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: 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: Lore

Day 4: Favourite myth or myths of this Deity

Now when the Son of Zeus and Maia saw Apollo in a rage about his cattle, he snuggled down in his fragrant swaddling-clothes; and as wood-ash covers over the deep embers of tree-stumps, so Hermes cuddled himself up when he saw the Far-Shooter. He squeezed head and hands and feet together in a small space, like a new born child seeking sweet sleep, though in truth he was wide awake, and he kept his lyre under his armpit." Homeric Hymn to Hermes IV.235f

4. My absolute favourite myth concerns the newborn baby Hermes...who, bored and hungry, steals away from His cradle. Upon seeing the lovely creatures, Hermes rounds up the herd, makes the very first fire to cook meat from (not to be confused with the myth of Prometheus, who stole fire and gave to humans, Hermes actually figured out how to create it!), splits the meat into 12 and offers the best cuts first to His father Zeus, and tans the hides. All of this Hermes does, and before discovered swiftly runs back to the crib, wearing overly large shoes He fashioned to confuse those on His trail. Well, the herd of cattle belonged to Lord Apollon, the older, half brother of Hermes. When Zeus questioned Hermes, He appeared as a very simple little baby, cute and cooing in the crib. With intervention made with big Daddy Zeus, Apollo trades the little scamp all His cattle for the lyre He hears Hermes playing to persuade the cows; good trade actually. Hermes makes many “trades” like this, especially with His brother Apollo; from Him, Hermes receives the gift of prophecy, the job as Herald of the Olympians and Hades, patron of Travelers and later trades a flute He invented to His brother Apollo for the caduceus.

Young Hermes

There are several other stories similar to this one, with all kinds of bargaining and trickery. Hermes swears never to lie to Zeus, but somehow still manages to get away with all kinds of shenanigans. Hermes appears in so many primary sources, even as a passing phantom traveling the roads of this realm as a companion to His father Zeus... There is scarcely a well-known story from the ancient world that does NOT include Hermes. He appears throughout the Illiad, as the Trojans fought off armies of Achaians; although He does not appear to really take sides. Fighting on the side of justice, Hermes joins the fight but also helps to steal the body of Hector so Achilles cannot defile it further. In the Odyssey, He appears as messenger of Zeus before the nymph Callipso...relaying orders from the head chief that Odysseus must be returned to Ithaca. He is praised through several Hymns from Hesiod, Homer, and Orpheus. He is the father of Pan, slayer of the many-eyed monster Argos, saved Dionysus, and is generally a well-liked God among Gods.