Crossroads, Entranceways, The Night, Magic, Herbology, Edges
Torches, Keys, Dogs, Polecats
"Pleased with dark ghosts that wander through the shade … nightly seen."
Orpheus, poet and Argonaut
Hecate might have fought with the Titans against Zeus and the Olympians as her father was Perses, the Titan god of destruction, and her mother was Asteria, the Titan goddess of falling stars. Yet she stayed away from Cronus and his court, well aware of how the Titan was cursed by his father. She sided with Zeus when the Titanomachy began as his campaign was a just cause against Cronus' tyranny. Perses and Asteria avoided the war. Her father ascended to the sky, becoming the Dog Star, and her mother flung herself into the sea to form the island of Ortygia.
In the war she served the Olympians as the nightwatcher and developed a strong affinity with night, particularly the transition between day and night. Hecate came to love the role of protector and liked to descend into the mortal realm to protect mankind from the restless shades and monsters created in the chaos of the war. The creatures were slipping across the borders between the spiritual and physical worlds so she patrolled where the two worlds met. This work honed her magical abilities and she taught this knowledge to mortals. Under her guidance many women become witches and sorceresses strong enough to guard their own borders. Hecate is now the patron of all mortal magic.
For her work, loyalty and unparalleled control of magic, Zeus holds Hecate in the highest regard. To honour her, he and his brothers granted her control and guardianship of wherever two realms meet. This often places her between two rival gods and this has made her few friends. She has a strong working relationship with Hades and helps him maintain the distinction between the living and death.
Hecate sees it as her duty to patrol in the night so she might help those in need and protect the vulnerable. One night she encountered a warrior called Teutamos, praying at a statue of Hecate on the way to Thebes. From his prayer she learned he was travelling to defend the honour of his noble house despite knowing the champion of Thebes would best him in combat. Teutamos was asking for Hecate to guide his way for he had lost his torch and did not want to suffer the dishonour of arriving late for the challenge.
Hearing his plight and observing the respect he paid her, Hecate relit his torch with an eternal flame. She then sent a polecat to guide him to Thebes by the quickest route. Teutamos died as expected at Thebes but Hecate herself bore witness to his bravery at his judgment in the Underworld, assuring his entry to the Isles of the Blessed.
If anyone seeks the protection of Hecate, it is always wise to do her due honour. The nobleman Kameirus had the hubris to believe he did not need Hecate's protection, despite having made enemies of the other noble families in his polis. He moved his household from the city to a hilltop and built a stone hall, surrounded by several layers of stone walls. The hall was fitted with heavy doors and he paid a mercenary company to keep watch day and night. Overconfident, he boasted that he did not need the Nightwatcher's help. He set no idols of Hecate at his doors and offered her neither worship nor sacrifice.
Offended at such action, Hecate found the restless spirits of those which Kameirus had killed or wronged during life. She told them where he could be found and in the night they swept through his stone walls and past his guards. They came to his bed chamber and gave him dark and terrible nightmares. Unable to sleep and driven mad by the torment, Kameirus threw himself from a cliff.
Cronus and his court in Tartarus see Hecate as a traitor and she can expect no mercy if he regains power. She is also on the front line of the conflict as the Titans use the dark to conspire and spread chaos. Her champions are chosen for their ability to keep watch in the dark and hear the secrets the night keeps. Most of her champions are granted magic abilities to help them, and they work with the champions of Hades, tackling those threats which bridge the gap between life and death.
Hecate is most unusual and appears to mortals not with one form but as three identical bodies standing back-to-back. Each bears a pair of torches at night and is dressed in a hunting skirt, tunic and boots. Her three sets of eyes give her all-round vision and the dog or polecat which accompanies her sniffs at the air and senses what cannot be seen.
The three bodies speak with one mind but each mouth expresses a different aspect of the same idea. One mouth may order a champion to slay a monster, another may warn that the monster is the child of a god who will be angered and the third mouth may suggest an alternative way to solve the problem. This can confuse those who meet her.
Hecate maintains an aura of mystery, even amongst the other gods. Private and quiet, she has little interest in the loud parties and gatherings and tends not to appear at court. Instead she keeps to her duties, patrolling through the night and turning away whatever lurks in the darkness from the edges of civilisation.
Worship of Hecate lacks the grand parades or massive temple complexes devoted to other gods but she is worshipped in every household. A small three-faced idol of her is placed at the entranceway and larger statues are found at crossroads, particularly three way meetings, to invoke her protection. Food offerings are left at the statues on each new moon, when the night is darkest, seeking the goddess' continual protection. Her major temple is at Lagina, a theocratic city state controlled by her priests and run by an order of eunuchs. The city hosts a great festival in her honour on the first full moon of November.