Amber Rose Ostaszewski
A Shawl for Hekate
Mistress who burst forth from the earth,
Dog-leader, all-tamer, crossroads goddess, triple-headed,
Bringer of light, August virgin, I call you,
Fawn slayer, crafty, O infernal one and many-formed,
Come, Hekate, goddess of three-ways,
Who with your fire-breathing phantoms
Have been allotted dreaded roads and harsh enchantments.
-Greek Magical Papyri, PGM IV. 2723-2730
My path to working with Hekate is a hard tale to tell. It started in 2017/2018 when there was a lot that happened in my life. My partner and I bought a house, I finished two of my masters degrees, I started a new exciting job, and my husband and I got married; but then when we turned the corner into the year of 2019 ,things took a turn for the worse. Our beloved dog, the most beautiful Great Dane you’d ever seen, Asgard, wasn’t acting well. He was a little over six years old, however his mobility had rapidly declined and he was needing to use the bathroom every hour throughout the day and night. We tried to take him to the vet, but we couldn’t even get him into our vehicle.
We called an emergency vet service to help transport him, and the specialist diagnosed him with a disease that was rapidly disintegrating his spine. Our options were to put him under an expensive spinal surgery, with an unacceptably low success rate, or to put him down. We didn’t have the heart to put him down, so we babied him for months, trying to give him the best possible life we could despite his limitations. I even learned acutonics, a type of sound healing that utilizes the acupressure meridians to try to treat his symptoms, which I believe helped extend his life. However, in March came the day when he was completely paralyzed and we weren’t left with a choice. That same week, a massive rainstorm hit our house and poured through our roof, soaking our second floor bedroom and the dining room below it. It was a nightmare.
During all of this, I had come to know Hekate’s face. She had shown up prior to 2018, but I didn’t fully recognize her for who she truly was. With Asgard, however, things quickly became very clear. I prayed to her to keep him safe, and asked her that when the time was right, that she would take Asgard as one of her own in her pack of dogs so that he wouldn’t experience suffering. Since his passing, I have continued my devotion to her, growing a garden for her with all her dangerous beauties, and practicing the deipnon every moon cycle. Fast forward to 2020 where collectively we ALL were thrown into the crossroads.
To say that 2020 was a strange year is an understatement. I truly don’t think I have enough distance on it yet to fully extract the lessons it has taught me, however, it gave me the opportunity to immerse myself into my work. One of my favorite, most meaningful projects that has come out of the year has been what I have come to know as my Saffron Solstice Shawl. Having collected the marigolds I grew in my garden throughout the summer (deadheading throughout in order to encourage more blooms!) I used them to dye and then knit a prayer shawl for Hekate. Primarily based on Hekate’s historical correspondence with being saffron-cloaked, and marigolds, aka “poor man’s saffron," the project evolved into a devotional act of its own. With every step in the process, from extracting the dye from the marigold petals, to knitting each stitch, the time I spent working on the project was time spent in reflection for the presence of the goddess in my life. I spoke to her my dreams and aspirations. I offered gratitude for all that I have experienced in my life. I whispered “IO Heka IO HO” every time I made a purl stitch, working away with my golden yarn in the liminal space of my mind.
I had started the project around November, leaving plenty of time to have it finished for the Winter Solstice celebrations, but I enjoyed working on it so much I finished it within a long weekend. There was immense satisfaction in draping it around my shoulders for the first time. It was like a warm embrace by divine spirit, almost an affirmation for having taken initiative for myself (something I’ve come to know Hekate is very fond of). I’ve always understood my fibercraft has been something of magic, but the approach of it as deity work had never really struck home until I completed this project.
I am happy to announce that I have published a written guide based on my personal practice of creating this devotional shawl to Hekate with the hope that others may embark on their own experience. Deciding to self-publish was a choice I determined was best for this specific project, and the excitement of sending it off to the printer this week was, I admit, a little overwhelming. I have written the guide so that it is loose enough to fit an individualized practice, while being accessible enough for both beginners to fibercraft (specifically natural dyeing and knitting) and Hekate. I have ordered 100 copies that are expected to arrive by April, and for those who are curious, I am putting together 20 kits that include everything you need to complete the project. To learn more about the guide and the kits, or to pre-order yours, please visit my Etsy. May she guide you with every step.