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she turns into a bear or boar and kills her own son, then brings him back to life. In her dark aspect, she wears a necklace made of testicles; her hair is made of writhing snakes which petrify, like the Medusa.

Hecate is the goddess of all CROSSROADS, looking in three directions at the same time. In ancient times, three-headed statues of her were set up at many intersections and secret rites were performed under a full moon to appease her. Statues of Hecate carrying torches or swords were erected in front of homes to keep evil spirits at bay.

Hecate has been associated with many incantations, SACRIFICES and RITuALS throughout history. In ancient times, people sought to appease her by leaving chicken hearts and honey cakes outside their doors. On the last day of the month, offerings of honey, onions, fish and eggs were left at crossroads, along with sacrifices of puppies, infant girls and she-lambs. Sorcerers gathered at crossroads to pay homage to her and such infernal servants as the Empusa, a hobgoblin; the Cercopsis, a poltergeist; and the Mormo, a ghoul. One petition for her patronage was recorded in the 3rd century by Hippolytus in Philosophumena:

Come, infernal, terrestrial, and heavenly Bombo (Hecate), goddess of the broad roadways, of the crossroad, thou who goest to and fro at night, torch in hand, enemy of the day. Friend and lover of darkness, thou who doest rejoice when the bitches are howling and warm blood is spilled, thou who art walking amid the phantom and in the place of tombs, thou whose thirst is blood, thou who dost strike chill fear into mortal hearts, Gorgo, Mormo, Moon of a thousand forms, cast a propitious eye upon our sacrifice.

As the goddess of all forms of magic and witchcraft, Hecate was far more important in antiquity than the mythical sorceress CIRCE, who was sometimes said to be her daughter, or the witch Medea, also sometimes said to be Hecate's daughter, who helped Jason steal the Golden Fleece.

In modern Witchcraft, Hecate is usually associated with the lunar trinity, the Triple Goddess. She rules over the waning and dark moon, a two-week period that is best for magic that deals with banishing, releasing, planning and introspection. She is invoked for justice. See Goddess.

hedge witch Term coined and popularized by English witch Rae Beth to describe the contemporary yet traditional village witch or wise woman or man who practices alone without a COVEN. Rae Beth describes the hedge witch as "one who 'knows' and worships the Goddess and her consort, the Horned God; one who practices spellcraft for the purposes of healing, and teaches the mysteries."

The contemporary hedge witch is versed in the ways of nature, skilled in herbalism, proficient in the casting of SPELLS and observant of Pagan seasonal festivals (see Wheel of the Year).

See cunning man/cunning WOMAN; PELLAR; SOLITARY.


Rae Beth. Hedge Witch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft. London: Robert Hale, 1990.

Hellfire Club See Black Mass; Satanism.

Helms Amendment An attempt in 1985 by two members of Congress, Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Representative Robert Walker of Pennsylvania, to outlaw religious tax exempt status for Witchcraft, Wicca and Pagan churches and organizations. Both measures failed.

The effort was begun by Helms, who queried Secretary of the Treasury James Baker about Witchcraft groups. Baker replied in a letter that several organizations that "espouse a system of beliefs, rituals and practices derived in part from pre-Christian Celtic and Welsh traditions which they label as 'witchcraft'" did indeed have tax-exempt status. Baker also pointed out that any group that is sincere in its beliefs, does not break the law and conforms to "clearly defined public policy" can qualify for tax exemption.

Few Wiccan/Pagan groups apply for tax-exempt status. Most operate on very slim budgets. Nevertheless, the congressmen introduced their bills. Walker's legislative assistant told the press, "If a person is praying for horrible things and sticking pins into voodoo dolls, that is not the kind of religion that should be supported by a tax exemption."

The bills were opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and numerous Wiccan/Pagan groups, among them the COVENANT OF THE Goddess, a Berkeley, California, organization that is tax-exempt and represents Witchcraft groups around the country; CIRCLE SANCTuARY, an international Pagan networking organization based near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin; and the Church AND SCHOOL OF Wicca, then based in New Bern, North Carolina. The ACLU called the bill "the crudest example of First Amendment infringement." Witches, who organized a massive letter-writing and flyer campaign, termed the bills a throwback to the witch-hunts of the Middle Ages. The issue became known as the "Helms Amendment."

Neither the Helms nor Walker measure survived to be incorporated into the sweeping tax-reform legislation passed in 1986.

Hermes Greek messenger god, swift and cunning, portrayed with winged feet, wearing a winged helmet and carrying a caduceus, a serpent-entwined, magic wand that symbolizes spiritual illumination. Hermes also was a patron god of MAGIC, using his caduceus to cast SPELLS. As god of travelers, his image was erected at CROSSROADS;

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