It was an onslaught of psychopomps this week as I attempted to finish my Master's work... an e-portfolio I've had three months to complete. I have also been working on a sacred girdle over the past three months; to be dedicated in my work with Hekate as an otherworldly traveler and reporter. Part of the issue has been a delicate balance between the academic and spiritual aspects of myself... I try not to let the two overlap, therefore creating a more objective perspective. I look at my clock right now, and every day for the past week, and it is 11:11, or 1:11... the first encapsulating the fourth as Hermes and Hekate as the third. Wait a minute... where did Hermes come from? The only Gods I have experience with would be the Jehovah and Jesus of my childhood and Cernunnos, my Lord of the Wilderness. So it was quite a surprise to me when I realized that Hermes was a presence I had experienced before...a long time ago when I knew not who HE was. Recently I started listening to an old timey radio show addressing this relationship, and in a way I could imagine: the “Hermes and Hecate Roadshow” features the Gods as a pair on motorcycles searching for missing artifacts. Who better than a divine thief and mistress key-holder to go about the universe, stealing back to restore balance. Although I always imagined Hekate would have a raspier, whiskey-toned voice, the somewhat effeminate but perfect for his androgynous ways. He is one I seek to know better, especially through His connection with Thoth (Djehuti) as a patron of scholars, libraries, and information really tickles my bibliophile side. This shrewd and calculating psychopomp stepped up, Hermes brings things straight to the edge without much room for error and revealed His presence all along the path.
Very early on, I was a bit curious and non-conformist when it came to spiritual practices; yes, I am much more focused and disciplined now, if that can be believed. I had stepped outside a magickal circle which had been cast under an Esbat moon... to smoke a cigarette as we often spent hours in that sacred space; my poor addicted body couldn't handle more than 2 hours without my precious nicotine. It was summer and for the first time I was seeing fairies; elementals, genius loci, the nature spirits were crawling and running from tree to tree, the silvery light left traces against the dark night enhanced with mugwort tea. As I stood away from the area to a place which wouldn't disturb the senses of my coven mates, I noticed a much larger shadow emerge from the giant oak, the one on my best friend's property with the closing hole in it's heart. At first I took it for a limb, moving in the darkness and casting crooked shadows to play tricks on human eyes. But then, it stepped out again, sending a psychic wave of shimmering silver... rippling until it touched me and splashed on my own auric shield. The energies told me this Be-ing was not here to help, nor to hurt. It was as curious of me as I was of it. For a moment I saw it's wide-brimmed hat, long cloak and hair iridescent as trout gills, a rainbow in the night. It felt masculine, strong and fatherly... protective compared to the more authoritarian model I was much more used to in the 'real' world. He did not seem of this world... as in not a dis-incarnated spirit who once lived on this planet; or if He had it was so long ago there is little trace of it left. When I asked for it to identify itself, it sent a menacing message “Get back in the circle, child!” Without even asking why, I did just that. The shadow man disappeared and I never spoke of Him to anyone, for fear He may re-appear.
Fast-forward a few years and I am in London, England. Because I love cemeteries, I decided to venture off to Hampstead Heath and visit one of the oldest, and somewhat forgotten, resting places I have ever experienced. Highgate Cemetery is divided by a road, with the larger part being on the Eastern side (with such famous graves as Karl Marx and Patrick Caufield), I chose the more romantic and spookier Western cemetery. It was spring, armed with my camera, some food for the dead and an adventurous attitude I tromped through the windy paths, overgrown with ivy and random daffodils like so much litter of the living.
It was during a photographic opportunity I saw my mysterious stranger again; in broad daylight! He was still very dark, like an outline in black chalk. His hat was wide, turning up at the edges as a sinister smile. I felt His unstable energies reach out to me again, as it had before all those years ago. I thought that night under the moon was simply a liminal moment caught in time, not meant to repeat again. Having this thought immediately sent me into a panic. How did this spirit, this Be-ing travel from California and find me on the other side of the planet? These strange and curious thoughts would betray me, as I fled immediately. I hurried as I left and only stopped at the nearest pub for a pint and smoke.
The third time this Be-ing appeared, I did not see Him. I was back on the left coast of 'Merica, living the dream of college at my grandmother's house; she is a very open-minded Christian and never gave me a problem about magicks. There was one night however, when I came home late that she stopped me from going past her bedroom door. She was still awake and told me there was a showy figure hanging around the back door; she saw Him and described the shadow man I had never told grandma about. She told me to get rid of Him; she didn't care WHAT I did, but didn't like Him hanging around. Now I had done some banishing before at this point in my magickal career, but nothing for a Be-ing that made me so nervous. I consulted with friends, mentors, teachers I trusted and all said to go with my gut. So I did it.. and never saw Him again. My mystery shadow man has made small guest appearances in dreams, but never for more than I will allow. I have known His work was not finished with me, but I wasn't sure how to go about it until the other night.
This week, I attended a Dark of the Moon practice at a local metaphysical shop, The Sacred Well. The devotional working was dedicated to Hekate (my matron in case you haven't been paying attention), and the Greek God Hermes. Now, I am familiar with Roman Mercury, only in flirting... but was immediately intrigued by the connection with Hekate, especially as the Chthonic wonder twins they seem to be; speaking to my dual Gemini personality, I like these two sides of myself and these psychopomps. In a simple ceremony we gave praise, offerings, and thanks to them during this most liminal time of the moon... when it is not New nor Waning, it disappears as Hekate reaps. On the shadow side of the Moon it is the opposite... it is full and reflecting the light of the Sun as Hermes' golden helmet. They are in eternal dance these two... climbing through the axis mundi of worlds; guiding the dead to different destinies. Hermes wears His big hat to keep in His big brain, to keep it from flying away. Much like myself, He is quick of tongue and fingertips... a trickster character quick to illicit feelings of distrust. But if given the chance, I think He might be a most excellent guide and is not patiently waiting for me to call on Him without a little groveling first.