To Hekate Enodia

For Aidonian

Hail Hekate of the Roads, terrible Goddess of the bow
who can fill an enemy with arrows before they can even
unsheath their sword; you who ride your tireless steed
into the thunderous fray, and love to hunt the hare
and the deer of the woods with your unrelenting hound
and falcon who always returns with prey in its talons;
Mistress of Pherai, who shares a temple with Zeus
Thaulios in Larisa; who walks among the tombs
of ancient Pharsalos, birthplace of Achilles; who
is invoked to placate the restless spirits in Epeiros;
who teaches the witches of Skodra which plants can heal
and which can kill; who drives the mice out of Pella
and protects them against disease; who accepts sacrifices
of black puppies, and horses and bulls in Aigiai;
O Hekate Enodia, your fame has spread through
all of Thessaly, Makedonia, Illyria and Thrace
and your worship has even been carried to Sicily,
the Anatolian plateau and the shores of Lake Maiotis
by the long-haired Ionians who conduct eerie nocturnal orgies
in your honor, during which the snake-handling participants
dance round a fire until they receive waking nightmares,
hallucinations full of terrifying insight sent by you
and the airy phantoms that form your Retinue.
Hekate Enodia, you were born in a cave to Asterie
the Nymph and Zeus the Destroyer; while your mother
went out in search of honey to feed you with
you were found by some shepherds
and brought to King Pheres, who recognized your divinity
and ordered that you be raised in the women’s quarters
along with his own children, and taught weaving
and the domestic arts when you swiftly reached girlhood,
but you would have none of it. You wanted to learn hunting
and war and preferred the company of birds and beasts
to humankind, and when you could not stand Pheres’
loving but stifling home you hit the road in search
of excitement and adventure, which you found
among the Centaurs and Giants of the highlands,
whom you either fought or drank with
as circumstances required. You traveled about,
disguised as an old woman to test the hospitality
of those you encountered, and when you arrived on the doorstep
of Chrysame of Kodridai she immediately took you in,
fed you milk and porridge, and doted upon you as if you
were her long-lost grandmother suddenly returned to her,
though so many others had not, merely slamming the door
in your face and telling you to move on down the road,
wearied and made miserly by war with the invading
Erythraians. In gratitude you revealed yourself to the girl
and taught Chrysame the rites and mysteries and lore
of your cult, establishing her before the people as your
priestess. And to Chrysame you showed the solution
to Kodridai’s problems, which she promptly shared
with King Knopos and no one else. And the solution
was this – you told Chrysame to find a certain herb
in the woods, which she was then to feed to the choicest
bull of Knopos’ herd. This herb was able to drive
anyone who ate it out of their minds, having originally
sprung up when the tears of Dionysos touched the Earth
in mourning for his prematurely slain lover Ampelos
who was gored while trying to ride a bull. The state
that Bakcheios was in at the time of the purple-flowered
herb’s creation was transferred to the eater.
And so Chrysame lead the bull, draped in purple
cloth with gold trimming and with gilded horns
and a crown of roses, to the altar of Enodia
near the border with the Erythraia until the bull,
made mad from the effects of the herb, broke loose
from its handlers and rushed off towards a group of soldiers
on sentry duty. Taking the escape as a good omen
they sacrificed the bull to the Erythraian Gods
and shared a portion of the meat with everyone in camp.
The whole army was soon seized with insanity,
and exhibited the same marks of wildness and frenzy
that the bull had. When Chrysame saw this
she ordered Knopos to send out his troops
and charge the enemy. Unable to defend themselves
in that state the Erythraians were cut to pieces
and utterly defeated. Knopos made himself master
of Erythraia and made its citizens part of the
Kodridaian empire, while Chrysame was
remembered as one of the greatest heroines
of the Thessalians, lifted high to a position of honor
by you, Hekate Enodia, the wonder-working Goddess;
Hekate, I pray, please work wonders in my life too.

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