There’s a lot I hope to accomplish in this post, and it’s possible I’ll need to break its two main objectives down further into two separate posts to make this a series of three, but we’ll see what happens. The post covers a time span from 2012 to the present, so roughly 10 years, so there’s a great deal of ground to cover. Future posts (some re-published from past versions of the blog, some new) will expand on themes I’ll be introducing here. For example, I’ll mention “The Saturn Ritual,” and for a fun and ironic twist, I just might re-release the post about that one again today; you see, today happens to be my birthday.
Aftermath and Results of Ritual
Before I jump into interpreting ritual results, there are a few words I’d like to say on the general subject of interpreting ritual results just to get the obvious out of the way: When it comes to magic of this sort–what I would consider Initiatory magic–in other words, when you’re doing magical work aimed at the development of your consciousness (whatever the ultimate end of that objective might be)–interpreting results becomes a highly subjective affair and, a vast majority of it will take place in retrospect. This is okay. It took me forever and a day to realize this, and it might be a tougher pill to swallow depending on your beliefs, but it is not “wrong” or “invalid” to draft an Initiatory narrative by fitting pieces in together after they occur and you’ve had time to thoughtfully consider how to weave everything together. In other words, The Personal Myth is written after we live it. The fact that this involves creativity or the imagination seems to be the hangup for some people (and for earlier versions of myself). This begins to touch on theological issues which I’ll explore as this particular narrative unfolds from here.
As the perceptive might have been able to discern from Part I in this series, my marriage at the time my self-initiation ceremony was performed was on the rocks. Truly, the relationship was never on solid ground and we would not have gotten married if it weren’t a requirement just for us to be together. Strangely enough, my wife at the time did play a role in the ceremony and I do think that becomes supremely important in a symbolic sense, especially when I consider how everything has unfolded since. At any rate, it’s important to know for the sake of context that my wife and I had been through quite a number of fights during which we had already begun going through the motions of breaking up–with her going online to buy plane tickets when she lived with me or me doing the same during my time in Norway, etc. However, a few months after this ritual, we had the last such fight, after which my ex-wife put her foot down and said she wanted a divorce. For me, that meant a return to the United States.
Somewhere in the intervening period between completion of the ritual and separating from my ex-wife, I began to feel “called” by Hekate. It began one morning when I was reading an essay by Stephen Grasso in the book Generation Hex: New Voices from Outside Reality, which mentioned her name as a Crossroads deity in connection with a sort of urban “walkabout” practice that was similar to what I had done for many years. Maybe that’s exactly why the name really jumped out at me; see, from the very beginning of this relationship there is the question: “Is this entity an objectively-existing being outside my mind, or is this mostly a psychological process?” The way a person answers that question says almost everything about how that relationship will develop, and what its ultimate potentials might be. As such, it behooves me to discuss how I approached it myself and to stress that my approach has changed dramatically over time.
When I was younger, I had “spirit guides” (and I am sure I will be re-releasing material about them, so just sit tight if you aren’t familiar with this part of the story already). I believed in spirits, and I had to, because I believed that I am one and that I chose to incarnate voluntarily on this planet at this time to do certain work; that is what my guides had always told me. I had not yet worked with or encountered deities in my magical work or in my inner life–at least, not that I knew of.
By the time I was working for The Theosophical Society, I had begun to open up more to the idea that my “spirit guides” might be aspects of my own psyche–I hadn’t been averse to the idea per se; I’d read Jung and his ideas deeply informed my relationship with my spirits. A big part of my interest in magic was that it was a way I could explore these realities more deeply to answer these questions for myself.
So, was it really “Hekate” suddenly calling out to me, or was it all in my head? At first, I took a “fuzzy,” both/and approach. I was open. I couldn’t be sure. What I think happens for a lot of people is that they might hear a similar “call” from spirit (general) or a spirit (particular), or they might do a self-dedication ceremony, and then synchronicity does kick up–phenomena do rise up that seem connected to the ritual–and the simplest, most obvious answer is accepted (“Oh, I did the ritual and the god(dess) responded, they must be real and I must be communicating with them.”) I wasn’t so quick to jump to that conclusion. I resisted at first, in fact, because it shook up my existing paradigm quite a bit. I began to study the nature of Hekate while staying open-minded. And then my marriage fell apart and I went back home to the U.S.
The summer of my return to the U.S. was pure, unmitigated drama. For one, I had turned to substances to cope with my divorce and the rollercoaster of change, and looking back I am sure the consequences for my Initiation were that it made everything that much worse. It was over that summer that the Saturn Ritual that I referred to earlier took place. Looking back, that ritual was like the “dark echo” of my self-initiation ceremony in Norway; there was an aspect of the earlier ceremony involving the death or destruction of an older self or version of self that I wanted to separate from, but the larger emphasis there was on the rebirth or re-creation–the “light” or “life” side of the ritual. The “Jupiterian” side, in astrological terms. The Saturn Ritual, by contrast, gave more concrete physical expression to certain impulses from the previous ritual, and there was important symbolism in the fact that the ritual involved the burning of an effigy that had been hammered into the earth on the grounds of The Theosophical Society headquarters–which rang with tones of both antinomianism and sovereignty, of reclaiming personal power and agency that I had given away.
I wrote about the ritual very soon after performing it–it wasn’t long after this that I sent a copy of the write-up to a contact and friend from my Co-Masonic lodge, who happened to be a dedicated Priestess of Hekate (imagine that). This kicked off a correspondence that very soon veered into the romantic.
In the coming months, as my relationship with her deepened, I went through a whirlwind of continued upheaval that seemed to coincide meaningfully with my burgeoning connection with Hekate. In light of the circumstances, I can understand why I would have interpreted those events as signifying that Hekate had “claimed” me to work with her and that it was all part of the Initiation through which she was putting me; gods know my new romantic interest was all too happy to tell me so herself, as a bona fide Priestess after all, that yes, she firmly felt this was all genuine deity work and I was being called. For someone who had already held lifelong beliefs about himself along those same lines (which she knew, it seems appropriate now to point out), that’s a very self-affirming thing to hear. Anyway, in a few months’ time, I had taken a road trip out to California to move in with my father, met up with some friends from the Theosophical Society out in Albuquerque, had a falling out with my father that ended in estragement, moved out of his house and back to Albuquerque, when my grandmother (father’s mother) passed away. Knowing her death was inevitable, my new girlfriend invited me to stay with her for the month of October, during which I watched her die, attended her funeral, and saw my father for the last time in years. Not long after I went back to Albuquerque, my housemates and I all went back to Chicago (I had been thinking of returning anyway, and then my friend got her old position back at the Theosophical Society, so we all traveled back together). With nowhere else to go, I moved in with my girlfriend.
This was never a great relationship, either–on-again, off-again, full of tumult. From day one, I was constantly accused of acts and intentions such as infidelity, all by a person who spoke highly of me and our “shared spiritual work” out the other side of her mouth. Somehow, she could just tell me Hekate was behind all of this in her mysterious ways, and I would see that as plausible. Regardless of the state of the relationship at any given time, however, my connection with Hekate deepened until I received the gnosis that I wrote about in Part I of this series.
That gnosis altered my entire relationship with Hekate, revealing what appeared to be the bigger picture behind it. The name “Hermekate” spoke to me on deep levels, suggesting that Hekate herself could only be but a part of this picture; if she was my Initiatrix, it seemed natural to suppose that it would be a limited engagement. Of course, as a Priestess, my partner was ever-incentivized to weave our romantic and spiritual relationships together and to suppose it all meant Hekate “put” us together to “do her spiritual work.” Given the more unhealthy aspects of the relationship, I naturally had to protect myself from that tendency, which she seemed completely unable to see past. Whatever she actually believed, I had come to realize over time that her narrative about our shared spiritual work was potentially dangerous and might have even been a farce to secure my partnership. I am sure I was manipulated along those lines. So as I look back, I do think it’s also quite possible that I latched onto “Hermekate” as a way to hang onto some corner of this picture that I could call my own. My spirituality had been twisted into a prison and means of manipulation and I needed to keep hold of my inner sanctum. Whether or not this line of reasoning holds true, it does fit well enough. Perhaps “Hermekate” was my life preserver? I’m comfortable admitting it all might have started that way–so many things do.
It’s at this point that ontological questions began turning in my head again, creating a situation that I experienced as a “pressure cooker.” I had begun this journey with a self-initiation ritual directed at the universe as a whole, and subjectively, it seemed that the universe had responded by sending me Hekate. This opened up a whole dimension of my spirituality that I hadn’t sufficiently explored before. I wanted to learn what it was like to have a relationship with a deity, and I did. I had spent years studying chaos magic, a practice in which the ontological status of deities is either ignored or at least openly questioned, and devotion was an alien concept to me. I learned some humility in so willingly bending the knee to a being I was conceptualizing as greater than I. This was all good. However, I realized that with belief in Hekate so bound together in an unhealthy relationship with a dedicated clergy member of hers, I could be subjecting myself to treatment I didn’t deserve; was Hekate really “calling” me to be with this person when we hurt each other so much? If she wasn’t real at all, that would be very sad and unfortunate. My partner was clearly 100% invested in her beliefs regarding the situation, so if I wanted to maintain that relationship at all, I had to keep room for those beliefs. Once I started to disagree with them, the whole thing came unraveled. Even if Hekate was real, however–I realized–since my work with her had so much to do with claiming my sovereignty, if she had “put” me with my ex at all, maybe it wasn’t to stay with her, but specifically to see through the abusive dynamics and leave her. Maybe that was the lesson.
Regarding Hermekate, within the context of the relationship, if I was going to match her polytheistic worldview and assume Hekate was real and that we both had a relationship with her, then I would have to hold “Hermekate” to the same standard of reality. That poses essential problems; have you ever seen a picture of a being called “Hermekate?” In fact, if anything, a name like “Hermekate” calls the objective existence of deities into question: Hermes and Hekate both exist separately and hardly crossed paths at all mythologically, which means “Hermekate” pretty much has to be a construct wherein the two have been artificially “smushed” together. It just doesn’t seem plausible at all, even if deities are real, that “Hermekate” is one of them…and this meant that no matter which ontological worldview I adopted, I had relatively free interpretive reign in working with Hermekate.
It proved a very juicy experimental opportunity to probe the limits of reality; I felt inspired to develop a practice around this new, partially-invented figure. I began to perceive a beautiful picture unfolding here involving so many contrasts: Hekate and Hermes in the sense of male and female deities; spirituality as opposed to atheism; occult work aimed at service to an entity vs. occult work centered around self-development, etc. In my mind, especially as it developed in the tension between my partner and I, there was the emerging dichotomy between “magus” and “witch.” In some ways that were often more unspoken than explicit, we each understood that we occupied opposite ends of the ideological spectrum when it came to the occult world and while we were learning to respect one another’s views, there was also an undertone of competition and resentment. She thought I was cocky to so flippantly move from belief to non-belief in these beings to whom she had dedicated her life, and I often felt she was naive in jumping to the conclusions that she did. In some ways, I feel that the word “Hermekate” captured that tension and expressed an urge toward its eventual reconciliation, whether that occurred in the context of our relationship or not. “Hermekate” was the harmonious synthesis of those two modes.
Yoking the Chariot
It’s high time to get more specific about exploring what little existing historical evidence there is for the reality of Hermekate. To be fair, a great deal of the ideas that I came to associate with Hermekate and weave into Their meaning come from this post by Neheti, who is a devotee of Hekate but who was gracious enough to create this page on her website:
So, the name “Hermekate” exists as part of a spell to make a chariot race run in favor of the magus. My mind latched onto this; if this is the only known historical evidence we have for “Hermekate,” then it might be safe to assume some relationship between the occurrence of the name and the intention behind the spell in which it occurs. This eventually becomes the unlikely connection point back to the V-Sigil and my ceremony. I remember first associating Hermekate with the Chariot card in the Major Arcana, especially since the name already stood in my mind for a specific expression of “The Union of Opposites” and so does that card with its unruly, uncooperative sphinxes. What is a chariot? It’s a vehicle, a machine, a contraption artificially built by humans to carry them from place to place (and to wage war more effectively). The question of whether deities exist objectively or “on their own” rests at the heart of Hermekate, and along with it, the possibility that we very much create them ourselves, to carry us along on our spiritual journeys. Are they, then, “chariots?” And if so, if all of them are built up by collective will, mustn’t they all begin with one person? In that case, even if Hermekate isn’t a real deity–I wondered–can I make them a real deity?
Can I build myself a spiritual chariot? And will it work? Will it carry me?
And so, beginning in 2019, I began working closely with Hermekate in ways similar to those in which I had worked with Hekate. I used a pyrography pen to burn a symbol that my ex had hired a graphic designer to create for Hermekate onto a wooden plaque, and I treated this material base much like a deity. I kept it on my shrine to Hekate and made offerings to Hermekate like They were any other deity–and I waited for a response.
When it came, it was far above and beyond anything I had ever expected. Did it help me answer the question? Well, it showed me in unrelenting and unequivocal ways that this rabbit hole goes far deeper than I had ever imagined before a firm answer to the question is either possible or required. In short, I have experienced things that would make a believer out of the most stalwart materialists, in ways that have been almost like something out of a horror novel when they weren’t absolutely breathtaking in their wondrousness.
But this is running long, and I am now certain that this picture will need to be concluded in a Part III post.