Rites of Hekate Ereschigal (PGM 70.4–25)

1 Introduction

2 Translation

(Rite) of Hekate Ereschigal against fear (phobos) of punishment (kolasis).

(1) If he¹ comes forth, say to him:

“I am Ereschigal, the one who holds her thumbs,² and not a single bad thing can happen to her.”

(2) But if he approaches near you, take hold of your right heel while saying:

“Ereschigal, maiden (parthene)! Dog (kyōn), she-serpent (drakaina), wreath (stemma), key (kleis), herald’s staff (kērykeion), golden sandal of the ruler of Tartarus (tēs Tartaroukhou khryseon to sandalon).”³

And you will turn him away.

(3) “Askei Kataskei⁴ Erōn Oreōn Iōr Mega Semnyēr Baui (thrice),⁵ Phobantia (from phob-, ‘fear’), Holy one (semnē)!

“I have been initiated, and I went down into the cave of the Dactyls, and I also saw the other things below.

“Maiden (parthenos), bitch,” and so on.⁶

Say this at a crossroads (trihodos);⁷ and then turn around and flee, because she appears (phantazetai) at crossroads.

Say this late at night, in regard to whatever you wish, and it will be revealed in your sleep.

(4) And if you approach death,⁸ say these things,⁹ and it will save you.

“Phorba Phorba Brimō¹⁰ Azziebya.”

(5) Take bran of very good quality, sandalwood and very sour vinegar, and make one cake, and write the name of so-and-so born of so-and-so on it, and write it in the following way, that you speak the name of Hekate¹¹ over it into the light, and: “Take sleep away from so-and-so born of so-and-so,” and they will be sleepless and vexed.

3 Notes

1: “The fear,” writes Betz in his translation, “refers to punishment in the underworld.” This is possible, I suppose, but it is at least as likely that the ritual is for turning away Fears and Punishments (conceptualized as daemons) that approach one during life. In either case, “he” will refer to some kind of fearsome and harmful entity.

2: Presumably, one should hold their own thumbs while saying this. In PGM IV.2329, the practitioner claims to be holding Hekate’s thumbs, as an act of compulsion.

3: This is a list of symbola, both in the sense that the individual things listed are what Neoplatonists call tokens (synthēmata) of the goddess, and in that the words themselves have a mystic usage and power.

4: In PGM VII.451, Askei kai[!] Taskei is called an Orphaïc logos. Elsewhere it is part of the longer “Ephesian Letters” (Ephesia grammata), namely Askion Kataskion Lix Tetrax Damnameneus Aision. According to Hesychius (Lexicon, ε 7401), “anciently there were six, but later, certain hucksters added others.”

5: Perhaps the whole phrase before this is repeated, perhaps only the Baui (which might represent barking).

6: The same list symbola as above are to be enumerated, except that parthenos is now just another word enumerated along with the others, not an address to Hekate in the vocative (parthene) as above.

7: More literally, a fork in the road. But different kinds of crossroads were also associated with Hekate.

8: Literally, “if it/he leads you away to death”. Possibly the fearsome entity of (1) is meant.

9: Either the words from (3) or those just following, “Phorba,” etc. If the former, then “Phorba,” etc. should be counted as part of section (5).

10: Brimō is a Greek name of (or associated with) Hekate found elsewhere; variations of phor– occur often in magical invocations, including others to Hekate. The combination Phorba Brimō is also found in PGM IV.2289–2290, as part of a longer string of names: “Eō Phorba Brimō Sachmi Neboutosoualēth”. (Here, may have no particular meaning, but Sachmi is Coptic pronunciation of the Egyptian goddess Sakhmet and Neboutosoualēth is a Hekatic name—found independently and in various combinations, especially Aktiōphi Ereschigal Neboutosoualēth.)

11: Either simply Hekate Ereschigal or the name in (4); or perhaps the long string of barbarous names in (3).