Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tools of the Hekatean Craft



In this post, I will explore the main tools of the Hekatean Craft – and, by extension, the main tools of the Triskelion itself – as well as give brief explanations of their roles, uses, and symbolism.

The Triad of Hekate’s Seal


One of the central symbols in the Hekatean Craft is called Hekate’s Seal. This is actually a set of distinct symbols weaved together to form a coherent whole, a symbolic rendition of the Craft itself.


As you can see in the picture (a quick sketch just to demonstrate it here), Hekate’s Seal is comprised of an eye within a circle, surrounded by nine rays, and around that circle, in the points that would correspond to a superimposed triquetra, are three Hekatean symbols: the dagger, the key, and the rope. Flanking those are two lit torches, one white, one black. Below the symbolic pattern, there is Hekate’s name written in Greek capital letters.




In this post, we will only focus on the three main symbols (dagger, key, rope): these are also important tools in the Hekatean Craft, the ones collectively called “The Triad of Hekate’s Seal”.


The Dagger: the symbol of the Witch’s power and Will. This tool is an emblem of the Witch’s position, power, and authority under the auspices of Hekate within this practice and I wield it as a sign of my identity and status within all formal rituals of the Triskelion (and, especially in the Hekatean Craft). Moreover, the Dagger is a weapon, physically as well as spiritually, and a tool with the properties of authority, control, summoning, and protection. It is also a guide and conduit of my Will, mainly in manifesting it for ritual purposes (example: drawing the magic circle). Within the Triskelion praxis, it has no specific elemental affinity, instead containing all elements equally and in balance. It can be somewhat of a forceful tool, even when used solely as a “badge” or “ID” of sorts.


The Crossroads Key: The Key is an old, plain key imbued with the power and magic of a crossroads through an appropriate rite. It stands as one of the greatest symbols of Hekate and Her liminal powers. The Key is used to lock and unlock the three Gates, to provide a link to the crossroads, to serve as a focal point for the worship of Hekate as well as to empower any rite and working. Like the Dagger, it has no specific elemental affinity.


The Hanged Man’s Rope: The Hanged Man’s Rope is a piece of rope, consecrated with the power of the Underworld, and symbolises the bonds of both the ancestors and the Restless Dead – the deceased with whom Hekate is more closely associated – with our world. The Rope is used as a conduit or focus for interaction with the dead. Also, it can be used both to guide the Restless Dead to the underworld as well as to sever the bonds that hold them in this world. The first is combined with another tool, the Hermetic Rod, while the latter makes use of the Dagger to symbolically cut the lingering bonds by placing the Dagger’s blade on the Rope as part of specific rites. Again, like the Dagger and the Key, the Rope has no specific elemental affinity.


The Witch’s Tools

 

Beyond the Triad, there are additional and equally important tools: these are called “The Witch’s Tools” and are the following: the Hekataion, the Hermetic Rod, and the Three Sacred Waters.


Hekataion: The Hekataion is the “Book of Shadows” of the Hekatean praxis. A Hekataion is any place or object dedicated to Hekate or portraying Her. In ancient Greece, a Hekataion was often a column or other similar construct (like a statue or altar) portraying Hekate, usually accompanied by the Charites and placed on crossroads. Symbolically, the book is a Hekataion since it is dedicated to Hekate and the Hekatean Craft. It contains information and lore regarding Hekate and this Craft.


Hermetic Rod: The Rod is made from a plane tree’s fallen branch, from the trees of our previous residence. The Rod is the Dagger’s “sibling” in many ways. They have great, in some cases opposing, differences. Because of that, they complement each other and should often be used in conjunction. The Rod is the symbol of the messenger. Its properties are that of calm interaction, of communication, and exchange. The Rod is a tool of communication and soothing, a parallel of Hermes’ staff, the caduceus (Greek: Kerykeion – Herald’s Staff) which is both a symbol of his status as a messenger and a tool for putting people to sleep. The Rod is used for inviting entities (usually deities or respected daemons) as well as for invocation (alongside the Dagger). Unlike the previous tools, the Rod has a specific and highly important elemental affinity: it is of the element of Air (further empowering its properties and roles). Finally, the Rod is used to open and close (which follow and precede respectively, the unlocking and locking of) the Gates.


The Three Sacred Waters: There are three different and unique blessed waters I can make in the Hekatean Craft and overall Triskelion praxis. These are: the Meter Protogenos ("Primordial Mother" or "First-born Mother"), the Stygian Water, and the Eternal Water.


  • The Meter Protogenos is the most useful and often utilised blessed water. It is used for purification, cleansing*, blessing, protection, and as a bearer of lunar properties and attributes. It is a mixture of salt and water, blessed and created with an appropriate rite. 
  • The Stygian Water is used for lesser anointments (unctions), enhancement and blessing, lesser consecrations, and as a bearer of chthonic attributes and properties. It is created by the submersion of a wooden branch on fire (such as a lit match) in water and blessed in the appropriate rite.
  • Finally, the Eternal Water is a special kind of blessed water reserved for very significant rituals. It is created by combining the Meter Protogenos and the Stygian Water in the appropriate rite. It possesses all qualities and attributes of the other two blessed waters and in a greater degree. It can be used for purification, cleansing, major blessings, major consecrations, major anointments (unctions), protection, enhancement, and as a bearer of Hekate’s own energy.

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*Cleansing and purification: I differentiate between the two, somewhat. Cleansings are purifications but of a lesser potency while the term "purification" (Greek: καθαρμός, katharmos) is used in my writings to refer to more powerful techniques.
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Elemental Pillars


In the Hekatean Craft, there are four tools that correspond to and represent the elements in ritual. Unlike other systems those four tools called Pillars, are stones. Every stone represents and corresponds to an element (fire, water, air, and earth). The making of these stones into the Elemental Pillars is a long and arduous process, in order to ensure that they have been properly and permanently imbued with the appropriate elemental energies only.


The Pillars are the magical foundations of many rituals (as well as most elabourate workings), especially magical ones or those that utilise the magic circle, in the Hekatean Craft. Their use can prove essential since nothing can be constructed (magically/energetically) without proper foundations. Each Pillar has its own meanings and properties and based on those, they can be positioned differently depending on the ritual/working.


Pillar of Earth: It represents the element of Earth. Its properties are: stability, calmness, power physical/bodily/life force, growth, fertility, support, death, precaution, restriction/confinement. It can be used as the foremost Pillar for workings and rites related/focused on these things.

Pillar of Fire: It represents the element of Fire. Its properties are: passion, power energetic, cleansing, banishment, catharsis, destruction, soul, sun, Will, protection, enlightenment. It can be used as the foremost Pillar for workings and rites related/focused on these things.

Pillar of Water: It represents the element of Water. Its properties are: memory, birth, cleansing, flow, moon, spirit, healing, clarity, feeling, goal, prediction/foresight, depth, time. It can be used as the foremost Pillar for workings and rites related/focused on these things.

Pillar of Air: It represents the element of Air. Its properties are: knowledge, message/news, cleansing, banishment, increase, empowerment, communication, in/evocation, mind. It can be used as the foremost Pillar for workings and rites related/focused on these things.

The Gates of the Otherworld


In the Hekatean Craft as well as the overall Triskelion praxis, an important tenet and practice is that of opening Gates to connect to realms and worlds entwined with the one we reside in as a means to either draw directly from where a rite or working’s goal is “originating” or to communicate and interact with the entities residing in those realms. The Gates are three: the Gate of Fire, connecting us with the realm(s) of deities and higher spiritual planes/spheres, the Gate of Water, connecting us with the realm(s) of daemons, the fae, other such spirits and the parallel (to us) planes and spheres and the Gate of Earth, connecting us with the realm(s) of the dead and lower planes/spheres. Each Gate has its own properties and roles. Air has no gate since it is the means, the road if you wish, connecting all of them.


Gate of Fire: The Gate of Fire connects to the higher realms. It aids interaction and communication with deities. Its element is Fire and its properties are passion and power. Its nature is solar. It brings forth energy and is related to the Anima Mundi, the World Soul. It symbolizes Will and the Higher Self (soul).
 
Gate of Water: The Gate of Water connects to the parallel realms. It aids interaction and communication with the fae, daemons and other such spirits. Its element is Water and its properties are feeling and healing. Its nature is lunar. It brings forth flow and is related to the Sensus/Spiritus Mundi, the World Mind/Spirit. It symbolizes the goal/intent and the Self (spirit).

Gate of Earth: The Gate of Earth connects to the lower realms. It aids interaction and communication with the dead. Its element is Earth and its properties are instinct, stability and fertility-death. Its nature is physical/earthly. It brings forth growth and is related to the Corpus Mundi, the World Body. It symbolizes the action and the Lower Self (life force/body).


Each Gate is represented by an appropriate elemental item. Specifically, the Gate of Fire is a source of fire, such as a candle, the Gate of Water is an amount of water, such as a bowl of water and the Gate of Earth is something of the earth, such as a bowl of rock salt or soil.


Different Gates are opened depending on the rite. In most cases, only one Gate is opened. The Gates are used for empowerment of workings and as an aid for communication and interaction with the appropriate entities for religious rites. In order to use them, a specific procedure must be followed. I can give the summary of the procedure here, but I cannot reveal the incantations and details involved.


First, I place the Pillars around the object to be turned into a Gate, with the Pillar of the corresponding element in front of the Gate, facing the practitioner. The Pillar of the opposing element is placed behind the Gate, while the other two can be placed in either side (left or right). Following that is the Unlocking of the Gates, a small rite unto itself, using the Crossroads Key to unlock and activate the Gate. Finally, using the Hermetic Rod I open fully the activated and unlocked Gate, just like one would turn the handle of an unlocked door to fully open it.


The Rod is very important in the rites of the Gates. It is used to ensure successful communication with the entities approached via the Gates as well as to maintain, through a calming authority, the exchange and working at hand. Should additional control and more forceful authority be required, the Dagger could also be used.


After the rite or working is complete, the Gate must be closed with the Rod and then locked with the Key, to fully deactivate it and make certain that nothing (energy, entities etc) will “leak” through. The objects used as the Gates are then cleaned (e.g. the water or dirt be disposed of, respectfully), cleansed and stored away. These objects are only used for the Gates, to ensure the purity of the energies involved.

The Minor Anima Mundi


The last main tool of the Hekatean Craft – but in no way the least important – is the Minor Anima Mundi (Lesser World Soul). It is a large candle, which underwent potent consecration rituals performed in trance-induced communion with Hekate. This candle serves as a vessel for Hekate’s power and presence, a living part of the Goddess to manifest in ritual. As such, it is an especially sacred object that must be treated with the utmost respect and kept solely for ritual use (I store it away safely whenever I’m not using it in ritual).


The Minor Anima Mundi acts similarly to a cult image, although a more abstract one rather than an anthropomorphic xoanon or statue. Due to it being imbued profusely with Hekate’s power, it exhibits and imparts many of the powers and blessings of the Goddess. As a – literal and metaphorical – Torch of Hekate (another name for it), it is particularly suited for mystery work, deep devotional practice, and theurgic magic.

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