The PantheaCon Report: 2017 edition

Gather round stardust children for a tale of journeys with Egyptian Gods, magickal plants, Pokemon battles and a prophecy of Pie. Annually, over the course of 4 days hundreds of practicing Pagans, Occultists, Witches and ‘tourists’ descend upon the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose to share, present and sell at Pantheacon. There is a story within each person’s experience, and this was mine. Day One, Jupiter: The sun was shining, hundreds of crows surrounded my crappy motel, cawing and squawking to the beat of my heart. The evening was lulled by their chattering: breakfast for dinner, “The Color of Money” on television and polishing my ass-kicking boots. Nervous energies supplanted and the ground of being invoked...not all have enemies, but it’s better to be prepared when arriving at a place full of other magick workers. Expansive in Her wings, Mother Hekate placed the Cowl about my shoulders, making me invisible to some but accessible to others. I walked, I wandered.

Day Two, Venus: Rain and wind molested festival goers, making an otherwise difficult unpacking moreso. I was set to install and erect the Hekate altar, but was fresh out of graveyard dirt...a very specific part of my devotional shrine. Since the boys from The Vodou Store were not vending this year, I searched all through the commerce areas but only managed to find black salt as a substitute. With that on one side, and rain water the other, a large black cauldron sat before Her with a bottle of mead for pouring libations. As I set Her in place, both Her torches managed to come off the statue…I super glued them back on and did not realize the personal significance until the very end of the conference, when I was packing Her back up.

First up for me was an intriguing lecture, "Deconstructing Crowley: Don’t Fear the Beast" by James Stone. Upon walking into the room, a dark ambiance captured the tone of  chants, the focus being on a Thelemic altar with a lotus-seated man wearing the head of a goat... as Baphomet. I was giddy and about to get ‘fangirl’ when the music changed to “Mr. Crowley” by Ozzy Osborne and a woman supplied a black ‘curtain’ over the transforming Deity...and a devil puppet appeared to be singing the lyrics. The emotions completely shifted in the room, immediately becoming much more light-hearted and one of entertainment, versus the heaviness I first encountered. The rest of the lecture was of the same entertaining vibe, presenting the many interesting trials and facts of The Beast...much I already knew due to my reading “Perdurabo” by Richard Kaczynski. I was very much PLEASED to see a good, accurate and thoughtful presentation given to break up the otherwise generic and often misunderstood stories surrounding this groundbreaking innovator of magick; most McWiccans run the other way for fear of pollination. I was hoping to see some of these newbs in the class, but unfortunately it was the older crowd who were probably more fans of the subject and lecturer than folks actually NEEDING to get educated. Still, a worthwhile effort on the part of Mr. Stone. Side Note: I got to speak with him VERY briefly on the very LAST night of PCon and wished to have more time together...so will engage through his Facebook page Deconstructing Crowley .

The next was really more of a discussion than presentation, “Witchcraft Herbs and Plants” with the renowned author and editor from Llewelyn Worldwide, Judika Iles. Now, I DO have one book from her that was gifted to me, an Encyclopedia of Magical Beasts. I never really bought her “5000 Spells” or other reference books for a few reasons, but mainly because I lack the shelving space. I have become a bit of a witchcraft book snob, staying away from mainstream publishers and detouring around reference books by single authors because I always figured, WHO is gonna know ALL this information except to copy it DOWN? Illes is a highly knowledgeable, intelligently spoken and one of the more well-read witches whom I’ve had the pleasure of changing my opinion of in recent years. Her discussion of witchcraft plants was indeed slimmed down to the scheduled time slot, as we easily could have all shared for HOURS our stories, experiences and expertise on various botanicals useful in magick. Suffice it to say, she really emphasized the importance of growing/developing a relationship with any herbs we use, even for people who have a blackthumb. Some favourites mentioned were mugwort, wormwood, and datura...all dangerous if misused and all highly effective to varying degrees for the Arts. She gave props and mention to two well-known and skilled cultivators, Marcus R. McCoy  and Harold A. Roth ...two I admire in the botanical world.

Later that evening, the worlds of activism and Pokemon collided in the Discordian ritual, “Fifty Shades of Greyface Go!” Occultists gathered outside the doors holding signs in protest, “Down with the Trainers” and “Free the Pokemon”...which I found personally hilarious; referencing a conversation I had with my own kid regarding these creatures: they are essentially slaves to the trainers, who make them fight and hurt Pokemon for their own glory. In the ritual, attendees were given soft Pokeballs and pens to draw sigils or symbols or simply to replicate the cartoon balls. These were then used as projectile weapons at actors in Pagan scenarios with inappropriate behaviors. Some examples included “Surprise Animal Sacrifice”, “Vegetarians, it’s okay to eat meat this time”, “Don’t worry about your allergies, it’s Magick!”. Laughter, smiling faces and flying balls made for good fun with purpose.

Day Three: Saturn Bright and early, a small hidden room with a large, round table was hard to find. “Advancing Devotional Practice” was just that, a round table. I was looking forward to what I thought was a presentation or ritual regarding devotional-centered paganism, but mostly it was author and teacher Silence Maestas facilitating discussion amongst attendees. It was interesting to hear from so many, and to be counted among the few who actually have a fully engaged altar. Whilst both are valid in the eyes of the Gods, there was a split in how people felt about the opposite. One daily devotional practitioner mentioned how others have expressed disappointment in her for not “getting past altar work”, that somehow this was only a beginner’s level of working with Deity. For some people simply doing their jobs, cleaning their homes or acknowledging Deity all day long were sufficient enough… but then they mentioned their dusty altar tools and unkept waters. It is a personal thing, sacred space. For those of us who fully engage with Deity, it is near impossible to be in Union with Them and still be functional. We start with prayer at our altars, but we carry Them with us in the secret shrines of our hearts. That is the effect from devotional work... not the cause.

The HIGHLIGHT of the weekend, and I didn’t even know it, was “Enochian Magick as a Consciousness-Altering Ceremonial Drug” by none other than Lon Milo DuQuette. Now, I have absolutely NO experience whatsoever with anything remotely angelic, with the exception of the LBRP . I don’t fuck around with angels because I don’t care for their Deity. However, as my late work has me ascending out of the Underworld and into the Heavens, I realize there are critters above and below for which I must acknowledge. Who better to introduce their magickal language than Mr. DuQuette, a magician I respect very highly and a kindred spirit in humour. But please don’t ask WTF we did, because I couldn't even tell you (obviously plan to buy the book).

 

All I CAN tell you is what we DID: First we attuned to the Angels and were instructed to pay special attention to whatever image we saw, then to draw that very thing as a symbol, one which we could focus on later. Then with paper laman and Solomonic ring, we activated the exterior circumference of DuQuette’s beautiful holy table, painted and inscribed with Enochian invocations and squares, whilst he activated the interior. The words were strange on my tongue, but I fervently tried to keep up. Our voices going faster and faster to keep up with the master. Until we were finally finished and stopped...sitting in meditation and observing whatever imagery came to us. It wasn’t until after this ritual was finished did I even understand it’s effects...I first saw wings (obviously I was projecting the imagery of angels). But then I saw a snake...then a rod. I knew already there was a Caduceus appearing in my mind’s eye; this was my symbol. Then the second image it was a bowl of water. When I checked with others throughout the evening who had also been ‘zapped’ by Mr. DuQuette, I saw a pattern emerge: the first image always something phallic like a rod (a staff, a wand, a tree), and the next image was something solid combined with something fluid (a crocodile on water, a boat, a chalice). This REALLY blew my mind and I am STILL processing this. DuQuette will always make me turn fangirl in his presence, but now it’s even worse.

 

Once I put my Self back together, I participated and assisted the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn’s world premiere presentation of “Aum Duat: The Night Journey of Ra”. It was a multimedia event including sacred costuming, theatrical props, musical processions and a dramatic reading from ancient texts, describing where the Sun God Ra goes when He dies each night. Recognition and honoring the path of the Undead prepares our Ba/Ka for the one we all walk someday, through the Underworld.

Day Four: The Sun ‘Twas an early day, with heavy academic lectures through most of the morning and into the afternoon; at least, this was the plan. “Akhenaten and Moses: Origin and Consequences of Monotheism” fascinated me...I had some inkling of this before this most quality presentation by Jehon Grist . I had to cut it short for the other fabulous lecture, Practical Neoplatonic Theurgy; there is a book by presenter Bruce MacLennan which explores the science of this methodology through the philospher Hypatia and her contemporaries. I put in service to the Red Tent  where serpents slept and yonis ruled. At dinner I ate beef stew, medicated with several hash joints and later went to “Hekate at the Crossroads: A Meeting of Mind & Movement” with veiled Priestess Tempest and the Nathaniel Johnstone Band. I watched as She danced to solitary violin, heard soft calling from a vocalist, and with each layer She removed another aspect of Hekate was revealed. Hekate Chthonia, Trivia, Brimo...She lead everyone in a beautiful spiral dance. I saw what She was doing, dancing them into Her spiral, Her Strophalus , the Labyrinth of Her mystery. I sat next to my sister-Priest...we held that space for their work to be protected. They were linking Her energy, allowing everyone who wished a connection to Her. I already have a connection so didn’t feel the call to participate in THAT capacity. The music was ethereal and I found myself simply swaying and enjoying the company of fellow Hekateans. It was joyful and inspiring. Sitting in meditation I awaited a message to come through to me and the clearest image was a pie...a large pie I could share with everyone else. When the dancing Priestess sat down to some oracle work, a message of strength and unifying for common goals came through. This was confirmation of Her message from my personal practice, which is always exciting. I come from a place of agency with compassion, liberation and the freedom of finding common ground where I can. Everyone likes pie...if not, then let them eat cake. Either way, we can come together at the table.

Day Five: The Moon This year everyone played nice. There were solid sacred spaces and gentleness as a storm raged outside the Doubletree Hotel. Freeways were closed that weekend for flooding, people were evacuated, and power was lost in some neighborhoods of San Jose. Yet everyone took care of each other, not because we HAVE to but we WANT to. Walking around were folks volunteering as “Emergency Magical Help” first responders: any suite or attendee bearing a red, cup like symbol can be be asked for assistance in grounding, cleansing, de-possession, etc. This has been a much needed service as some people get swept up in the carnival aspect of the Conference, forgetting that we do very heavy work there too. For some it is difficult to reconnect with the ‘reality’ of the really, real world.

It’s hard to walk any magickal path over a significant amount of time and NOT notice the hurting hardships of others. The trick is not to let it overwhelm you. It was my role to offer a place of reprieve all weekend at the Hekate altar. Way up, in the corner of the 10th floor amongst Kemetic Gods with Her friend the Herm, Hekate received mead and barley and salts and rainwater...enjoyed the people who came in and sat with Her. Some cried, some smiled, some just looked at the statue and wondered who made it. When I dismantled Her altar on Monday,again Her torches came off; I was able to super glue one back on all the way but the other will not stay. I am not sad as I slowly step into Her priesthood, as She hands me a torch. Perhaps next year I shall present, too.

Pantheacon Report: 2015 Edition

With the podcast being such a great success, and personal things occupying most of my time lately, it has been rather difficult to keep up with regular blog writing. So to my regular readers, I apologize for making you wait so long for the next posting! But here it is, my annual PantheaCon Report. Every year I choose a different format in which to write it: rhyming prose, snarky gossip columns, etc. This time, in the fashion of non-creative writers everywhere, I give a “top five” of my experiences and moments at the Con. There is some snark, some love, but all is genuine and personal to how I observed.

#5 Hermes playing tricks.

Several times events were printed in the convention booklet, double checked in the Daily Oracle, AND on the billboard near registration... only to find upon arrival the thing was posted at a wrong time or was completely canceled. Do people ever proofread their shit these days? How can an organization NOT notice all weekend their misprints? Being in the shadow of Mercury's retrograde transit resonated well after it returned to the direct fashion of His orbit.

#4 Attending all lectures and none of the “woo-woo”.

This was not entirely planned, and maybe it is something which just happens when you get enough woo in home/community practice already, but I found it much more satisfying for my soul to not engage on such a deep, spiritual level with the other 3000 pagans converging on the Con. And to be quite honest, I am better for it! I was in bed at decent times, avoided the “Con crud” and didn't get anyone's psychic shrapnel all over me.

#3 Heavy Metal

I NEEDED the presentation from Jason Mankey on “Heavy Metal and the Occult”. Whilst I already knew most of what he was sharing, like the band “Coven” being the FIRST to record a black mass on vinyl, it was a much needed antidote to the fluffy, loving New Agey vibes the Con generally has. Not that I don't enjoy that TOO, but hearing some Mercyful Fate after sleepy harp sounds was a much needed boost to my Saturday afternoon. Bands like Coven, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, King Diamond, Iron Maiden, Venom... all were mentioned with a call from the audience with applaud, yells, and the occasional “yeah!”. It was really refreshing to be with other metal-heads in a Pagan environment.

One thing Mankey really should have included though: Dave Mustaine. In the early days of Megadeth, it was rather well known that Dave used magick and accompanying themes in several tracks from the first few albums: “Five Magicks”, “Bad Omen”, and one in particular, “The Conjuring” from the album Peace Sells But Who's Buying?, is actually a SPELL. In many interviews, even more current tellings by Mr. Mustaine himself, “The Conjuring” is spoken of in hushed tones due to the effects of this very potent magick on the listener. Now that Dave has converted to Christianity, and already received the career benefits from occultist experimentation of the early years, he refuses to play it in concert:

“Behold the flames rise, From the compass' cardinal points, Burn the sacred oil, And, with the ashes you'll anoint,

Arrange the symbols, Of the wizard, and, magician, Light the candles, Place the parchment paper in position, Between its leaves place, The lash from a black cat's eye, A straw of a broom, Fold, and, burn, and, centralize,

Don't summon the devil, Don't call the priests, If you need the strength, The conjuring,

I am the devil's advocate, A salesman, if you will, You know my name. [You know my name],

I met your father years ago, Gave him what he'd please, He called my name, you'll do the same,

I'm claiming what is mine by right, It's time to close the deal, You're bought and sold, bought and sold,

Come join me in my infernal depths, Mephisto's hall of fame I've got your soul, I've got your soul, The conjuring. Obey!!!”

And one more thing, on a personal note: Mr. Mankey if you are reading this, THANK YOU for not talking about Led Zeppelin. I bow to the masters, Jimmy Page and the Boys, but I got overkill as a kid (my Dad is a HUGE fan). Besides, I am more a Deep Purple kinda witch...

#2 Broken Priests

At first I thought it was a fashion statement, all the people walking around with canes and staffs. Then I looked closer and saw the limping, the wounded walking with walkers or with a slight shuffle. Physical manifestations of some battles, many with a tinge too much of madness in their eyes... the kind which comes with psychic wars fought within. Aging elders of many traditions hovered as future ghosts, whilst a changing of the guard is occurring. And who is the “new sexy”, the up-and-coming, or trending teachers? The hyperbole chamber of “Panelists” I just couldn't stomach to hear? The “Goddess of the Month Club” serving communion on behalf of the Virgin Mary to unsuspecting 'playgans'? The “cool kids” wearing sunglasses indoors? I cannot understand how anyone with magick in their veins cannot see or sense this? Perhaps they are too overwhelmed by what another broken priest described as “the witchflame/witchblood" and how it enflames and is drawn to each other. Maybe this is true for Pagans, but I find witches and other “shiny” folks rather repel me. Look at magnets, for example... what happens when you put the two same poles toward each other? They do not seek out the other but rather push against. That can really scramble up some folks if they aren't properly prepared, as we know spiritual work can effect physical matter. This is why it is important to have healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy speech...and healthy relationship with spirit if we are to practice magick effectively. When one part comes out of balance, it effects the rest like fallen dominoes.

As a witch, magician, druid and overall magick worker... let's just say I can 'sense' things. There is a reason I am not quick to jump on the newest bandwagon. I am not the pique of perfect health either, being 38 with the innards of an 83 year old woman essentially does not say much about my physical well-being. However, I have seen the pagan community, and the wider world as a whole, in the midst of a spiritual battle. And my friends, it's not looking good. Yes, the pessimistic, party-pooper of PantheaCon title is proudly worn on my lapel. I cannot help it, having a Cassandra effect on my prophecies. There is an intense lack of awareness going on, a kind of narcissistic apathy in which these individuals bring others into their bubble of fluff (even dark fluff, with it's ooey gooey bloody kisses). Pats on the back for online statements, rivals in book sales and products competing with 'boring' genuine practice, edgey styles trumping hidden gems...these were the faces which walked the pathways of the Doubletree all weekend. And the whole thing kinda made me sick.

I did not attend panels filled with people considered to be well-meaning yet highly personal in their politics. Because, frankly... I don't care. I don't care if someone is a racist. I don't care if someone mish-mashes gods together or is even an atheistic-otherkin witch who dresses up as a furry. None of it matters at ALL. What does matter is how you live, not what you say. And those who 'walk the walk”, walked strong. When your nose is to the grind, you don't notice what others are doing.

#1 The Grown-Up Table

I hear, “I WANT to be one of the cool kids!”; to that I say, “Keep your cool kids, I want to sit at the grown-ups table”. What that means is this: there is something exciting, something fulfilling in being part of a public group or priesthood which everyone wants to join or participate in. I know something “new” to the community is exhilarating, especially when wrapped in leathers and the politically correct du'jour of the day. I guess there is a certain amount of power one can get from another person's fear of you, the popularity of your Gods, or being a Pagan that gets along with everyone. That being said, I am in it for the long haul not to be a rock star.

So, this year I hung out with the elders. I talked to people who have been at it for 30 years or more, seen all the trends and done all the things. I asked questions about their practice, how they stay involved without getting others' poo on them, and what it was like for their children to see it all. I shook hands with and smiled at people who KNEW they had done me wrong, had insulted my intelligence or otherwise wasted my time and energy. After completing a year's worth of very disciplined spiritual work, I was able to walk up to elders that otherwise would have made my knees shake, told them about my own process, and sometimes made them laugh. I can reminisce about times I fucked up, or times I succeeded, without getting theoretical.

A wide-eyed girl came up to me, asking how to become a witch and what the difference between a magician and witch were and who do I suggest she study with.... it was just exhausting. But then I remembered how I was that girl, but she had more guts than me in the asking. So I told her my story (briefly) and gave her some advice: talk to everyone she could, ask after them in the community and to actually DO the Work. She looked at me like “Gee, thanks lady” and walked off. Guess I wasn't sexy enough for her short-attention span, but the seed was planted. I have a confidence and maturity now which does not make me indifferent or apathetic, only more discerning with a high ethical standard seen as being 'conservative'. But yes, this is what being a grown up means! It means we hold our tongues, we recognize and call-out injustice or hypocrisy, we have boundaries and provide protection, but most importantly, we don't have TIME for the bullshit. I have offerings to make, spirits to invoke, children to bathe, the Dead to service and spiritual battles to fight for. Keep your cliques and social clubs... I am too occupied tasting the marrow of magick.

 

*Further Note (2/20/2015): I want to add, for the sake of clarification... I DO care very, very much about the oppression of other people, regardless of culture or skin color. The inherent racism and bigotry in our society these days is very much a sickness of spirit. I have been, and always will be, a supporter of those who stand up for the rights and liberties of others. However, I realize I am also NOT the person to do it either. When I say "I don't care about racism" I only mean this within the context of my spiritual practice...activism is not part of it. Until I am told HOW to be an ally by the very people being oppressed, I will stand sentry for those needing support, shelter and spiritual healing.

Fire and Water, Then Earth Begins

The past two months have been a whirlwind of activity...which makes sense after 30 days of Air invocations. It ended in the culminating passion of Fire, the Will, the pentagram drawn from the heavens, that starlight straight to the belly:

“I call forth the power and the presence of Fire,
May the Powers of Passion,
Be present within Me.”

And with it came the nausea and vomiting for weeks. At one point it was reminiscent of morning sickness. But as the passion rose, so did the flames...burning much including karmic debts and bad luck. Where Air expressed itself through my libido, Fire was heart-centered. Compassion and feelings in general bubbled up very easily to the surface. Tensions were high in my household among all family members. Unfortunately it also meant my husband was laid off from his job. This came as a shocking effect...but he had several interviews a day within the week (and employment after we 'moved' into water, later on that). Fire brought warmth of belly and center; the hearth flames were re-ignited with the furnace of my Will. During these Fire invocations was the first time I practice Dark of Moon Devotionals without the company of my beloved Hermetikoi and Hekatoi. I was not feeling well so did the entire service from my mind; every act including the listening of others singing the chants. But I fell into a sleep and dreamed of being in Her torches, seeing my Will in Her hands. I became enflamed in Her and remembered what it was like, just when it was Her and I. No Priests. No traveling to another location. Now I am different; before it was just my Lady and I. Hermes and Hekate stood behind me and placed hands on my shoulders, armoured and broad enough to handle their tasks.

"The Four Elements" By Jacob Matham (Holland, Haarlem, 1571-1631) [Public domain]
"The Four Elements" By Jacob Matham (Holland, Haarlem, 1571-1631) 

The day I began invoking water, it rained. California has been in a horrible drought and much of my prayer work has been centered around this delicate matter. But the storm, She came in from the Pacific... cold and fierce rain. It made me smile. It snowed like 5-7 feet in Buffalo, New York that day as well...but I figured the wrong coast to lay any claim.

I moved from the Bay Area to my hometown, in the foothills of Northern California. Only 2 hours from ocean, desert, mountain or swamp. The spirits called me home...so I agreed. Funny how when you decide to let Deity and other allies take the lead, things easily happen. My husband got a fantastic job working from home, I had some job opportunities come up as well, so we made the decision to move. Action was put into play: packing and collecting materials, finding a house, school, doctors, having utilities turned on. Although we ate really crappy, somehow my husband had managed to lose twenty pounds, and I ten over the course of relocation.

Aligning my Self with the energies of Water, I thought about how it moves around obstacles...strong enough to carve mountains with meandering patience. Time is relative as water is solid, liquid and gaseous in forms. In the waters of mind is the heart of intuition:

“I call forth the power and the presence of Water
May the Powers of Intuition,
Be present within Me.”

In listening to those inner voices, that rain kept coming. It washed over the aches and soothed my spirit. Where Fire blistered or rubbed raw, Water was a salve.

With only two weeks settled in, I erected the altars to my Chthonic Lord and Lady... attuning to the Dark Moon Devotionals from afar... but this time I saw my fellow Dedicants. I saw them each going up before the Herm, sprinkling incense and offering wine...and I chanted along as if there, lifting my voice for them as witness to the Shining Ones. In the moment, there was no physical distance or time. I hovered about, sensed someone was missing even (I later confirmed it)...it wasn't a cliche after all. Just as all water IS one water, never ending in it's cycle on Earth, so are we connected to spirit. No distance too great, no depth untouchable. I saw the streams of rain wash down the sides of those Sierra Nevada mountains, into the dry and cracked creek beds. The wells, aquifers, underground lakes all need to be filled before any run off is truly visible, but they ARE being fed...and that is all that matters.

Today I began the invocation of Earth... the Mother, where roots gather and clutch to hold ahigh the trunk of me. From the dark, moist loam I reached down and gathered it to propel my pentagram:

“I call forth the power and the presence of Earth
May the Powers of Stability,
Be present within Me.”

This promise of mountains is not far behind, as I see the snow covered caps of Mount Shasta to the North, and Mount Lassen to the East. A glacier resides inside the Northern Mother, with the fiery sulphur and boiling water which spews from the volcanic Eastern Sister. The spirits of these majestic and dangerous pillars are axis mundi, conduits of power and portals between worlds. The local natives believe Shasta to be a place of the Dead, where Ancestors travel to. On the other side of the valley is Lassen, who birthed all of creation. And I am at the Crossroads, as Hekate and Hermes would have it.

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 these 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. I also feel the need to create...I am 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 my 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 for the Hermetikoi.
The Mini-Herm. He rests at the base of a much taller version; this one is for travel for 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 and I hope after my 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 from my garden of phallic wonderment; 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. But 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.

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 or stuff. 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). Then again, I have never really been refused by an Deity...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, 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 from my True Will. Whilst the working itself cannot be shared with, it did include the construction of a mandala, with charcoal, salt and number of other alchemical ingredients empowered then tossed into a fire. It 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 underground,

Swift-shifter, strong Polytropos!

Hermes! My Lord Chthonios!

Bless me, this messenger, Angelos desire,

Writer and gifter with words to inspire.

Give bent ear under thy wide-brimmed halo,

Slipper of coin and 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 epidemy 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, and it was the icon of Hermes blessings of fertility, virility, and... I need a breath.

Hermes is athletic, hangs out at the local gym. Whilst homosexual encounters were not frowned up in ancient Greece, Hermes is one of the few Gods to not really engage in this type of sex. As a matter of fact, He is very much an ally of the LGBT, 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."

He 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 sheild 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 which 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, He is originally 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 profit 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 the other 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 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 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 some 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 running 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 protector of justice primarily, 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, 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.

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 believe today, July 11th (7/11) is 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.

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