I was sitting on my toilet earlier and thinking, as one does when waiting for their loving spouse to locate a roll of toilet paper for those emergency “Why the hell didn’t you replace the roll after using the last of it you dipshit!” situations, when a thought occurred to me that I forgot about until a few minutes ago while browsing Twitter (no, not while on the toilet).
The gods (or God, whatever your belief) come into our lives at such strange times and we often aren’t even aware of it until years later. I’ve said before in passing that Hecate is considered my household’s patron goddess, and has been for my mother and I since before I married. Since before we came back to Georgia in 2010. I’ve also told my long, winding spiritual journey and yadda yadda yadda. That’s the “official” version, at least that’s what I call it. It’s got the main plot points, the important details, but lacks the down to earth, slice of life details and stories between the major plot points. This is one of those little, silly detail stories.
My mother’s a Christian again, but not the sort to completely ignore or rally against what she believed before. It was a natural progression for her, and it makes her happy. And I’m happy that she’s happy, too. But that’s just here for context. Before she returned to Christianity, she worshiped Hecate. And through the part of her life that she did, Hecate was what she needed most. And I am happy that the goddess welcomed her and helped her through a very troubled and dark time of her life in ways that I could not be there for her.
And while I do not consider myself a devotee and have her as my main deity – she is among my personal pantheon and does fill the role of primary goddess in it, with Death itself as the god role (which for my personal spiritual practice takes a more prevalent position in my worship. More on THAT in another post on another day). So, in my practice and worship, she’s around and pops up when she feels she needs to.
But it occurred to me earlier, and again right before making this post, that I was drawn to Her long before I knew anything about paganism beyond basic Greek and Roman mythology we learn in grade school. Bizarrely, this particular stroll down memory lane takes a sudden and sharp turn into the world of Fanfiction. I’ve mentioned before that I write the stuff (but I do not post it to this blog). But first, a bit of context as to how this links up with the rest.
I love books and I love learning (despite what all of my teachers in the past were led to believe). I would think of a subject, and look it up in the dictionary, then thesaurus, and eventually the encyclopedia. When I had a chance to go to the library, I’d take a notebook and just do as much research from as many different sources as I could. I didn’t have to, no one made me, but I just did it. I would devote entire summers to learning about a subject as much as I possibly could. This continued from second grade all the way up until part way through college and I had a job that took most of my time away from my academic leanings.
In 1997, my family got our first computer through the Finger-Hut catalogue. Technically it was my mom’s, but we kids were allowed to use it for school and a little bit for the internet (mostly, again, for school). A family friend set it up for us, and he gave us some nifty programs for it, too. One of them was an encyclopedia program. Needless to say I was the most excited of all of us over that one. Mind you, Wikipedia would not be launched until 2001. So this program that I got for free was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. The summer of ’98 I used that encyclopedia program to do a lot of reading. Every subject I could think of until finally, I settled on Greek and Roman mythology. At the time I already had a basic grasp on it, a little more than my peers, but only because my favorite anime or all time had been (and still is) Sailor Moon, who’s characters’ super heroine forms are named after the planets and have attacks based partly on the elements and partly on the particular gods/goddesses associated with their planet (except Saturn and Pluto. That one gets a little weird and mixed up – but the rest are pretty close to the mythical origins to an extent). It was also around this time I discovered… Fanfiction. See, I told you it would all connect together.
One of the main plot points of Sailor Moon is the love story between Princess Serenity of the Moon Kingdom and Prince Endymion of planet Earth. I had never heard the name Endymion before, so I was curious to see if like many other aspects of the show, it was based on mythology. Imagine my middle school aged surprise to learn there was more than on goddess of and/or associated with the moon. I read up about the Selene and Endymion myth, which led me to an entry about moon goddesses in general. This entry, of course, led me to Artemis and Diana (funny enough, the names of 2 of the 3 talking cats on the show). However… in a footnote among other articles and names of gods and goddesses in the “See Also:” section was Hecate. I’d already decided to go through every entry even remotely linked to Greek and Roman mythology that I could uncover, but that entry in particular caught my interest.
And later that summer, when I decided to try my hand at Fanfiction, it was with my fanmade character Sailor Dark Moon, Princess Hecate. A dark and edgy version of Sailor Moon who came from the dark side of the moon. Yes, very original, I know. Go ahead and get your giggles out now.
Take a breath. How about some water? Need a bit of air?
You good now? No?
I’ll give you another minute to compose yourself.
Okay. Let’s continue. Yes, that was a very awkward period of my life and I am insanely grateful that I never committed any of THAT fanfiction to digital format. The handwritten stories that were circulated among my friends now no longer exist, thank the gods. I burned every single last copy. The take-away from that experience though is that I devoured the information more than I had any other of the gods and goddesses in the encyclopedia at the time. And over the years, when I happened to come across information regarding Hecate, I’d read through it. I didn’t seek it out though. Just one of those “Hey, random article about this subject cites this other article about Hecate. Neat. Wonder if there’s anything in the Hecate article I don’t already know.” And so I’d click it to read it. But I never went out of my way to look for information after that summer.
Well, after that summer, I really didn’t want to go to church anymore. I wanted to branch out and explore other beliefs. But at the time, my hands were tied and I kinda had to go to church if I wanted anywhere to go out and do. It was the only way we could afford things like bowling or skating at the skating rink, etc, as part of church trips. A few years later, around early 2000, I didn’t have to go to church anymore, and this afforded me the freedom to explore other beliefs. So I read a lot. Went to the library, and checked out any book I could about all kinds of beliefs. At the time my library wasn’t even close to being as big as it is now, but it was better than nothing. It was nice. Of course, I looked up old Hecate when I explored Greek/Roman polytheism and at the time it really didn’t connect with me all that much. Still, it was an interesting read to me at the time.
A few years later in early 2003 (my 16th birthday no less) my family moved to Florida. Much of the first few weeks I try to block out of my mind. However, where we lived – we were very close to a little store within walking distance of my house called The Purple Door. And it was run by a nice Wiccan named Gretchen. It had all manner of pagan stuff, and it was here that my mom found her path, or rather, the path that was needed most at the time. We stopped in just because “Hey, there’s this place that literally has a purple door. They’ve got neat stuff in the window. Let’s stop in and see what they do there since we have time to kill today.” and it seemed like a good idea at the time. And it really was. My mom went back, bought a couple of books. Talked with Gretchen a bit. Of all my mom’s kids I was really the only one who had an interest in her newfound spirituality because I was the only one who’d really tried to branch out and find something new for myself. And I felt she needed at least someone in the family who was supportive of her in this regard that she could talk to with no judgements. She experimented with different gods and goddesses, until at last she had settled on with Hecate. Boy was she surprised when she told me about Hecate and I went and told her even more (at least in the academic sense).
At the time I remember thinking it was pretty funny because of my silly little Sailor Moon fanfictions that were inspired by Hecate. And while she wasn’t exactly one of my personal pantheon at the time, she was still an influential deity of my spiritual life at the time because she was the one to which my mom turned in her faith and belief (alongside Hestia and other home-maker type goddesses to a lesser degree).
Ten years later, after meeting my husband and right around when we started dating (right before we “officially” started dating. He actually courted me. It was cute. This next bit is during that “courting” period which lasted about 2 weeks) I’m over at his and his mother’s house for dinner. Somehow we got on the topic of spirituality and witchcraft and Wicca in general (I must note, by this time I firmly identified as not Wiccan) and something I said must have impressed his mother quite a bit because she actually started going pretty in-depth into the topic with me, and later said it was a better conversation on the subject than she’s ever had with any of my then-almost-boyfriend’s past girlfriends. And of course, given the subject matter, Hecate’s name came up. She might have been impressed with the fact I didn’t do full on woo-woo new age sparkly glitter about the sparkly glitter version of Hecate that most of the fluffy woo-woo types go on about, and more on the realistic expectation of personal belief plus the academic perspective. At least, I like to think that’s what it might have been. I know she was surprised that I knew some stuff that typically doesn’t come up on a surface level Google search. Whatever it was, she was satisfied that I gave the goddess her proper respect and reverence, so I guess that’s a tick in a win column somewhere.
But thinking back on all of that, earlier today, it makes me want to giggle. Because again, you never know when the deities you may or may not believe in will step in, make themselves known, and then just kinda poke their head in from time to time whether or not you actually believe in them. Needless to say, by 2013 Hecate had become part of my personal pantheon as the main goddess among them, where she continues to be to this day.
But it’s just a little funny that for me, the road to Hecate started not with a dire need for something to believe in. Nor was it a deep spiritual devotion and hours upon hours of meditation. It started with a 1997 no-name computer from a mail order catalogue, with 1997 encyclopedia software, and an obsession with the anime Sailor Moon.