For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

~ Ephesians 6:12, HCSB

10-11-10 @ David Evison, courtesy of iStockphoto

Macbeth made a tragic decision, which influenced even more dire choices. He followed his natural instincts without realizing supernatural powers manipulated him to his ruin. Shakespeare called that demonic influence, Hecate.

Hecate is one of the most important characters in Macbeth. And yet we see so little of her. A review of who she was in Greek mythology may help us to understand Shakespeare’s purpose to include her in his tragedy.

  • Hecate liked being unseen.

Although her influence over the witches set the plot in motion for Shakespeare’s play, she works more behind-the-scenes.

  • Hecate was all about control.

The etymology of her name suggests much of her role in Greek society. The origins of Hecate meant: will, she that removes or drives off, or the far-darter. She influenced those taking part in her orchestrated plot to cause chaos among the mortals.

  • Hecate’s appearance varied according to her purpose.

Hecate could transform into many different forms to achieve her goals. In addition to manifesting as a beautiful queen, idols associated her with varied heads of a snake, a boar, and a horse.

  • Hecate achieved her goals by deception.

Shakespeare makes this point by what hides behind spotless beauty:

Look like the innocent flower,

But be the serpent under it.

~ Lady Macbeth, Act I, Scene 5

  • Hecate’s reputation caught up with her.

The manipulator was actually a Titan, not a goddess. She was the only Titan whom Zeus allowed to maintain her influence over worldly matters after the Olympians were victorious in the clash of the Titans. Zeus gave her dominion over the shepherds as one of her tasks.

But she didn’t always act with noble intentions. Because of her meddling, her image changed from that of a beautiful queen to that of a wart-nosed hag stirring the pot of her insolence.

  • Hades rewarded Hecate with special recognition.

The lord of the underworld used her powers to help his reign over those condemned to his spirit world. She could see the suffering of others, and she used that to her advantage as she needed to.

  • Hecate specialized in trivial matters.

The Greek legends portrayed her as being accompanied by an owl – not because she was wise, but because she was the goddess of trivia. She used inconsequential material to exploit those under her influence to do her bidding.

  • Just such a supernatural influence is behind gossip.

Think about it. Just like Hecate, they write anonymous letters. They whisper in the ears of those they can influence. Because they don’t want to be seen.

They portray a smiling face of beauty, but it hides a sinister flesh underneath. Their words carry the venom of a snake, biting and burning. They root around, digging up dirt for succulent scraps like a boar. They carry tales like horses bearing Pony Express riders, never stopping for a rest. Most of their accusations are twisted truths, spun tales over irrelevant half-truths and untruths.

Gossip serves the lord of the underworld just as Hecate did. Hades rewards the gossip with a temporary victory as what is said tears down the victim while elevating the gossip and the listener. That’s why the gossip and the gossip’s ear delight in the suffering of another.

In churches, they want to control the shepherds. Just like Hecate’s name implies, they want to impose their will, drive off those whom they can’t control, and they shoot darts from afar – never going to the one with whom they have problems.

  • As Christians, we must beware of whom we face in battle.

It is not the flesh and blood about whom we gossip. It’s a battle that began when those who served God in heaven rebelled against His will.

Lucifer slandered. A host of angels listened. And they fell from the Lord’s presence, living amongst us now … inciting division through gossip.


Have you ever been a victim of gossip?