Legend-tripping at St. Anne's Retreat and Hecate in Logan Canyon: Origin, Belief, and Contemporary Oral Tradition


Dublin Core


Legend-tripping at St. Anne's Retreat and Hecate in Logan Canyon: Origin, Belief, and Contemporary Oral Tradition


This thesis talks about legend-tripping at St. Anne’s Retreat and examines the origin and history of Hecate who plays a central role in this oral tradition.
Anna-Maria Sna:bjornsd6ttir Arnlj6ts
Two essays submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree
Jeannie Thomas
Committee Member
American Studies
(Plan B)
Barre Toelken
Major Professor
Logan, Utah
Randy Williams
Committee Member

Legend-Tripping at St. Anne's Retreat
What is now referred to as St. Anne's Retreat was initially a summer home eight
miles up Logan Canyon, east of Logan, Utah. It was built in the 1930s by the Boyd
Hatch family from New York, and Mrs. Hortense OdIum. The property was donated in
the 1950s to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, and it was used occasionally
as a retreat and a vacation place for Sisters of the Holy Cross. Because it was not in
continuous use, there was ample opportunity for vandals to visit, even on nights when the
sisters were present. This prompted the nuns to get watch dogs to alert them to the
presence of intruders. The sisters felt unsafe with the increase of the sometimes
intoxicated young trespassers and vandals, and stopped coming to the retreat. In 1992,
Mark Epstein, together with some other investors, bought the property with plans of
turning it into vacation homes (Herald Journal, October 15, 1997. Pg. 16). What these
investors may not have anticipated was the long standing cultural gap between local
Mormons and Catholics, and how fear, belief, prejudice, and a generally accepted folk
tradition of legend-tripping would interfere with their hopes of vacationing peacefully in
the beautiful mountains of Logan Canyon.
Legend-tripping is a term that Linda Degh, William Ellis, and others use in
describing the practice of visiting the sites of supernatural legends. In a collection of
essays called "Legend-Trips and Satanism: Adolescents' Ostensive Tradition as 'Cult'
Activity, " Ellis quotes Kenneth Thigpen who describes legend tripping in three parts
consisting of "1) initiation into the story; 2) performing the acts that 'cause the
fulfillment of the legend'; and 3) retrospective discussion of what participants believed
happened, which then feeds back into the core story into which newcomers were

initiated" (Ellis 1991 :280). The legends surrounding St. Anne's have provided a thrill to
local adolescents for generations as is manifested by the number of people of all
generations who claim to have taken part in legend tripping at St. Anne's.
St. Anne's retreat and the legends associated with it achieved national media
attention when over 30 high school students seeking to experience the "trip" of this
legendary place, were caught and fell into the hands of vigilante security guards. The
students were captured by three men, who were armed with shotguns; they were then
roped around the neck, handcuffed, and forced to kneel in an empty swimming pool
(Herald Journal, October 12, 1997, pg. 1). The legend-tripping youths embarked on a
"trip" more exciting than they had anticipated as some were allegedly verbally
threatened, physically abused, and sexually assaulted while awaiting the arrival of the
local police. What followed this incident was a public uproar against the watchmen's use
of force against the trespassers.
This paper will look at the circumstances around this event and how age
differences, religious folklore, and other cultural constructions play important roles in the
maintenance of a vivid local legend cluster. The paper will further analyze versions of
the St. Anne legend currently circulating among local high school students. I ultimately
hope to illustrate how the nature of folklore is manifested by incorporating the vigilante
incident into the legend cluster ofSt. Anne's retreat, evident in some ofthe recent
versions collected from seniors at a Logan High School.
The angry response of parents whose children were manhandled at the Retreat
while legend-tripping on Halloween in 1997 was based on their notion that teenage trips
to St. Anne's were so common that they constituted an understandable, coherent

tradition, the rationale of which was more important than the relatively trivial matter of
trespass. In other words, local concepts of justice are heavily influenced here-as
elsewhere in the world-by local traditions. And if the tradition and its intemallogic are
that important, of course it tacitly affirms the local attitudes on differences in religion.
A different example of local concepts of justice being influenced by tradition may
be the blood libel case involving a child: Andrew ofRinn at Judenstein, a town near
Innsbruck, Austria is said in legend to have died by ritual murder at the hands of a Jew.
Alan Dundes relates that Eli Wiesenthal, a Nazi-hunter, "voices his dismay at seeing full
cars and busloads of school children making annual pilgrimages to Rinn under the
tutelage of their religious instructors to see the ritual murder lie depicted as a historical
event ... [t]his is depicted by three figures made of wood or wax in a menacing pose
with knives in hand surrounding a stone upon which was stretched out a supplicating
infant garbed in white" (Dundes, 342). In spite of great effort to stop pilgrimages to this
blood libel legend site, including orders from Pope John Paul XXli to remove certain
statues-the legend is treated as historical fact and thus the local concepts of justice in
Rinn, and the power of their folk belief and tradition carry on unchanged. The parallel
seen between the St. Anne's legends and the blood libel legends is clearly that local belief
and tradition in both cases justify a long standing custom--one that penetrates basic
principles and issues of a local population. For the St. Anne's legend this means legend­tripping
to experience the legend by ostension; and in the case of Andrew ofRinn at
Judenstein, pilgrimages to the site that commemorates the child murdered there.
Recollections from older locals of the Cache Valley region, recalling their visit to
the "Nunnery," suggest a general consent to this behavior of legend-tripping associated

with the belief and its tradition and suggests that this ritual functions as a rite of passage
for local individuals. This is evident from older generations of legend-trippers that
established the tradition of visiting St. Anne's; and thus viewed as a custom that one
would expect most locals to have participated in. The youths apprehended in Logan
Canyon on Halloween 1997 who expected fulfillment of the St. Anne legend, really did
get a thrill-but not of the sort they expected. Instead of red-eyed Dobermans, the
haunting sound of murdered babies crying out, Witch Hekate in the shape of a cloud
moving down the mountain, the car not starting, boulders falling down the mountain
upon curious visitors, blood in the swimming pool, (representing the death that the pool is
so much associated with), these trippers were ambushed in the night by armed men with
shotguns and held hostage for two hours.
Another story involving St. Anne's Retreat reflects an incident that again deals
with local traditions confronting an aggregate concept of justice. Diane Browning, a
former journalist for the local newspaper, The Herald Journal, wrote an article in 1986,
telling of the St. Anne's Retreat legends as a ghost story for Halloween. She related the
history of the article to me in a phone conversation (1997). After a co-worker told her
one of the St. Anne's legends, they decided it would be a fun piece to write for
Halloween (1986). However, the article instead created an emotional response from the
Logan Catholic community, who took the article as an intentional provocation. Diane
described verbally abusive anonymous phone calls and irate letters to the editor in The
Herald Journal. Also outraged by her article was the incumbent priest, who spent two
consecutive Sundays attacking the author from the pulpit, promoting a charged

Legend versions that Browning discussed in her article include: nuns raped and
murdered at the retreat, a nun who had given birth to a child while at St. Anne's,
drowning the baby in the swimming pool, and a nun coming out of the woods
accompanied by two white Doberman Pinschers with red eyes. Browning ended the
article by saying: "A note to the adventuresome: St. Anne's is located on private property
and is patrolled regularly by a night watchman" (Herald Journal, October 26, 1986). This
statement seems somewhat ironic-since eleven years later-the community becomes
witness to an incident on this property that specifically deals with vigilante actions by the
night watchmen.
Browning's newspaper article and the trespassing incident in 1997
involving St. Anne's, illustrate the magnificent potential of a legend, and the powerful
role that it plays in local folklore. This is further illustrated by the resiliency of the
legend as it persists in its navigation through time, through a periodic resurgence, giving
rise to otherwise dormant tensions between the Mormon majority and the Catholic
minority in Logan.
In the Fife Folklore Archives at Utah State University are some 50 legend
versions of the St. Anne's Retreat, and an additional 25 of the related Hecate legend
version, collected by students through the years. Several examples of these follow here
to facilitate an understanding the concepts and ideas involved in this discussion. The
current oral legend tradition appears to contain a basic version: example 1-8; and a
trespassing version that follows as trespass versions 1-4. [stories are written verbatim].

1. The Old Nun
I once heard of some kids from Hyrum that went up to the old Catholic
Nunnery in Logan Canyon. There was three boys and three girls. It was
really late at night when they went, the guy had wanted to really scare their
girlfriends. They got out of their car, walked down the path towards the
Nunnery. Along the way was a couple of ponds. When they walked past the
ponds little hands reached up and grabbed all of them around the ankles.
They were all so scared that they took off running back to the car. Some of
the guys started asking around as to why this happened. An old Priest that
lives here in the valley told them that when there were people from the church
living there, some of the Nuns became pregnant by the Priests. The Nuns
would carry the baby to full term, and then to save the Church from
embarrassment, they would drown their babies in the ponds. When strangers
enter the property and walk by the ponds the babies' spirits will grab at them;
they try and pull themselves out of the water to keep from drowning (Fife
Folklore Archives, L2.
2. Freezing Nuns
St. Anne's was a place where nuns could go on a vacation, usually in the
summer or winter. One winter a long time ago, some nuns went up there to
stay. It was a very severe winter with lots of snow so a man had to bring
their supplies to them every week. He would take their fuel and food to
them because it was the only way they could get it. One week the man
couldn't get his wagon through, and he had to wait about two weeks before
he could go up there again. He finally made it up to the retreat, and he
found all the nuns had starved and frozen to death. He noticed that their
bodies had been chewed by dogs. He was very worried about this, and was
just leaving when he saw one of the nuns, whose name was Hekeda. She
began chasing him with her two dogs. He got away and told the towns
people what had happened. Hekeda still haunts the retreat with her dogs,
and you can see her chasing you in your rearview mirror as you are leaving.
It is believed she is of the devil (Fife Folklore Archives, ColI. 8. USU. 84-
050. Item 5).
3. St. Anne's Retreat
St. Anne's Retreat was originally established up Logan Canyon for Cache
Valley's Catholic nuns who needed to "get away" from things for awhile.
One nun got herself in trouble and as time passed her problem became more
noticeable. He[r] superiors knew that something needed to be done-she
couldn't walk the streets in her condition, so she was sent to the St. Anne's
for the duration of her pregnancy. The Mother Superior at St. Anne's talked
this nun into putting up the baby for adoption when it was born, because she

thought this sort of thing was horrible. If the nun would agree to do as the
Mother Superior said, the Mother Superior would help her. If not, then she
could fend for herself. Well, as time went by and this nun spent her time
reading, thinking, swimming in the pool, and walking around the retreat and
in the nearby woods, she began to think of this child and knew she could
never give it up. She decided to leave the order and raise her baby. When
the baby was born she told her decision to the Mother Superior. The Mother
Superior did not agree and felt that she had to end this situation. One day
when this nun was sleeping, the Mother Superior took the baby and drowned
him in the swimming pool. The nun took it very hard, but couldn't believe
the Mother Superior would actually do this. She thought the Mother
Superior had taken the baby and given him to a family, or was hiding him
on the retreat somewhere. As she was recovering, she would take walks
around the retreat to see if she could find her baby. As she walked by the
pool one day, the Mother Superior pushed her in and she drowned. The
Mother Superior thought she had rectified the problem, and now could live
with herself after taking care of this nun. About three weeks later another
nun was sent to St. Anne's to rest and relax for a couple of weeks. One day
as she was walking past the swimming pool she saw a nun floating face
down in the pool. She screamed, and the Mother Superior came to see what
the problem was. The Mother Superior tried to grab at the nun in the pool,
but the nun disappeared. The second nun wanted to know what had
happened, but the Mother Superior would not say anything. The second nun
called the Father and told him to come up to the St. Anne's because there
was something wrong. the Father came and got to the bottom of what had
happened and soon after, the Mother Superior was taken from St. Anne's.
Shortly after this happened, the Catholic church sold St. Anne's Retreat. St.
Anne's is still used as a get away place for various groups and there have
been reports that the one nun is still looking for her baby. Some have seen
her walking around the retreat, and some have seen her floating in the pool.
While there are no reports of anyone talking to this nun, there are plenty of
reports of people who have seen her, so as you go camping in this part of
Logan Canyon, beware of the nun (Fife Folklore Archives, L2.
4. Saint-Ann-Retreat
Saint-Ann was a nunery a long time ago. As Catholic, nuns are not suppose
to have sex or any relationship with male. However, some nuns up at Saint­Ann
had broke the rule and got pregnant. When babies were born, the nuns
killed the babies by drowning them in a pool in the back of Sain-Ann. Some
of the nuns felt guilty and killed themselves also. Now, the nuns sometimes
appear back to visit the place. There is a watchman with two dobermans
and a gun to keep the public out (Fife Folklore Archives, L2.

5. Hekeda and Her Dogs
All the nuns and mother superior lived at St. Anne's. One of the nun's name
was Hekeda, and she took care of seven afghan hounds. In the early 1920' s a
guy went up there and killed and raped them all. All of the bodies were
found except Hekeda's and the dog's. Every time someone goes up to St.
Anne's to fix it up, they always hear dogs barking, and then see a lantern on
the ountain. You can see the figure of a woman walking her dogs up there at
night. If you yell the name Hekeda three times, a blue fog will cover your
car, and you won't be able to come down out of the canyon (Fife Folklore
Archives, ColI. 8. USU. 84-050. Item 6).
6. The Lynching Mob
This actually happened sometime in the early sixties. St. Anne's was a
vacation area, and there were about twelve or thirteen nuns up there when
one of them went bezerk. She just went bonkers. She had been training
these four Black Labs, which she had gotten from Hekeda, to kill. She kept
them in a woodshed on the mountainside, and one night she let the dogs
loose. She got a lantern and a hatchet, and she and her dogs slaughtered all
of the nuns. Time passed and nothing was discovered until someone made a
delivery to the retreat. The person who found the dead nuns went back to
Logan and got a bunch of people together. This mob of people went up to St.
Anne's, and they found the crazy nun, and they decided to hang her. They
gave her the chance to speak her last words, and she said, "I will forever
haunt this place." She still haunts St. Anne's today (Fife Folklore Archives,
ColI. 8. USU. 84-050. Item 8).
7. Saint Anne's Retreat
A long time ago there used to be a nunnery at Saint Anne's. One of the
nuns got pregnant by a young priest. She hid the fact that she was
pregnant for a long time. When she had the baby she was told she had to
leave the nunnery. She was grieved at what had happened and went out
and drowned her baby in the swimming pool, then hung herself. Her
spirit haunts the place in the form of a dog. Sometimes people can hear
dogs howling at Saint Anne's. Nobody has ever seen the dogs (Fife
Folklore Archives, L2.
8. Heckada
If you go up Logan Canyon to 3rd dam and cross the bridge into the
Spring Hollow area or go to the Quarry up Providence Canyon, you can
summon the Devil's wife, her name is Heckada. My friend's brother's
girlfriend's brother had a friend that did this very thing. He and a date

went up to the Spring Hollow area, for some romancing. After being
turned down he got out of the car and yelled the phrase "Heckada, come
get me" this was the saying that you needed to say to get Heckada to
appear. After saying it a few times he returned to the car. His date was
scared, which was his main intention for doing the little prank, or so he
thought. After a few minutes of sitting there they began to hear dogs
barking, they looked up and saw a green glowing chariot pulled by six
wolves, and a mistress with long flowing hair at the reins. At about the
same instance the doors locked, the boy and date was pretty scared by
this time so the boy tried to get the car started but it seemed like the
battery was dead, nothing would start or no lights would come on. By
this time the wolves were on the hood of the car clawing at it and
grow ling. The mistress stared into the boy's eyes and said "I have come
for you." The boy freaked out and didn't know what to do, the girl was
screaming and crying. Then the boy remembered to say "In the name of
Jesus Christ I command you to leave," at the very instance of saying
that, the mistress and her wolves disappeared. The boy then started the
car and returned to Logan. Upon returning to his date's house they
looked at the hood and saw scratches that the wolves left (Fife Folklore
Archives, L2.
These legends may function to express curiosity, suspicion and even fear of a
minority religion by a local majority. They may also function as a means of
illustrating the idea that outside religions are too strange for local adolescents to take
seriously by creating a sense of fear and skepticism about their behavior. Such stories
allow for hostility toward another group to be expressed in narrative dramas rather
than the form of physical harm. Nonetheless, it is clear that there is a considerable
emotional load in these stories as well, and it is important for us to wonder why. It
will become increasingly clear through these legend examples and discussion
throughout this paper of different themes and issues that surface, and the function that
this oral tradition serves.
The trespass legend versions that circulate today tell about the horrors occurring
during the incident on Halloween of 1997. Examples 1-4 follow:

Trespass Story: 1
My father has told me stories of when he would visit there, and my
friend did some research on it last summer. I've heard about the kids
that went up there and the caretaker tied them up in the pool and
harassed them [my emphasis]. My father told me about stories where he
would go up there and play pranks on his dates. Him and his friends
would dress up like ghosts and act out scenes with real rifles and blanks.
I have heard something about somebody dying in the pool, and people
making sacrifice up there [merger of traditional story and trespass
version of 1997] (Logan High survey).
Trespass Story: 2
I heard that there were some high school students were at the nunery and
they got kidnapped [my emphasis] and tied up and I heard they were
breaking into [my emphasis] the nunery (Logan High survey).
Trespass Story: 3
I probably only know rumors from people around me at my school. I
don't know any facts about it. I have heard that there is a nunery up the
canyon where little kids were murdered. Then I heard that kids from my
school and others went up there and got caught by cops. My friend has
been there, and she said it was really scary [a mixture of the basic story
and trespass version of 1997] (Logan High survey).
Trespass Story: 4
The only thing that I have heard about it was about the teens who
where trying to break in and they got harassed [my emphasis] [1997
events] (Logan High survey).
There are several themes that can be observed in various versions of these legends
that address the Mormon-Catholic tensions. The story of "Witch Hekate," identified
with the Mother Superior, and her red-eyed Dobermans, symbolize the evil connotation
that the locals have associated with the Catholic church. The ancient belief of dogs as a

symbol of evil is seen in this legend by .the presence of Witch Hekate's Dobermans­further
attempting to associate the nuns as evil (Barre Toelken, personal communication).
Also with origins in ancient belief, is the theme of sexuality and pregnancy at St.
Anne' s- which comes from the old notion that nuns and priests secretly engaged in
sexual encounters (Barre Toelken, personal communication). In the case of the legend,
the horror of disposing of these unwanted pregnancies follows.
The congruency between the dramatic images of the legends and local western
and Mormon values suggests still another level of meaning for these narratives.
Teenagers from a patriarchal society go away from town to experience the thrill of danger
in a female-dominated place; teenagers who are dating but are exhorted to refrain from
sex until after marriage go there to be thrilled by legends of women who are prohibited
from having sex, and who don't get married, but who have illegitimate babies anyway;
espousing religion and abhorring murder, they visit places where religious people are said
to have been murdered.
To understand the emotional load and the religious dimension in these legends is
to understand local belief and perception of the world, including the presence of the
Catholic Retreat established some fifty years ago Logan Canyon. Fundamental attitudes
of Mormons towards Catholics is an essential component of the religious dimension, but
what appears prominent through the legends is gender-and the struggle to maintain, and
confirm the male role in this religious culture. The legends serve as faith promoting
events of not only the male establishing his role as dominant, but also to verify that the
Mormon church is superior and one that will prevail over the other.

Mormon attitudes towards Catholics is well documented. Thomas quotes the
following from personal communication with William A. Wilson, a Mormon scholar:
Mormons see Catholics as the principal apostate church. Protestant
churches have at least tried to draw closer to the original church in their
reform movements, but Catholics have steadfastly persisted in their error, in
their apostasy, and are therefore easily connected with evil. Bruce
McConkie called the Catholic Church the great and abominable church
before he was forced to recant; some missionaries refer to the church as the
"G & A." Missionaries to Catholic countries often come home with tales of
evil nuns and priests" (Thomas, 18).
It is clear to see how attitudes such as these mentioned can determine the
perception of this particular religious culture. Through the legends one can detect
apprehension, fear and anxieties of the presence of the outside religion as well
maintain male dominance of this patriarchal culture. The male confirms his status and
role as dominant male legend-tripping through ostension to maintain, and confirm the
importance and continuation of his role as male in his culture. Male dominance is
established in legend as initiator of courtship; protector against evil by averting evil
with power of priesthood (Example above: 2. Heckada: L2.
Another theme presented in some legends is the female outsider vs. the male
insider: the female breaks the rules in these legends and pays the penalty. She either
becomes ostracized as the nun who becomes pregnant in St. Anne's Retreat:
(L2. 1. 12. 1.34) which is noted by the following: St. Anne's Retreat was originally
established up Logan Canyon for Cache Valley's Catholic nuns who needed to "get
away" from things for awhile. One nun got herself in trouble ... she couldn't walk the
streets in her condition, so she was sent to St. Anne's ... " This may not only be
illustrating the attitudes of the local Mormon religion of their perception of such a

situation by stating that pregnant unwed women cause shame and should be hidden
away-but this situation may also be inverse of reality and that it reflects their own
attitudes about as if happened to their own. The punishment for breaking moral codes
may even become rape and murder as in the following version S. "Hekeda and Her
Dogs" (Fife Folklore Archives, ColI. 8. usu. ColI. 8. 84-0S0.Item 6). The stories
projected on the nuns and the punishment received for breaking the rules may illustrate
local attitudes and feelings towards moral transgressions. Thus the legends send a strong
message to conform to local codes of living.
Other themes represented are 1) In the first version: nun gets pregnant by a priest;
nun has baby and drowns it in the legendary swimming pool located at St. Anne's; nun
commits suicide but remains as a ghost and haunts the place (as a dog); sounds of dogs
howling. 2) The second version: An example of legend-tripping functioning as teenage
courtship scene. (Toelken, personal communication; Fife Folklore Archives:
L2.3.1.1S.9; Thomas, IS). Boy takes girl to this haunted place with hopes of romancing.
Also present is the notion of calling Hekate's name three times to make Hekate appear.
This of course not only has the effect of scaring the girl, but also brings about various
phenomena as described in the story. There is also the presence of dogs, a green
glowing chariot with Hekate at the helm; she also later speaks to the boy, and the car not
starting. There is a definite religious overtone as well in this traditional story. The boy
chases away the evil (nun) Hekate with the words "In the name of Jesus Christ.. .. "
This seems to suggest the idea that the righteous and powerful religion prevails over the
evil presence of the other. This is followed by a safe return as explained by the
following quote: "Those who go there are invariably frightened and end up retreating to

the safety of their own LDS culture" (Thomas, 18). This would also have the effect and
function as a "faith promoting" (Thomas, 16; Hufford, 222) event for the couple and
undoubtedly the event would continue to serve its purpose in narrative form for the
inspiration of others.
In trespass version (1) the father condones a legend-tripping tradition to St.
Anne's because he recollects his own trips to this legendary site. In other words,
there remains a general acceptance of legend-trips to this supernatural site by
precedence of local tradition, and again, because the trips to St. Anne's are so
common that it becomes a justifiable, acceptable, and a coherent custom that
consequently affects local concepts of justice.
In several of these newer trespass versions, the intruders are perceived as
being victims and are described as being harassed, even though they are the ones
breaking in! This is significant in light of a general local perception that legend­tripping
at St. Anne's is more than a local tradition and viewed by many as a
benign activity. Although it should be clear that large numbers of locals voicing
their opinion in letters to the editor articulated their dismay and frustration with the
In one of the stories (trespass version 3), kids are said to have been murdered at
St. Anne's; this is closely followed by the statement "kids from my school were caught
by cops." This has the appearance (as seen throughout these stories) that the trespassing
high school students were victims-even though they were breaking the law by entering
private property. It may also be a reflection of the traditional themes, incorporated into
the newer trespass stories.

Still another possible level of meaning in the cluster of traditional stories can be
seen by using Alan Dunde's tenn "projective inversion." Dundes uses the blood libel
legend to illustrate this concept. This legend with origins in ancient times tells of Jews
killing Christian infants and children, using their blood in a ritual to make matzah. He
explains that: "The Christian guilt for indulging in symbolic ritual cannibalism is neatly
projected onto the Jews through such legends" (Dundes, 110). Dundes continues: "I am
persuaded that a more appropriate and revealing approach to the legend lies in the
Christian need for a Jewish scapegoat and in the psychological process I have tenned
"projective inversion"(Dundes, 352). The point is that the blood libel legend is Christian
folklore-"and that it is Christians, not Jews, who [tell and] would like to commit the
blood libel" (Dundes, 354). Also important to note that it was not the Jews who killed
Christ, it was the Romans. "Christians blame Jews for something which the Christians
needed to have happen, a thing which the Jews never did ... [so] projective inversion
refers to a psychological process in which A accuses B of carrying out an action which A
really wishes to carry out him or herself' (Dundes, 352-353). An example of what makes
clear the projective inversion in the blood libel legend is suggested by the following facts:
Jews are prohibited from consuming blood; but Christians, take part in a ritual of
consuming the body of Christ by the symbolic bread and wine (or bread and water)
symbolizing the body and blood of the Christ. Along these lines of wish fulfillment, it
appears that Christians are projecting upon the Jews what they themselves are guilty of­which
is killing and consuming the body of Christ.
Some of the themes in the legends of St. Anne's, parallel to the blood libel
legend, appear to be the reverse of reality:

--the ghostly nuns are described as menacing and aggressive, intruding on the
visiting teenagers' courtship scene; when in fact the teenagers were trespassing
on church property.
--the nuns are described as sexually active, thus breaking local religious and
moral codes, when of course the teenagers are the ones doing the courtship
These examples suggest that the very characteristics attributed to the ghostly nuns
are actually projections of the young legend-trippers, phrased in such a way as to blame
the aberrations on the other. Thomas states a similar point when infonning us that" ...
the majority of those telling the legend are Monnons ... [and that the] St. Anne's legend
versions are ostensibly about Catholics and certain Catholic practices; however, a closer
study of the versions reveals that they are really about Monnons and their view of
Catholics ... " (Thomas, 15). This appears to support the notion of projective inversion
and its function in the St. Anne's legends by projecting an inverse reality.
It has been nearly three years since the ambush of local legend-trippers by
security guards at St. Anne's. The stories currently circulating among local youth
continue to illustrate the dynamics of folklore and the power of local tradition. Tradition
propelled by local belief is clearly seen in the survey of local high school students,
recalling the Halloween trespass incident of 1997; basic versions were also produced in
the survey. Out of twenty-five students surveyed, fourteen mentioned elements from the
trespassing event, while eleven used a traditional motif. So what does this mean?
It tells us that this incident of three years ago was more than news. In fact it
clearly fits into a so-called "civic brush fire incident." Grant Davie uses this phrase in

describing local news bits that have a huge impact on the local population (Grant Davie,
1-2). It is evident by local newspaper articles and particularly editorials, both in the 1997
trespass incident, and certainly also the uproar that Diane Browning's article created in
1986, that St. Anne's is a topic that clearly fits into this "civic brush fire" category.
Grant-Davie proposes four qualifying areas as conditions for civic brush fire incidents
and St. Anne's is one of his examples:
1) A provocative incident: The St. Anne's controversy was started in
dramatic fashion by two events in quick succession: first the teens' visit to
the property and the caretakers' hostile reaction, and then the raising of
criminal charges against all involved. 2) An emblematic object or image:
In the example of the St. Anne's incident, the incident itself provided a
strong enough image-an angry, nighttime confrontation between a few
armed men and a crowd of thrill-seeking teenagers-to excite the general
public's imagination. 3) Accessible media and forums: The St. Anne's
debate was played out in at least seven articles, two guest commentaries, 17
letters to the editor, more than 50-callin messages (a selection of nine of
which were printed), and an editorial. 4) A conflict between threatened
values: This was very apparent in the St. Anne's incident, which became a
debate between property rights and civil rights. The first wave of letters to
the editor sided with the caretakers, who were characterized as heroes
wrongly crucified for defending property and taking a stand against
vandalism, while the second wave defended the teens' actions as a
harmless, traditional prank and condemned the caretakers for assaulting
and terrorizing them (Grant Davie, 3-5). [only definition, and material
pertaining to St. Anne's included]
Grant-Davie also suggests that the brush fires surrounding the St. Anne's incident
"were fueled by some fundamental issues and deeply-rooted values [my emphasis] that
fired the public emotions" (Grant Davie, 6). So, yes--clearly the St. Anne's incident on
Halloween 1997 was more than local news-it goes much deeper than that. It taps
fundamental group values with regards to ex: religion, gender, and property rights, that
play a crucial role in this particular "civic brush fire" and fire up emotional debates
among the local population.

I would like to suggest another level beyond the idea of property vs. civil rights.
This has to do with the fundamental and inherent rights as seen by the locals, of
upholding and justifying a long standing tradition of legend-tripping at St. Anne's vs. the
property owners' rights to stand up against vandalism. I propose that fundamentally it is
an issue of property vs. civil rights, but in essence it becomes an issue of local concepts
of justice vs. local folklore and tradition. Local concepts of justice are diverse and may
stem from dominant Mormon religious beliefs as can be noted throughout this discussion.
Legend-tripping at St. Anne's becomes justifiable due to the long standing custom and
tradition established in the past 50 years.
The incident of Halloween 1997 in Logan Canyon had such an impact on local
youth that stories are still circulating that tell of the frightening events surrounding the
trespassing incident. It is important to note that out of the 25 students surveyed, fourteen
stories contained primarily data of the trespassing event. This appears to demonstrate the
powerful emotions around the event itself, certainly property vs. civil rights, and lastly
the concepts of justice in defense of tradition. Perhaps the traditional St. Anne's legend
depicting supernatural phenomena-is certainly frightening enough but the memories of
the ambush of local high school students on Halloween 1997 remain a dominant image.
These are recollections of a small sample group of students surveyed as representative of
their knowledge ofSt. Anne's Retreat. So vivid are the memories ofthis event that some
of the students surveyed vow never to participate in any legend-tripping activity to at St.
What we have is a history of a legend-tripping custom which entails visiting a site
of the supernatural-a thrill seeking event-experiencing the legend by ostension by

acting out the legend, which has been going on for over 50 years. First, the trespassing
• event of 1997; then the "civic brush fire" (Grant-Davie, 1) ignited after Browning's
article on Halloween 1986 that caused considerable emotional distress in the Catholic
community. In 1997, the public debate primarily deals with property rights vs. civil
• rights, and also local concepts of justice vs. local folklore and tradition; whereas in 1986
the incident provoked tension among Catholics and Mormons. Both cases involve the
legendary St. Anne's Retreat and the local lore persisting through the generations. • The trespass legend versions of 1997 collected recently from local high school . ,
students illustrate yet another dimension to the St. Anne's legend. They portray a
• sentiment of pity for the teenage offenders- portraying the lawless teenagers as victims.
It is a case where the community opinion (in the form of letters to the editor) appears to
be significantly divided, In my research it appears as though approximately fifty percent • defend property rights and condemn the behavior of the trespassers; the other fifty
percent largely condemn the actions taken by the caretakers at St. Anne's, and appear to
• minimize the incident as a teenage prank, or in some cases defend the actions of the
teenagers by indicating such things as rites of passage. According to a prominent local
resident cited in the Herald Journal, visiting St. Anne's is a local custom that most local
• residents at one time or another have taken part in. In general, the Herald Journal overall
displayed more sympathy towards the trespassers rather than those leasing the property.
The "ambush" of the trespassing teenagers was depicted vividly and as seemingly • unprovoked while little sympathy was lent to three security guards defending a property
on Halloween from 30 plus teenagers and young adults, in the middle of the night, in the
• dark, of Logan Canyon, eight miles away from town . .The event was clearly biased in the
19 •

media, and certainly did not for the most part take into account the circumstances in
which the security guards operated under. It also did not adequately sympathize with
threats previously made to caretakers. Nor did the newspaper adequately acknowledge
the frustrations of property owners facing ongoing vandalism and destruction of their
property in Logan Canyon. To illustrate the type of news paper rhetoric that at large
demonstrated bias towards the trespassers- a few quotes follow: [Cache County Sheriff
Lynn Nelson] "The kids were wrong to trespass, he said, but they were just looking to
have some fun. "The big issue here is what these other guys did to them" (Herald
Journal, October 14, 1997. Pg. 3). A similar sentiment states: [Cache County Attorney's
Office, Scott Wyatt] Wyatt said: "St. Anne's is a local haunted house on private property
and what happened when the carloads of youngsters got there is almost unbelievable ...
It's one of the most incredible things I've ever seen ... The kids should not have done
what they did because they were trespassing but that doesn't justify the reaction of these
guys ... "(Herald Journal, October 14, 1997. Pg. 3). To further illustrate this point is to
note that repeated issues the actions of the security guards are accentuated and depicting
them as the criminals. Detailed and repeated attention is given in describing the fate of
the trespassing youth as they entered the St. Anne's property. Such accounts are
commonly referred to as "Vietnam-style terror in Logan ... they [trespassers] were
ambushed, shot at, handcuffed, tied together by their necks and threatened with their lives
by shotgun-toting private guards (Herald Journal, October 12, 1997. Pg. 1). These
images from words in the news paper are followed by detailed descriptions of the event
picturing the supposed injustice against the youth. According to my research, two
articles from the Utah State University Statesman presents the case of both parties, but in

addition offers significant and supportive statements in defense of the security guards.
One article tells: "Some defend the gun-toting men claiming they had no other choice but
to detain the youth and protect themselves. Friday evening it was 30 on three. Some ask
the question, how were the men supposed to detain the youth and protect themselves
from retaliation?" (Statesman, October 13, 1997). Sympathetic comments such as this
one are important for a balanced view of the incident, and to understand that these
security guards did not chose to go into "combat" but acted in defense of themselves and
the property.
A fascinating aspect of the whole St. Anne's incident that only surfaces in the end
and appears to have been largely overlooked is the fact that Logan Canyon is a National
Forest. The land that the St. Anne's property consists of is actually government land
leased by the occupants (Herald Journal, March 11-12. 1998) [date based on public
hearing court documents; date of news paper release not available]. In this case the
whole controversy over trespassing becomes void, as we can see from subsequent
statements by the Forest Service because technically the youth never actually trespassed
in light of this information. All through the news articles covering the St. Anne's event
of 1997, there was only incidental mention of the U.S. Forest Service and the rules that
apply to government land. It was not until the St. Anne defendants accepted a plea
bargain on bringing an end to the trial that this issue really surfaced and played any
significant part. The Herald Journal newspaper article [date of issue not available,
however public hearing court documents are dated March 11-12, 1998 which indicates
the approximate issue of the article in the news paper] informs us that the St. Anne
defendants accepted a plea bargain, admitting guilt of assault, and consequently receiving

reduced charges. Quoted in this article are the words of a U.S. Forest Service official
Chip Sibbemsen who said that: "he himself had removed 'no trespassing' signs at St.
Anne's, as well as from other cabins permitted as summer homes in Logan Canyon over
the years." Then Mr. Sibbernsen continues: "The permit holders at St. Anne's have
permission for a gate ... but not for the razor wire and signs that give the entrance to the
retreat a prison camp appearance. That's because the land is still public land ... not
private property" (Herald Journal, March 11-12. 1998) [approximate date based on court
documents]. The article concludes: "Basically, while permit holders have the right to
keep people out of their cabins, they can't keep people from walking through on
surrounding land. That's why the Cache County Attorney's Office dropped criminal
trespassing charges against all 38 youths captured and held at gun point by the retreat's
caretaker. ... " This in the end appears to resolve the issue of trespassing charges-but
also further complicates the question of "property ownership" and the limited power
allowed residents to defend property from invaders. What seems incredible is the fact
that it took several months for anyone to realize this fact when that should have been
obvious to law enforcement and the legal profession from the very beginning. Since this
law pertaining to public access on government land is now public knowledge, there
seems to be yet another possibility (although by chance and through a technicality) for
anyone to enter this property in the future as they wish. This may be great for the legend­tripping
tradition, but this notion certainly does not help permit holders in Logan Canyon
get any relief, or hope to end future "trespass" and vandalism on "their" properties.
So what we can understand from the 1997 incident and the 1986 Halloween
article is that the St. Anne's tradition has fueled numerous debates from property rights to

concepts of justice and customs. But the conditions under the surface for this brush fire
to bum, as discussed throughout this paper, are important to remember in order to
understand the deep-rooted fundamental concerns of the citizens of this or any
community. Folklore is powerful, and given a function and purpose, proves to move
persistently through time as is evident from the legends surrounding St. Anne's. The
"dynamics of folklore" (Toelken, 55) powerfully illustrates not only how a local legend
has circulated for over 50 years, but how a new aspect is introduced into the realm of the
legend-that is this intense, not so easily ignored incident of Halloween 1997 which
appears through recent stories to have left its own mark on this vivid legend cluster.
The event surrounding the legend-tripping trespassers on Halloween 1997 at St.
Anne's may be viewed in terms of property rights, or a fundamental civil right to carry on
a local belief, a long standing custom-tradition, or a rite of passage. It can also be studied
as local rhetoric involving a "brush fire incident" (Grant Davie, 1). Religion and gender
appears to be a dominant factor in the complex cultural issues presented through the
legends and the legend-trips through its participants. It illustrates that the themes
discussed in this paper, and the stories it evolves around, are still vital issues to the
community at large and dramatize concerns, fears, and anxieties still present in the
undercurrent of this community. The Mormon religion is not just a religion, b~t a way of
life; it becomes clear from this and examples given in this paper, that religion plays a
central role in directing fundamental concerns such as gender roles, and fear ofthe other.
This legend will remain a vivid part of narrative tradition-as long as there is a function,
and purpose-to entertain narrator, audience, and legend-trippers ofthis local culture, as
other legends will elsewhere. Cultural issues and concerns will continue to surface in

oral tradition and reflected and dramatized in the stories they tell; because-"Ifit weren't
important-they wouldn't keep doing it" (Toelken, personal communication).

Works Cited
Browning, Dianne. Personal communication, March 1998.
Dundes, Allen. 1991. The Blood Libel Legend: A Casebook in Anti-Semitic Folklore.
Madison. The University of Wisconsin Press.
1997. From Game to War and other Psychoanalytic Essays on Folklore, pp. 11,
110-111. Lexington. The University Press of Kentucky.
Ellis, Bill. 1991 . Legend-Trips and Satanism: Adolescents' Ostensive Traditions as
'Cult ' Activity, pp. 279-295. The Satanism Scare. New York. de GruyterPress.
Fife Folklore Archives. Various traditional legend versions ofSt. Anne's Retreat.
Grant Davie, Keith. Civic Brushfires: The Rhetoric of Local Community Debates.
March 8, 2000 unpublished paper.
Hatch, Anne. Personal communication, March 1998.
Herald Journal. October 14, 1997. Pg. 3; October 15, 1997. Pg. 16; October 12, 1997.
Pg. 1; October 26,1986. [page number unavailable]; March 11-12 [approximate
date based on court documents from a preliminary hearing on March 11-12
recorded July 8, 1998].
Logan High School Survey. Results from survey April 2000 that produced 25 examples
total. Eleven of a traditional legend version and fourteen trespass versions­representing
stories of the Halloween trespassing incident at St. Anne's Retreat in
1997. In this survey, students were asked to recollect any version of the St.
Anne's legend and to write it down.
Hufford, David J. The Terror That comes in the Night. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Salt Lake Tribune. October 14, 1997.
Statesman (Utah State University). October 13, 1997.
Thomas, Jeannie. 1991. Hecate in Habit: Gender, Religion, and Legend. Northwest
Folklore. Vol. 9: 14-27.

Toelken, Barre. 1996. The Dynamics of Folklore. Logan, Utah. Utah State University
Personal Communication, April 1998.

Hecate in Logan Canyon: Origin, Belief, and Contemporary Oral Tradition
Local legends about a "Witch Hecate" primarily surface around the Spring
Hollow-Guinevah campgrounds three miles up Logan canyon. This particular area is
frequented by local Mormon youth groups (primarily girls camp) and boy scouts, where
many of these legends emerge and thrive as ghost stories told at various camps. A
parallel legend (in which Hecate appears also) about St. Anne's Retreat also depicts
Hecate, and is based on the former Catholic Retreat referred to as St. Anne's Retreat
located eight miles from Logan. This property came into the possession of the Roman
Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City in the early1940s and was used as a retreat and a
vacation place for the Sisters of the Holy Cross (Salt Lake Tribune, October 14, 1997.
D3). Due to the frequent visits oflegend-tripping1 trespassers and vandals, the sisters
stopped coming to the retreat (Anne Hatch, personal communication) and the property
was subsequently sold (Herald Journal, October 15, 1997. Pg. 16).
In this paper I will explore the origin and history of Hecate by discussing the
ancient Goddess worship, to subsequently gain an understanding of Hecate as an ancient
underworld divinity, and the connection, if any, of the local Hecate legend character to
the ancient Goddess Hecate from history and mythology. On this journey we should
reach a broader understanding of Hecate and her performance in local legend as a
bewitched nun. An analysis and discussion of hypothetical interpretations, meanings,
functions, and symbolism-will follow. Before beginning these areas of discussion it is
necessary to introduce the reader to samples of the "Witch Hecate" legend to allow an
1 Legend-tripping is a tenn that Linda Degh, William Ellis, and others use in describing the practice of
visiting the sites of supematurallegends.
- -------------------- --

insight into the main core of this paper topic-the legends. [All stories and citations in
this paper are quoted verbatim].
1. Witch Heketa
The story goes that an old woman lives somewhere up Logan Canyon.
She is supposed to be a witch. Her name is Heketa. It is said that she has
seven white dobermans which can become invisible at will. A local boy
and girl supposedly went up to her place one night to see if they could see
anything. They say they were sitting in the car when suddenly the
windows fogged up from the outside. They heard dogs sniffing around the
car and what sounded like a person breathing. A hand rubbed away some
of the moisture like a person breathing. A hand rubbed away some of the
moisture on the passanger window by the girl and an old womans face
looked in. The girl went into a sort of trance and floated up off the seat a
few inches. The boy got the car started and drove home quickly where his
father, who was a Mormon bishop, gave the girl a blessing and she
snapped out of the trance. The boy drove back up there the next day and
says that there were seven dog collars on the ground (Fife Folklore
Archives, L2.
2. Heckada
If you go up Logan Canyon to 3rd dam and cross the bridge into the Spring
Hollow area or go to the Quarry up Providence Canyon, you can summon
the Devil's wife, her name is Heckada. My friend's brother's girlfriend's
brother had a friend that did this very thing. He and a date went up to the
Spring Hollow area, for some romancing. After being turned down he got
out of the car and yelled the phrase" Heckada, come get me". This was the
saying that you needed to say to get Heckada to appear. After saying it a
few times he returned to the car. His date was scared, which was his main
intention for doing the little prank, or so he thought. After a few minutes
of sitting there they began to hear dogs barking, they looked up and saw a
green glowing chariot pulled by six wolves, and a mistress with long
flowing hair at the reins. At about the same instance the doors locked, the
boy and date was pretty scared by this time so the boy tried to get the car
started but it seemed like the battery was dead, nothing would start or no
lights would come on. By this time the wolves were on the hood of the
car clawing at it and grOWling. The mistress stared into the boy's eyes and
said "1 have come for you". The boy freaked out and didn't know what to
do, the girl was screaming and crying. Then the boy remembered to say
"In the name of Jesus Christ 1 command you to leave", at the very instance
of saying that, the mistress and her wolves disappeared. The boy then
started the car and returned to Logan. Upon returning to his date's house


they looked at the hood and saw scratches that the wolves had left (Fife
Folklore Archives, L2.
3. The Old Nun
I once heard of some girls that went to girls scout camp up Logan canyon,
a few years ago. There was about 12 girls plus a few leaders. The girls
were between the ages of twelve and fifteen. They were sitting around the
campfire telling scary stories, one of which was the "Old Nun" story. The
story is about an old nun that died very angry that she had lost her youth
and beauty. She had resided at the Nunnery, also in Logan canyon.
Before she died, the nun would walk past the girls scout camp and long for
the days of her youth. She became so obsessed by this idea that she
decided by drinking the youths blood she would again be young. Well,
the kids of the camp tried to laugh off their fear not wanting to admit to
anyone that they really were scared. The group broke up after the story
telling finished and went their separate ways. The leaders of the camp
became increasingly concerned as the girls began to disappear one by one.
They called and hunted for the missing girls not getting any response at
all. A couple of girls from the camp had gone on a walk together.
Suddenly they came running back into the camp screaming and shaking
terribly. The girls reported seeing an old lady dressed as a nun, with an ax
and blood dripping from her face walking near the camp. The next day
when the sun came up six of the twelve girls were found murdered around
camp (Fife Folklore Archives, L2.
4. Hekedah-the lady ofthird dam [told by scoutmaster]
Once I decided to see if the stories about Hekedah were true. I grabbed a
friend and we grabbed two girls and set out for third dam. As is the
custom, we put the keys to the truck on the hood and then yelled for
Hekedah to come. After waiting a long time, I saw a green light forming
in the middle of the lake. I thought I was imagining things at first. It soon
formed into a face of a lady all pale and green and she was crying. We
grabbed her car keys from the hood, but waited to see what would happen.
It wasn't long until a hand and arm appeared and started motioning us to
come. (the teller motions with his hand and finger) She kept getting bigger
and bigger and was soon a full size lady coming closer and closer to our
truck. We put the keys in the ignition and tried to start the truck but
nothing happened. Finally, when she was only 4 or 5 feet away, the truck
started and we tore out of that place like crazy. [the collector continues to
provide context by saying the following] (The teller then fills in the events
in Hekedahs life which explain why she haunts the lake) Hekedah was a
recluse woman, who lived in a little cabin above third dam. She had been
quite wealthy in her life and had her money with her in the cabin. One
night, two men broke in and killed her so that they could steal the money.

The two men were never seen or heard of again. It is said that if you look
up on the ridge on a night of the full moon, you can see the sillouette of
Hekedah , with ax in hand, chasing two men (Fife Folklore Archives,
The above mentioned legends are samples of the Hecate legend that will
be scrutinized in this study. But first it is necessary to introduce several
complementary themes that surface in the parallel legend of St. Anne's Retreat,
thus making it necessary to present sample versions of Hecate's role in the St.
Anne's legends of Logan Canyon as a witch and a crazed nun. Themes from
both "Witch Hecate" and "St. Anne's Retreat" will be discussed below.
5. Barking Dogs
Lucy and her friend were driving around the canyon one fall night when it
was really nice and warm, and they decided to go to St. Anne's. There
were three guys who wanted to go, and three girls who didn't want to go.
Since the boys were driving, they went. They parked the car by the
highway, and began walking up the dirt road. On the way, one of the guys
said "Do you know what happened up here?", and he proceeded to tell
story of the nuns. "The nuns used to come up here in the wintertime and
stay. One spring the nuns didn't come back. The townspeople went up to
investigate, and they found the bodies of the nuns floating in the
swimming pool, because they had been raped and murdered. They also
found mother superior's black dogs chained up and starved to death in a
shack." The guy telling the story suggested that they go look in the
swimming pool. While they were looking at it, one of the guys yelled,
"I'm scared," and ran to the car as fast as he could. Everyone else
followed him, but the girls were slower. As they were running down the
mountain, they heard dogs barking and chains dragging on the ground, and
they thought the dogs were chasing them. The dogs were howling and
looking for the nuns. The girls were crying because they were so scared
(Fife Folklore Archives, ColI. 8. USU. 84-050. Item 10).
6. Saint Ann's Retreat
A long time ago there used to be a nunnery at Saint Anne's. One of the
nuns got pregnant by a young priest. She hid the fact that she was
pregnant for a long time. When she had the baby she was told she had to

leave the nunnery. She was grieved at what had happened and went out
and drowned her baby in the swimming pool, then hung herself. Her spirit
haunts the place in the form of a dog. Sometimes people can hear dogs
howling at Saint Ann's. Nobody has ever seen the dogs (Fife Folklore
Archives, L2.
These legend illustrated above are examples presenting Hecate as a bewitched
nun and includes several themes and symbolism that will be scrutinized further below.
With this introduction, the mythological and historical aspects can now be explored. A
brief over view of the origin of the Goddess follows.
In Greek mythology, Hecate depicts an underworld third dimension of a triple
Goddess representing Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate. Hecate appears as the crone
part of this triple divinity; Hecate, the crone is also represented in the two local legend
types in Logan Canyon. To extract meaning, and to gain a broader understanding of
these legends, it is necessary to start from the beginning-to a time when the Goddess
Hecate played a powerful and important role in many parts of the world. This process
should elucidate the connection, if any, of the function of the local Hecate legend
character to the ancient Goddess Hecate from history and mythology.
In ancient times, dating back as far as 25,000 years BC.until shortly after the
advent of Christianity, in many parts of the world-God was a Woman. This supreme
deity, known by many names-according to region, was revered and worshipped not only
for her fertility and procreation, but she represented wisdom, universal order (Stone,
preface) [page number unavailable], knowledge, and capability of holding vital advisory
positions. Goddess worship thrived from Neolithic periods 7000 BC., alongside of the
Judeo-Christian religions and peoples who worshipped male gods until classical periods
of Greece and Rome until around 500 A.D when any trace of this so called idolatry

worship of the pagans was effectively, and nearly completely destroyed. (Stone, 20;
preface) [preface page number unavailable].
"She [Hecate] bestows wealth and success, good luck and advice, is powerful in
earth, sea, and heaven ... By a transference common in mythology, she became as a
goddess of plenty, an infernal deity, terrible in aspects and often snakelike, the queen of
ghosts and mistress of black magic, the keeper of the keys of Hades" (Leach, 487).
Hecate is said to have had power and influence over earth, heaven, and sea. "She
gave her votaries success in battle, in the law courts and political assembly, and in
athletics. Later she came to be associated with the darker side of life, with the
underworld and night, with ghosts ... Sometimes she herself was represented as an old
hag with snakes entwined in her hair, or she might assume the form of a mare or dog, or,
attended by hell-hounds, she haunted the cross-roads" (Pike, 174). The descriptions
offered to us by Pike and Leach effectively provides an understanding of the pre­Christian
image of the Goddess-and how hypothetically, simultaneous with the onset of
Christianity, the role reversal of women into submission under a patriarchal system
flourished. Goddess and thus Woman, is consequently seen in a subversive light­perhaps
reflecting her new role and demoted status. Although the change away from
Goddess worship appears to have taken place over thousands of years, Stone speaks of
invasions of Northern tribes which apparently had immediate, harsh effects upon the
Goddess religion by eradicating matriarchal-matrilineal societies to the new
establishment of male dominated societies. The power of the Goddess societies became
eradicated upon the solidification of a patriarchal system; [and] "only then was she
fragmented, and reduced ... " (Sjoo & Moor, 183).

It has been argued that early cultures did not understand the connection between
• copulation and procreation and therefore worshipped the Goddess as the sole creator of
life, and the only one who could create her own kind. But with the aggressive invasions
of societies with male deities this matriarchal structure changed. The power of myth to
• create perception and belief among man and woman-kind can be seen from the Adam and
Eve myth. Stone talks about this being a dramatic and powerful turning point in the
• manifestation and eradication of the Goddess. The Adam and Eve myth accomplished
this by blaming Eve for the fall of mankind. Her punishment was to suffer pain in
childbirth, and to serve man as a helpmate and inferior in status (Stone, foreword). This
• is something to keep in mind as we note gender issues in these legends.
The image of Hecate in lighter times shows that the Goddess was revered for her
contributions to the world; this was before she was demoted in status and seen as dark • and sinister. After a mythological transference as mentioned by Leach-Hecate takes on
a sinister-darker image. Hecate is held as moon Goddess, Queen of Ghosts, and deity of
• the Crossroads (Sjoo & Moor, 183). After the entry to darker times "Hecate was
[became] the destroyer; newborn children and animals were sacrificed to her" (Sjoo &
Moor, 183). These are things this triple goddess has represented through time. With this
• in mind, we can examine some classic themes existent in the local legends.
Among some of the themes evident in both the historically documented mythical
• origins from darker times of Hecate that are evident in "Witch Hecate" and the parallel
"St. Anne's legends are:
1. The triple dimension concept.
2. Hecate's Suppers - Hecate at the Cross Roads. • 3. Hecate and the keys of Hades-keys as part of ritual in legend-tripping.
4. Sacrifice of newborns-in reference to the swimming pool as an altar.
• 7
~~~~~~~~~---- ----.-----~~~~-

5. Hecate as Moon Goddess and Queen of Ghosts.
6. Presence and symbolism of torch.
7. Various themes connecting function and local religious culture i.e. presence of
local dominant religion in legends as the righteous prevailing over evil.
The Triple Dimension Concept
There are several theories of the triple dimension concept of Hecate. One is that it
represents "the three faces of woman: maiden, mother, and crone" (Thomas, 22).
Theories ofthe triple head however, is that the triple head represents earth-heaven-sea
(Pike, 173); past-present-future; three formed because of association with the moon:
crescent-full-waning (Barnard, 85); yet another theory suggests a three headed dimension
has to do with the need for Hecate (at the Crossroads, discussed below) to look down in
three directions.
In local legend versions Hecate appears to represent the triple dimension of what
Thomas refers to as the "three faces of woman" by the following: "The legend versions
depict woman as nun-a virginal maiden (Persephone); woman as a pregnant nun who
becomes a mother (Demeter); a woman as a death threatening witch (Hecate) (Thomas,
22)." This can be seen in the following legend versions:
First, the image of nuns being raped as was the virginal maiden Persephone raped
by Hades. "The nuns used to come up here in the wintertime and stay. One spring the
nuns didn't come back. The townspeople went up to investigate, and they found the
bodies of the nuns floating in the swimming pool, because they had been raped and
murdered" (Fife Folklore Archives, ColI. 8. USU. 84-050. Item 5).
Second, the ancient notion of nuns and priests engaging in sexual acts; and
consequently depicted in some of these legends as pregnant and having babies. This

image may represent Demeter- mother of Persephone evident by the following quote:
"One of the nuns got pregnant by a young priest" (Fife Folklore Archives, L2.
Third, a depiction of Hecate-a woman as a witch or sometimes referred to as the
devil's wife: "The story goes that an old woman lives somewhere up Logan Canyon.
She is suppose to be a witch" (Fife Folklore Archives, L2. Another version
similarly states: "If you go up Logan Canyon to 3Td dam ... you can summon the Devil's
wife, her name is Heckada" (Fife Folklore Archives, L2.
Hecate's Suppers - Hecate at the Cross Roads
The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics explains that crossroads are regarded as
the dwelling place of evil spirits and ghosts creating bad luck and danger. Hecate is the
Divinity of Crossroads (E.R.E. Vol. II, 330b). This is a place where at a new or full
moon, rich people would worship her by leaving offerings in forms of food referred to as
"suppers of Hecate." The crossroads was also a symbolic place for the sacrifices of
newborn babies. Myth tells how "Hecate, as newly born infant, was exposed at a cross­way,
but rescued and brought up by shepherds. This probably points to an actual custom
of exposure at cross-roads ... (E.R.E.Voi. II 333b). Dogs were also a form of sacrifice at
the cross-roads.
St. Anne's may by a symbol of crossroads in terms of culture, religion and
gender. A ghostly nun, may be a symbol of a strange outside culture and religion in
which females at the retreat are perceived by locals to be dominant. The nuns in the
legends take on aspects of Hecate-and she haunts this metaphoric crossroads. Hecate is
known as the mother of ghosts (Leeming, 152); just as the nun becomes mother, she

(Hecate-the nun) in a twisted way is also mother of dead sacrificed newborn babies who
represent ghosts in the legends, and their spirits haunt the place. Another interesting
theme is the presence of dogs in the legends and the historical significance in reference to
"Hecate's Suppers." It explains that the poor and dogs would often consume the food
offerings left at crossroads-hence the presence of dogs around the local legendary
Hecate. Dogs are also told to be a form of sacrifice left at the crossroads (E.R.E., Vol.
VI. 566b; Vol. II 333b; [Vol. Vill. 333b D. In tradition, dogs are often associated with
the devil (Toelken, personal communication) which may explain their presence in
Hecate's darker times.
Hecate and the keys of Hades: keys as part of ritual in legend-tripping
Keys are sometimes an important symbol in "Witch Hecate" and "St. Anne's"
legends. From a mythological perspective, Hecate is known to hold and possess the keys
of Hades. "She is even called the Lady bearing the keys of the Universe .. . " [it is
further explained that] "The significance of the keys generally signifies the power over
the regions ... (E. R. E. Vol. Vill 123a). Keys become a central point of a specific
ritual, and playa significant role in this following legend version: "This is supposed to
have happened to someone when they went up to St. Anne's. They drove their car up
there, parked it, and turned off the lights. They put their car keys on the top of the car to
bring Witch Hekeda down. A light shone on the car and the car keys disappeared. They
couldn't leave St. Anne's without their keys, and they never returned home (Fife Folklore
Archives, ColI. 8. USU collection#?! item #3 and 4)." This narrative clearly seems to
suggest that Hecate is the holder of the keys-including their keys. She is the divinity of
~~~~--~----.-- .-

the underworld who not only possesses their keys and but also has obvious powers over
this particular region (St. Anne's Retreat and the Spring Hollow area). She appears to
detennine in this story if in fact these trespassers may leave or not.
Sacrifice of newborns-in reference to the swimming pool as an altar
As discussed above, newborn babies are known to be a fonn of sacrifice at the
crossroads. In the local legends discussed in this paper, the illegitimate offspring ofthe
nuns is also known to be sacrificed. It can be understood as a local, modem day
metaphoric crossroads; and on this site, newborn babies are also said to be murdered
(sacrificed)-namely in the legendary swimming pool at St. Anne's Retreat. The
swimming pool, with its frequent reference to murder in the legends, may serve as a
symbolic altar in depicting the drowning babies and nuns. The ancient custom and ritual
at doorways functioned to avert evil, and signified a place where offerings and sacrifices
were made (altars often being placed right inside doorways). One can hypothesize that
the intruders at St. Anne's in fact also came through a doorway (symbolic door, i.e. gate)
to enter the 8t. Anne's property-to become a potential sacrifice as haunted victims of a
ghostly nun.

Hecate as Moon Goddess and Queen of Ghosts
Hecate is considered by many to be primarily the moon Goddess "and one who
forecasts perilous, unwelcome change" in the night [handout, Jeannie]. Hecate, the deity
of crossroads-haunts the crossroads with her triple head staring in three directions to
keep watch over evil powers. It is at new moon or full moon that offerings are given to
Hecate at the crossroads. "Hecate is Mother of Ghosts, Queen of the underworld, of
death" (Leeming, 152).
In the legends it is common to witness supernatural phenomena at a full moon.
One such account is: "Near Saint Anne's retreat up in Logan Canyon there is a small
canyon. It is said if you go to this canyon around midnight, with the moon full in the
night sky, and you call the name Heckata three times she will appear" (Fife Folklore
Archives, L2.
Presence and Symbolism ofthe Torch
The torch in mythic terms symbolizes Demeter's search for her daughter
Persephone after Hades raped her and took her to the underworld. Demeter searches
desperately for her daughter with "lighted torches in her hands" (E.R.E. Vol. XU, 390a).
Perhaps, in accordance with some legend versions, Hecate in the form of a bewitched
nun, is also told to carry a torch; but rather than a torch in these examples, she uses a
lantern. No longer is Hecate (or the bewitched nun) looking for her daughter
Persephone, but she may be wandering the grounds of St. Anne's or Spring Hollow
searching for her murdered baby. The following examples illustrate such stories. First,

an apparent torch, second, a lantern: (Fife Folklore Archives, L2.; ColI. 8. usu.
The Lynching Mob item#8).
Various themes connecting function and local religious culture i.e. presence of local
dominant religion in legends as the righteous prevailing over evil
There exists a definite local religious flavor across many of the local Hecate
legend versions depicting the more favorable dominant local religious culture over the
strange, perhaps threatening outside influence of the Catholics. This is evident in legend
#1 above, labeled "Witch Heketa" illustrated by the following quote:
A hand rubbed away some of the moisture on the passanger window by the
girl and an old womans face looked in. The girl went into a sort of trance
and floated up off the seat a few inches. The boy got the car started and
drove home quickly where his father, who was a Mormon bishop, gave the
girl a blessing and she snapped out of the trance [my emphasis] (Fife
Folklore Archives, L2.
Another example from legend #2 above, labeled "Heckada" tells:
The mistress stared into the boy's eyes and said "I have come for you". The
boy freaked out and didn't know what to do, the girl was screaming and
crying. Then the boy remembered to say "In the name of Jesus Christ I
command you to leave" [my emphasis] at the very instance of saying that, the
mistress and her wolves disappeared (Fife Folklore Archives, L2.
This clearly represents what Hufford refers to as "faith promoting" events or
stories (Hufford, 222). It serves to reaffirm the dominant and superior religion over the
intruding, strange outside church as represented by the presence of nuns in Logan
Canyon. It appears to symbolize that good (Mormon bishop giving blessing-and
chasing evil spirits away with "in the name of Jesus Christ") breaks the spell of the evil
abominable and apostate church as noted through Mormon doctrine (Thomas, 18; Notes

7). Thomas continues: "Those who do go to the site are invariably frightened and end up
retreating to the safety of their own LDS culture."
Another prominent theme surfacing in the legends is that of gender. This brings
us back to the beginning of this paper-speaking ofthe Goddess and her mythological
presence in local legend and geography. It brings forth aspects of challenges from a
matriarchal and matrilineal local codes of living stemming from a patriarchal culture,
based on religious beliefs dating back to the Old Testament. It is portrayed and
manifested through the mythological Goddess Hecate, the power of the Goddess and
Woman-challenging the notion of the patriarchal system; it confronts, and perhaps
challenges local beliefs and attitudes in a culture dominated by men. In accordance with
local belief-the female in the legends appear to take on a submissive and subservient
role. As evident in the example in the previous paragraph, the male is dominant and has
the power to avert evil. From this it is important to note that the Mormon bishop is male,
while the Goddess Hecate is female. Stone describes the Paradise myth as "still the
bedrock of fundamental theological arguments that women are divinely ordained to be
subservient." This idea seems clear when looking at Mormon doctrine, and the status and
role of the woman in local culture and legend; while the challenge to retain a status quo
in a world that is in constant challenge of the patriarchal system and its dominance over
women. It is the male who in many ofthe stories initiates the courtship ritual of visiting
these sites haunted with the presence of the (female) supernatural. He appears as
dominant male, aggressor, and savior; he is also capable through the power of the
Mormon priesthood to revert evil, as mentioned in version #2 above. The male initiates
courtship; the female is depicted in the legends as resisting his advances while she is

expected to refrain from intimacy until marriage. So here her belief and moral codes are
challenged. While his advances and plans for romance goes awry, he gets angry and calls
upon the supernatural. He evidently inhibits the power to do so, as well as to make the
evil go away using religious authority, power of the priesthood (which is in present day
only given to men), and subsequently brings them both back to the safety of the Mormon
culture. Example: (Legend version #2 above; Fife Folklore Archives, L2.
Other examples of male dominance and female subordination are: "There were three
guys who wanted to go, and three girls who didn't want to go. Since the boys were
driving, they went" [my emphasis]. Once there, one ofthe boys proceeds to tell the St.
Anne's legend. Later in the story, it tells of everyone running back to the car-but the
girls were slower" [my emphasis] (Fife Folklore Archives, ColI. 8. USU. 84-050. Item
10). Some stories further illustrate moral transgressions as being punishable by rape and
death (Fife Folklore Archives, L 5,11,12). This concept also has ancient origins. As the
male deities took prominence in the Goddess religions [time period] or as illustrated in
ancient Hebrew societies (Stone, 56) the moral codes so dictated that punishment for
moral transgressions was to be put to death. The ancient belief and custom went as far as
to punish a woman who had been raped with death. The notion of moral transgressions
punishable by death as noted through ancient belief and custom, and as depicted in local
legend is evident in the depiction of the female-a nun-who becomes the model for
unacceptable moral behavior and consequently becomes raped and murdered for her
choices. This possible representation may serve as a powerful image to members
participating in this local courtship ritual and serves as a reminder to follow principles as
set forth by the indigenous religion.

The mythological and historical significance of the Goddess religion in relation to
the presence of the mythological Goddess appearing as a nun in local legends has been
presented and illustrates several themes drawn somehow from mythology of Goddess­Hecate.
The presence of these classical themes incorporated in the modern legends may
remain a curious aspect, but as a whole, all of the stories seek to exemplify certain
aspects of the local people's attitudes and beliefs. This is illustrated in what may
constitute their fears and concerns. One of these has to do with gender. Underlying
anxieties are displayed through these legends and may stem from the systematic changes
in the roles of women through time. To understand the present day presence of the
Goddess Hecate in local legend, it is important to understand that gender is still an vital
and combative issue-particularly in the local religious culture that may resist the
worldly changes around them in order to maintain their religious convictions, including
the role and status of woman in this culture. Somehow, Hecate an ancient mythical
underworld divinity-manages to creep into modern day local legends; the resiliency of
this myth thousands of years old functions today to in ways described above. The triple
Goddess Hecate performs as a witch and a nun in both legend versions; and in a sense,
she is still worshipped today as thrill seekers tempt their fate by making visits to her
habitat in the metaphoric crossroads of Logan Canyon.

Works Cited
Barnard, Mary. 1967. The Mythmakers. New York. H. Wolff.
Fife Folklore Archives. Various traditional legend versions ofSt. Anne's Retreat and
Witch Hecate.
Hastings, James, editor. 1980. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. Edinburgh,
England. T & T Clark LTD.
Hatch, Anne. Personal communication April 1998.
Herald Journal. October 15, 1997. Opinion section.
Hufford, David 1. The Terror That comes in the Night. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Leach, Maria, editor. 1949. Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore
Mythology and Legend. New York. Funk and Wagnalls Company
Leeming, David; Paige, Jake. 1994. Goddess: Myths of the Female Divine. New York.
Oxford University Press.
Pike, Royston. 1958. Encyclopedia of Religion and Religions. New York. Meridian
Books, mc.
Salt Lake Tribune. October 14, 1997. D3.
Sjoo, Monica; Mor, Barbara. 1975. The Great Cosmic Mother. San Fracisco. Harper &
Row, Publishers.
Stone, Merlin. 1976. When God was a Woman. New York. The Dial Press.
Thomas, Jeannie. 1991. Hecate in Habit: Gender, Religion, and Legend. Northwest
Folklore. Vol. 9: 14-27.
Toelken, Barre. Personal Communication, April 1998; May 2000.


Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives, FOLK COLL 3


Reproduction for publication, exhibition, web display or commercial use is only permissible with the consent of the USU Libraries Special Collections and Archives, phone (435) 797-2663.


Utah State University Folklore Collection, folklore theses, FOLK COLL 3
St. Anne's Retreat





Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>

Document Viewer


Copy the code below into your web page

Item Relations

This item has no relations.

Social Bookmarking