attributes in Hekate upon the stimulus of meditating on Aphrodite, Hestia, et al., like you say—and this is not surprising, given that there is far, far more to every deity than the historical record reflects, or even could reflect, even if that record were perfect and had no gaps at all, because there are infinite depths to each and every God—or one or more of these deities are emerging as significant for you, but you’re not distinguishing them yet. In the case of the non-Hellenic deities, it may be that your resistance to having a multi-ethnic pantheon is inhibiting your recognition of them, and so you’re trying to see them through Hekate exclusively, which is only partly working.

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  9. February 14, 2010 2:22 PM

    It isn’t that I’m resistant to a multi-ethnic pantheon. It is a matter of time and proper modes of worship. Is it better to worship only a few and do it well? Or is it better to worship many and end up having some of it being only cursory? It is also a matter of my own experience. I’ve had Hekate go from being all proper like (chiton, himation, etc) then transforming into a bare breasted winged, snake tailed being all the while laughing the same joyful and loving laugh.

    What I think is biting me on the butt is that fact that I’m detail oriented. I want to get the details right for me and for her so that everything will flow smoothly. Life isn’t that simple and neither are the gods. So categorizing them as simply one thing or another isn’t true or accurate but at the same time I want to know what the limit is.

    My understanding is in Karia, Hekate was more of a mother goddess with fertility and love being among her areas of purview. Aphrodite has her mothering aspects, her fertility aspects, her magick aspects and her dark and dreary aspects. Does this make them the same or just similar? That is my issue. If they are just similar, then why have 2 divinities with similar duties? Is this why Hekate’s worship “evolved” into her being a scary lady to keep from conflicting with what Aphrodite seemed to “evolved” into, a sex kitten? Or are they the same goddess whose roles were divided up for the convenience of understanding?

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  10. henadology permalink
    February 14, 2010 6:46 PM

    My understanding is in Karia, Hekate was more of a mother goddess with fertility and love being among her areas of purview. Aphrodite has her mothering aspects, her fertility aspects, her magick aspects and her dark and dreary aspects. Does this make them the same or just similar? That is my issue. If they are just similar, then why have 2 divinities with similar duties? Is this why Hekate’s worship “evolved” into her being a scary lady to keep from conflicting with what Aphrodite seemed to “evolved” into, a sex kitten? Or are they the same goddess whose roles were divided up for the convenience of understanding?

    To me it is less a question of duties than of identities. Almost every divinity was, at their cult center, all-encompassing and approached by their devotees with any concern they might have. The development of pan-Hellenic patterns of worship exerted a pressure for deities’ functions not to overlap; the only reason that this did not distort people’s actual relationship to the Gods was because it always existed in a context where all the Gods were perceived much more comprehensively on the ground. But that functionally-differentiated perspective causes a great deal of distortion for us, who have only literary sources and some archaeology to draw upon. We can look to surviving “pagan” traditions, such as India, however, as a corrective.

    I do not think that deities were ever “divided up” very much, however, that is, one deity becoming two, because I think that cults begin from theophanies, not from intellectual acts of division. Rather, the boundaries between deities were constantly being negotiated in a marketplace in which deities gained and lost their “share” due to a host of religious and non-religious factors.

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  11. February 14, 2010 9:21 PM

    Everything is finally starting to click. I’m seeing things at a “personal” or village level while most of what we know is more at the Pan-Hellenic level or a mixture of varying villages, which are not as homogeneous as people like to think.

    Do you have material to recommend on surviving Indian traditions?

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  12. henadology permalink
    February 15, 2010 9:49 AM

    I guess one might start with Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual, and Symbol, by Kathleen Erndl.

    A book like this is going to have a lot of “All the Goddesses are One” kind of rhetoric, but one needs to ignore that. It just comes from the lack of conceptual resources to understand the all-encompassing nature of each of these village Goddesses without treating them as manifestations of a single Goddess. This leads to miscommunication with native informants, who articulate the beliefs informing their practices in the manner that appears congenial to their interlocutors, as well as displaying some of the influence of monistic philosophical trends within Hinduism. It’s more of an orthopraxy than an orthodoxy.

    It was looking at this sort of material, along with Egyptian hymns, that first led me to the polycentric polytheism concept (and in fact this is a term that was first coined with respect to Hinduism), because I could see that what was generally treated as symptomatic of some kind of underlying monotheism was really the most radical polytheism, far more radical than the functionally-differentiated pantheon structure, because that structure makes the Gods seem like parts of a whole, and parts are always subordinate to the whole they make up.

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  13. February 15, 2010 10:50 AM

    I’ll see about finding it used on Amazon. Thanks Edward!

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  14. February 20, 2010 4:03 AM

    “Lo, I am with you, Lucius, I who am the mother of the universe, the mistress of all the elements, the first offspring of time, the highest of deities, the queen of the dead, foremost of heavenly beings, the single form that fuses all gods and goddesses; I who order by my will all the starry heights of heaven, the health giving breezes of the sea, and the awful silences of those in the underworld: my single godhead is adored by the world in varied forms, in differing rites and with many diverse names.

    Thus the Phrygians earliest of all races, call me Pessinuntia, Mother of the Gods; thus the Athenians, sprung from their own soil, call me Cecropeian Minerva; and the sea tossed Cyprians call me Paphian Venus, the archer Cretans Diana Dictynna, and the trilingual Sicilians Ortygain Prosperine; to the Eleusians I am Ceres, the ancient goddess, to others Juno, to others Belona and Hecate and Rhamnusia.”

    – Apuleius’ Metamorphoses (The Golden Ass)

    😀

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  15. February 20, 2010 9:12 AM

    Yes but how much of The Golden Ass is poetic license and how much of it actually reflects religious reality? I know Isis was the Goddess of a Thousand names (or some such similar epithet) but that is about the extent of my knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. henadology permalink
    February 20, 2010 10:00 AM

    The hymn to Isis by Apuleius was another one of the pieces that got me thinking about polycentrism. It’s very similar in spirit to native Egyptian hymns, only with an international cast of deities instead of remaining within the Egyptian pantheon. I think that it is certainly reflective of the way some Isiacs thought; but as you know, I also think that more devotees of other deities thought this way about their own chosen deities than we can assume merely from the lack of written testimony, though we do have some of it from other cults.

    What is difficult for people to grasp today—unless, perhaps, they’re Hindu—is how statements like those from Apuleius’ hymn did not carry monotheistic (or even duotheistic) implications.

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  17. February 20, 2010 10:07 AM

    I can definitely see that as the statement does seem to be mono/duotheistic. I’m having a hard time not seeing it that way. I am slowly working my way through the book you suggested.

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  18. February 21, 2010 2:23 AM

    You know Ive never seen that statement as either mono or duo thiestic, Gods of the ancient world were syncretised all the time, Hekate is an excellent example of that, Hekate, Selene, Artemis etc. Ive always seen the Hymn to Isis as a poetic personal epihany rather than a statement of a particular religious orientation.

    By the late 2nd centuary Hekate was, through the teaching of the Chaldeans equated as an all encompassing goddess and world soul/savouir, this is actually around the time that Apuleius wrote the golden Ass, he was a Roman writer rather than a Greek and spend considerable time in various areas of Asia Minor, it would not surprise me if Alexandria was one of those places, where Hekate was already syncretised with Isis, and was a hot bed of Chaldean thought.

    It is interesting that you mention Hestia, I have for a while believed that Hestia and Hekate may have derived from an earlier pantheon, excavations of Mycenae homes have discovered snake goddesses found around or under the central hearth area of domestic properties, If you recall Medea’s evokation of Hekate in Apollonius of Rhodes’ Argonautica “You to whom my central hearth is dedicated” it would be more in keeping with Hestia, whose role that normally was.

    Also your concern regarding Hekate appearing Snake footed, winged and bare breasted, that is also totally in keeping with classical texts, I can’t recall right this minute (too early not enough coffee) but I suspect it was Lucian actually described her in a very similar manner. Her hair was wreathed with oak and Ivy, snakes around her and “on her feet”, I can go and look it up later if you wish when I am up in my study, so that vision is entirely in keeping with a Graeco/Eyptian/Roman view point depending upon which era you are looking at.

    The thing is the “Gods” were and are, in my opinion, fluid creatures, they aren’t above accepting new roles and epithets as they see fit and as it serves them, and if some of those roles are more or less mono/duo/polythiestic then so be it. If she feels it serves you best to think of her as Tara then you can be damn sure it is for a reason, sometimes I have discovered it is best not to over think these things too much, sure do the research, find the connections (if you can) it will make your practise richer and fuller and will give you the structure that you need, lol and make it less likely that you piss any dieties off along the way.

    One of Hekates roles as Soteira is as a teacher and guide to those wishing to grow and evolve, ask her and see where it takes you 😀

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    • February 22, 2010 1:29 PM

      I vaguely remember that quote but it says ON her feet not AS her feet. 🙂

      I’m sure I’m making this whole thing much more complicated than need be…I just want to do things RIGHT…though having some explanation wouldn’t be bad either.

      As for Hestia, I’ve always wondered if there was more to her. The gods have such rich vibrant personalities that her retiring ways just seem very out of place. I’m sure there is more to her. I’ve always wondered about the connections between her and Hekate.

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  19. February 21, 2010 2:26 AM

    Oh and now I am having a brain fart, the Evocation may have been in Euripides’ Medea, grrr going to have to go and look now 😀

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  20. March 15, 2010 4:28 AM

    Hi 🙂
    Tara? hmmmm. . . Tara the Hierarch of Akasha, twin flame of Zeus. I had heard of Tara before but never quite had a clear perception in what context or sense other than a name of certain spiritual renown, then blessings behold, she honored us with her Presence yesterday Sunday, March 14. I share this with you because I was doing a Google search to know more and you came up and I was moved to share with you this which I know to be true. http://69.50.211.253/newpv1/VideoReplay.aspx Peace be unto Thee. GOD BLESS

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    • July 14, 2010 5:10 PM

      Geez! I never got a notice of this post. I’m sorry I’m so late in responding! I’ll check out the video! Thanks!

      Like

    • July 14, 2010 5:12 PM

      Bummer. There was nothing there for the March date. Can you summarize?

      Like

  21. July 14, 2010 4:17 PM

    I am fairly new to Hekate, but have known Tara for many years already. I find it very interesting that you have made the same connection, albeit the other way ’round! Green Tara especially is associated with Sirius, the guiding star, as is Hekate. Green Tara guides us across the waters to the other shore. I don’t know about you, but I definitely see similarities there!

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    • July 14, 2010 5:08 PM

      Wow, that is interesting. Tara is very new to me. Keep me up to date on anything else you find/learn!

      Like

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