Karin Rainbird – Hekate in the Living Orphic Tradition

The Hekate Symposium, drawing of an icon of Hekate showing her with the radiant crown (indicating a connection to the Sun or Moon) and holding a dagger and snake or whip. Hekate is also sometimes spelled Hecate, which is the Roman transliteration.About Karin Rainbird

Karin Rainbird is a Psychologist, Priestess, Witch and Orphic, dwelling in the Welsh valleys, who has always been fascinated with the Greek myths.  As a small child my bedtime reading was the Greek myths.  I was fascinated by tales of Gods and Heroes, and how the natural world was inhabited by nymphs and daemons, and by how closely entwined the realms of Gods and mortals were.  The Gods walked upon the earth, consorted with mortals, heroes and heroines became deified and became themselves Gods, and others shape changed into flowers, trees or animals, merging into the natural world, and giving their names to flowers, trees or other concepts, which they became.  At the same time the myths contained wisdom and lessons about life, the importance of virtue and the heroic quest, of piety and honour, the dangers of Hubris and other lessons.  My love of the Greek Gods was further inspired through school and college days through their appearance in English literature, from Chaucer to Shakespear and the English poets.  At University I was introduced to Plato for the first time, as well as Classical Greek plays.   I also at that time became involved first in Buddhism and Yoga, and then in the Fellowship of Isis, and began training as a Priestess and was Ordained in Glastonbury in the 1980s.  Upon moving to Wales I was initiated into a Wiccan coven, with Wicca being my main path for several years, and living in Wales, also learned about the Welsh Celtic tradition, as well as studying Heathenry for a year or so.  But the Greek Gods continued to call to me, and I wanted to honour them not just as part of an eclectic Wiccan or neo-pagan tradition, but to explore more traditionally Greek ways.  In search I discovered the living Orphic tradition, which I have been following for the past 4 years, and now teach the path to students within the UK and have a website Orphismosuk.com

Hekate in the Living Orphic Tradition
We are lucky that much has survived in terms of written and material evidence of Ancient Greek paganism, which gives those who wish to practice Reconstructionist Greek Religion a wealth of information from which to piece together the ancient religions.   Although much has also been lost, far too much has also survived for the religion to ever have been destroyed completely. What’s more, the philosophies continued to be developed in the works of the Platonist philosophers over the following centuries up to the present day.  There are still families in Greece who have practiced pagan traditions passed down and practiced through generations, that have developed organically and naturally through the centuries, though firmly rooted in the myths, philosophies and spiritual practices of the ancient mystery traditions.  Each family has its own traditions, and each is slightly or sometimes greatly different from the other.  I have learned something of one of the family traditions from Greeks who are willing to share their tradition.  This is very different to Hellenic Reconstructionism, which attempts to recreate mainstream rituals of Ancient and Classical Greece, but is a tradition which includes ideas and practices which have developed through the philosophical schools throughout the centuries, but based in the mystical traditions known as Orphic.  The Orphic philosophical tradition is often very different to mainstream practices and beliefs, and the Theoi (The Gods) in particular may be interpreted very differently.   Most pagans and Goddess worshippers are aware of Hekate’s role as Mistress of Magic and Goddess of Witchcraft, but in the Orphic, Hekate’s role is very different.  She is a Goddess who embodies virtue and the mystic path, a savior (Soteira) and mediator, the Advocate of the Virtuous.  I will discuss the role of Hekate in the Living Orphic tradition, in the works of the Platonic philosophers and in the Chaldean Oracles.  We will look at the Orphic Hymn to Hekate and Proklus’s Hymn to Hekate and Janus, and we will finish with some chanting and offerings to Hekate Soteira