When my mother turned 30, thinking that perhaps her life of learning was now far behind her; she decided that each year she would make an attempt to learn something new. Her rationale being that as the brain is effectively a muscle the more you “exercise” it, the healthier it will be. It is an ethos I believe has stood her in good stead. For although now in her sixties with a body that is failing her fast, her mental acuity is still as sharp as a razor.
For her this involved learning such skills as lace-making, car mechanics, pottery and eventually the cuisine of a different land each year, even now she can whip you up a Greek Meze or a Thai banquet from scratch with little effort and little thought to referencing a book, she can go to an international food store and ask for the ingredients using the region specific names, lol and admonish the shop assistant if they try and palm her off with an inappropriate alternative.
For my mother, the art, the magic, of food, is the care and devotion put into the preparation, and presentation. The offering of food is in many ways a mark of respect, no well thought of person goes away from her house unfed or un-watered, although it is sometimes obvious who she wants rid of quickly.
Not too far into my 30’s I decided to take a leaf out of her book and started finding “new” things to learn every year. Casting my mind back, I think that is where my total fascination with the Goddess Hekate first stemmed from. At the time I was well and truly entrenched in the study of Cochranite influenced Traditional Witchcraft.
Cochrane and Evan John Jones made several vague references to Hekate (although they used the romanised vernacular – Hecate), it struck me as a little unusual, that a tradition that seemed to heavily entrenched in a system that apparently was focussed on the Genius Locii of this fair land to include a Goddess who was effectively a stranger.
Not long after that the draw became irresistable, that husky voice whispering in my ear at that grey time just between wakefulness and sleep. And although I still persue my resolution to learn something new every year, Hekate has remained with me ever since. She seems to enjoy utilising my new skills. I think she has worked out that I am never going to write her pretty poetry with which to stand at her alter and sing her praises. She has enough people to do that for her already.
Instead she finds new and interesting way to toment me ahem I mean get her dues. This year I decided that I would learn “end to end” the process for creating a woollen garment, from cleaning the fleece, through spinning, to actually knitting said item. Imagine my chagrin that whilst perusing knitting patterns online one day, I came across one predictably entitled Hecate.
“That One” whispered the voice in my head, “that one, that one, that one”.
Upon reading the pattern I discovered that it required a good 1000m of laceweight yarn, laceweight, the holy grail of many a new spinner, a category I most definitely fell under having only purchased my wheel a mere month before. It took me two months to spin the yarn and a further two months to make the finished garment, the actual number of hours well in excess of a 100. Truly an act of devotion, whether I liked it or not.
And that was the lesson I suspect it was intended that I learnt, for years I had mantained that I wasn’t a devotee, I didn’t do devotion, I worked with her, I might even work for her, and in the greek sense of the word, I could be considered a Priestess of her. But devoted I was not.
Devotion to me inferred some kind of religious fevour, unquestioning and very fallible belief in a particular deity, neither of which I was capable of doing. I still can’t.
But a mark of deep respect I can do, like my mother, I can create magic in a well prepared, manufactured and presented and apparently mundane task.