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: 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 ).

PBP: “C” is for Courage

The virtue of fortitude is sorely lacking in modern people, and this is true of the Pagan community as well. There are so many hangups in explaining UPG or new research sources, a fear of being 'wrong' can cripple a person's spiritual journey; stagnating growth. When we come to an obstacle we are afraid to face, there really is no other way except through. In the ancient world Courage was most closely associated with warrior bravery and action, including heartfelt conviction. Hell, even Socrates had seen battle before settling into his intellect. There is a belief involved, a level of earnestness that is essential to courage. Decisiveness is needed to make choices based on courage; it is to act with poise which generates from proper dedication to Gods and Self. In Greek mythology the hero Perseus, Son of Zeus, displays courage in the archetypal Hero fashion. With some help from the blessed tools of the Gods, Perseus is victorious in some of the most impossible challenges. He is able to take the head of Medusa, using the reflection from Athena's mirror to see her; Hade's helmet of invisibility and Hermes' winged shoes for stealth. These tools remind Perseus he is not alone; he has the help of Gods and gives him the courage to face any foe. As a matter of fact, most heroes tend to have some extra 'help' in the background. We too can be as Perseus in recognizing our skills, which are gifts from the Gods.

"Perseus Rescuing Andromeda" by Joachim Wtewael, c. 1611.

I have known people with courage in small ways; not battling monsters like Perseus, but facing real personal obstacles. My friend Dennis was the most courageous person I've ever known. He knew he was dying from Cancer at 33 and faced it with a fierce Taurean love in his heart. There was fear at some level, the uncertainty of facing an unknown afterlife; but the love experienced in his new wife kept him strong, in order to make sure his affairs were organized in the end. I don't know if I would have the courage to do that, but he wanted to make sure his children would be taken care of and all affairs were in order. Even at the end, Dennis' sense of integrity motivated the courage I never knew he had...summoning the will to stay for others, in pain. That is compassion with courage and something I am reminded with every Spring, as he died on the Equinox looking out at green pastures dotted with wildflowers. The world was beautiful, young like him and he smiled. I woke that morning from a dream with him...still asking after everyone else. Selfless compassion is couragous...and it frightens me.

PBP: "T" is for Truths (as I know them)

We are all interconnected, I just just cannot explain how.
We are all capable of creating Life and respecting it.
We are not the highest form of Life and should humble ourselves.
Love is not hormones and synapses... it is an ever-full fount which never runs dry.
Everything in the universe is entitled to Love, Live, and Be.
There are divine beings and they engulf everything in the Universe.
There is more to ordinary life than what others choose to see.
I see the sacredness of all Life.
I have inhabited other bodies many times before.
I am a manifestation of my soul; a body to house my Self.
My Mind is an instrument and allowed to make music.
My Soul is constantly evolving, even after mortal Death.

The All-Seeing Eye

 

PBP: “P” is for Procrastination by Piety

For the most part, people are spiritually lazy. Even the fundies who spend more time protesting, planning protests, and praying for the conversion of everyone is doing it ALL in vain. The Neopagan community is not a good example of a pious people either... most only celebrate their pagan ways at the turning of the year or at festivals. What happens when they go home? Do they, in the excitement and fervor after a weekend of preparing, discussing and sharing, go home to their altars and continue that energy? If so, for HOW long does it last? Most people approach Deity out of convenience or when in need. It's a sad fact but the Gods are used to it; over the course of human history there have been a plethora of worshipers only fulfilling sacred duties, going through the motions without right intentions. I have an eye for these folks at public rituals and events; they are the ones looking awkward or talking too much to over compensate for their lack of experience. Because really, there ARE those in the Pagan community who are actually doing stuff every day, every week, every month and year without need of a holiday. I think the only exception to this group of Pagan procrastinators might be the African Diaspora Religions; such as Vodou, Santeria, Umbanda... they all are VERY dedicated to keeping their Deities and Spirits happy.

Mary Magdalene by Ary Scheffer (1795–1858).

I get so irritated by the folks who don't “get it”: they create altars to every Deity they find interesting and try to create deep, meaningful relationships with each so they can receive blessings. By spreading themselves so thin whilst trying to serve several masters, they usually end up not making the time actually needed for true connections, there is no advancement on their paths. These are the magickal and Neopagan folks I see who always have troubles and woes; the ones who spend more time on Facebook knit-picking and trying to call each other out than serving their Gods. On the other hand, constant offering and feeding of spirits, deities and ancestors is not something that is necessary to have a fulfilling spiritual life either , not to mention nearly impossible.

But those who DO practice prayer or any other pious activity DAILY tend to have a stronger connection to Deity because every time it occurs the bonds between them are reinforced. This relationship goes one step further in Druidry, with the concept of ghost-i ; banking up the offerings and prayers like credits in a slot machine which might pay off someday. Daily giving without future motivations is humble and more appreciated by Deity, making for a richer praxis.

I believe Piety is something which requires self-discipline, cognitive thinking and a passion/love of Deity. I do not give so I can receive later, my gratitude extends beyond love into a devotion I enjoy daily. Tending the shrine, cleaning, talking to my icons, washing them and sometimes oiling them down... much care goes into choosing the right colour schemes, flowers, incense and other preparations become more than mundane acts of accumulated religious paraphernalia. The very ACT of thinking or executing the prayers begin a chain of events which, if kept up with in the momentum, will eventually become easier and more frequent. It takes 40 days for something to become a habit, for our brains to create those new neurological pathways of behavior and thinking. If a prayer is said every day, a candle is lit, or a moment of presence is acknowledged for 40 days, it will become second nature.

I have been so busy thinking about piety that my prayer work and devotional offerings increased. For the last week, I have been involved with learning to be a medium, traveling trances, reciting prayers, singing songs and engaging in conversations related to pious activities. I became so engulfed in my own shrine flames that I forgot to write my blog post, which is another sort of piety.... a devotional act to my Muse and Self , an oath honored and a promise kept.

PBP: “H” is Hospitality, Not Just For Heathens

Let's have a Druish moment, shall we? A few years back I did the Dedicant work for my membership in ADF, Ár nDraíocht Féin. I also did it in a year by following Michael Dangler's Dedicant Program Through the Wheel of the Year ; it was a well laid out plan following a week by week curriculum I had no problem following. I had just had my daughter seined in the ADF church and had decided this would be a test: if I can do the work required for the D.P. whilst handling my new motherhood, I could probably participate in a Master's program I was considering. So I bought the books, read them during nursing sessions and nap times, and before I knew it the year had passed and I was taking my oath. What initially drew me to ADF, aside from the scholarship and dedication to excellence, is the Virtues. Having more of a witchy background than Heathen, I had never encountered these before in my personal spiritual studies and if I had it was brushed aside. At that moment, I had a new family growing and needed something to bring them together from the very beginning. I was committed in my partnership, as a parent to be the example. Little did I realize, this would also extend to the rest of my life as well.

Recently I visited my mom and met her new husband in Florida... and experienced some good ol' southern hospitality pretty much wherever I went. This got me to thinking about Hospitality in general and reminded me of the Nine Virtues of Druidry (and I believe the Heathens have something akin to this called the Nine Noble Virtues).  All of them are important in my life: courage, perseverance, piety, wisdom, integrity, vision and wisdom. But the top of my personal list is Hospitality (in 2009, it was at the bottom). Reflecting on what I wrote for the requirement, I went back and re-read what I had written back then and decided it might be time to create an  addendum or two.

“The Dedicant Handbook defines Hospitality as follows: 'Acting as both a gracious host and an appreciative guest, involving benevolence, friendliness, humor, and the honouring of 'a gift for a gift'.'

I can understand why the concept of ghos-ti would have been necessary in our ancient past. It would represent impropriety and ignorance to not reciprocate gifting or kindness. But I don't think we should be demanding it of our Gods, especially in the modern age. I would not expect this type reciprocity from a friend who came to visit, why should I expect it of the Kindred? Nor would I give with the expectation of receiving something in return. When I give to the Gods in a devotional rite, the only motivation I have is establishing a connection with them. It would be nice to be in their light as I live out my days.

Dido and Aeneas by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin

I also see how I use offerings to give thanks to the Kindred, sending praises and incense for their enjoyment. These ancient and almost forgotten Deities should be remembered and given honour. It is good to be in their service for many personal reasons. I find it spiritually uplifting and gratifying to give out of love and compassion. I get a sense of satisfaction in being a gracious hostess; essentially, that is what I believe a priestess is. Since every person has a bit of the Divine in them, I try to see others as always potentially being a sentient being. I think this is an effect of being a good and moral person and should be included as one of the Nine Virtues of Druidry. Being polite and showing some humility I feel are both traits of true excellence in a person.”

I still pretty much feel the same about hospitality, but must make mention of some things I didn't put in this initial insight, for fear of offending my reviewer (I knew her personally AND she already didn't like me either, so I made sure to omit it):

To me, cleanliness is next to Godliness (or Goddess-ness, however you prefer). I have been to some of the grossest homes in the pagan community... not to say they are dirtier than other religious groups, it just seems like there is a general lack of concern for tidiness or just general hygiene. I mean, most have cats but never seem to clean out their boxes or there is a perpetual smell of cat pee in the house covered with Nag Champa or patchouli fuming from virtually every room. I have been to some 'priests' homes where they invited folks over for a ritual or meeting and there was no toilet paper in the bathroom! I mean, who does that? It seems like the most un-hospitable thing you can do to a guest; the predicament involves having a scavenger hunt in the toilet. See, now I wouldn't invite the Gods into my home if it was like this, let alone mortals with bodily functions.

I admit to a bit of pride from being an excellent hostess; I LOVE having company at my home and so does my husband. We love to entertain, pull out the good wine and nosh, provide clean sheets and towels... and never try to 'impress', we just do it for the sheer joy of sharing our home with loved ones and friends. I think this is why so many spirits, deities, and otherworldly Be-ings enjoy coming to my home, and I want them to feel like honored guests just as I would want to be treated.

But what does this mean for Pagans? To be hospitable might mean different things, such as simple toilet tissue availability or hosting a weekend retreat on personal private property. To the Gods and those who serve them, all are on the same level of value if given from the heart. We should emulate our Gods and Ancestors with our deeds and thoughts every day. Cook our meals as if the Buddha were coming to visit, make our beds in case Aphrodite wishes to go for a romp, and clear a space for Odin to sit in the best seat.