Carrying the Temple of Hekate

The keys clank against a chain, rattling on my hip as feet kick up dust from the desert floor. High pitched melodies ring from razor wire, accompanied by the gentle humming of electric fences. Scheming eyes of lost souls penetrate my every move as I cross the yard...the cold wind blowing debris in my path. Black wings flapping, shaking off the morning moisture, and my attention is drawn to the left. A raven swoops down, flying toward my right, with a large banana in it’s mouth. This is a strange omen as I begin my day.

My library stands between two yards, each in the direction of a different mountain range. I offer service according to the time and day of week; each ruled over by planetary spheres accordingly. I unlock the gate, or cage as it is sometimes referred to...swallows and pigeons make their nests above the concrete floor, their babies often fall out and crack open their delicate heads. I unlock the door, leaving it wide open to air out the early morning smell of burnt bread offerings. As I walk past the collection I look for signs of searching, seeing skewed and misplaced books...the violation from custody. Facing and straightening, I make my way to the other door and cage, to unseal the biblio temple and create a breezeway; the invited wind blows fluffy cottonwood seedlings like feathers dancing across the floor.

Pentagrams are thrown toward every direction, salt has been placed in each corner, with sigils of angels tucked into some crevices; purifying and protecting the only neutral place in the prison. For inmates it is a reprieve from gang politics, noisy dorms and short return to something normalized...even if they have never set foot in a library outside the tall brick walls. Research materials line walls of the Law collection, computers waiting for desperate fingers with pre-loaded databases of case law and empowering information are available within this sanctuary. Sympathy is never offered by the Priest services, but empathy certainly is. As they walk through the doorway, the past of these patrons is forgotten...only their deeds and words in the sacred space are accountable.

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I am a librarian, a Priest of Access. Training for Hekate's Priesthood, it has been only in the last few years I land somewhere I never imagined. Between chod practice, monthly offerings to the Dark Moon, workings at peak full lunar periods and bloody sex magicks did I see the true fruits of these labours. It is hard to describe, process and present the changes among it all, but the current Work is one of true mystery as I share this journey.

In the final stage of this training, a journey I began 4 years ago, my life has completely changed. I know people always SAY that, but it’s because there is truth in it. When spiritual work is dedicated, executed properly and not compromised the Universe shifts things around to make the necessary adjustments for your Will to be carried out. It was my Will to become a Priest of Hekate, to serve Her and Her people. When I proved myself She plucked me from my mountain home, removed me from the bamboo groves and running streams only to drop me in a metropolis with my family. Jobless and raising a small child I followed a series of dreams that lead me to the man who would train and eventually, hopefully, ordain me. I took on the challenges and completed the requirements: grounding and centering, manipulation of bodily energies, mastery of the elements, daily invocation of planetary spheres, monthly dark moon devotionals and weekly deity veneration. There are also oaths I have kept concerning the realms for which Hekate rules. This kind of dedication is not taken lightly and prepares one for the eventual end result of unification with Deity.

While the last part of my training has been to have a daily practice (which I do), I am also supposed to be providing a monthly dark moon devotional for the community; serving Deity and the Laity. The thing is, I live in a very isolated place with not a single pagan or witch within a 60 mile radius...or at least, not to my knowledge. An online service does not meet this requirement either. However...my job, the service I provide to the hundreds of incarcerated men who come through my library are ‘lead’ by the light of knowledge. Many ask for legal research, religious information, college guidance, and some are seeking just a few minutes to feel human again.

With my keys, I open doors to personal empowerment, safety, transformational and servant leadership to the clerks who work for me. The Dead who wander the prison grounds, either as empty human shells or the literal ghosts who haunt the buildings, find the light which Hekate surrounds me with. Her symbols surround me, empower me and provide for me a means of serving in Her name; giving me the economic independence and freedom to pursue goals long placed on hold. I take nothing for granted, nor regret a single step.

Liminal Book Review: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Hekate Books

“The Priestess pours the wine betwixt

Their horns;

Then cuts the curling hair; that first

oblations  burns,

Invoking Hecate hither to repair:

A powerful name in hell and upper air” - Aenid by Virgil

For being so little known or preserved about Her cult practice, there sure is a lot of books out there about Hekate. The very basics we all pretty much can agree on: She was an imported Goddess/Titan from the Near East into the Mediterranean, most often depicted as a Maiden or young woman (when in an anthropomorphic portrayal), carries an assortment of tools (keys, torches, daggers, snakes, apples, whips…), associated with the Dead and Crossroads, etc. But what is always in the forefront of Devotees from every part of the world and of every flavor of Panganism, is the HOW of giving Her devotion. This is why there are so many different ideologies and approaches. Unlike other Gods of the ancient Hellenic world, there are fragments of Her mythology littered and slapped together in other large frameworks that to single them out would feel 'broken', leaving modern devotees to piece together scraps as a collage, each unique.

But which ones to read? What are the best titles to pour over, jot notes from and feed that longing to fill in the gaps? SO many suggested reading lists are out there, and I’d rather not reinvent the wheel… but I would like to share some gleaned insights, and annoyances, I have found in recently published materials. For more information on these other titles, check for links at the end of this post.

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Let me start with the best…Evoking Hekate: The Goddess of Magickby Anousen Leonte. I found this on a basic search among Kindle books and was curious. The cover art was an abstract, spooky looking sigil/Roschardt inkblot image of white with a black background. What can I say...I like simplicity. Also the price made it very accessible, at $2.99 I could take a chance of it being pure rot. But it wasn’t. This short book ended up surprising me with it’s very practical approach, with a touch of ceremonial magick to keep all levels of practitioners interested. This was not an academic piece but full of personal gnosis; which very much are in alignment with my own personal experiences, and a multitude of colleagues in our working with Hekate. One tip I found extremely resonant is in the use of imagery surrounding Her altar and idolatry. I prefer the use of custom statues or little used imagery in personal practice because it keeps me from having any preconceived visions to appear; my friend using a Maxine Miller piece as a seat for Our Lady may be a different experience of Hekate than my custom Jeff Cullen statue. However these pieces influence my perceptions of Her, the author makes a good point when exploring the idea of using sigils and symbols instead of a human face for Hekate.

“When an image of a Spirit is used, the conscious mind is engaged, whereas when a symbol is used it is the unconscious which is engaged” (Leonte, pg. 142).

The  author goes on to share some wonderful planetary sigils associated with Hekate...as She comes down through the celestial spheres to visit/merge with Her beloved children. My daily encounters during planetary workings (according to day of the week), I found Hekate sneaking in to approvingly observe ‘from afar’ my actions: anointing with corresponding oils, adorning my body with colors and medals of those spheres. Deep symbols speak to the buried, sleeping parts of my mind to carry forward strengths of these Celestial Lords, with Hekate being the conductor for what is orchestrated in this harmony. Hekate is so varied, so adaptable, and this author shares insights into Her different aspects. Limiting our practice to only dark of night and moon phase is not necessary, as She addresses different needs through the hours of the day (another level to the planetary vibes).

“To evoke a day-side aspect of Hecate is to evoke her aid in areas of life commonly associated with reason, prosperity, creation, health and ambition. To evoke the night-side is to delve into other, less appreciated territories: mystical perception, dissolution, destruction, personal metamorphosis ad occult knowledge” (Leonte, p.232).

On the same reading theme of ‘inexpensive personal gnosis books about Hekate’, I also purchased Pagan Portals’ Hekate: A Devotionalby Vivienne Moss. I really WANTED to like this. I have seen this person’s posts online and had always thought of Moss as a genuine devotee which made me give credit to this publishing project. Her integrity and passion comes through in this book, which is essentially a journal with devotional poetry placed throughout … unfortunately I found it all confusing and chaotic. It seems like a journey at times, with descriptions of landscapes followed by annotations and ideologies; but then there is prayers added here and there. I really felt like I had stumbled into someone’s bedside notebook, where random thoughts and ideas get jotted down for memory’s sake. Needless to say I only got through to Chapter 3 before putting it aside.

“The writing of this book is an offering to Hekate. The sacrifice is knowing that not everyone will agree with or like what I have to say within these pages. Some, I’m sure, will not understand the way I see and feel Hekate. I may get negative feedbacks, or worse, none at all. Maybe some will laugh or be offended with what I have written” (Moss, p. 18).

My issue was never with WHAT she was saying, but how. The writing is bad; making statements like this ¼ into a book says an author is not strong in their confidence of voice. Writers don’t make excuses for our art, ever. We speak the Truth and of what we Know. It wasn’t my kind of book, but many friends enjoyed it’s rawness more than I.

And finally, a more mainstream title. The newest edition to the catalog of books published by Avalonia’s owner Sorita d’Este, Circle for Hekate -Volume I, History & Mythology: Dedicated to the light-bearing Goddess of the crossroads in all her many faces, manifestations, and names. I was able to borrow it from the Kindle library for free. Aside from having an incredibly long title, the book is marketed as being the first in a series called “The Circle for Hekate Project”. The build-up for this title was a long-time coming. Devotees in so many Hekate groups and circles were awaiting the release, anticipating some new insights from these sacred spaces and the tight research d’Este is best known for. Unfortunately much of the data is already well-known (and often repeated) with citations used in d’Este’s other Hekate titles as well. The biggest disappointment was the number of typos and grammatical errors found throughout the text. The other two titles already mentioned in this review, actually had better copy-editing than this mainstream book. However, there were still some golden moments to be sure.

One interesting thing I had never seen, nor bothered to read about, before was concerning any oracles of Hekate known in the ancient world. While Devotees are often going on and on about being Her oracle, I haven't seen much written on the subject. It appears the ancient philosopher Porphyry gives an account of one such Oracle answering a question regarding Jesus Christ and early Christianity; it shows how the two cultures were overlapping in his time, while also giving the new rising Christian faith a Pagan voice of opinion.

“And to those who ask why he (Jesus) was condemned to die, the oracle of the goddess (Hekate) replied,

‘The body, indeed, is always exposed to torments, but the souls of the pious abide in heaven.

And the soul you inquire about has been the fatal cause of error to other souls which were not fated to receive the gifts of the gods, and to have the knowledge of immortal Jove.

Such souls are therefore hated by the gods; for they who were fated not to receive the gifts of the gods, and not to know God, were fated to be involved in error by means of him you speak of.

He himself, however, was good, and heaven has been opened to him as to other good men.

You are not, then, to speak evil of him, but to pity the folly of men: and through him men’s danger is imminent’” (from “Oracles’ by Porphyry, 3rd century CE).

Other topics covered in the sphere of Hekatean scholarship included gathering together specific details for the making of statues, offerings, and the most heated topic of the modern era: the triplicity of Hekate. Thankfully  d’Este puts forth several facts regarding the birth and meaning of Her triple form; one being there was no such depiction of Her in this way until after the 4th century, BC. Her looking in three different directions is “a natural apotropaic symbolism and emphasizes the goddess’ role as a protectress” (p.2830, d’Este). She also makes the claim of Aleister Crowley being the first to portray Hekate as a Crone, specifically in his 1907 poem Orpheus, alluding to his use of the description ‘frail’ to indicate an elderly matron. It’s a weak connection, but then she points to a passage in his book Moonchild:

“...thirdly, she is Hekate, a thing altogether of Hell, barren, hideous and malicious, the queen of death and evil witchcraft...Hekate is the crone, the woman past all hope of motherhood, her soul black with envy and hatred of happier mortals”.

I was glad to see d’Este putting to rest this argument of Hekate historically being a ‘crone Goddess’ in the triple Goddess archetype. It does not negate any modern worship or how devotees experience Her, but it should be acknowledged as not being an ancient concept of Hekate.

There are so many books out there for research into one’s own approach to relationship with Hekate, and depending on the readers level of literacy it is best to explore them with sharp critical thinking (as we should with anything we read these days). Sarah Illes Johnston’s Hekate Soteira and (if you can every get your hands on a copy) Stephen Ronan’s The Goddess Hekate are both modern academic classics which are highly recommended throughout the Hekatean community. For personal anecdotes and narrative, I really enjoyed the devotional anthology Bearing Torches, while d’Este’s Hekate: Her Sacred Fires is a more popular collection I have several friends published in. Queen of Hell by Mark Alan Smith (the first in a series) is a rare tome of the Luciferian persuasion with Hekate and Hecate’s Fountain by Kenneth Grant is an exploration in Her Typhonian current...both rare and expensive books of the Left Hand Path. For a persepctive of Hekate involving Her and witchcraft I highly recommend The Rotting Goddess by Jacob Rabinowitz and a traditional craft treatise from Shani Oates titled A Paean for Hekate.

Please be sure to check out the links below for extensive lists of Hekate reading recommendations:

Beginner's Reading List about Hekate

Hekate's Library

A Hekate Reading List (at the end of the blogpost)

Pantheacon Report: 2018 Edition

Every year all kinds of people come to San Jose for the 3 day Pagan conference, Pantheacon; which I have attended for 6 years now. And true to my nature, I write about my various experiences over the President's Day weekend. The following is a summation of my thoughts and shenangians as they occurred to me, with every day's divination drawn from Aleister Crowley's Thoth deck. Day 1: The Devil

Magickal Safety 101

Every person who practices magick, especially in a group, should take a class like this. Covering both self care and the well-being of others, Magickal Safety was scheduled at the very beginning of the weekend, organized and presented by Hannah Storyteller and John Medellin. Even us seasoned practitioners can learn new things.  For example this class, while certainly for newbies, covered a wide range of techniques someone at some point might have overlooked. I learned how to ground another person...which I never realized was a new experience for me. I have helped groups ground, and I certainly am able to do it quite quickly. But helping one individual was something different, with several approaches including the laying on of hands, guided breathing and even simply talking with the person (what is your name? where do you live?). Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment of ritual, especially an entire weekend full of it, it can become more difficult to 'turn off' or even calm down long enough for repose and rest. 

Fucking Mandrake

My experience with baneful and witching herbs was just beginning when I became pregnant and set aside those growing things for the safety of my new daughter. I had never seen nor held the flowers or leaves of the Mandrake, in particular. My experience with Mandrake has only included flying ointments, purchased in the past by Sarah Anne Lawless, never as an isolated simple. I have a mandrake root given by another witch, and seeds stored away for planting one day, but had not considered it’s uses for any other purpose than to aid in magickal flight as a traditional plant ally. So when I saw a workshop at PCon on the Magick of the Mandrake being presented by Christopher Penczak, I got curious.

When we arrived each person received a small cup of water in which a few drops of a mandrake flower essence were placed; some folks got 3 and others received 5 drops. After being seated and listening to a short background of the plant, including Mr. Penczak’s own experiences, we invoked the plant’s spirit and quickly drank our potion. We then were taken on a guided meditation to meet the Mandrake and be properly introduced. Like most of these kinds of things, I was two steps ahead: when everyone was still back at the meadow, I was at the hedgerow on edge of a dark woods. When the Mandrake DID appear, He came straight up out of the ground and walked over to me, on woodsy root legs with a crown of pretty flowers on His head. It seemed a curious creature walking upright, kind of like a clown wearing big shoes...it was a bit goofy looking. Then He sat down, as if on an invisible chair. I then heard in my mind the Mandrake Man speak to me beckoning me to come have a seat. He wrapped His root arms around me, hugging and caressing. Then He spun me around, to face His featureless face and wrapped my legs around Him. He then grew a long penis, which I sat upon and began to rock with, slowly back and forth.

I felt His root penis grow inside me, reaching out the roots to spread throughout inside my womb, hips, stomach, up through my breasts and arms. It was black, feathery and delicate, these roots. When it finally enveloped my heart Mr. Penczak told us about a green light shining from our hearts… and that is when my light began to ‘infect’ the Mandrake Man’s roots; it spread throughout turning the black roots into green. This exchange was pleasant, not at all intense but enough to where I was concerned an orgasm was sure to follow… and right here, in the Con, surrounded by all these strangers. I expressed this concern to the Mandrake Man and He gently respected my wishes, withdrawing Himself from my body. When we were again standing, face to face, I asked if there was anything He wished to tell me. I acknowledged the connection we had made together, and thanked Him for initiating such a strange and profound congress… but had the feeling there was something more to this experience.

It was at this point Mr. Penczak reminded us of the mythological origins of the Mandrake; how at the gallows the sperm of a dead man ejaculated from his penis onto the ground, which the Mandrake plant first appeared. This was when the Mandrake Man suggested to help me with something I had been considering: dark moon devotionals at a hangman’s tree less than a few miles from my home. The Mandrake Man said if I made a flower essence to ingest, He would protect me from any and all spirits of that place which might wish harm or follow me home. I was not expecting this, a protective quality of the Mandrake; I always understood it to be a witch’s herb for trance work or poisoning. But this plant is so much more...and I very much look forward to future lessons it wishes to teach me as I grow from seed.

Good-Bye Green Fairy

This was the final year of the Green Fairy Party. Whilst I am not a drinker, I have enjoyed having one small drink with good friends who have hosted this Bohemian and wyrd service at Pantheacon since 2008. As a backer of the fundraising I received a beautiful commemorative goblet and keepsake ribbon...when I went to collect I received so much more. From the depths of the bar, the man in the op hat poured for me a tiny, wee little glass of a special brew not given to just anyone. A concoction infused with damiana, wormwood, rose water and all manner of psychotropic herbs I carefully sipped this absinthe, which evaporated on my tongue leaving a sweet breathe of spiritual inspiration. I walked on clouds the rest of the night.

Pop-up Gnostic Mass

It was refreshing to see a heavy Thelemic presence this year. The free-range Thelemites of Healiopolis and the OTO chapter of 418 Lodge co-sponsored a true Gnostic Mass presentation at the 11pm hour. As a non-member, but rogue Thelemite, I find the Mass to be a reaffirming drama of the cosmology in which I have submerged my spirituality. The altar was brilliantly executed: being a printed backdrop with electric lights for candles (per Doubletree regulations) and the tomb being a camping style shower/toilet stall.

I could tell who only came to be lookie-loos and see the nude Priestess, when the time came for the communion they actually left. It is a GOOD thing for these people to have witnessed, even if they did not participate...because these McWiccan folks need to know where their OWN rituals came from. Gardner went through the first initiation rites of Thelema before creating his own tradition of a religion-based witchcraft. It is my fervent prayer that more and more Thelemites keep attending , presenting, and educating at Pantheacon in the coming years.

Day 2: Prince of Wands

Deity Possession

Over the past 2 years I have noticed a shift at PCon: most of the really juicy events are starting to only happen in the hospitality suites. The general activist trainings and magickal 101 things are taking up the slots in the packed schedule, with scatterings of good bits at weird times (and often canceled). One of the presentations this year was a topic that very few are giving workshops on, but very much is needed in the community: healthy Deity Possession. Facilitated by Sam Webster, the topic is one with loads of source material, both ancient and modern, which lays out the full process, levels of possessor work and the self care required to make it fully worth doing. Webster's source material included works such as Iamblichus' De Mysteriis and Divine Horsemen: Living Gods of Haiti by Maya Deren.

Essentially there are 2 kinds of people involved in true possession: the Controller (who ‘draws down’ the Deity) and the Channeller (who ‘catches’ the Deity). When this occurs there are varying levels of possession which is a bit like a spectrum, with one end being the faintest ‘inspiration’ (a ‘whispered’ motivation to do something guided by Deity influence), with ‘mantling’ somewhere in the middle (carry Deity but being fully conscience and in control of one’s own body to perform services such as oracle work), and finally the most extreme being full possession. Fully engaged possession is actually much rarer in the pagan community, with the exception of several of the African diaspora traditions such as Vodou and Ifa. When this occurs the Channeller isn’t even the backseat driver… they are in the trunk; people can perform amazing feats of strength, undergo extreme bodily harm, etc. The worst case scenario of this kind, if not done correctly, can result in the Channellor being completely merged with Deity; in other words the carrier is no longer present. Most modern pagans really don’t go beyond the middle layer of this spectrum, and even then aren’t doing it according to ancient traditions: the Channeller is secluded in preparation the days before an event, only coming out to give service as a vehicle of Deity, and then go back into seclusion AFTER for regaining control of the body and spirit. This is hard to do at events like Pantheacon, where the night before an event oracles can be seen partying in suites and the next day offering themselves up as priests of Deity in an unpurified body. Most of this is really just ego feeding, venerated as Deity or as being someone strong enough to hold and control Deity.

The Rite of Mars

The political scene invaded PCon, as it has progressively been doing over the past few years. While there is panels, workshops and other empowering activities there really wasn’t much I was particularly interested in, except the very intense ritual coordinated by the ritualists of the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn. I have been lucky enough to be studying with their founder, but to also be a participant of several planetary workings; Helios/Sun, Selene/Moon, and now Aries/Mars. It was ‘safe’ in that there wasn’t a particular political agenda given as their motivation, except to invoke the retinue of Martial Spirits and activate a magickal ‘war machine’...a huge iynx wheel that, when spun, sent these spirits out into the world to right wrongs, empower the just and defend the weak. I found it especially refreshing they asked for blessings on the civil servants; a group of workers who are often looked down upon by many Pagan-activist groups who see us (because I am now one of them) as being part of the PROBLEM and not the SOLUTION. I met many of them over the weekend, those of us quietly working within the machine of corrupted government to make a difference; it’s easy to be angry in the streets demanding change, it’s harder to work within the parameters of the system. It was part of my personal prayer to include an unbiased vision for everyone: to see the truth of what is happening in our world, so we can set aside personal opinions and DO what is right in ally-ship.

I also found out my natal chart included Mars in Aries, which explains my motivation to speak up when I see wrongs, especially in our niche community, and being compelled to protect those who are weak. There was an underlying theme of planetary magicks throughout the entire weekend: lectures on Theurgy, the Lunar Mansions of Astrology, all of which are causing me to look more closely at where the other celestial spheres play out in my chart. This only makes sense as I have been doing daily planetary workings for the past 2 years, as part of my priest training.

Day 3: 9 of Swords

Other Hybrid Moments

Between a rudimentary lecture about Crossroads and Graveyards that I left early, drinks with sushi, then initiating as a Chicken Qabbalist, there was a lot to process. Since things were again canceled, I spent the day shopping and eventually went back to my room early. I received a ton of compliments on my fishnet tights… as if these people had never seen them before.

Day 4: Ace of Swords

Fear

While there might have been pertinent information for others in the lecture by Tommie Starchild, I personally didn’t really get much out of it. After performing such workings as Chod and being an initiate of Hekate, I have plenty of experience with Fear. Mr. Starchild was very informative and spoke from a Western perspective, explaining in terms Pagans could understand; mindful presence, viewing fearful thoughts and emotions as a non-participatory spectator...all I kept thinking is “Man, these people really need Bodhicitta and Buddhism”. And it’s true! This is why their magick never works, why their communications with Deity is sometimes only internal psycho-babble. They are not so sure about what they are doing nor do they have a full comprehension of themselves; they are not coming to the Work from a place of compassion, loving kindness, equanimity and joy in the joy of others… what we call the Four Immeasurables. In my tradition these are pretty much the ONLY place from which my magick is performed; why I am able to do hex work without getting splattered with karmic shrapnel. I hope to see more empowering lectures given in the future, Mr. Starchild perhaps do a weekend intensive on these skills as most of these magick workers tend to be damaged or dragging around their toxicity.

In Conclusion…

Unless I am presenting next year (I DO have a proposal I think many would benefit from),  this may have been my last Pantheacon for a few years. Less and less is there anything I am interested in learning about, or that will feed my soul and renew my practice. I think the final straw was canceling of the Red Tent; the last vestige of feminine empowerment this community truly had at PCon. With threats of protest, the suite was shut down to keep participants safe; even though the EXACT same scheduling occurred quietly last year in the Red Tent for men, trans-women, women without wombs and all manner of exclusive programming to empower all, not just those of us who bleed. It saddens me there is no longer a welcoming space for women’s mysteries to be safely explored at this weekend-long event, especially in the highly patriarchal and oppressive climate of our world. We are forced to hide in shame of our bodies, our nature, our sisterhood...not something I would ever have thought to come out of the Pagan community.

More and more Pantheacon is for who I call ‘tourists’: attendees there to cosplay, hook-up for sex or feed off the magickal ammunition of others. I don’t need magick to give my life meaning… it is a byproduct of living my True Will. Magick just happens, naturally and unforced.  It does not gift us with ethics or morals, we come to magick with those already; magickal work only intensifies what is already inherent.

Favourite Things of 2017

“To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

This year I had more disposable income than ever before in my life. I finally started my career (more on that with another post), have excellent retirement benefits, and funds in the family savings account. Therefore, I was able to buy ALL THE THINGS. Whilst my witchcraft and spiritual life has never needed materia magica in order to be effective, having these aesthetics has given me a different level of contentment never experienced before either. There is a grace and peace which comes from the ‘having’ without attachment. Albeit, materialism has never been part of my philosophy… but good books, quality enhancements and access to resources gives me a certain thrill.

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As a self-proclaimed bibliophile, I admit to my addiction. Even living in a temporary housing situation, with all 35 boxes of my books in a storage facility, I have managed to accumulate quite the collection of materials. Although I mainly read fiction this year (see my Goodreads profile), quite a few books were purchased to fulfill obligations in the new book club I am trying to bring to life; The Devil’s Black Book Club. One of the best finds this year were these wonderful little booklets from Hadean Press; at only £3 each it was quite reasonable. By such respected authors such as Jake Stratton-Kent, S. Aldarnay, Conjureman Ali, and Nicholaj De MAttos Frisvold with titles ranging from“The Headless One: A Guide to the Underworld”, “Saint Cyprian and the Sorcerous Transmutation”, and “Fumigations of the 7 Planets”, there is something for everyone's tastes and needs.

After spending the last 2 years wearing only planetary oils for the final leg of my Hekatoi Priest training, I decided that this would be the year I delved into a journey of scent. Having a sensitive nose, olfactory is one of my occult super powers...and another reason I am super picky about perfumes. I have always been a wearer of oils, having a strong aversion to the overwhelming alcohol smell most mass produced colognes contain. To ease myself into this adventure I purchased small samples from the House of Orpheus, a perfumery which utilizes alchemical ingredients in the magickal formulae produced. To start I tried ‘Enodia’, being an epithet of Hekate; it had a beautiful note of styrax and several wood smells crisscrossing to form a crossroads in my senses.

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The next was ‘Verum’, a small vial with potent Saturnine energies which filled my aura with a richness which reminded me of the treasures hoarded by Naga Kings; thick amber and smooth musks resonated a serpent vibe everywhere I went. But by far the most intense experience so far has been with their newest perfume, The Black Goat. They weren’t kidding when it was described as having a ‘feral’ accent...wearing it reminds me of sleeping in a stable with fresh cut grasses, musk oils released by recently groomed furs and clean loamy soil. I am trying to get my Capricorn husband to wear it as the scent would be preferable on a masculine body, but I have decided to use it in workings conjuring my egregore spirit, Black Philip.

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I also purchased a most beautiful pendant this year, promised to my dear Mother Hekate in dedication for placing me in the job which allows me to do my Great Work. The custom work of Aidan Watcher is something I have admired for years and it was my ultimate goal to obtain the Hekate Talisman with Key & Torches. It even came with a potent Hekate incense created by the very talented Rosarium Blends (love the Hekate oil too). Funny thing, it wasn’t until it was received I realized the tattoo design which was put on me this year also, was almost a mirror image of the talisman! Artwork was designed and inked by Sunstone Tattoos, run by a Loki Priest and amazing crafter of magick. 

There are so many fantastic artisans in our community which we should all be patronizing. Even if it is one or two special books, services or things in which to enhance our magickal lives, sharing the blessings of wealth or financial ability is something I believe we should pass on. To support the creators of fine goods is to perpetuate our own good fortune. Quality gifts to our spirits and Gods only creates more solidified relationships, when deep thought and purpose goes into our resources. Sure the dollar store items I have used ‘on the fly’ still had potency, but nothing like the few selected items I set money and time aside for acquiring.

On that note: may your New Year be filled with deliciousness, good health and wealth for passing along.

Episode 10: Witch Wars

In this LONG overdue episode, I tell war stories from the witchcraft front, give advice on how to avoid them and play music from the band OMNIA. Sorry about the sound quality... new headset and due to the length of this episode I had to compress it down, which means less quality. [audio mp3="http://www.psychopompgroupie.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Episode10_compressed.mp3"][/audio]

Here are some supportive links from things I mentioned in this episode. Happy Samhain to all in the Northern Hemisphere and a Blessed Beltane to to listeners  in the Southern Hemisphere.

Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame

Sisterhood of the Moon

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.

Liminal Book Review: The Witches' Ointment

The Witches' Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic. Thomas Hatsis; Park Street Press, Rochester, Vermont. 286 pages.

As the waning moon appears on a darkened horizon, I remove my clothes and light a candle with intentions of oneiromanic prophecies. From a hidden cupboard in an old 19th century secretary, I remove several tins with arcane symbols...magickal salves of soporific splendours made by a witch in Canada. Choosing the right one for my purpose, I dip deeply with Saturn's finger, marking my body with the opaque ointment. Stars in my armpits, inner thighs, palms and footbottoms and a final one to my third eye, I am careful to wash my fingertips in case I rub my eyes in the night. Climbing between cool white sheets, my breathing takes it's natural shallow waves to the belly. I say a prayer to Hekate, Domina who guides and keeps safe my spirit during these nocturnal journeys, and close my eyes. I can feel the herbs taking effect, creeping through my teeth and stomach like low-grade LSD. After an hour or two, I begin to dream...

My interest in flying ointments is what initially got me into exploring the study of witchcraft. As discussed on my last podcast, the night flight stories of witches seemed fantastical and entirely possible; even from a psychological perspective, the idea of acting out lewd and illegal fantasies while in the dreamscape of my mind sounded like a healthy expression. Reading the old recipes for true “witches' potions” were something out of a fairytale: bat's blood, opium, henbane, hemlock, belladonna and, of course, the fat from a unbaptised baby.

I first heard the interview with Thomas Hatsis on The Black Chair, a podcast I tune into from time to time, discussing The Witches' Ointment. Then there were lecture dates in the Bay Area, which I was sadly unable to attend. But, I was able to order the book and just finished as the new horror movie, The VVitch, was playing at theatres...(SPOILER ALERT) the opening scene includes a classical sequence of using baby fat as a base, churning with herbs, then smearing it all over her old body for the sabbatic flight. Hatsis deconstructs the myths from realities in a very concise and narrative manner; with folktales and historical account retold at the beginning of each chapter. Although oozing with solid academic research, the author's approach makes the data very digestible for those of us who do NOT like reading history books. Hatsis presents these 'confessions' and concludes that different experiences fall under the categories of either ointment induced experiences (used as an entheogenic tool for performing journey or magick), or blasphemy motivated nocturnal journies...but rarely were the two happening at the same time.

Whilst absurd to the modern practitioner, some of these recounted testimonies were given by actual folks who used these ointments, even if their chemical effects were unknown, and had intense experiences. Hatsis pinpoints when the stereotype of a satanic/diabolical witch's' use of Ye Olde Broomstik, including the fabrication of it as a masturbatory tool, is explored and debunked (we go from Heretic to Witch in less than two hundred years' span).

The dusk flowers adorned the altar, their scent lifted by my heightened senses. I did not plant these, but this ally appeared in my new garden as an old friend. The intense summer heat had made the liminal times sweeter for their delicate white petals, releasing their strange smell. In dreams I sense their proximity, my soul flew through layers of spiritual projection to a wild, overgrown and ancient garden. A dry fountain overgrown with periwinkle, ferns of every shape and conifer trees help to hide the rabbit-faced beings which surround and spy on me. Their silvery glamour does not shade their true intentions...

In particular I enjoyed the fourth chapter titled “Roots of Bewitchment”, which focuses on commonly known materials used in traditional ointments, for either 'soporferis medicamentis' (sleeping medicines) or 'pocula amatoria' (love potions) (p.76). Plants, animal secretions, minerals and other pharmacopeia are examined; a background including etymology of the names, historical uses, medicinal uses and folkloric connections. I had a particular interest in the Solanaceae family: the henbane, mandrake, nightshade and, especially, datura. As a young woman interested in the herbal arts, these plants called to my curious side of gardening. However cautious as I am, it was better to try ointments from more skilled herbalists than bumbling through another experiment which could potentially make me ill, or worse.

It was last summer that Datura stramonium made a home in my new garden bed. Although I had grown this plant a few times in containers (always with great success), the seeds sowed themselves and I soon had huge datura plants. Drought tolerant and sun lovers, these beauties opened every morning at dawn and nightly at dusk, making it a wonderful setting for nocturnal devotionals to Hekate. Sitting amongst them, the plants cooling from the days' heat, I would put my face close to them and inhale deeply of the trumpets. Sometimes called “mad apple”, I can see how this strange plant could be intoxicating to the point of fatality...but what a sweet way to go. The ointment from this plant was used extensively in the ancient world to help with insomnia; the effects of doziness I experienced to be rather rapid and the sleep deep but restful without feeling 'hung over' the next day. If I DO manage to stay awake after using the ointment, there is a euphoric but tense feeling... I actually have to fight off sleep but like a happy toddler.

The Awen comes straight into my mind...visions from my own imagination take on an absurd realism otherwise not experienced in regular lucid dreams. Poetry flows like colors, messages come to me in strange tongues and anticipation flows as wine in cups made of amethyst. I drink, deeply and awaken to write.

I was surprised to read Datura wasn't just used in shamanic journeying or to poison/bewitch unsuspecting muggles, but some users found the imagination whipped to the point of exquisite inspiration...something I experienced as well.

Writing in 1784 Prussian toxicologist J.S. Halle became on of the first writers to praise the drug for stirring the artistic mind: 'Mixing the ground seeds of datura with wine will produce an artificial, magic and fantastic tincture; if a poet would drink (this blend), it would provide him with his most exalted flight in odes.' This datura-wine elixir will 'fire the pictures of imagination in the most vivid manner, swirling the natural impulse of the muse beyond all enthusiasm of wine'” (p.100).

For further information on the safe uses of these herbs, and to purchase some excellent ointments, follow these links down the rabbit hole.

Evolution of witches' ointment

Article by author, Thomas Hatsis

Wise words of caution and use, Sarah Anne Lawless

More flying ointment history

Flying ointment feedback

Ointments for purchase

 

Datura from my garden.

PantheaCon Report ~ 2016 Edition

A lot can be said by an attendee's first and last presentations during the long weekend of PantheaCon; mine were “Willful Bane: the History, Techniques and Ethics of Hexing” and “Rite of Needful Unbinding”. Although the schedule was rather bland, the few exceptional rituals and lectures I attended  really rejuvenated some witchy feelz. I wrote haikus to pass the time, but some were post-Con also. Orange sunburst, leaf

A funk has arisen here.

A room of Pagans.

Appalachian

Wit and humour empower.

Magick of true grit.

Urine in bottle,

Spit over the left shoulder,

Eating of power.

 

Horse-faced one sat close,

You are forever the fucked.

Exorcism, lost.

Crumbling castles,

False One of the Happy Camp,

Surround and keep you.

Brown bird in her nest,

Piety does not protect

Justice in the wind.

Cover your babies,

prepare for the coming storm.

Excrement flies far.

Enemy thine mine,

Look to your mountain and weep,

Rabbit on the run.

Disco, Baba witch

The dark mask of a Mother.

And you shall have none.

Over-rated suites,

Danger is so near

And much cheap liquor.

Man who stands too close,

Violate and desecrate

Holy woman, FIGHT!

No one noticed this?

Masters of Destiny here

Ignore the victim.

Is it Boy or Girl?

Spirit does not care witch one.

Practice magick, now.

Give of your Self child

And know the universe Is.

We are all learning.

Selene, honour.

Chthonic Ones, forgotten.

Hekate, old key.

Absinthe and battle,

Discordian candy flies!

Warrior standing.

Running with scissors,

Mead with the Librarians,

Sweet Asian kisses.

Priestess binding me,

Chains made of my own doing.

Rattle shake, drum bass.

Domina, we cry!

Vulnerable space, bless-ed!

Foot in mouth, pale, raw.

The bullshit, no more!

Release what does not propel!

A blade deconstructs!

While the weather was sunny and warm outside the Doubletree, indoor climates ranged from freezing cold to stifling rainforest in many rooms; most wondered if we really WERE having hot flashes. Surges of power, others might say... and they were. Witch Giants were everywhere, filling the halls and rooms with their subtle energies. Real practitioners of magick came together in corners of the Con, discussed and invoked, banished and destroyed. Several times I was surrounded by a group of powerhouses in the Craft and felt slightly woozy...this concentration of power is overwhelming but also reassuring as I was among them, an equal finally. I also dropped some baggage for more capable hands, for annihilation. Leaving behind those things and people who no longer serve me, who are nothing but asuras... banishing bellicosity and distractions from my Work.

On a disappointing note, it was really too bad all these warriors and holy people did not notice the women being assaulted over the course of the weekend... several violated for simply being intoxicated, and not by just 'men'. Over and over I heard the words “consent”, “safe space”, “proper pronouns” being spoken by presenters, but their words were lost on many. These people are lucky I didn't see it myself...because I am not one to be polite or soft about others hurt and pain. And there was plenty to go around. The overtly sexual environment was sickening sweet: beautiful rituals such as the honeyed-Pomba Gira were replaced with artificial saccharine imitations that didn't come close to satisfying, except for those with vampiric appetites. It's scary to me that we “police ourselves”, I imagine to save public face; abusive leaders are kicked out of organizations without charges being filed, predators escorted out of festivals but not into police custody ...it happens in plain sight and so many choose to ignore. It is my eternal wish that we take off our blinders, use our true witch vision (if you have any at all) and finally learn some compassion, develop empathy and generate loving kindness with equanimity.

It was an added bit of bummer to NOT see the "PantyCon" schedule distributed throughout the hotel; I guess the party-poopers had that removed too. And yes, the community seriously lacks a sense of humour. Between the leather clothes, crystal pyramids, special snowflakes and over priced books there are those less pretentious ones who play Fool to the World. Those easily offended are missing out on the worship of Eris, inviting discord into one's practice is liberation with entertainment.

But honestly, we really are so very lucky to have access to highly qualified and experienced ritualists. I realize after attending some bad rituals, my spiritual path has been really blessed. Groups like the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn and the Discordians were a breath of fresh air. The genius of sacred space was kept sentinel again in the Coru Cathubodua's Temple of the Morrigan, even though I did not need to visit. Every year I go and make offerings...but I also end up taking folks there who are broken or needing reprieve. As one of the only purely sacred spaces available in the Con, I am glad to see it offered for those who need to experience it.

It was also really awesome to meet and give a sniff to some oils from Rosarium Blends, Catamara is a witch who knows her stuff. Decanting from the mother bottles, the oils were oozing with herbal essences of magickal concentration...it was lovely. I, of course, had been eyeballing some of their Hekate oil online, so was glad to get the chance of smell before purchasing. Together with her partner, they are organizers for the Viridis Genii Symposium held in Oregon... I am already making plans to attend.

Episode 6: The Death Current

In this episode I explore the practice of Ancestor worship and share some personal anecdotes as well. Music in this episode features songs by Faun, from the albums Totem and Licht.  

[audio mp3="http://www.psychopompgroupie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Ep6_The-Death-Current.mp3"][/audio]

Resources mentioned in the podcast:

Martin Coleman's "Communing With the Spirits"

Sarah Iles Johnston's "Restless Dead: Encounters Between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece"

"Liber Falxifer: The Book of the Left Handed Reaper" Vol. 1 by N.A-A.218 

Episode 5: The Hekatean Special

[audio mp3="http://www.psychopompgroupie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Ep5_Hekatean-Special.mp3"][/audio] As promised, here is the long-awaited episode in which I spill the beans about Hekate. I hope this will become an annual event, growing and maturing with the show.There's music, anecdotes, information, recommended materials...slight rants. I kept this episode all about Our Lady of the Crossroads. Below you will find links to websites and online sources, shops and artists of which I am a proud patron. Please enjoy.

Jeff Cullen Artistry and The Vodou Store are both resources I have been dedicated to over the years. Graveyard dirt, blood sacrifice oil, bath formulas, my Hekate statues and art...so many of my supplies are purchased by this dynamic duo.

Conjure Oils have created the perfect Hekate oil....it is sweet and dusky, something beautiful to wear. I am very, very picky about fragrances due to a very sensitive nose, but being able to order from a localish company (Oregon) and loving the little pips (samplers) allowed me to try different scents without investing too much.

Wendy Rule is a modern songstress, bard, witch of words and sound. Seeing her in concert was like witnessing a spellworking, as everyone became entranced. Please support pagan artists, especially  exceptional ones like Rule.

Jade Sol Luna books are available on Amazon and I highly recommend them.

Sarah Iles Johnston has many other titles all in classical Hellenic studies.

Avalonia produces many kinds of books, even though I do not care for the woman who runs the company I think they put out some quality resources.

'Hecate', Natascha Root Photogrpahy.
'Hecate', by Natasha Root Photography

 

Episode 2 of Podcast is UP!

Thanks to everyone for listening to the show! I have uploaded the newest episode on the static page of The Podcast , but I will upload to a post too to see if it's easier for everyone. Leave some feedback, let me know which you prefer, and see some of you at Pantheacon. [audio mp3="http://www.psychopompgroupie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Episode2_Praxis.mp3"][/audio]

 

 

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: Deity Wishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Day 20: Art that reminds you of this deity

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

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

Day 21: Music that makes you think of this deity

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

 

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

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

30 Days of Hermes: Gender and Sexuality

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

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

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

Priapus- between circa 50 and 79 AD.

Priapus- between circa 50 and 79 AD.

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

30 Days of Hermes: Public Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30 Days of Hermes: Locations of Worship

Day 12: Places associated with this deity and their worship

"The highest mountain in Arkadia is Kyllene, on the top of which is a dilapidated temple of Hermes Kyllenios (of Mt Kyllene). It is clear that Kyllenos, the son of Elatos, gave the mountain its name and the god his surname. In days of old, men made wooden images, so far as I have been able to discover, from the following trees ebony, cypress, cedar, oak, yew, lotus. But the image of Hermes Kyllenios is made of none of these, but of juniper wood. Its height, I conjecture, is about eight feet" (Pausanias, Description of Greece).

12. Place is relative, as time. Hermes travels the Multiverse and is boundless. He is also not one to stay put for long, but ever anywhere was special or sacred to Him, it would foremost be Mount Kyllene in Arkadia. There in a cave, it is believed He was born and thusly became a popular location. There were temples and shrines erected all over Greece, not just the outside city walls of Athens, Korinthia, but throughout the Peloponnese, Thebes. It would be impossible to count all of the Herms found at roadside shrines. In nearly every gymnasium an altar was erected for Hermes and Herakles, both patrons of sport and athleticism.

Anywhere there were boundaries, a pile of stones or wooden Herm was erected and all were/are sacred to Him. No temple could hold this wayward God, even if for a short visit. Four-way crossroads are the most sacred of all spaces to Hermes, as traveler and Lord of liminality...where decisions are made both figuratively and literally. The Hermai were ancient rest areas, places to stop and eat lunch, perhaps a waiting area for others (since it was a guide post), or to make offerings for safe passage in unfamiliar places.

Hermes was close to the people and accessible especially in the marketplaces (agora), known there as Hermes Agoraeus. I think He pretty much likes to be anywhere people congregate...Hermes is into people-watching. Today we might find Him in the enclosure of an air-conditioned mall; not as exciting as the open-air markets of ancient times with haggling or bartering. But in the modern context, He would prefer the local swap meet or garage sales...where unusual items are procured and people come together looking for bargains in the spirit of commerce. He would also hang out at financial and stock exchange centers, airports, underground subway stations and railroad lines.

Herm with erect phallus. Marble, ca. 520 BC. From Siphnos.

Herm with erect phallus. Marble, ca. 520 BC. From Siphnos.

30 Days of Hermes: Holy Days and Feasts

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

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

(

Pausanias, Description of Greece)

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

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

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

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

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

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

30 Days of Hermes: Offerings

Day 10: Offerings; Historical and UPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 8: Variations on this Deity

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

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

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

The Reims Altar, Musée Saint-Remi, Reims

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

Day 9: Common mistakes about this Deity

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