Offerings to Hekate

 By Ellen Lorenzi-Prince 

Copyright © 2002

 Invocation

 

      Someone is haunting my dreams. For no matter the nightmare, no matter my body or the experiences enacted in it or on it, the feeling when I wake is the same. Terror, of course, but also desire. I am left with longing that swallows my heart. For the magic which draws such visions from me. For suffering from which I can awaken. Above all, for that One, for that being behind the dream. For her wildness, her beauty, and her power. She is the unearthliness I crave, when I am trapped in the meaningless hours of the day.

     From ancient legends, I give her a name. Hekate. Mother of Monsters, Goddess of Ghosts and Witches. Hekate. Her name rings in me like an iron bell. She is the One. Somehow I have chosen her, somehow she has claimed my soul.

 

     Tonight I will seek her out and ask her why. I will invoke her and face her and learn the truth of her. My palms are damp and my stomach is sour. But I will do this. Because tonight is her night. Tonight the moon will not rise.

     In the fields beyond the houses, only the ground beneath my feet is solid, and therefore distinguishable in the darkness. The dark is so close. I feel its touch on my face. I gaze up at the stars, too distant and weak to reassure me. The dark of space, endless and depthless, throbs between them, stronger than the light. It whispers to me. There’s no turning back. I pull up the hood of my black sweatshirt and begin.

     I offer incense, but light no candles. The flare of the match dies quickly. I cast the circle, beginning and ending in the northeast, leaving the gate there open for the spirits of the dead. Come on, spirits. Do with me what you will. I dare you.

In the center of the circle is a bowl. Into it I pour water to refresh them and oil to reflect them. The water and the oil black on black, gleaming as faintly as the drowned stars. I am beyond feeling foolish in a field. I fall in, to drown there myself.

     I close my eyes, to make the darkness perfect. “Hekate, Queen of the Night, come to me. Oh, Hekate, Hekate!” A whisper of wind caresses me. I am thrilled in more places than I’d imagine from one such small touch.

“Mistress of Magic, come to me.” I sway, the force my longing rippling and curling against the crushing darkness.  

“Lady of Death and Lady of Change, come to me, come to me, come to me.” My heart pours out my throat and down my thighs. My call spins into the night. When lightning strikes the back of my neck and black fire shivers down my spine, it is done. I open my eyes.

 

     I’d thought it was dark before. Now it is absolute. I wiggle my hand in front of my face. “How many fingers?” I feel none too confident, despite my little joke. I smell stone. I have never breathed air so still. I reach out cautiously with hands and feet. On the right a cold and dripping wall. On the left, a drop into emptiness. I inch forward, reluctantly using the slimy rock as guide. She’s brought me to her underworld. So she must be here somewhere. It’s up to me to find her.

My feet alternately scrape and squish, until I begin to believe the lack of sight is a blessing.

     Suddenly screaming out of the darkness comes a terrifying face, a gray snarling mask of teeth, warpainted in red and white bands. “GO NO FURTHER.” The words are silent to my ears but echo in my chest like thunder. I stumble, and fall into oblivion.

     Dear goddess, I am lost! I am lost! Falling in blackest black, my mind screaming, my heart stopped, my body without its senses.

     And in my fall I realize. That was no mask, but the grimace of an animal in unimaginable pain, its skin peeled back to blood and bone.

I fall and fall, though there is no wind, and no gravity. I don’t know where my feet are, or if I have feet. The nothingness consumes me. Soon I will be gone completely. And all I can sense is distant laughter.

 

     “No!” My will stirs and speaks. “No. This is not the end.” And I am back, my forehead pressed against the solid stone. I go on, crawling. Inch by inch, squishing and scraping. On and on.

     The wall to my right falls away. I raise my eyes, my body, and step into a dimly lit chamber lined with crystals. In the center lies a dark pool. Because I am here, because it is there, I kneel, cutting my knees on the sharp rocks. I cup my hands and I drink.

     The water is keen and piercing. It invades me, spreads through me. I become immobile, frozen and serene. Crystalline like those around me. Those who have come this way before. Calmly, I join them in a silent and ordered world. I do not remember or care what I was before this. Frozen and serene.

     Then the laughter returns in force, resounding throughout the chamber. It echoes; it rings; it shatters. And I am scattered shards of light. I sink into the darkness like a field of stars. A part of me here, a part of me there. My soul, my self, broken into bits. I will be the scattered stars.

Yet my selves seem to want to reunite. Their consciousness yearns and pulls. We stretch and we strive and we begin to connect. Here to here to here. And for a moment, for just one moment, I become the darkness between as well. I am endless, and I am eternal.

 

Then I am lying on the earth, looking up at the earth’s sky.

     I sit up and stretch. I feel fine. Wonderful, in fact. How is it that coming apart can make me feel more whole? I will never fear the darkness again. I smile.

     And see a shadow moving to my left and nearly jump out of my skin.

     “You look surprised,” she says.

     What are you and how can you be here? I want to ask, but she fixes me with her invisible eyes and I cannot speak these words to her. But I find I can ask something else. “What… what was that mask, that face I saw?”

     “That is the Guardian of the Gate.”

     “The Guardian?”

     She smiles an invisible smile and tells me a story. And so we begin.

 

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