Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction to Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft provides the reader with a thirteen-month course in working with the Goddess Hekate. This is not the same as some Hellenic Reconstructionism, wherein modern practitioners seek to reconstruct ancient rituals, but rather an adaptation of historical documents and practices for use in the current day and age. There is a focus on personal development and social justice as well as the practice of witchcraft in this book, and I feel that this blending works well.
The lessons throughout the book are a combination of information, exercises, chants, meditations, rituals, recipes, and journaling prompts. There is a richness to the information given as it draws from historical texts such as The Orphic Hymns, the Greek Magical Papyri, and the Chaldean Oracles, and brings forward that ancient knowledge for adaptation into rites and practices that are relevant to the modern practitioner. The exercises are varied and range in ease and ability. The lessons culminate in an initiation ceremony, with additional prayers and reflective questions at the back of the book.
It’s worth noting that this is an introduction to working with Hekate and specifically Her symbols and energies, and therefore isn’t another beginner’s guide to Wicca or witchcraft in themselves — it’s rooted firmly in the devotional practices and magical workings related to this Goddess. That said, it is an introduction — so a lot of the exercises will be familiar to more experienced witches and other magical practitioners, as well as the more general information about crystals, herbs, tarot and suchlike, but the laser focus on which correspondences are relevant to Hekate is refreshing.
Speaking personally, I really wanted to like this book — and I do, mostly. It’s perfect if you are just starting out on your path or want to deepen your practice by working specifically with Hekate. There is much rich fodder here and Brannen’s passion and knowledge are obvious throughout. But, as someone who has been walking the path for a good while now, I wanted more. I wanted deeper experiences and practices — which I realise may be coming in a later book — and to go beyond just the foundations of working with Hekate. Saying that, many of the exercises and practices given can be taken deeper on one’s own initiative, whilst consistent repetition of many of the chants and rituals will no doubt add flavour and richness to one’s daily spiritual practice. I particularly appreciated the Three Keys Incense and the discussion of the Holy Darkness, as well as intentional prayerwork and spellcraft. I liked how Brannen encourages daily connection, deep reflection, and service to the world as part of the reader’s devotions to Hekate, and her no nonsense style of writing is appreciated, as are the glimpses into her own magical practice and experiences.
In all, if you are interested in working with Hekate, or intrigued by what one interpretation of modern witchcraft looks like, this is a great place to start. It’s comprehensive and empowering, and offers much to the solitary practitioner as well as groups. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
My rating: 4 out of 5
I received an e-ARC from the publisher, Moon Books, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Furthermore, in the interests of transparency, I know the author via her blog and Facebook, and am a member of the community she moderates there.