One of the most common portrayals of Hekate is that of Her as three-headed or with three conjoined bodies. This is often interpreted as Her watching towards all directions (of the crossroads), thus wielding powers of vast insight, as well as being a reference to the crossroads itself, one of Her most predominant symbols.

 

This made sense to me. The symbolism and the interrelations of the meanings rang true. However, I couldn’t help but feel puzzled as to how She could see towards all directions if the directions are four (Forward, Behind, Left and Right or North, South, West and East – six if you add Above and Below) while Her heads were three.

 

I reached two possible solutions to this, which open different layers of understanding.

 

First, Her three bodies/heads were usually depicted in such as manner that reminded me of the letter Y: watching diagonically and thus having a 360 degrees POV instead of a 270 degrees POV that a T position would create.

 

Interestingly enough, according to some folklore, She is mostly associated with Y-shaped crossroads, above any other type (such as +-shaped ones). Furthermore, such a crossroads can represent the most basic of situations: you are led to a point where you have to make a choice. Granted, we have more alternatives than two, however, the universal and simplest form is that of a double choice: this or that? Yes or no?

 

In this manner, Hekate watches our past, what leads us to this crossroads, while also watching our potential future. She is standing at the centre, being our present and the crossroads itself.

 

The second potential solution to my dilemma, was this one: Hekate has three known faces looking Left, Right and Forward. Yet She has a fourth face, a concealed, hidden face, looking Behind. This face corresponds to an epithet I am fond of using for Her (and which is of my own creation): Skiaia – of the Shadows, Shadowy One. Her fourth face is hiding in the shadows, ever-watchful of the past, of former choices and things unknown to us, which shaped us regardless of our own awareness of them.

 

As such, She is again standing in the centre of crossroads, a +-shaped one this time. She is aware of all roads, in a linear fashion, and has a deep insight of the very end and beginning of each road, for Her gaze stretches parallel to the paths themselves and not crooked like in the other example.

 

Strangely enough, both solutions seem to apply at once, just like many things in Witchcraft do. All crossroads are Her domain regardless of shape and position. Perhaps She adapts to the occasion. Perhaps She is All at Once, beyond our limitations.

 

Faces of Hekate: Role – Attribute – Epithet – Tool

 

North/Forward Face: Opener of Ways - Initiatrix – Kleidouchos - Key

South/Behind Face: Oracle of Knowledge - Watcher - Skiaia - Rod/Torch*

West/Left Face: Guide of the Blessed - Psychopomp - Enodia - Rope/Cord

East/Right Face: Averter of Evil - GuardianApotropaia - Dagger

 

*It might seem paradoxical that as Skiaia, Shadowy One, She holds the Torch. It is indeed, yet ours is a religion of paradoxes and She is the embodiment of All, opposite or not. She IS the Shadow yet She holds the Light illuminating it.