30 Days of Hermes: Suggestions

Day 30: Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?

For my last post, I would like to include a list of links I have utilized over the course of these 30 days of devotional writing. Some I quoted directly and provided hyperlinks within the text itself, but here it is easier to find. I also would suggest if anyone is truly wanting to connect with Hermes that they establish an altar and set to making offerings. In the devotional act of gifting, without any other motivation except making a connection, your reward will be so much more rich than if you simply 'give to get'; something I see a lot of Pagans doing.

Poster commissioned by the Underground Electric Railway Company in 1932.
Poster commissioned by the Underground Electric Railway Company in 1932.

  • Theoi is THE best online resource for information about the Greek Gods, Heroes and Mythology in general, with their section on Hermes to be pretty wide.
  • Mythagora is another great site that really is more annotated, but overall enjoyable resource of mythology. I utilized their list of texts including Hermes which came in handy.
  • The Neokoroi website has a wonderful sections for each God full of good information, including an extensive list of offerings for Hermes and a great essay entitled "Hermes: An introduction to worshiping the messenger of the Gods".
  • The HellenicGods website is a great resource on Hellenismos and ways to include worship with traditional Hellenic religion into modern lives. Their section on making offerings is exceptionally good.
  • A great blog I highly suggest concerning the life of a modern Hellenic, is Baring the Aegis.
  • Our Hermetikoi have the Digital Herm as our home on the internet, and an excellent source for Hermes...especially the growing Bibliography page.
  • Sacred-texts is a wonderful source for primary source materials of pretty much anything from the ancient world... or at least prior to copyright laws. Here are the site search results for all their materials including the term Hermes... so we get the alchemical Hermes Trismegistus, philosophers writing about the God Hermes, and images of ancient portrayals of the quick-witted one.

30 Days of Hermes: UPG

Day 29: Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?

**For those unfamiliar with the term UPG, check out the hyperlink to an older blogpost addressing this.**

I would not categorize it as 'unusual', but Hermes has been a cheerleader for me in these new magical endeavors. Unlike Hekate who remains silently watching from afar, Hermes likes to stick His nose right down in the work with me. Exploring the mythology has verified some of the ways in which I experienced Hermes, the sly bartering fool. He is showing up everywhere now...in my newsfeeds, on the radio, dreams, connections are just about endless. The things I have found to be more personal? Hermes likes good beer and gambling. I also feel the need to create; in a constant state of inspiration but coupled with laziness so projects don't get very far. I feel Him looking at me sternly as I give up on making my own Herm...a square-sculpted statue with the proverbial phallus is not easy as it sounds. I have no Herm. Others in the Hermetikoi found ways to create mini-Herms and I like them all, it's just not ME. I also created an outdoor cairn with a bunch of round stones I have...including a very phallic shaped-stone. I am not totally satisfied and am continuing my search for an icon I resonate highly with.

The Mini-Herm. He rests at the base of a much taller version; this one is for travel within the Hermetikoi.

The Mini-Herm. He rests at the base of a much taller version; this one is for travel within the Hermetikoi.

30 Days of Hermes: Deity Wishes

Day 28: Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently

I would like to understand the connections between Hermes and Hekate, more than the obvious tasks as chthonios. He and Hekate have kinda ganged up on me here: She led me to do this work with Hermes, and I hope after my dedicant year to begin doing the same with Hekate. It was ultimately my goal to become a Priest of Hekate, but She had other plans. And so I wholeheartedly continued attending dark moon devotionals never expecting to dedicate to Hermes, but the work got deeper. I would like to know, what Hermes has in store for me. His energy brought out my natural curiosity for challenge and personal growth; taking on these old ceremonial rituals I never paid much attention to. This magick is strong, classical and blessed by His golden wand; Father of magicians and alchemists, changling shepherd and comedic trickster. I wish to know Him as intimately as I know Hekate, only time in devotion will make this connection possible.

THE RETURN OF PERSEPHONE. Hermes leads Persephone forth from the underworld where she is greeted by the goddesses Demeter and Hekate. Hermes is depicted holdling his kerykeion (herald's wand), and wearing a winged petasos (cap). Persephone wears a crown, Hekate carries a pair of burning torches, and Demeter holds a royal staff. From the Theoi website.

THE RETURN OF PERSEPHONE. Hermes leads Persephone forth from the underworld where she is greeted by the goddesses Demeter and Hekate. Hermes is depicted holdling his kerykeion (herald's wand), and wearing a winged petasos (cap). Persephone wears a crown, Hekate carries a pair of burning torches, and Demeter holds a royal staff. From the Theoi website.

30 Days of Hermes: Evolving Relationship

Day 26: How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?

It is ironic this post is getting out late, considering last night instead of sitting in front of my laptop...I was sitting in front of a huge Herm. The copal was thick, the drink heady with life from the yeast. I offered a yellow squash of phallic wonderment from my garden; zucchini, squash, japanese egglant, sunflowers... all sun-loving and masculine plants. I sang “Father's Milk and Mother's Blood” making the glyph of Mercury on the warm wood. The golden light of His lamp, the scent of His breath...Hermes was very much present as our Hermetikoi accepted another Dedicant into our ranks.

Over the past year of service and devotionals, I now see Hermes everywhere; the words on this screen, the energy behind propelling the internet, moving information, the circuitry in my motherboard. I am bathing and immersing in the Hermetic current which is He. I would never have thought this God would become part of my life; Hermes was always approachable, more like the occasional 'ping', it was reciprocal relationship. Devotional work is JUST that... devotion. I ask for nothing unless it is necessary, and then only if there is something great in it for them. I figured it's like a friendship developing: I would never think of having a budding companion over for dinner only to ask for a favor. Well, this is how many people approach the Gods… with the motivations of reciprocity only, “I give so that you might give”. No... I give food and drink as to a guest in my home; I enjoy their company, hoping that also their influence might rub off and inspire me to be a better person. Hermes and I are pretty well acquainted at this point, as I talk to Him daily for advice and inspiration. I give a spiritual 'nod' to His handiworks, the travelers and scribes I bless in my heart. But it is still like an online friend I have not met face to face. I am patient and know some friendships are worth developing slowly.

Hermes Fastening his Sandal, early Imperial Roman marble copy of a Lysippan bronze (Louvre Museum)

Hermes Fastening his Sandal, early Imperial Roman marble copy of a Lysippan bronze (Louvre Museum)

Day 27: Worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered

This question seemed like was already answered several weeks back.... I believe it was Day 9. Unlike many other deities I have encountered, there really doesn't appear to be many misconceptions about Hermes. For example, Hekate...She is seen to many as an old Crone when really She is a Maiden, as the lore all suggests. It is only after Shakespeare's "Macbeth" does the guise of Hekate take on the role of old hag. Hermes, on the other hand, has always appeared in many different ways... He is a master of illusions, known to appear as an old man or a youthful shepherd. He wanders like Odhinn, a friendly traveler on the road; a popular messenger of fortune. May He always change and ever evolve, as do we. )O+

30 Days of Hermes: Unhelpful Hermes

Day 25: A time when this deity has refused to help

I have not really asked Hermes for anything I was not willing to do for my Self. I learned my lesson fast about asking the Gods for help om stuff a LONG time ago. I am not sure if Hermes has ever truly done much for me, except the occasional luck on a lottery ticket (something I do on a random Wednesday in His honor). I have never really been refused by any Deity I have petitioned, come to think of it. My prayers always seem to be answered, even if not in the way I anticipated or wanted.

From "Journey of the Wounded Healer" by Alex Grey.

From "Journey of the Wounded Healer" by Alex Grey.

I have been praying for an income; notice my use of naming here...I do not want a 'job', because this tightens my field of opportunity. I want to cast a vast net over the sea of money and catch some. Although I busy my Self with witchcraft and working on my Master's degree, I'm essentially unemployed as a stay at home wife and mother. Yes, I know there is a lot of value in that...but I am becoming jaded, needing financial independence and, with graduation around the corner, will begin the long cycle of student loan repayment. I left the job market in 2008, when the economic decline erupted and became a catalyst for something new. I am hopeful of this purge and upheaval of things, with an outcome being one which changes the way we all look at money and how we obtain it. Hermes, by not giving me the “easy way” on this request of help, has actually helped me to think about money and commerce differently. It is an energy, as anything else we wish to have more of in our lives, and Hermes can direct it with His caduceus towards devotees. To put it bluntly: if Hermes wants better offerings than Rolling Rock or Coors Light beer, He best be opening some doors for me...His humble devotee.

30 Days of Hermes: Helpful Hermes

Day 24: A time when this deity has helped you

Known as the 'helpful' God, Hermes has been there for so many deities and heroes. He is like Ganesha, removes obstacles and brings luck in it's stead. As already shared at the beginning of this project, Hermes helped me in an attempt to finish my Master's capstone project. Granted I did not PASS, He and I kept our agreement for the rest of the year. Since then there was a ritual working I participated with my Hermetikoi in... to remove obstacles blocking my True Will. Whilst the working itself cannot be shared, it did include the construction of a mandala with charcoal, salt and number of other alchemical ingredients empowered. It was then tossed into a fire, released whatever poisonous connections there were into the creation of my distractions: untied, cut, burned and torn by the 4 arms of Hermes Pantos Apolytos.

Since then I have lost some meaningful friendships, realized many parts about myself which were so much stronger than I ever thought, and the tolerance for bullshit has really dropped. I do not allow anyone into my life who carries bad luck, ill intentions or just plain drama. As a matter of fact, since this working I run at the first hints of it in a new friendship or situation. It is not what I anticipated; this brutal honesty with my Self from the Lord of Liars...my petition for liberation surprised me with it's results and that is something rare.

Hermes, off to work!

Hermes, off to work!

30 Days of Hermes: A Composition

Day 23: Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity

Straight to sky thy head is bound,

Over hedge and the underground,

Swift-shifter, mighty strong Polytropos!

Hermes! Oh my Lord Chthonios!

Bless me, this messenger, Angelos desire,

Writer and grifter with words to inspire.

Give bent ear under thy wide-brimmed halo,

Slipper of coin, prophetic dreams to follow.

With golden potency of an alchemical mix,

Please shepherd prosperity without any tricks.

Detail of Hermes with Pegasus. From "Parnassus" by Andrea Mantegna (1497).

Detail of Hermes with Pegasus. From "Parnassus" by Andrea Mantegna (1497).

30 Days of Hermes: Qualities, Art, Music and Poetry

****Because I will be gone away camping this weekend, I posted all three of the next day's posts in one. Please enjoy and have a wonderful weekend! ****

Day 19: What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire? What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?

The quick-thinking and friendly Hermes is an outgoing spirit, traveler of worlds and speaker of languages. I wish for all these qualities...several reasons I pray to Lord Hermes! I really suck at learning languages and have been so isolated from people being a stay-at-home wife and mom, I have become socially inept. He inspires me to venture out the front door; Hermes wants me physically moving, not sitting on the cushion in meditation. I admire the athleticism, the loyalty and most importantly, Hermes' approach-ability. Hermes is the Lord Liars, Thieves and Gamblers...and my personal ethics often has issue with this, mainly because I generally stay away from all three kinds of people. Maybe it is personal experience with family who steal or are tellers of fibs, but I do not trust them. I don't even like magicians, the prestidigitation stage kind who create illusions and boldly attempt to 'trick' me. Or maybe it was the magician I was in a relationship with who cheated on me. I admit to a preconceived distrust of manipulative people. However, when I look at myself, honestly... I do all of these things in one way or another. I am a really good liar, and have ethics so I choose not to. My father always had a great saying which sums it up for me, “You can't bullshit a bullshitter”; meaning, it's easier to determine when someone ELSE is lying because I have this skill too. Gambling is something I do very seldom, but have many in my family whom this is an addiction; just as shopping or sex can be habit forming. Luck rarely has anything to do with the logarithmic patterns programmed into electronic slots or online poker games. Statistics and learning to play the games can help in casinos. But honestly, it's about how much risk you are willing to take. I never spend more than I think to throw away...but it's still a good time. Like the devotees of Dionysus who should temper their drinking, Hermes' followers enjoy the atmosphere and activity, but should never rely on gambling for true happiness or to make fortunes.

 

Day 20: Art that reminds you of this deity

I have been posting several images which resonate Hermetic energies throughout this project. Although I have tried to find many citations, I was sure to only include images from the common, public domain. Here is a favourite:

"Hermes wiedzie duchy bohaterów do głębin Hadesu", or "Hermes leading the spirits of heroes to the depths of Hades". Stanisław Wyspiański, 1897.
"Hermes wiedzie duchy bohaterów do głębin Hadesu", or "Hermes leading the spirits of heroes to the depths of Hades". Stanisław Wyspiański, 1897.

Day 21: Music that makes you think of this deity

See my fabulous YouTube playlist. And have a Hermetically blessed day! )O+  

 

Day 22: A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with

Hermes, draw near, and to my pray'r incline, Angel of Jove, and Maia's son divine; Prefect of contest, ruler of mankind, With heart almighty, and a prudent mind. Celestial messenger of various skill, Whose pow'rful arts could watchful Argus kill. With winged feet 'tis thine thro' air to course, O friend of man, and prophet of discourse; Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine In arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine. With pow'r endu'd all language to explain, Of care the loos'ner, and the source of gain. Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod, Corucian, blessed, profitable God. Of various speech, whose aid in works we find, And in necessities to mortals kind. Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere, Be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear; Assist my works, conclude my life with peace, Give graceful speech, and memory's increase.
- Orphic Hymn to Hermes

30 Days of Hermes: Gender and Sexuality

Day 18: How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG)

18. Powerfully quick, focused in pursuits, and long in distance...Hermes is the epitome of masculinity. Pillared, phallic Hermai littered the countryside of ancient Hellenic realms. The four-sided Herm was more than a block of wood or stone, a head on top and penis placed just so. It was the icon of Hermes blessings of fertility, virility, and... I need a breath.

Hermes is athletic, probably hangs out at the local gym. Whilst homosexual encounters were not frowned upon in ancient Greece, Hermes is one of the few Gods to not really engage in this type of sex. Although I would say He is very much an ally in both ancient and modern times. The child He sired with Aphrodite, Hermaphroditus, was born with genitals from both parents... mother so inherently feminine and father of the masculine, there was no swaying one way or the other. The overwhelming 'maleness' of Hermes can be seen in His sons and progeny, who are all very sexually imbued Be-ings. His son Priapus is shown as having a ridiculously long penis, seriously looking like a third leg. Pan and Dionysus are both notorious throughout mythology for their intoxicating orgies.

Priapus- between circa 50 and 79 AD.

Priapus- between circa 50 and 79 AD.

Unfortunately time has not kind to the physical representations of Hermes and the phallic crew. Long before the Catholic Church, a removal of penises from the Hermai all around Athens occurred ; a political and religious assault which took place during the Peloponnesian War. Later, the Catholic church desecrated shrines and temples all over the empire; sometimes adding fig leaves over a statues nether regions for added modesty.

30 Days of Hermes: Public Relations

Day 17: How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?

17. As a trickster, Hermes tends to change with the 'flavor' of pantheon He chooses to manifest in. He traveled around the ancient world, a lot...and in each incarnation of Him, Hermes maintains this undercurrent of what Karl Kerényi explains as the 'Hermes' Idea'. From his classic, "Hermes: Guide of Souls", Kerényi quotes: "Whatever may have been thought of Hermes in primitive times," we read at the conclusion of Otto's superb portrait of Hermes, "he must once have struck the eye as a brilliant flash out of the depths, that it saw a world in the God, and the God in the whole world. This is the origin of the figure of Hermes, which Homer recognized and which later generations held fast to."

Hermes is a friend to other deities, at least He appears to be. As mutable psychopompos, Hermes escorts Gods across the Multiverse (King Priam in The Illiad) and the Dead to the Underworld. As Herald of the Gods, He delivers messages which require secrecy or stealth (Kalypso in The Odyssey) , and sometimes He is the assassin (Argus). The lore indicates Hermes helps shield illicit affairs between deities, nymphs and humans alike.

Although Himself never married, Hermes is best known for His love of Aphrodite. In one story, Zeus steals a sandal and gives it to for Hermes to return. True to His personality, Hermes offers the sandal back to Aphrodite if She sleeps with Him...which She reluctantly agrees to. Secretly, I think She liked it and was just playing hard to get which is NEVER a good idea with such a quick, determined God. In another of His sexual pursuits, it was the sister of Herse who tried to cock-block Him, so Hermes just turned her into black marble.

It appears to me, Hermes hangs out a lot with His brother Apollo. Even though they got off to a bad start, these two are always swapping and conspiring, paling around as it were. He is also very close to His Father Zeus, loyal to the end and more than happy to please. But does Hermes have any 'friends'? Well, I like to think of Hekate as His friend. Although there doesn't appear to be much lore surrounding any interactions between these two, they are co-workers in a way: guiding souls of the Dead, escorting Gods, all part of the psychopomp role.

"Hermes Herse Louvre G494" by English: Dolon Painter - User:Bibi Saint-Pol, own work, 2007-06-15. Licensed under Public domain.

"Hermes Herse Louvre G494" by English: Dolon Painter - User:Bibi Saint-Pol, own work, 2007-06-15. Licensed under Public domain.

"Brimo [Hekate], who as legend tells, by the waters of Boebeis [in Thessalia] laid her virgin body at Mercurius’ [Hermes’] side." (Propertius, Elegies 2. 29c)

I invite any interested in finding other modern connections between Hekate and Hermes to check out the following links:

The Hermes and Hekate Roadshow, an interesting podcast recorded in the old radio show style of storytelling, with voice actors, sound effects and a very modern take on these two deities.

“H” is for Hermes, and Hekate, is a blogpost I wrote for the Pagan Blog Project in 2013.

Hermes & Hekate - As Divine Consorts, a good thorough piece written by Joseph Constantine.

30 Days of Hermes: Representing Cultural Values

Day 16: How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?

Whilst Hermes is so adaptable, originally is from a time when Gods ruled the Multiverse. They were fallible with human qualities we could relate to, frightening and we were often victim to their whims. Of course Hermes can be all of these things: as inventor of fire He plays a large part in the cosmology of human evolution, and it was also He that made the first sacrifices to honor the deathless Ones. He empowers both Gods and Humans; Hermes is friend to all who seek Him out. Even His brother Apollo, whom He tricks and steals from over and over, cannot help but barter, deal or trade with Hermes; the macrocosmic drama played over and over in ancient marketplaces. In His dealings, Hermes always manages to come out on top....and why not? The ancients knew life was not always fair, but the real trick is doing business in a way which makes you profitable and popular. That takes charisma, and Hermes exudes it. Business savvy and social prowess are a few of the values which never seem to die, immortal as Hermes Himself.

Hermes also values His progeny and children, familial connections which are very much central to Hellenic culture. Here, the modern American family is only the immediate members; grandparents and other extended family are usually farther away and not such a central part of daily life. This is a real tragedy as household worship included several generations, who often lived under the same roof. This also ties in with the concept of hospitality, a huge part of most pagan pantheons.

Mercury and Argus, circa 1659 by Diego Velázquez.

Mercury and Argus, circa 1659 by Diego Velázquez.

Knowledge, cleverness, strength and loyalty are valued in both ancient culture and today's modern Hellenic pagan. Hermes encourages the pursuit of intellectualism, a sharp wit and exemplifies loyal connections, especially in His close relationship with Father Zeus. Hermes’ strength is shown in His character and brave acts of fortitude. His loyalty and strength are brought together in another famous myth concerning Hermes as the slayer of Argos Panoptes. Story goes, Zeus was having an affair with a beautiful nymph named Io and to hide her from jealous wife Hera, Zeus turned Io into a cow. Of course, Hera is wise to the tricks of Zeus so She sends the one hundred-eyed giant Argus to guard the heifer, keeping Zeus away. So Zeus asks Hermes for help in this situation... to help steal away the heifer (something He is good at). After trying to do this job in a most compassionate way, through playing sleepy music, Hermes has no other choice but to slay the giant to help Io escape. Some accounts say the giant was lulled to sleep and then Hermes took his head... other stories suggest He killed Argus by stoning. This sucks, but Hera was so grateful of the help Argus gave, She took His eyes and placed them in Her sacred animal: the “eye” of peacock feathers.

“Heaven’s master [Zeus] could no more endure Phoronis’ [Io’s] distress [a captive of Hera’s guard, the hundred-eyed giant Argos Panoptes], and summoned his son [Hermes], whom the bright shining Pleias [Maia] bore, and charged him to accomplish Argus’ death. Promptly he fastened on his ankle-wings, grasped in his fist the wand that charms to sleep, put on his magic cap, and thus arrayed Jove’s [Zeus’] son [Hermes] sprang from his father’s citadel down to earth. There he removed his cap, laid by his wings; only his wand he kept. A herdsman now, he drove a flock of goats through the green byways, gathered as he went, and played his pipes of reed. The strange sweet skill charmed Juno’s [Hera’s] guardian. ‘My friend’, he called, ‘whoever you are, well might you sit with me here on this rock, and see how cool the shade extends congenial for a shepherd’s seat.’
So Atlantiades [Hermes] joined him, and with many a tale he stayed the passing hours and on his reeds played soft refrains to lull the watching eyes. But Argus fought to keep at bay the charms of slumber and, though many of his eyes were closed in sleep, still many kept their guard. He asked too by what means this new design (for new it was), the pipe of reeds, was found. Then the god told this story [of Pan and his pursuit of the Nymphe Syrinx] . . . The tale remained untold; for Cyllenius [Hermes] saw all Argus’ eyelids closed and every eye vanquished in sleep. He stopped and with his wand, his magic wand, soothed the tired resting eyes and sealed their slumber; quick then with his sword he struck off the nodding head and from the rock threw it all bloody, spattering the cliff with gore. Argus lay dead; so many eyes, so bright quenched, and all hundred shrouded in one night.”
— Ovid, ‘Metamorphoses’

30 Days of Hermes: Mundane Practice

Day 15: Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?

As a longtime household deity, Hermes is happy to help in many mundane ways. Far from ordinary, and not quite over the top, Hermes is accessible to all classes and castes; however I have a feeling He prefers the “under dogs”. Gambling, writing, driving, traveling in any way, selling or buying goods, working out or any form of athleticism...these are ALL ways to engage in 'mundane practices' with Hermes. He can be invoked for overseeing contracts, sending important mail, removing malware/spyware/viruses from your computer, or any other activity involving His domains. Prayers offered to Hermes when Mercury goes retrograde over our computers and cellphones wouldn't hurt either.

Hermes as a stamp. Tirage de Paris - 1 Lepton, by Louis Fanchini.

Hermes as a stamp. Tirage de Paris - 1 Lepton, by Louis Fanchini.

So how can we engage Him more in our daily, secular activities? A simple practice would include repeating a mantra through your head whilst running or swimming (something I have recently begun in my own practice), blessing money before spending or gambling with it, or maybe making the hermetic symbol or glyph for Mercury over your car/bike/bus/plane seat for safety during travel. I have a special dedicated candle for Hermes devotionals, but I also tend to light it up when I need some extra Hermetic “oomph”: inspiration for writing, a good night's sleep or undergoing some mental challenge.

Listening to music, in general, is a great way to connect and incorporate the energy of Hermes into your life. Inventor of the lyre, the panpipes, patron of lyrical poetry and mad music...what better way to celebrate or commune! Here is a "soundtrack" for Hermes I am putting together on YouTube for public enjoyment. Got a suggestion? Let me know!

30 Days of Hermes: Modern Worship

Day 14: Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?

“Hermes, Hermes
The great sea foamed,
Gnashed its teeth about me;
But you have waited,
Where sea-grass tangles with
Shore-grass.” ("Hermes of the Ways", by Hilda (Doolittle) Aldington )

Aside from the occasional sacrificed sheep and BBQ, Hermes is pretty much worshiped in the same context as He was in ancient times; albeit not as frequently or in mass numbers. His devotees try to stay on daily routines with Hermes, making offerings or simple prayers to Him regularly encourages the relationship and flow of blessings. In my praxis, several forms of worship are combined, specifically those of Tantric Thelema with a hellenic polytheism. I make both physical offerings along with empowering invocations every Wednesday. Copal is offered with a golden ale, some fresh/dried fruit and flowers. Whilst my practice only takes about 10-20 minutes now, it took quite sometime to learn the internal processes and visualizations...something I don't think they did in the Hellenic world, polytheistic worship used to be much more visceral I imagine. My shrine sits on a 8-sided mirror someone stole from the Grand Ol' Opry Hotel for me decades ago. On it are items such as a 20-sided die, compass and the caduceus pin I received upon oath-taking (good catholic girl habits never die, as I wear it close to my heart, pinned to the inside of my bra).

Hermes, Swift-footed and Golden One.
Hermes, Swift-footed and Golden One.

The real question is, does it matter if worship has changed? Hermes is very much an evolutionary God, shapeshifter extrodinaire. His form changes with each culture, adapting and assimilating with technologies and ideologies is certainly the enduring strength of Hermes. Some modern devotees offer gifts such as chocolate, coffee, Red Bull, trail mix (traveling food). I gave Him a banana once, thinking Hermes would appreciate the humour of the phallic, yellow fruit. He accepts it all with the gladness offered from the heart of the gifter; Hermes, like the other Olympians, do not appreciate half-ass. They are like modern celebrities...and we 'the fans' are clamoring for their attention. Nobody plays this role better than Hermes, but once His attentions are caught the approach becomes easier.

30 Days of Hermes: Modern Issues

Day 13: What modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?

As THE premiere messenger of the Gods, Hermes cares very much about communication issues. What better time than the Information Age for Hermes to make a comeback? If He does not rule it, I bet He at least inspired the guys who invented the world wide web. Technology is exploding in this new Aeon, developing at an exponential rate and changing the way people live. Hermes is the patron of not only the internet, but the travelers online; gatekeepers, lock-breakers, content creators and developers...all work in the current of His form. Issues such as Internet Anonymity and Privacy are near and dear to His heart.  The trickster part of Him would definitely encourage the work of cyber-terrorists, open source media and new currency development; I think modern Hermes would endorse Bitcoins.

Statue of Hermes. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek original of the early 4th century BC.

Statue of Hermes. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek original of the early 4th century BC.

Although He is not really known as a God of Justice, Hermes is a great provider of protection against thievery, being lied to or other swindled/tricked. He encompasses the entrepreneurial spirit needed in our developing economy, where jobs are scarce and cost of living is higher. The scales are not in balance as power corrupts, a trickle of poison effecting everyone. The Gods are not receiving their due because our pocketbooks are tight. I hear devotees and pagans alike complain they spend more time and money trying to keep it all together, so cannot focus on the spiritual work. I say, MAKE it the Work!

Father of Commerce, traveler in this Aeon,

Lord Hermes, give us good things, Dôtor Eaôn.

As keeper of coins, blessedly loose thy purse

With golden rod raised to banish this curse

Upon the heads of Devotees, Dedicants and Priests,

Mighty fire-starter and slayer of beasts.

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, but 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 and eat lunch, perhaps a waiting area for others (since it was a guide post), or to make offerings for safe passage in unfamiliar places.

Hermes 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.

30 Days of Hermes: Holy Days and Feasts

Day 11: Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity

“Whichever of the youths is judged to be the most handsome goes round the walls at the feast of Hermes, carrying a lamb on his shoulders. Hermes Promakhos (Champion) is said, on the occasion when an Eretrian fleet put into Tanagra from Euboia, to have led out the youths to the battle; he himself, armed with a scraper like a youth, was chiefly responsible for the rout of the Euboians. In the sanctuary of Promakhos (the Champion) is kept all that is left of the wild strawberry-tree under which they believe that Hermes was nourished.”

(

Pausanias, Description of Greece)

11. Traditionally, days to offer to Hermes regularly took part on the 4th day of each month, with 4 being a sacred number to Him as well. Wednesdays are also auspicious as a liminal middle day in the week (it is also sacred to Odin and Cernunnos too, named after Woden). Like Hekate and other psychopompic deities, Hermes favours liminal times, such as dawn or dusk, midday and midnight. These in-between times are opportunities to bend reality, manifest magick, to reach between the veils and travel the realms. Hermes is also given honor at the dark moon, or deipna...alongside Hekate at crossroads in their twin chthonic aspects.

There was a Greek festival specifically dedicated to Hermes, the annual Hermaia; an initiatory time with rituals taking place in gymnasiums. Contests of physicality and skill took place, alongside gambling which usually follows along with sporting events. There is some evidence that also suggests Hermes was part of the festival at Eleusis, escorting the Goddess Persephone out of Hades and reuniting with Her mother, Demeter in the annual festival of Thesmophia.

The Romans in their adoption of Hermes as Mercury celebrated the Mercuralia, or the Ides of May (May 15th) believed to be His birthday. Suppliants would take water from a fountain in Porta Capena at aqua Mercurii, to asperge boats with bay laurels in blessings of commerce and profit. Some modern practitioners celebrate His birthday as April 4th, which makes me wonder if there is a connection between this and April Fool's on the 1st, a modern, secular holiday. I personally have also found July 11th (7/11) to be a sacred day for receiving blessings of Hermes in luck.

Detail of "The Feast of the Gods", by Giovanni Bellini and Titian.

Detail of "The Feast of the Gods", by Giovanni Bellini and Titian.

Detail of "The Feast of the Gods", by Giovanni Bellini and Titian.

30 Days of Hermes: Offerings

Day 10: Offerings; Historical and UPG

"Histia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honor; glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet—where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Histia both first and last. And you, Slayer of Argos (Argus), son of Zeus and Maia, messenger of the blessed gods, bearer of the golden rod, giver of good, be favorable and help us, you and Histia, the worshipful and dear. Come and dwell in this glorious house in friendship together; for you two, well knowing the noble actions of men, aid on their wisdom and their strength. Hail, Daughter of Kronos (Cronos), and you also, Hermes, bearer of the golden rod! Now I will remember you and another song also." (Hymn to Histia/Hestia XXIX)

Traditional offerings to pretty much all the Greek Gods usually includes olive oil and fumigation of some kind, in the case of Hermes it was historically camphor, styrax, or myrrh mixed with frankincense. Honey-comb and honey, clean water, figs, pork, eggs, garlic and onions were all offerings made for Hermes in His chthonic aspect, as these are foods connected with the Dead. Coins and devotional or votive offerings were also acceptable offerings.

In our Hermetikoi, we give Lord Hermes fig newton cookies. He actually really does prefer them, being a diverse God who does not mind modern conveniences but rather encourages them. Compact and ready for travel, these “cakes of the road” bring together the figs and something well known amongst the ancient people: grains, which had real value and were at one point currency. In my own praxis, I like to offer Hermes barley, rice, sunflower seeds, dried fruit...all thing which traders would have carried on ships to different ports.

We burn specifically copal resin, with nothing else mixed, and I gotta say how clean the smoke is...a very pungent smell to be sure, but it does not linger for too long and carries with it a golden energy. I actually prefer this to the old recipes as they remind me too much of Catholic services, although camphor seems it would be exciting to try with a lamp.

Libations are, and always have been, a large part of offerings to the deities, and throughout several different cultures too. As our priest often says: the difference between a spilled drink and a libation, is intention (or prayer). In our practice we offer a drink to Hermes and then share in the toast as sponde. In my own private praxis the relationship is more chthonic, as I receive both Hermes and Hekate as being of the Underworld, the Kthonios and Khthonia...psychopomps who are happy to accept libations and offerings poured into a pit or onto the earth directly (or into a bowl to be emptied in such a manner) as choe.

Beer is especially a favourite of Hermes, especially due to the alchemy of fermentation and the grains involved...liquid gold. The cheerful friendliness associated around drinking beer seem to be an environment Hermes would very much enjoy; biergartens, pubs, casinos especially as gambling and gaming are realms of luck He favors.

The Symposium (Second Version),  by Anselm Feuerbach
The Symposium (Second Version), by Anselm Feuerbach

30 Days of Hermes: Aspects, Regional Forms, and Misconceptions

Day 8: Variations on this Deity

“Hermes, while wandering in a rocky and desolate place, gave himself over to meditation and prayer. Following the secret instructions of the Temple, he gradually freed his higher consciousness from the bondage of his bodily senses; and, thus released, his divine nature revealed to him the mysteries of the transcendental spheres. He beheld a figure, terrible and awe-inspiring. It was the Great Dragon, with wings stretching across the sky and light streaming in all directions from its body. “ (from the “Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus”)

8. During the Renaissance, there was a revival of not only ancient themes in art, but a renewed interest in the sciences. Astrology, Alchemy, the physical sciences... all were being explored without watchful eyes of the dominant Catholic Church. And so were the greek Gods resurrected from the obscurity of the Middle Ages. Gardens and homes were decorated with Herms, piping satyrs and dancing nymphs. And so, Hermes was brought back from the edge of retirement into a new game of metaphysics where He was the Master Magician. Primarily centered in the Europe countries of France, Italy, England and other cultural centers at the time, Hermes evolved into the patron of all magick, Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus. A mythological sage who founded what is now Hermetic philosophy, some believe He was a human that lived around the same time as Moses...others a compilation of several deities and pre-Christian prophets. The fragmentary works which have managed to survive include the Corpus Hermeticum and The Emerald Tablet.

As I already described in my last post, Hermes was known throughout many different regions...pretty much wherever the Greeks or Romans occupied. In Gaul Hermes/Mecury was combined with the local deity Cernunnos. Mainly associated with hunting and wild animals, Cernunnos was assimilated in urban life as Roman provinces sprang up all over Europe; Cernunnos took on currency and trade, realms usually reserved for Hermes/Mercury in the Hellenic pantheon.

The Reims Altar, Musée Saint-Remi, Reims

“Hunting was important to the inhabitants of Val Camonica (Anati, 1961, p.173; however hunting did not form a major part of the Gaulish economy in the historic period, so it is unlikely that a god who maintained only that meaning would have continued to be worshiped. Further, other than the antlers, the iconography does not suggest hunting. There is one possible representation in which there is any obvious connection with hunting. In this statue from La Celle-Mont-Saint-Jean, an upright man with the remains of antlers on his head holds a bill in his left hand and a bow in his right (Fig. 11; MacCana, 1970, p. 67.) The presence of the bill is enough to show that if this deity was associated with hunting, it was not with hunting alone. In fact, he is here shown as holding a tool connected with the wild and animals, and a tool connected with the domestic and plants.” (Ceiswr Serith).

Day 9: Common mistakes about this Deity

9. Unlike other Gods, it does not seem Hermes appears as anything other than a man; unlike His father Zeus who is well-known to approach and mate with beautiful women as a shower of gold, animals, plants, etc. Either young or old, He is cunning and isn't seen unless He wants to be. May think His winged feet and helmet are the sure give-aways, but often He appears merely as a man, or an invisible being, to help or deliver messages from the Gods to people (or other divinities). He seems a rather approachable, loving God but as all the Olympians, Hermes has a wrathful side should someone be brave (or stupid) enough to press their luck. Hermes with His magick staff has turned some folks into stone, others into animals (specifically a hawk in some instances), and can be overly persuasive to get the job done.

30 Days of Hermes: Titles and Epithets

Day 7: Names and Epithets

7. Instead of listing each and every epithet known to be associated with Hermes, I have decided to choose a few which resonated with me. As I am learning more about Him throughout this process in detail, it is equally important to explore what instinct tells me as well.

Let me first begin with (Ανγελος Αθανατων) Angelos Athanatôn, the title “Messenger of the Gods”; the role of Hermes as speeding angel through heavens and earth. I keep saying I do not believe in angels...if I DID, they would probably more resemble Hermes than the winged and delicate creatures commonly associated with Christianity. Hermes speaks all the languages, talks to all Gods regardless of pantheon, and in His persuasive cunning can even bend their ear for suppliants. Although primarily He councils and works for Daddy Zeus as Diaktoros, (Διακτορος), Hermes is a minister and friend to all. Ever wise from seeing all the world, he is also the runner of messages, receiver of gossip and formless wonderboy of the internet. He is the Dôtor Eaôn , “Giver of Good Things”, a prosperity bestow-er.

Then there is the darker side of Hermes as Polytropos (Πολυτροπος ), wily trickster and shapeshifter. Hermes Psychopompos and Chthonios are both epithets shared with Hekate, as guide of souls to other worlds, primarily revolving around the work in the underworld; a.k.a. Athanatos Diaktoros. Whilst Hekate guides the lost Dead out of Hades and into new realms of the soul, Hermes leads them to Charon, the ferryman who ushers them to underworld destinies. In this role, Hermes is the great caretaker of souls and graves.

Souls on the Banks of the Acheron, painted by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl in 1898.

Souls on the Banks of the Acheron, painted by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl in 1898.

30 Days of Hermes: Related Deities and Entities

Day 6: Other related deities and entities associated with this deity.

“Outside the cave [of his mother Maia] he [the infant god Hermes] found a tortoise feeding. He cleaned it out, and stretched across the shell strings made from the cattle he had sacrificed, and when he had thus devised a lyre he also invented a plectrum” - Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.

6. The youngest, bratty brother of twelve Olympians, Hermes is related to all through their Father Zeus. His reputation amongst the Gods was great, as He was known even to Them as one of great knowledge and communication. When Egyptian religion was integrated into the Hellenic world, a few different Netjer were merged with Him to create knew combinations of Hermes. Their were similarities between ibis-headed Thoth (Tahuti), the great librarian and scholar of memories in Kehmet, and Hermes (later as Romanized Mercury). This synchronization was not necessarily in order to eradicate the culture, but to strengthen Hellenic spiritual pursuits. During the Roman period, the chthonic qualities of Hermes were merged together with that of the Egyptian Anubis (God of the afterlife and guide for the Dead), upgrading Him to Hermanubis...patron of the Egyptian priesthood.

Hermanubis.

Hermanubis.

As it seems with all deities, there are specific animals and plants which are especially favoured and considered sacred to Hermes. Based on folklore, and perhaps some ancient UPG, one animal was the Hare; a creature of great fertility and very, very quick movements, the one Hermes Himself placed into the night sky. Ironically, the tortoise is also associated with Hermes, as He found one and fashioned the world's first lyre. The Ram is also often seen in the icon of Hermes, as shepherd and king of flocks.

During a dangerous game of discus, Hermes accidentally killed His buddy Krokus; when three blood drops fell on the ground, flowers sprang in their stead...and hence everafter named the Crocus. Aside from the generic olive trees sacred to most of Zeus' children, there does not seem to be much flora associated with Him classically. The lore does mention Him being fed from a strawberry tree (andrakhnos) as a baby, the bizarre, tasteless fruit of Arbutus unedo.