PBP2012: Brimo-Hekate

Hekate Brimo…hearing his words from the abyss, came up…She was garlanded by fearsome snakes that coiled themselves round twigs of oak; the twinkle of a thousand torches lit the scene;and hounds of the underworld barked shrilly all around her”

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1194

Brimo means ‘the angry’ or ‘the terrifying’, and seems to be an epithet most associated with Hekate, but I have heard of Demeter, Persephone, the Erinyes, Rhea and Kybele being given this epithet as well (which really wouldn’t surprise me). For this post, I just want to focus on Hekate since she’s been on my mind quite a bit recently.

From what I’ve gathered, Brimo-Hekate was very much associated with Pharai, Thessalia, where she was worshipped as a Queen of the Underworld. If one takes a moment to look at the coinage from that place, Hekate seems to have been quite important.

Hekate is associated with witchcraft, ghouls and the like. Indeed, I thought these were her primary associations until I educated myself. When I came to know about her roles as a nurser of children and a protective deity, I became more comfortable with honouring her, whereas before I was quite hesitant.

With her role as a protective deity, it’s natural to think of dogs as her sacred animal, since dogs were and are frequently used to protect property. Dogs can, obviously, be fierce when protecting property, which is how I’ve come to interpret the epithet ‘Brimo’ when concerning Hekate.

But…I must also say that ‘Brimo’ seems to be an epithet associated with the Underworld and I’ve always thought that offerings to khthonic deities are not meant to be shared, at all. This is why I’m not comfortable with the idea of giving food to charity, in the name of Hekate, in place of offering to the goddess.

A coin from Pharai, minted during the reign of Alexander of Pherai. B.C. 369-357, featuring Hekate

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8 Responses to PBP2012: Brimo-Hekate

  1. Aj / Melia says:

    I think it depends upon the Khthonic deity as in some of Khthonic Zeus’ rites participants seemed to share in the sacrifice. I don’t think anyone means replacing the offering to Hekate with a charitable contribution but to do it as an additional devotional act.

    • Ophiokhos says:

      Good point. I’ll have to dwell on it some more. But I have heard of people giving to charity in place of an actual deipna and I can’t say I’m comfortable with that.

      • Apollodorosh says:

        What I do usually offer some food item, later disposing of it by either consuming it (which I don’t always like to do), or by choosing some foodstuff that can be disposed of in the compost.

      • Ophiokhos says:

        I quite like the idea of disposing food offerings in the compost, if you have no other options.

  2. Apollodorosh says:

    I think it’s tricky in Hekátē’s case, as she is besides Khthonic also Einalic (of the Sea) and Ouranic (of the Sky), with offerings and sacrifices were shared… Perhaps doing some divination to ask her would be in order ;-)

    • Ophiokhos says:

      Yea, it is quite tricky. It’s a possibility that rites can change depending on which ‘face’ of Hekate you’re dealing with.

      • Apollodorosh says:

        I’ve been wondering about that possibility too… I usually just stick to praying with my arms pointing towards the ground. On the other hand when I take my libation bowl outside into the garden to pour them out (I always pour libations out completely), I do pour them on my little garden altar, rather than in a pit or just on the ground.

  3. Aj / Melia says:

    I have an offering pit. I place my offerings there if I don’t eat them…well when I can get to it as it is under a bunch of snow and ice right now. The last storm iced it over and the recent storm covered it up.

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