I wracked my brain at what to post today, so I went through Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, and stumbled upon her entry on Crossroads.
If you are familiar with the program Supernatural, you will know of Dean and Sam’s encounters with demons at the crossroads. The four-way Crossroads here are frequented by demons, where they can be summoned up to make a deal. These deals come with a great price and Hellhounds come to collect the souls for the Demons who were summoned. Rough stuff there. There is some folkloric truth to this…
Hekate in traditional Greek culture was said to roam the three-way crossroads with her baying hounds and the spirits of the dead. Three way crossroads have an esoteric link to the past, present and future roads of our lives, as well as a psychological link, to the Shadow, the Ego and the Superego, or Body, Mind, Spirit, as well as within Shamanic Witchcraft to the lower, middle and upper worlds. Hekate was said to look in these three ways. Alorer has a wonderful article on the three faces of Hekate which explains her fourth, hidden face. I have not seen many three-way crossroads, but I have felt Hekate and her ghostly entourage at the Four way crossroads as well.
In my personal practice, I leave offerings and libations that have been left over from previous rituals to her, at the crossroads. Many who honour Hekate as well also practice this Hekate Deipnon. As it is quite dangerous to scamper around at night, I leave my offerings during the day. If this is not possible, then I leave it at the bottom of the garden at night. In our old house I used to leave any offerings under the Willow Tree which is also sacred to Our Lovely Lady of Ghosts.
Hermes, another Psychopomp of the Greeks, was also associated with the crossroads, specifically the four-way crossroads. The four-way crossroads has links to the 4 directions of North, East, South, and West and therefore to the four classical elements as well.
Papa Legba is a very famous Vodou Lwa who is associated with the four-way crossroads, and the black dog… He is often called on first, as was Elegua, as he stood in the meeting place between humans and spirits.
The crossroads have been long linked to ghosts and other ghostly entities, some legends tell of how these discarnate entities roam the crossroads in confusion, some stories of how one should never go to crossroads at night for the ghosts and demons there will harm you.
The crossroads are liminal spaces, and thus a great space for many magical spells to be buried and cast. They are spaces between the land of the living and the land of the dead, and Shamans can be said to stand in the center of the crossroads, walking both worlds.
Anubis, and prior to his absorption into Anubis, Wepwawet, was known as The Opener of the Ways, which in my system also links him to the crossroads, specifically between the land of the living and the land of the dead. As Opener of the Way, Anubis can also remove obstacles from your path, much like the spirit of the Crow and therefore can change “fate”.
Demonic entities are also said to roam the Crossroads especially on all Hallows eve, some even claim that he devil himself comes out to play and wager for your soul. Of course we can see the Devil as a manifestation of Trickster deities who often roamed crossroads. The legend of selling ones soul to the devil at the crossroads for skill is attributed to Robert Johnson.
Of course as the veil is thinning ever more until Samhain eve tomorrow, the crossroads holds a great potential for much magic and ghostly encounters. If you are scared of ghouls, ghosts and demons, it is best to avoid the crossroads during this time, as you are quite likely to encounter something, even if it is only your own well-developed imagination and shadow self.
Here are some interesting links on the Crossroads and the folklore surrounding them: