30 Days of Hermes: Locations of Worship

Day 12: Places associated with this deity and their worship

“The highest mountain in Arkadia is Kyllene, on the top of which is a dilapidated temple of Hermes Kyllenios (of Mt Kyllene). It is clear that Kyllenos, the son of Elatos, gave the mountain its name and the god his surname. In days of old, men made wooden images, so far as I have been able to discover, from the following trees ebony, cypress, cedar, oak, yew, lotus. But the image of Hermes Kyllenios is made of none of these, but of juniper wood. Its height, I conjecture, is about eight feet” (Pausanias, Description of Greece).
 

12. Place is relative, as time. Hermes travels the Multiverse and is boundless. He is also not one to stay put for long, but ever anywhere was special or sacred to Him, it would foremost be Mount Kyllene in Arkadia. There in a cave, it is believed He was born and thusly became a popular location.There were temples and shrines erected all over Greece, not just the outside city walls of Athens, Korinthia, throughout the Peloponnese, Thebes. It would be impossible to count all of the Herms found at roadside shrines. In nearly every gymnasium an altar was erected for Hermes and Herakles…both patrons of sport and athleticism.

Anywhere there were boundaries, a pile of stones or wooden Herm was erected…and all were/are sacred to Him. No temple could hold this wayward God, even if for a short visit. Four-way crossroads are the most sacred of all spaces to Hermes, as traveler and Lord of liminality…where decisions are made both figuratively and literally. The Hermai were ancient rest areas, places to stop eat lunch, waiting area for others (since it was a guide post), or to make offerings for safe passage in unfamiliar places.

He was close to the people and accessible especially in the marketplaces (agora), known there as Hermes Agoraeus. I think He pretty much likes to be anywhere people congregate…Hermes is into people-watching. Today we might find Him in the enclosure of an air-conditioned mall; not as exciting as the open-air markets of ancient times with haggling or bartering. But in the modern context, He would prefer the local swap meet or garage sales…where unusual items are procured, and people come together looking for bargains in the spirit of commerce. He would also hang out at financial and stock exchange centers, airports, underground subway stations and railroad lines.

Herm with erect phallus. Marble, ca. 520 BC. From Siphnos.
Herm with erect phallus. Marble, ca. 520 BC. From Siphnos.
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