Sometimes life throws you a huge curve ball and what you didn’t expect to happen, happens. My grandmother has always been kind of a walking health mess. Literally. Ever since she has been born, she has been in and out of hospitals probably a couple dozen times. She has spent months at a time with ailments that I don’t even know how to pronounce or spell. If you follow us on facebook, you may have seen the post about her being in the hospital. Long story short, she is a cancer survivor x2 and has always battled through each and every scare. Her health issues have kind of been in the background these past couple years because my grandfather’s alzheimer’s and dementia took over our lives. I don’t mean in the background in a bad way, I mean, she has always been unhealthy and we have all just kind of lived with it for years. It’s kind of the norm with her. There has always been one thing or another with her health, we just kind of have lived with it and life has gone on.
The last month or so we have noticed that she has been struggling more than usual with one of her legs. She should have had her knees replaced in her 60’s but refused due to the cost so she basically hasn’t been able to walk for the last 15 -20 years BUT she has managed with walker. The last week or so has been increasingly difficult for her mobility wise. She was having dinner a couple nights ago and ended up choking on a piece of food. She coughed up the food but still couldn’t swallow any food or liquids so after 30 minutes or so, my parents took her to the emergency room. She went in for a swallowing issue and unfortunately, they found a laundry list of issues, one being a lesion on her hip. Unfortunately, the lesion on her hip is cancer and that is why she has been having such a hard time with her leg. She also has lesions on her lungs which were old from renal and uterine cancer but they are now active cancer cells again. They are not sure if the lesions on her lungs are causing the swallowing issue or not so they are doing a Nuclear Scan, CAT Scan and Chest X-ray along with a bone scan, to try and find the primary cause of the cancer. The bottom line, she is 85 years old and of course, she isn’t going to under-go any invasive treatment plans BUT we need to figure out what the deal is so she can be kept comfortable. They are doing a slew of tests today so hopefully we will know more soon. If you are the praying type, please say one for my gram Grace. PS. I know many of you are wondering how my grandfather is handling this and needless to say, he is very sad and worried. His brain is kind of all over the place but he knows exactly what’s going on with her and that the cancer is back. Say a little prayer for him too. Getting old isn’t easy :(.
Spirituality is a central component of who I am. It is at my mother’s core and so it was with my grandmother before her. One of my clearest memories involves my grandmother, a Southern Black woman born in the very late 1920s who raised eight children through the sociopolitical unrest of the 1950s and 1960s, carefully instructing me to pray without cease. I remember thinking to myself that I absolutely must pay attention to my grandmother’s words because she so infrequently rubbed more than two words together for any purpose. To this day I can recall watching my grandmother as she stood swaying in the early morning hours on our front porch in northeast Florida as dawn poured over her brown skin. Her hands were raised to the sky and her eyelids squeezed shut as whispered words of blessing, protection and healing passed her lips.
In addition to being a praying woman, my grandmother was a fighter, and she passed that fight on to my mother who had two children of her own to look after. I remember my mother taking me with her to school board meetings where she argued for the rights and opportunities that would allow me to obtain the caliber of education that she knew I and every other child of color deserved. My memories of that time in my childhood are suffused with heartfelt supplications to the Christian God. My grandmother showed my mother that she could fight by using her voice, both in school board meetings and in prayer. In late high school, many years after my days of accompanying my mother to meetings, I came out of the broom closet. Paganism is markedly different from Christianity in theology and practice so needless to say, my mother had questions, but they were just questions. In my mother’s home, I was free to explore my spirit, wherever it might take me.
Years of watching the women in my life taught me that spirituality is about connection and relationship. I spent my youth watching them harness their connection with Spirit and their relationship with a holy power (in their case the Christian God) to navigate day to day struggles with work, money, and family as well as societal struggles with institutional racism (among other -isms). The women who raised me learned to maneuver at the margins and to thrive at the edge of society while also working toward social justice where they could. As my own spiritual journey into and through Paganism progressed, I found myself moved to connect with Spirit and build a relationship with a holy power as my grandmother and mother had done before me and as many more in our line had done before them. The first goddess to call my name like a thousand trumpets at dawn was the Greek goddess Hekate.
Hekate was and is the lady of the crossroads, necromancy, witchcraft, and gateways. Those who know Hekate know that she spends quite a lot of time on the edges of the worlds and on the edges of our awareness. Her might is wrapped up in liminal spaces, the restless dead, night-wandering spirits, and magic. She is the holy lady who walks with Persephone as she crosses from the land of the dead to the land of the living and back again. Hekate is there when we too are birthed into life and when we die to this world and pass into the next. She is the twin torch-bearing mistress of the yawning dark. In addition she wards the way during times and through places of transition.
As I have grown, my connection to and relationship with Hekate have grown as well. In my youth, my grandmother and my mother both harnessed the grace and beauty of their relationship with the Christian God to overcome myriad challenges. I have chosen to do the same, but my prayers fall upon Hekate’s ears. I call to her for aid on a number of fronts, including work, money, and family, and I pray to her in my struggles with microaggressions and other expressions of power, privilege, and oppression. Against the national backdrop of racist police shootings, church bombings, university demonstrations, race riots and more, I have found great comfort and a measure of power in praying and offering to Hekate for aid as I navigate these difficult times of social and political transition. I pray to her for strength when subjected to others’ ignorance, for courage when confronting racist comments in various spaces, for protection when walking in places that are potentially unsafe for Black people, and for social justice on behalf of all who seek long overdue rights and privileges. Sometimes my prayers are formal affairs accompanied by offerings at the crossroads. At other times they are informal words whispered to the sky at dawn with my hands held aloft, in my grandmother’s way.
Lady Hekate, Queen of Land, Sky, and Sea,
In all realms where you reign, grant us favor.
Hekate Soteira, Saving Goddess,
Strengthen us as we fight for justice.
Hekate Apotropaia, Averter of Evil,
Ward us against those who would inflict harm.
Hekate Trioditis, Goddess of the Crossroads,
We have traveled far through the yawning dark;
May you bless what remains of this long journey.
Author: Tamilia is a devotional polytheist, spirit-worker, mystic, rune reader, traveler of the Otherworlds, and witch wandering toward divine wonders. In her wanderings she seeks an intimate understanding of the magical ties that join the Worlds and the wisdom required to use that knowledge well.