So on Hecate’s Night, in honour of She who Ensouls All, I will offer this Triple Chocolate Cheesecake. Made with a blend of dark, milk and white chocolate, ricotta cheese and featuring a dark chocolate almond crust, it is lightly spiced with cardamom and lavender (some of her traditional offerings) and the not so traditional addition of wild fennel seeds and (just a touch) of the earthy, loamy flavour of freshly ground Licorice Fern Root. And of course, it’s adorned with the bright crimson jewels of barberries – commonly known as “Witches Sweets”. I think its a pretty witchy offering for the Queen of the Witches – and I hope it curries her favour.
By late antiquity, Hecate begins to take on her darker aspect. The playwright Aristophanes wrote, “Hekate’s magic was that of death and the underworld, but also of love, oracles, of herbs, poisons, protection, and guidance.” To the Romans, Hecate was also known as Trivia, Three-Ways who stands at crossroads, attended by the Restless Dead and hounds. Many historians believe the worship of Hecate was absorbed into the cult of the Roman Goddess Diana who was also associated with the moon and the night, attended by a pack of hounds and left offerings at crossroads.
Diana’s worship persisted well into the medieval period across Europe and was associated with gatherings of women, the moon and witchcraft. For the medieval church, the practice of leaving offerings at crossroads is on the record as one of the hardest pagans practices to stamp out. And if we are uncertain about what these women were really up to on their nocturnal rites, this question from a German Bishop in 1015 reveals much. “Hast thou come to any other place to pray other than a church or other religious place which thy bishop or priest showed thee: to springs or stones or trees or crossroads, and there is reverence for the place lighted a candle or torch, or carried their bread or any offerings, or eaten there, or sought there any healing of body or mind?”