Hecate (or Hekate) is a goddess in ancient Greek religion and mythology.

She is most often shown holding a pair of torches, a key, snakes, or accompanied by dogs. It is believed that Hecate represented witchcraft, magic and ghosts. She is variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, night, light, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery. Hecate was one of several deities worshipped in ancient Athens as a protector of the oikos (household), alongside Zeus, Hestia, Hermes, and Apollo. Representations of Hecate were often placed at the entrance of homes to help protect against the evil forces of the world.  

Hecate was generally represented as three-formed or triple-bodied, though the earliest known images of the goddess are singular. Her earliest known representation is a small terracotta statue found in Athens. The general motif of a triple Hecate situated around a central pole or column, known as a hekataion, was used both at crossroads shrines as well as at the entrances to temples and private homes. In her three-headed representations, Hecate often has one or more animal heads, including cow, dog, boar, serpent, or horse.  

Hecate was closely associated with plant lore and the concoction of medicines and poisons. In particular, she was thought to give instruction in these closely related arts. The yew was sacred to Hecate. A number of other plants (often poisonous, medicinal and/or psychoactive) are associated with Hecate. These include aconite (also called hecateis), belladonna, dittany, and mandrake.  

Hecate was associated with borders, city walls, doorways, crossroads and, by extension, with realms outside or beyond the world of the living. She appears to have been particularly associated with being between worlds. Thanks to her association with boundaries and the liminal spaces between worlds, Hecate is also recognized as a chthonic (underworld) goddess. As the holder of the keys that can unlock the gates between realms, she can unlock the gates of death.  

As a “goddess of witchcraft”, Hecate has been incorporated in various systems of modern witchcraft, Wicca, and neopaganism, in some cases associated with the Wild Hunt of Germanic tradition, in others as part of a reconstruction of specifically Greek polytheism, in English also known as “Hellenismos”. In Wicca, Hecate has in some cases become identified with the “crone” aspect of the “Triple Goddess”. Most believe that she has a protective nature toward humans.