Season and Spirit: Magickal Adventures Around the Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is the engine that drives NeoPagan practice. Explore thw magick of the season beyond the Eight Great Sabbats.

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Dead of Winter: January 31, Hecate's Feast

Many years ago, from some long forgotten source, I read that the goddess Hecate's sacred festival was celebrated on January 31. Although I have never been able to find the source or corroborate this information (Stewart and Janet Farrar's classic “The Witches' Goddess” mentions August 13 for her annual festival as well as the night of the Full moon), I have celebrated this feast every year, in preparation for Imbolc and as an entry into the coldest (but not darkest) part of the Winter.

My experience of Hecate is as a seasonal Goddess. I sense her presence in October, as the frost bitten garden finally dies back, as the light deepens into honey and amber, in the first tantalizing days of Hallowstide, the first days of the thinning Veil. She is present in the Descent, and in the Underworld, and in the solemn, silent movements of our beloved dead. She is present in the rapidly darkening year, and she helps to midwife in the promise of the sacred Child, reborn as the Sun at the Winter Solstice.

She is also there as we sift out the events of the past year and divine out clues for the next one.


In the cold and dark of the Wolf Moon, we find ourselves still in the dark and the still and the quiet. Sometimes the lure of what's going on outside my nest is tempting, but in general, long Winter nights are tailor-made for reflection, meditation, for sinking into ourselves and finding answers in the stillness. Hecate is present with all of this self-inquiry. For many traditions, February 2, Imbolc, is the time of dedication, of making magickal commitment and setting forth on the year's work. It is also a tie when we can start to see signs of change: the Sun is brighter and lingers with us later in the day, the snow recedes a little bit. There are so many hints about the work of the year and so many hints about the impending Spring, On Hecate's feast, I pour libations of ale and barley, and sing her Hymn, and feel the power of the dark and cold, and find the light that will lead me into the brighter part of the year.

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Leni Hester is a Witch and writer from Denver, Colorado. Her work appears in the Immanion anthologies "Pop Culture Grimoire," "Women's Voices in Magick" and "Manifesting Prosperity". She is a frequent contributor to Witches and Pagans and Sagewoman Magazines.


  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake Sunday, 01 February 2015

    I love this :-)

  • Leni Hester
    Leni Hester Sunday, 22 February 2015

    Thanks, Deborah!

    signed, squeeing fangirl of your work!

  • Leisa Reynolds
    Leisa Reynolds Thursday, 05 February 2015

    My mother passed 21 years ago this Jan 31 and every year since her passing I have gotten up and taken a deep breath and thought to myself "I have survived another year" and generally spent the day reflecting on the past year and what the new year will hold for me. I miss her still but her day of passing has become a day of reflection and introspection with lots of time spent writing. I have come to realize that this is my day to look forward to the spring that I know will come and to plan my garden so I will have her morning glories and my grandmother's four o clocks and mint. It is a time of looking to the future.

  • Leni Hester
    Leni Hester Sunday, 22 February 2015

    Thanks for sharing this, Leisa! My mom and gramma have died in the past 2 years, and the loss is so present with me, at this time of year and whenever I connect with Hecate.

  • Susan
    Susan Sunday, 24 January 2021

    In the Goddess Book of Days, by Diane Stein, The Crossing Press, pg 17 it says: The 31st Imbolc Eve. . . The ending of the dark, dedicated to Underworld Goddesses Hecate, Hel, Inanna, Erishkegal, Rhiannon, Sedna, Mother Holle Oya, Persephone. . .
    Diane Stein does not list her sources in this book.

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