Note: This story contains spoilers for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina season 3.
The Dark Lord and Devil himself, Lucifer Morningstar (Luke Cook)? Out. Lilith (Michelle Gomez), the backstabbing usurper to the Throne of Hell? Buh-bye. There's a new deity in Greendale, and her name is Hecate. In the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina season 3 episode 8 "Sabrina Is Legend," Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) summons the power of Hecate to resurrect Aunt Hilda (Lucy Davis) after seeing the triple-moon symbol during her stay in Limbo. But who is Hecate, and why did Aunt Zelda pick this goddess for her spell?
Hecate is a very real deity.
Hecate (also spelled HeKate, and pronounced HEK-uh-tee) is a goddess that has been worshipped for thousands of years. She originates from ancient Greek mythology, and as the Ancient History Encyclopedia explains, "She was especially associated with witchcraft, magic, the Moon, doorways, and creatures of the night, such as hellhounds and ghosts."
She is also known as the "keeper of keys."
Hecate has many different appearances, but she is often depicted carrying a set of keys — this is because she is regarded as the gatekeeper between Heaven and Hell. Hecate also carries two torches to illuminate dark paths, and commands a pack of dogs to guard the nighttime. In ancient Greek art, she is commonly shown with three heads or bodies.
In contemporary Wicca and neo-Paganism, she is considered a Dark Goddess because of her association with night, death, and the underworld.
But Hecate is NOT the Triple Goddess.
Let's split a hair. In Sabrina, Aunt Zelda also references the Triple Goddess, or the divine manifestation of the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. These are the three aspects of the Triple Goddess, and there are numerous goddesses that represent each of these forms.
Although she is depicted with three heads, Hecate is not the Triple Goddess — she is associated with the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess.
Aunt Zelda calls on the Triple Goddess *and* Hecate.
In the summoning spell, Aunt Zelda called out to the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The Maiden represents youth, vitality, renewal, and exciting new beginnings. Her symbol is the waxing crescent moon, which Aunt Zelda saw in her memory of studying at the Academy of the Unseen Arts as a teen.
The mother represents birth, adulthood, sexuality, and stable forces, and is symbolized by the full moon. Aunt Zelda saw the symbol when she revisited the day baby Sabrina arrived on her doorstep.
The Crone, of course, represents wisdom, old age, darkness, and death, and is symbolized by the waning crescent noon; Aunt Zelda saw this in the premonition of her death. But in her spell, she specifically asked Hecate for assistance, because Hecate is the gatekeeper between life and death, working in her capacity as the Crone.
Hecate is still worshipped today!
Folks from many different neo-Pagan and occult traditions still worship Hecate today. On new moons, many Hecate worshippers perform a ceremony called the Diepnon. After the sun sets, her followers place offerings at a crossroads — this can be a street intersection, a window or door threshold, or a metaphysical crossroads, such as a salt circle.
Offerings usually consist of tokens and foods, like eggs and garlic, and some folks use rotting foods to signify Hecate's dark energy. Tokens can include keys, black veils or scarves, and treats for her trusted dogs. Once the offering has been placed, it is considered bad luck to look back at it, lest you see the dead.