The following is an exerpt from the always informative and highly enjoyable Pure Magic; A Complete Course in Spellcasting by Judika Illes:
Hecate, the Queen of the Night, emerged in what is now modern Turkey. She is most famous as the companion of Demeter in her quest to find her kidnapped daughter, Persephone. Hecate is believed to be the unseen witness to every crime; she can be appealed to for justice, particularly when the crime is of a sexual nature against a woman or female child. Hecate would eventually serve as Persephone’s handmaiden in her capacity as Queen of the Underworld. Freya and Hecate would serve as the models for European stereotypes of witches, Freya as the dangerously seductive witch, Hecate as the wizened crone.
Hecate holds dominion over life, death, regeneration and magic. She rules wisdom, choices, expiation, vengeance and travel. Hecate guards the frontier between life and death. She serves as intermediary between the spirit world and that of humans. Hecate holds the power to grant or deny any human’s wish.
Hecate most typically manifests as a mature woman or as a black dog. Dogs are her sacred creatures. Cerberus, the three-headed hound who guarded the gates of the Greek underworld, may or may not be Hecate in disguise. Hecate has a particularly strong bond with her familiar animal; even when manifesting in human form, Hecate is rarely without canine companionship. On the rare occassion when she turns up alone, there will be some sort of dog reference so that you’ll recognize her; she often circles in the manner of dogs. Her attributes include a toad, a pomegranite, a key, a cauldron, a broom, torch or knife.
Hecate is most powerful during the dark moon phase. She only accepts offerings and petitions after dark, the only acceptable illumination being candles or torches. The last day of each month is dedicated to her and is the best time to ask for favors, inspiration or instruction. In addition, Wiccans celebrate November 16th as Hecate Night. Midwives, herbalists and magical practitioners may consider themselves already among Hecate’s initiates. Garlic, honey and lavender are favored offerings. Traditionally, offerings for Hecate are placed on a stone or small plate and left at a crossroads after dark. Do not return for the plate or any part but consider all of it part of the sacrifice. (In other words, if you don’t want to lose a plate, use a paper one.)
Traditionally, Hecate’s followers held dinners in her honor. Devotees feasted and shared their magical knowledge. Leftovers were placed outside the door or at a crossroads for Hecate and her hounds. Cynics scoff that these leftovers were actually consumed by feral dogs or homeless people without realizing that this was Hecate’s intent, this is one way she accepts offerings. Her ancient devotees also stained their palms and soles with henna in her honor. She recognizes herself in this gesture. Any action on behalf of dogs, Hecate’s sacred messengers, is probably the offering she appreciates most.
If you happen to be in Salem Massachusetts on October 30th (and really… where else would you rather be?) stop by OMEN Psychic Parlor and Witchcraft Emporium and sign up for Judika’s workshop “Introduction to Spellcasting.”