It’s August 13th – A holy day to Hecate – as I start to write this. While I haven’t made a feast for her, I have spent the day thinking on what this wonderful goddess has done for me. I think I had a realization while reading another webpage on her about how she’s touched my life in more ways that I’d even realized.
I’m not going to regurgitate the information you can find in books or web pages about her. In fact, my personal understanding of her might be quite different from what you understand of her. With such an ancient goddess, that is bound to happen as over time she has changed and changed again.
I have always been drawn by the darkness. I’ve always been pulled by soothing chaos. In my life I’ve been told many, many times over to fear her and avoid her, but in the end it wasn’t my choice. I was chosen.
I remember all too clearly the day I first came across her name. I was thirteen. I don’t even remember the book, but I remember being drawn to the name. It seemed like some strange fluke that I was drawn to the Wiccan goddess crone aspects more than the maiden (though it would make more sense in later years).
She wasn’t the first goddess that I started off worshipping. There was Diana. There was Tana. There was Aradia. But in the end I was left with this sense of awe over the Priestesses Circe and Medea. I felt the call of Hecate, and at eighteen I began to give in to it. These other goddesses just seemed to slip away. In the end there was only Hecate.
They say Hecate can drive a person to madness. They call it lunacy, or they claim that one will fall to madness if not strong enough to accept her gifts. I truly feel that it’s part of my duty as a priestess to Hecate to remind everyone that lunacy is a gift. It’s divine inspiration. I, of all people, know this all too well.
You see, I have rapid-cycling type II bipolar disorder. The thing that many would find interesting is the fact that it began to manifest about the same time I first spotted Hecate’s name in a book, though my mental illness wouldn’t get bad until years later.
It wasn’t until I lived in Chicago attending art school that I started to actively worship Hecate. It coincides directly with my first hypomanic (or even manic) episodes. It also marked the beginning of my spiritual emergence. It just seemed that at the age of nineteen things began to bloom.
I started to have visions and see things. I began to have weird experiences with homeless people telling me random things and calling me by name (Hecate is the goddess of things on the fringe, including the homeless). I was becoming more and more interested in the role of Hecate in the Eleusinian Mysteries. And I sank deeper and deeper into mental illness.
I spent half the time being terrified by all of this, during my down spells. The rest of the time I was charged with some divine madness when I was up.
Strangely enough it took a teacher verbally ripping apart a painting I’d done of Hecate as a final project my first semester for me to decide to leave school. My parents were supposedly getting divorced. I was just sane enough to realize that I was mentally ill. I needed to go home.
So I left. When I got home, I seemed to put my religion on hold for quite a while. My mother was sinking into alcoholism. My parents’ relationship was falling to shambles. I was so driven to insanity that worship seemed impossible.
It would be a few years before I moved out of my mother’s home. I moved on to Iowa City, where I felt compelled to build an altar to Hecate once again. There came the slow decent into full-blown bipolar II. I was so scared by it that I started to attend therapy and psychiatric appointments; in the end though I would stop going because of something that the therapist or doctor would say or do. Two doctors ignored my spoken concerns about a medication they’d put me on and the affects it would have on my liver. One of these doctors I thought I didn’t like because he wore lavender pants, but years later his lack of compassion when addressing my worries would make more sense on a psychic level.
For a while I was able to keep it together. Then came the beginning of my spiritual emergence turning into a full-blown spiritual emergency…
I was in L.A. visiting a friend. (On a side note he has a very interesting story about Hecate visiting him before that visit. I might have to get him to write it up for this blog at some point.) This friend has a natural affinity towards healing. During a backrub he knocked open a block in my heart chakra, which allowed me to have what is referred to as a “kundalini awakening.” (Some will argue the possibility of it, but I can attest that a spiritual emergence/emergency can happen at the same time a mental illness is present.)
When I got home things just seemed to be amplified. I started to experience things more intensely. My body started to rebel against me. My mind was fully engrossed in my disorder. I was having visions again, and I was hearing things like trees talking. All the while I was questioning if I was actually experiencing these things or having psychotic episodes (a sign that I most likely wasn’t psychotic).
A few months later I would begin studying with a teacher, and I learned that I was both clairvoyant (which wasn’t a surprise since I’d always seen spirits) and clairaudient. I started to train and hone my skills in psychometry. For quite a while, at the age of 23, I was working at psychic fairs and gathering a small loyal following of clients.
Then it seemed I could no longer hold anything together. I went what I like to refer to as “full blown crazy.” I was experiencing both severe mood swings and messages from the Divine. I would stay up all night writing, and then find interesting alignments with facts that I didn’t know before.
For quite a while I embraced this madness. It was fantastic in its own scary way. It was at about this time that I figured out that I was an ecstatic. All the while I was worshipping Hecate, and I was experiencing strange moments of rapture that I couldn’t seem to verbalize to anyone.
I tried everything I could to fix the lows naturally. Nothing helped.
Then came the mental breakdown. I was forced back into psychiatry and therapy by friends and family. I was diagnosed officially with clinical depression (which would later be changed to bipolar II).
I started a new medication. Fortunately I was low enough and trusted the psychiatrist enough to stay on the medication. However, tests at my doctor’s office showed that something was going wrong with my liver – Something subtle, but still there. Come to find out my concerns about the way medications affect my liver were valid, despite what my therapist was saying. I was blessed by the fact that my psychiatrist was at least willing to humor me in trying a different medication, and I am happy to say that the current cocktail I’m on seems to have no affect on my liver.
Finding the right medication caused me to start seeing her torchlight on a dark path. It cleared up my mind, but there was another positive side effect that I hadn’t expected – One that I’m sure I’ll blog about again in the upcoming days or weeks. The side effect I’m speaking on is that it seemed to cause my psychic abilities to not become dull but become clearer. I find my insights much stronger, but I’m able to actually control them. So if I’m “off duty” as I like to say, I’m not getting random images or sounds about things unless I invite them in. And when I do invite them in, they tend to be even more accurate than they were before.
Through all of this, though, Hecate was with me holding my hand, helping guide me through the crossroads in my life. Her altar had been tucked away when I moved in with my mother for a few years again, but she seemed to understand that it was only a needed pause in the physical worship of her. I never stopped holding her in reverence. I never stopped carrying her in my heart.
I love my goddess even more for the trials she’s seemed to put me through. I understand now that those things have made me a stronger, and that, while I’m still a work in progress, I’m a more complete person for the experiences I’ve had. I’ve had trial by fire. I’ve been kissed by lunacy. While I have chosen to stay medicated, my bipolar disorder is viewed as a clear gift from her, and I do see many positives to my mental illness.
I am thankful. I am honored she chose me. I am blessed.