Georgi Mishev PhD – The Cult of the Goddess Hekate in the Balkans

Georgi Mishev, Bulgaria - Speaker at Hekate Symposium 2018
Georgi Mishev

About Georgi Mishev, PhD
Georgi will be travelling from Plovdiv, Bulgaria to join us for the Hekate Symposium here in Glastonbury, he previously presented at the Symposium in 2013. 

He is the author of numerous published articles** on Thracian folklore, ritual and magic, including THRACIAN MAGIC: Past & Present (2012).  His field of study cultural historical heritage, traditional rituality, beliefs and practices; Ancient cultures in the Mediterranean, on the Balkans and in Asia Minor. Georgi is a member of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore SIEF.

“Brimo Trimorphos queen of Strymon”
The cult of the goddess Hekate in the Balkans

For most people who are interested in the goddess Hekate, the cult traditions of the geographical area of ancient Greece and Caria are well known. At the same time, the worship of goddess Hekate in the Thracian lands probably is rooted in very ancient traditions. It is enough to mention some evidences for that worship from Samothraki and Thassos. Going towards the interior of the Balkan Peninsula and Thrace, we will inevitably have to mention also ancient Abdera, where Pindar in the text devoted to this city describes some characteristics of Hekate.

In the interior of Thrace, the goddess Hekate syncretizes with or is called Phosphorus, a deity that has enjoyed some popularity, especially in Byzantium. The talk will present and discuss evidences about this deity found in Kabile, Sveshtari, Sboryanovo, Isperih
and Odessos (Varna), i.e. in the core of the Thracian region in the interior of the Balkans. Beside the evidences of Hekate cult from Pre-Roman times in southern Thrace, there are also some traces of it from the Greek colonies on the western coast of the Black

Sea. Another important topic that will be discussed is the interpretation of the concentration of monuments that testify that Hekate cult was present in the area around Philippopolis during Roman times. One possible explanation is that an older Thracian goddess with a similar functional spectrum might have been worshipped there. The reason for such thesis give the votive plates found in the region of Assenovgrad, which represent a goddess with a very clear infernal character. Attention will be paid also to the iconographical tradition of the Hekate cult on the Balkans. Here the trimorphic images dominate also the cult monuments. Monomorphic images are rarely found. For Hekate in the image of Kourotrophos, for the time being, only two published examples can be pointed out, but they are in themselves extremely expressive and have no parallels from other regions.

Last but not least, an important monument of the Hekate cult from Messambria will be discussed. It represents the deification of a priestess of Hekate, who after her death identifies herself with the goddess.

** Publications:
Mishev, G. Magical rituals for gathering plants. In: Mirabilia: wonders and monsters. Sofia, 2018, in print.
Mishev, G. Insomnia in the folk belief – image and ritual. –In: Mirabilia: wonders and monsters. Studia Balcanica 31. Sofia, 2016, 320-335.
Mishev, G. The stone – faith and beliefs from Bratsigovo. -In: Megalithic Monuments and Cult Practices.
PROCEEDINGS of the Second International Symposium Blagoevgrad, 12-15 October 2016. Blagoevgrad,2016, 315-322.
Mishev, G. The beginning of the path of the witch in the Bulgarian traditional culture. // Balkan thesaurus:
The Beginning. Balkan Readings 13. Theses and papers. Moscow, 7-9 of April 2015. Moscow, 2015,179–188. (in Bulgarian)
Mishev, G. The hierarchy as foundation of the ritual. // The leaders of masquerade. Papers from the conference for the XXIIIth international festival of the masquerade games „Surva – Pernik 2014. Pernik, 2015, 94–101. (in Bulgarian)
Mishev, G. Where Do You Come From, Ash? – I Come From a Pure Place. Magical Healing Practices from the Region of the Thracian Cult Centre of Starosel, Plovdiv region, Bulgaria. // THE RITUAL YEAR 10 Magic in Rituals and Rituals in Magic. The Yearbook of the SIEF Working Group on the Ritual Year. Innsbruck 2015, 246–256. (in English)
Mishev, G. The mask of the divine multiplicity. // „Masquerade Games – visual tale“. Papers from the conference for the XXIIth international festival of the masquerade games „Surva – Pernik 2013. Pernik, 2014, 127–133. (in Bulgarian)
Mishev, G. White, red and black: Bulgarian healing ritual. // The Cauldron. No 149. London, 2013, 33–36. (in English)
Mishev, G. Thracian magic: past & present. London, 2012, 338 pages. (in English)
Mishev, G. Cultural Memory in the Region of the Cult Center Starosel. // Bulletin of the National History Museum, XXII. Veliko Turnovo, 2010, 185–197. (in Bulgarian)
Online publications:
Mishev, G. Тhe regulations of the Iobacchoi online: http://www.thracica.com/library/epublication/14 (in Bulgarian)
Mishev, G. Solar disk on peak Eldermen, region of Starosel online:
http://godsun.thracica.com/library/publication/13 (in Bulgarian)
Lectures and Conferences 2012. „Ritual – Cultural tourism – Buffoonery“ – during the 10th National anniversary scientific conference with international participation "The society of knowledge and the humanism of 21st century" at the University of Library Studies and Information Technologies, Sofia 2011. “Nymphs – Image/Symbol of the Magical Femininity in Traditional Bulgarian Beliefs” – during the 3rd National Conference of Analytical Psychology in Sofia, Bulgaria.
2010. “Water – Deities, Beliefs and Rituals from Antiquity to Modern Times” – at the Night of the Museums in the city of Kazanlak, Bulgaria.
Consulted and took part in the filming of some documentaries:
2012. „Fire relicts” – a documentary dedicated to the cult and the pre-Christian origin of the so-called fiery Saints – St. Elijas and St. Marina, a production of the Bulgarian national television – Plovdiv (online:
http://bntplovdiv.com/all-movies/movies-online/7081-ogneni-relikti.html)
2011. „She” – a documentary dedicated to the cult of the Goddess, a production of the Bulgarian national television – Plovdiv (online: http://bntplovdiv.com/all-movies/movies-online/3641-tya.html).
2010. “Rhodope magic” – documentary trilogy, co-production of the Czech Republic Television and Golden Archer Productions, in collaboration with the Bulgarian National Television.