She is often viewed as a goddess of death, witchcraft and the underworld, but to me, Hecate is also a goddess of choice, courage and transformation. Hecate is with us for the most important moments of our lives: she is the midwife that brings us into life, the Crone who guides us into death and the protectress watching over every crucial choice we make. She is a triple goddess, representing the phases of the moon and the major stages in women’s lives. And she is a goddess of the in-between: of crossroads, gates, borders and boundaries. She holds torches to illuminate the unconscious, protects us on journeys and from the chaos we sense outside.
When I visualise Hecate, I see a dark figure standing at the side of a lonely road. She is waiting to guide me on a journey.
For years, I wrote. My first memory of writing is sitting in a bus shelter in rainy darkness, re-writing the Nancy Drew mystery I’d just read. After that, I remember writing as a compulsion: stories, diaries, letters to pen-friends. I wrote constantly, but never had the confidence to call myself a writer.
I carried on writing as I went to university, trained as a librarian, set up my first home with my partner. And eventually, I wrote a novel. That was my first turning point as a writer, when I realised I had it in me to finish a novel. I began to submit stories to competitions and for publication, and though I wasn’t successful, I was taking myself seriously now. I became an ‘aspiring writer’, but still didn’t quite have the confidence to call myself a writer.
Seven years ago, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We began a long journey of caring for her until her death in a hospice four years later. Those years blurred into one long round of endless visits, whether to hospitals, rehabilitation centres, hospices, or trying to care for her in her own home, while still working full-time and trying to have something of a life. During that time, I lost the ability to concentrate. Whereas previously, I lived with a book in my hand, I found that I didn’t have the concentration to read. My compulsion to write vanished, as I no longer had the concentration to put words together. I discovered a love of painting in place of words.
It’s just over two years since my mother died and I feel Hecate waiting for me at another of those crossroads. Very slowly, I’ve started to write again. I’ve had my first small writing successes, winning prizes in competitions. It’s time to return to the serious business of being a writer: to polish my novel after years of neglect, to write more short stories, to simply write. I now try to fit both writing and painting around a full-time job. Writing isn’t my primary job, but I do see it as my true work. And I finally have the confidence to call myself a writer.
But it’s one thing to call myself a writer, and quite another to have the confidence to show my writing to the world – to have the courage to hit the ‘publish’ button. And this is where Hecate comes in: helping me to find the courage to cross the boundary between anonymity and owning myself. Harvesting Hecate is about harnessing a little of Hecate’s wisdom to illuminate the journey ahead of me.