Hekate’s Deipnon

by Zoe edited by various authors

Hekate’s Deipnon takes place during the dark phase of the moon: the end of the lunar month (any time before the sliver of the new moon has been sighted).   Hekate, according to the Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon, means “bringer or giver of light” (‘Ekate phosphoros).  At the darkest part of the month, we prepare our homes for the transition to a new month. Hekate’s Deipnon is a time of purification of self, home, and affairs. There are differing theories as to if Hekate’s Deipnon is solely a meal offered to Hekate, or if there is a secondary intent of the meal offering going to the less fortunate.  For example: Aristophanes, Plutus 410 ff (trans. O’Neill) (Greek comedy C5th to 4th B.C.) :

“Ask Hekate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will tell you that the rich send her a meal every month [i.e. food placed inside her door-front shrines] and that the poor make it disappear before it is even served.”

For this reason a very popular way to mark the Deipnon is to make a donation of food or money to a local food shelf or other charitable group.

A Deipnon offering of an egg, a leek, and a cone of incense placed on a home altar during the day. At night the offering is placed outside. Photo by SnowCalla

Traditional offerings include:

  • sweepings from the home
  • garlic
  • eggs
  • leeks
  • “things you don’t want to bring into the next month”

Some modern Hellenes choose to put the more traditional offerings onto an altar, offer them at a 3 way crossroads, or place them at an intersection of air, water, and land – such as a rock jutting out of the water or a bridge over a stream or pond.  Donations of food, money, or time serving meals at a local food pantry or soup kitchen are an increasingly popular offering.  Additionally many find this is the perfect time of the month to clean out the refrigerator.  Some may find it’s also a good time to tend to the worm composter. Others dispose of the previous month’s contents of the Kathiskos while cleaning out or taking stock of what’s in your kitchen pantry.  Making sure you have fulfilled your previous month’s obligations, duties, promises, and paid off all debts (financial and emotional) is another activity some perform to ‘close the books’ on the previous month and prepare for the new one.  Some also find this is a good time to review your notes and see if one has missed a promised thanks-offering in return for a prayer, or to check offering dishes and burners for stray remnants (barley as been known to roll to into nooks and crannies of hestias and grills) to be burned off or placed in the composter or cross roads.

Hymns for Hekate on Theoi.com

Modern Hymns

Poem by Melia Suez – Crossroadshttp://melia-suez.livejournal.com/42206.html

Shrine to Hekate. Photo by Melitta.

Additional Reading:

Theoi.com has some excellent resources (but a number of non-classical references to witchcraft that are out of place)
Johnston, Sarah Iles. “Hekate Soteira: A Study of Hekate’s Roles in the Chaldean Oracles and Related Literaturelink for inter-library loan.
Johnston, Sarah Iles, “Restless Dead”, Hecate and the Dying Maiden: How the Mistress of Ghosts Earned Her Title.
Smith, K.F., “Hekate’s Suppers ”, in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed by James Ha.stings, John A. Selbie and Louise H. Gray; (Edinburgh 1937); a survey of the sources to that date (pre-WWII)
von Rudloff, Ilmo Robert, “Hekate in ancient Greek religion(out of print, link is to inter-library loan)