Offerings to Hekate
By Ellen Lorenzi-Prince
Lyka was a loyal servant. She had been with her mistress for as long as she could remember. Her mistress was kind and often gave her treats. Lyka was eager to please, proud of her place in the family. She guarded the house and watched over the children. It was a good life.
Then one day, fire invaded their home. As the mistress rushed from room to room making sure the children were safe, Lyka never left her side, although she was terrified of the bright and choking air. When a beam fell across her mistress’s back, Lyka tried with all her strength to pull her free. She seared her mouth, her paws. Her flesh and fur blazed, then bubbled. The pain was horrible, the fear worse, and yet she tried, she tried. In despair, she succumbed to the smoke and the flames, lying down to die by the mistress who had been her life.
When she awoke, she saw the two bodies lying side by side. But where was her mistress? Not in this cold, charred thing. Wherever the mistress was, she may need her faithful servant, and Lyka would not abandon her. Lyka nosed around, and soon found the scent she was searching for. She bounded along in anticipation.
She could smell the blood of small scurrying creatures and longed to investigate, but Lyka kept to her purpose, to her need. The trail led her to a crack in the side of a mountain. What a strange place for the mistress to go, who had never before been farther from home than the temple.
The smell of this place was not rich and full and exciting like the world beyond, but flat and heavy. She hesitated, but only for a moment, for this was where her mistress might be found. She entered the cave.
She came to a chamber where there were many spirits, including her mistress. Lyka was overjoyed, but her mistress just stared. “Oh my dear,” the mistress said, “What are you doing here? Isn’t there another place for you? Go on, Lyka dear, I don’t need you anymore.” And the mistress turned, and left.
Lyka didn’t know what to do. How could there be another place for her other than at her mistress’s side? She slumped down sadly by a wall. One by one the no-bodies here left and went somewhere Lyka could not follow. Others came. No one paid her any attention. Finally she returned to the cave mouth. She lay there gazing mournfully out at a world she was no longer a part of, and back towards a world where she was not welcome.
Then someone approached. Lyka stiffened and stood. This was a very different kind of person, unlike any in her experience. Not living, but not without a body like the others. Strangest of all, she smelled like a dog. Just like… just like her mother! Oh so long ago, but how could she have forgotten! The warmth, the milk, the tongue, the pack. The sense of complete belongingness that even the old mistress could not provide.
The wonderful person reached down to rub her head and scratch her belly. Lyka was ecstatic. She had found a new mistress, and the greatest one of all.
“Guard the entrance, Lyka,” the mistress said.
And so she did.