Giving Blessings

I really need to learn to keep more cash on me.  I’m normally a card-type of guy, but in the right circumstances (and in increasingly more ones every day), cash goes a lot farther a lot faster than credit.

One of the main reasons for me to keep more cash on me, or at least staying in the habit of having a few bills on me at all times, is religion.  In La Regla de Ocha Lukumí (aka Santería—I wonder when I’ll stop feeling obliged to give the alternate, perhaps more common name), cash is customary for donations for any number of reasons, not least because it’s legal tender and proof of payment in itself.  When we establish the celebratory throne for an orisha, when we set up the drummers’ seats for a dance, even when we visit a priest’s house for their anniversary of initiation, it’s quite acceptable to leave a few dollars as a respectful donation (often in conjunction with an offering of fruit, flowers, candles, and so forth).  My checklist for going to an event now consists of making sure my whites are clean, I’ve got my offerings ready to go, and stopping by the ATM for a few extra bills.

One of the unusual things, however, is that there is a process for giving cash in the religion (always processes for everything, after all).  This one isn’t difficult; simply cross yourself with the money before dropping it into the basket/basin/jícara/etc.  Making the Sign of the Cross is a natural motion for many people in the religion, and it helps in sanctifying the donation with a holy reverence and respect.

Well, I didn’t realize how ingrained in me that habit had become until I went to a winery this past weekend.  The husband and I went to see one of his good friends play a gig there, and we got a bottle of fruit wine while we were at it.  It was a lovely, cloudy, pleasantly mild Saturday in early May, and we enjoyed ourselves (even through all the pollen).  Our friend, a guitarist and singer, had his guitar case opened up before his station, and a few people had already dropped some cash in there.  I followed suit to support our friend, so I reached into my wallet and—well, my first instinct was to cross myself with the money.  I laughed about it with my husband, and had to remind myself that this wasn’t a religious function and there’s no need to do that here, so I didn’t, and just dropped the cash in his case anyway.  I made a joke about it on Twitter, too (along with a few others).

But…well, I realized after the fact that maybe that wasn’t a habit I should suppress, and a few replies on Twitter had really brought that conversation to the forefront of my mind.  After all, we cross ourselves with the donation in a religious setting to sanctify the donation and show our respect to the ashé of the orisha or drummer or priest or whoever-else.  As an initiated priest in this religion, not only do I show my respect with this act, but I’m also blessing that offering on-the-fly with my action and intent for the sake of whoever-it-is.  It’s not just a show of support or well-wishing at that point, but a spiritual act to lend my grace, support, succor, and help to whoever-it-is, as well as a physical prayer made to express my hope for their grace, support, succor, and help in my own life, as well.  Such is the nature of blessings.

Could I have donated money as a spiritual act before initiation?  Absolutely!  That wasn’t something that was held off for me, especially given all my other practices going on.  But here’s the thing that’s slowly dawning on me in truly profound ways: I can never stop being a priest.  Yeah, intellectually I understood that; orisha live on my head now, and they see what I see and hear what I hear, not to mention seeing and hearing me at all times.  That’s one of the reasons why good conduct is paramount for initiates.  Yet, even in the little things, I don’t stop being a priest.  Why, then, should I not bless something when it’s already a habit for me to do so in an innocuous way?  Why would I not do what is essentially my job at a perfect opportunity just because the context is different from what I’d expect for my job?  I don’t have to be in the Ocha Room in order to work Ocha; Ocha is in me, Ocha is around me, Ocha is part of me wherever I go, whenever I go.  I do not stop being a priest, so why not act accordingly?

This isn’t, of course, about proselytizing or trying to force initiations onto others or try to sell orisha out on discount.  Priesthood is still something I’m coming to terms with and figuring out in all its emanations, but there are a few things I do know, and one of them is that I want to make the world better.  For myself, to be sure, but also for my loved ones, my family, my godfamily, my colleagues, my friends, my coworkers, my teachers, my students…everyone.  In a very real sense of Buddhist emptiness, we’re all in this together, because I can’t exist without you nor can you exist without me, so if I’m to truly do well, I need to make sure that you’re also doing well, as well, because, at its core, I can’t really cease suffering myself until all suffering is ceased.  Sure, there are ways I can prosper at others’ dire expense, but even an ounce of shame would keep me from really enjoying such wealth because it’s not justly earned; only if that wealth is justly earned, the exchange is fair, and everyone has at minimum what they need without worry is it a state I can enjoy.  Extend that notion, then, to everything, everywhere, and everywhen.  It is not true that everyone needs to be a priest to make the world a better place, but it damn well sure helps me in that undertaking.  I have the tools and, slowly, the techniques and the knowledge to work what I can for myself and for those in my world to make the world a better place, and I don’t have a reason to not do that, so there’s only one real choice: do it.  In a sense, it’s a kind of theurgy, no matter how small the individual acts are.  The Great Work isn’t done in a day, after all.

For anyone involved in spiritual practices, there is no reason to separate out the mundane from the spiritual.  Context and consent matters, absolutely, but if you have the chance to infuse a mundane act with a spiritual force in it, why not do it?  If nothing else, it’s practice, and can ensure your own success later down the line.  Ideally, doing so would make things better for the entire world with a simple act that sets of a chain reaction, even if it’s just a minor set of coincidences.  But for those who can give their blessing—and you don’t, strictly speaking, need to be a priest for that—why not give it freely at every opportunity?  If you can call upon the power of the dead, the gods, the elements, the angels, or whatever else it is you work with, why not back up your hopes and well-wishes for the well-being of others with the power that you can direct and work with, especially if it’s in the moment of a trivial action you were going to do anyway?

I have to admit, now I wish I had crossed myself with that money before I dropped it in our friend’s guitar case.  Lesson learned, then.  There are some habits that really should be kept up.

Priesthood in the World We Live In

Readers of my blog know that I’m a stickler for proper terminology, sometimes expounding on the subtle and nuanced differences (sometimes even those that I impose) to distinguish between different terms that are largely used the same, even for words that historically were interchangeable with each other.  I like to be extraordinarily precise with my language, if for nothing else than to save words or to have certain concepts ready to go, though even I acknowledge that it can be difficult with overly-precise language to actually, yanno, communicate with others.  I see this problem frequently in discussions many occultists have—even those I myself have—and why I spend so much time first trying to understand exactly what someone is talking about (with or without snarky remarks about their clearly awful use of terminology) before coming up with a response.  I might spend a goodly chunk of time on just clarifying something, but it prevents the even larger waste of time that happens when someone says one thing but I was thinking completely another thing due to a misunderstanding of what they mean.  Getting lost in translation is a serious problem, especially when so many people don’t have the same research, education, training, or standardization as other people.

Up until recently, I would have held a distinction between the words “priest” and “minister”.  This is a distinction I found online from some blogger or another, though the exact source escapes me at the moment.  Under such a distinction, while both priests and ministers can be considered part of a clergy that works with God or a god, their role and focus would differ: priests focus on serving, understanding, and working with their deity, while ministers serve, understand, and work with the people.  In other words, priests primarily work in a ritual context, and ministers primarily work in an activism context.  The priests and ministers, then, work amongst themselves and with each other so that the ministers help the words of the gods reach the people by the instructions and divinations of the priests, and the priests help the words of the people reach the gods by the complaints and needs communicated to them by the ministers.  Consider the various ministries in Christian churches that feed and clothe the poor (when they can actually still be found); they’re not really preaching or performing Mass for the poor, but they’re carrying out the will of their God by being activists for the sake of the people.  Meanwhile, the priests proper tend to the rituals of Mass, absolution, baptism, exorcism, and the like, but relegate themselves (for better or for worse) to their ritual expertise and less to activist tasks that would infringe on their time and energy carrying out their priestly duties.  Priests only work with the people insofar as to carry out spiritual ritual for them, and ministers only work with the gods insofar as to carry out their worldly aims; beyond that, the two offices don’t really mix.

But here’s a question: if we neglect our fellow human beings, our pets, our lands, our trades, our environment, we leave the world to its own self-destructive devices.  If we neglect the world, we do nothing to prevent its eventual breaking-apart and wasting-away.  In that light, what good is a broken, wasted world to a god?  They receive no sacrifices, no respect, no honor, and no priests; just as we have an investment in seeing the world do well so that we can live well in it, the gods have an investment in the world to make sure their children do well so that they can do well towards the gods.

What I’m starting to realize is that a priest has a vested interest in both their gods and their people; to tend to one necessitates tending to the other.  A priest does not become a priest merely by studying and becoming an expert in ritual; anyone with half a semi-functioning brain can do that, since it’s not hard to memorize a dozen or four established speeches, read out of special books, and make particular gestures with particular tools at the right times under the right circumstances (it’s what most office workers do mindlessly for eight hours a day five days a week, just with different sets of words, books, gestures, and tools).  A priest must be an expert in ritual but must also show devotion to their gods, discerning their wills and carrying it out.  It’s that last part, carrying out the will of a god, that often necessitates the external world of persons and people, though, sometimes to the great distaste of the priest.  In order for a god to be pleased, they need their needs met and satisfied; given that the world we live in has so many people in it, and affecting so many things to such a great extent, many times these needs call for the interaction and direct communication with people.  With no people, many needs of the gods cannot be met; it is often better, for example, for a tribe of people to raise their voice together in joy and honor of a god rather than just one person alone.  Sometimes, it helps our gods carry out their work by performing acts of charity; a god of lepers and diseases who was cast out of his kingdom, for instance, quite often smiles upon money given to the homeless in his name, and a goddess of love and beauty can appreciate her priest helping others feel beautiful for their own sake as much as being recited her own hymns of beauty.

Let’s be a little more misanthropic about this, shall we?  For a more Machiavellian take on this, consider people as tools, as means to an end.  Any good craftsman knows that you need to take care of your tools so that they can take care of you.  If your tools are crappy, you’ll need to make up for it with more work on your part, and we have tools for the express purpose of making our lives easier.  If your tools fall apart, you risk botching a work in progress and can no longer make things you need to make, and if something is broken, you can no longer fix what needs to work.  Getting high-quality tools is an investment, but you can get better results with them faster, easier, and more reliably than with crappy tools, but even crappy tools are better than no tools at all.  If people are tools, then they need to be taken care of the same way: they need food to sustain them, homes to protect them, clothing to dress them, medicine to heal them, teachers to instruct them, pastimes to relieve them, and communities to engage them.  If people are not taken care of, they will die, wither away, revolt, or outright destroy; in general, people that are not taken care of take away from a Good World, and without a Good World to live in, our lives become harder, our hearts weaker, our tongues more bitter, our minds more dejected, our prayers more hollow, our Work less focused.  We are, all of us, in this thing together.  We, too, are tools to be used by our higher powers, and we, too, need to be taken care of.  It’s very much a “wrench in the machine” kind of situation; so long as the entire machine works properly, then each individual part does well, but if even one gear is out of place or if something is put where it doesn’t belong, the entire machine will break down and explode.

To that end, even the most people-hating of priests has to admit that other people will, nearly always, play a part in their own tending to their gods.  There are exceptions, of course; sometimes there is something we can do on our own to tend to our gods’ needs, and sometimes a god has no need of dealing with other people, but these are only ever exceptions to the otherwise vastly-normal situation where the gods have plans and aims and needs that deal with other people.  Communal celebration, tending to our own towns, helping those in need, and making donations where they help are as much priestly duties as are the successful and proper execution of ritual, sacrifice, and devotion.  We must build up ourselves as much as we build up those around us; it’s only when everyone is enlightened can the bodhisattvas themselves catch a break, and it’s only when one person is elevated that everyone can be brought up to their level.  Priests must be ministers, because the priest is the intermediary between the other realms and this world we live in; ministers can help, but it’s the priest who really stands at the crossroads of divinity and humanity, of eternal immortality and fatal mortality.  If there is a distinction to be made between priests and ministers, then it’s just that ministers focus on a non-ritual, non-spiritual subset of the duties of a priest but still in the same service to the same powers.  It’s not that they’re mutually exclusive categories, but that the functions of one is a subset of the other.  Of course, you could very well cut yourself off from people in the ritual service of your deity or deities, but then that would make you a hermit or a monk, which I would indeed reckon is a distinct category from priest.

A distinction I’ve held before (and still hold to) is that we live in three realms: the physical universe, the spiritual cosmos, and the world, which is the intersection between the two linked together by humanity and the human experience; after all, the word itself comes from old English literally meaning “the age of man” (Proto-Germanic *wer + *ald).  We cannot live purely in either the universe or the cosmos, but in the human-made human-filled realm between them.  To be a priest in the world means mediating between the two by the necessary means of the third element: people itself.

Service to Hermes

Why does Hermes (Mercury, though I’ve started calling him by his Greek name) carry the caduceus in his left hand?  So he can masturbate better with his right, duh.  And although I wish that actually were the answer (but who can say?), I asked him recently, and it’s because he’s only the god of messengers, and a messenger himself; scepters and wands are marks of kingship and authority, and he’s only acting as a herald in the name of someone higher than him.  While he’s allowed to work in almighty Zeus’ name and with his authority given to him by the big bearded guy, he cannot take it as his own.  Instead, he guides others to where he needs to be, letting the authority and might of the High, taking the scepter from his superior’s own right hand in his left, to guide him to where he needs to be so that he can do the same for others.  Pretty nifty, no?

This is just one of the things I learned from the god Hermes recently in the course of my life and Work.  As a Hermetic magician, I keep bumping into the guy and, after some talking and self-discovery, I’ve decided to volunteer myself as servant and priest to Hermes, god of the way, of thieves, of magic and astrology, and a slew of other things.  (Or, rather, he decided to volunteer me, but either way, here I am.)  It’s kind of a weird thing for me, never having grown up religious and only interacting with gods and goddesses in the context of magic and exploration of the universe.  Then again, I suppose the cosmos itself has a few tricks up its sleeves, and the cog in the machine that is myself fits into several spots in the wheels that keep things going.

To that end, here’s a compilation of some of the things I know, do, and perform in my service to the god, if you’re so interested.  For those in the know, I’m not coming from a Hellenismos or similar modern path or organization, though now that I think about it, contacting one or two might not be a bad idea.  This is all stuff that I’m learning and doing on my own, but if you have any suggestions, feel free to add in the comments.

First, some background on the god himself.  According to Theoi.com,

Hermes was the great Olympian God of animal husbandry, roads, travel, hospitality, heralds, diplomacy, trade, thievery, language, writing, persuasion, cunning wiles, athletic contests, gymnasiums, astronomy, and astrology. He was also the personal agent and herald of Zeus, the king of the gods. Hermes was depicted as either a handsome and athletic, beardless youth, or as an older bearded man. His attributes included the herald’s wand or kerykeion (Latin caduceus), winged boots, and sometimes a winged travellers cap and chlamys cloak.

As a planetary force, the Picatrix and Agrippa (book I, chapter 29) have this to say about the god and planet:

Things under Mercury are these; amongst Elements, Water, although it moves all things indistinctly; amongst humors, those especially which are mixed, as also the Animall spirit; amongst tasts [tastes] those that are various, strange, and mixed: amongst Metals, Quick-silver, Tin, the Slver Marcasite; amongst stones, the Emrald [emerald], Achates [agates], red Marble, Topaze, and those which are of divers colours, and various figures naturally, & those that are artificiall, as glass, & those which have a colour mixed with yellow, and green. Amongst Plants, and Trees, the Hazle [hazel], Five-leaved-grass, the Hearb [herb] Mercury, Fumitary, Pimpernell, Marjoram, Parsly [parsley], and such as have shorter and less leaves, being compounded of mixed natures, and divers colours. Animals also, that are of quick sence, ingenious, strong, inconstant, swift, and such as become easily acquainted with men, as Dogs, Apes, Foxes, Weesels [weasels], the Hart, and Mule; and all Animals that are of both sexes, and those which can change their Sex, as the Hare, Civet-Cat, and such like. Amongst birds, those which are naturally witty, melodious, and inconstant, as the Linet, Nightingale, Blackbird, Thrush, Lark, the Gnat-sapper, the bird Calandra, the Parret [parrot], the Pie, the Bird Ibis, the bird Porphyrio, the black Betle [beetle] with one horn. And amongst fish, the fish called Trochius, which goes into himself, also Pourcontrell for deceitfulness, and changeableness, and the Fork fish for its industry; the Mullet also that shakes off the bait on the hook with his taile.

Other names for the god in similar parts of the Mediterranean include Mercury (Roman), Turms (Etruscan), Terano (modern Tuscan), and there are lots of closely-related gods that resemble functions of Hermes in other pantheons and cultures.  However, not all of these are exact fits, and some of them are on weird terms with the god, while others are associated through ancillary functions of the dude (e.g. medicine, longevity).

  • Egyptian Thoth, Seshat, Imhotep, Anpu
  • Nordic Odin or Wotan, Loki
  • Hindu Hanuman, Saraswati, Budha, Rama
  • Judeo-Christian angelic Raphael
  • Islamic planetary/magical angelic Harqil
  • Gnostic aeon Anthropos, angelic Metaxas
  • John Dee’s angelic heptad (B)Naspol, (B)Rorges, Baspalo, Binodab, Bariges, Binofon, Baldago
  • Roman Meditrina
  • Greek Eros, Asclepios
  • Orphic Ailoaios or Ailoein
  • Akkadian Gudud, Nabu
  • Sumerian Ningishzida
  • Phoenicio-Caanite Eshmun, Malagbel
  • Celtic Nuada, Ogmios, Math Mathonwy
  • Chinese K’uei-Hsing, Shen Nung
  • Aztec Tezcatlipoca
  • Slavic Veles

Next, some background on my connection with the god.  He’s pretty awesome, for one, and is heavily involved in all the stuff I’m involved with:

  • I’m a software engineer, computer programmer and scientist, linguist, calligrapher, graphologist, classicist, Hermetic magician, and geomancer.  These are all my primary hobbies, and these are all under the rulership of Hermes.
  • The number of the sphere of Mercury, 8, appears four times in my birthdate, with 4 being the number associated with the god.
  • I just happened to work in the Postal Square Building, decked out with invocations and paeans to Hermes and caducei on the outside with the National Postal Museum on the inside, for a software engineering position in a statistics and calculation-focused department.  Hermes is all over that shit, yo.
  • The color of my graduation tassle, having studied in an engineering program, is orange, the color associated with the sphere of Mercury.  Cute.
  • Astrologically, Mercury is in the same house and sign as my Sun, Libra.  It’s not in the best position (combust, Via Combusta), but it is in mutual reception with Venus, my almuten and ruling planet in Virgo.

As for my altar setup and devotional practices:

  • An altar setup shown to me involves a statue of Hermes (I have the “Flying Hermes” by Giovanni da Bologna) in the center with four candles in a square around him, with incense and offerings in front of his statue.  This is the basic setup of my Hermaion, or sacred space for Hermes.
  • I got a small side table, originally $80 but marked down on sale to $64 (a higher scale of 8, and 8 × 8, respectively, with 8 being the magic number of Mercury), for my altar.  I don’t have much space in my room for it, but it turned out to be the perfect size for my needs.  As it turned out, it fit perfectly by my bookshelf with the computer programming, science, and astrology books.  Apparently, the god is cozy there.
  • Under each candleholder (which has a small recess) I placed four Mercury topaz stones and sort of energetically linked them up together with the statue, much as in a Babalon Matrix or crystal grid.  I got the stones at a gem show, and Hermes practically jizzed at the sight of them: four stones for $40 for the four corners of his altar.  I also consecrated them under a rare Mercury Cazimi election, which makes them powerful treasures in their own right.  As the candles burn above the crystals, the force and light from the candles continuously feeds the crystals and the statue itself, keeping the altar and god a powerful force.
  • Suitable offerings include barley, olives and olive oil, coins, and wine (preferably a Greek dark red).  Candles and incense, especially storax, sandalwood, cinnamon, and frankincense, as desired.  The god mentioned live birds, too, but that’s generally not practical unless I have an outdoor altar or temenos.  Other artifacts like bone dice, antique coins, keys, and figurines are really cool, too.  Instead of barley or food offerings, a candle offering can also be made (like in the picture above).
  • The altar is covered with an orange burlap cloth.  I wanted to use silk or a fancy cloth, but I couldn’t find any suitable that Hermes explicitly approved of.  I joked how I’d default to orange burlap, at which Hermes started laughing in my head; I turned around, and was face-to-face with a roll of that very same stuff.  The god has a sense of humor, you know.
  • The statue itself of Hermes is placed in front of  a wooden platform engraved with the Kamea of Mercury and his name woodburned into it in various Mediterranean languages and scripts: Mercurius (Latin), Turms (Etruscan), Hermes (Greek), and E-ma-a (Mycenaean in Linear B).  Four names for the god, one on each side of the square, though I was going to use eight names; these names would have referred to the planet itself in other languages like Sanskrit or Arabic, and not to the god proper, so I left them off.  This is another treasure for the god, and though he originally wanted it to serve as a base for his statue, the altar size had a hard time accommodating this layout.  Plus, I’d like a portable altar or stand for any specifically Mercurial work, and this Table of Mercury would act perfect for it, so he likes this setup as well.  Since it’s properly his and not mine, I’d have to pay him for its use as needed, but nothing extravagant or out of my means proportional to the work being done.  It’s reasonable.
  • Smaller statues to represent different faces of the god, whenever they become accessible, like Thoth and Hanuman.  He’s not on great terms and is sometimes unfamiliar with some of the divine associations and pantheon correspondences above, but what the altar has room for, he’ll enjoy some company.
  • Texts I make use of include the Homeric Hymns to Hermes (devotional though long-winded), the Orphic Hymn to Mercury (awesome generally), the Picatrix Invocation to Mercury (awesome for planetary and magical operations), and the Heptameron Conjuration and Catholic Prayer to Raphael (not normally my style, but it works for more angelic or qabbalistic workings).  For the god proper, he likes the Orphic and Homeric Hymns, along with prayers written to him specifically; Picatrix and other Hermetic invocations aren’t really his cup of tea, from what I’ve been told, and are more suited to other paradigms of working.
  • Tools to be used in my Hermes work include an orange silk scarf to mark my priestly activities, a consecrated bone bracelet to make communicating and communing with the dead and dying easier, the Table of Mercury mentioned above as needed, a caduceus or representation thereof to assist in directing and guiding spirits and forces, and a few oils or balms using scents or materials associated with Hermes for anointing and consecration.  Holy water, specifically the ancient Greek khernips, is also useful to have on the altar for purification, and an extra bottle of Greek extra virgin olive oil is a pleasant addition, too.

Times for rituals:

  • Every Wednesday (day of Mercury) in an hour of Mercury.  There are about four of these: dawn, early afternoon, early nighttime, and godlessly early in the morning.  A good time to do any Mercurial ritual, like a conjuration of Raphael or something, but I use one to make a small offering and invocation to Hermes, too.  This is more planetary/magical than devotional, however, and it’s a simple way to catch up and clean up the altar.
  • The fourth day of the lunar month, starting with the first day being the new moon.  This was the day reserved for the god in ancient Greek religious calendars as a monthly event, somewhat like a birthday (viewed more as monthly rather than yearly events).  Since ancient Hellenic practices were done at dawn, I use sunrise as my time for the god, even if it’s not an hour of Mercury.  This adoration is a monthly ritual, where I make an offering and do a full reading of the Orphic Hymn and Homeric Hymns to Hermes.  Coincidentally, the fourth day of the month is held sacred to Heracles, Aphrodite, and Eros, as well.  At sunset or midnight on this same day, I do an offering and work for Hermes as chthonic god or psychopomp, as well as making an offering to the local and mighty dead.
  • Planetary elections.  Again, this is more a magical event than a religious one, but this is when the power of the planet (the corporeal form of the god) is highly powerful and able to effect great change in the world.  Good ones are difficult to come by, since the planet Mercury is usually too close to the Sun to be very effectual, but when there are elections, you can bet I’ll be taking those opportunities by the horns.
  • Hermaea, the annual Greek festival to Hermes. The Hermaea was a rowdy festival and series of contests, celebrating Hermes’ patronage over gymnastics and physical sport.  This was often celebrated with Hercules, but sometimes had a more Saturnalian character inverting social orders.  I may not be big on physical activity, but trickery and pranks seem to work really well for this festival.  I’m having a hard time finding out about the dates for this festival, but I’m going to guess that it happens somewhere in the period between April 1 and April 15 or so each year.  One trick of the Hellenic ritual calendars was that annual celebrations were never to fall on the monthly ones, so the Hermaea would be shifted a few days in either direction to accommodate large events or monthly celebrations of Hermes.  I might just stick to using the fourth day of the fourth month, April 4th, as my selected date for this.  What I might do specifically for this is unclear to me, since it seemed to be intended for youths and gymnastics, but we’ll see when we get to that point in time.
  • Mercuralia, the Roman festival to Mercury held generally on or around May 4th to May 15.  This is primarily a festival for merchants and commerce, both words coming from the name Mercury, which itself came from Latin merx meaning wages or merchandise.  Roman religion originally never had a correspondence to Mercury, though the Etruscan god Turms was the Italian equivalent of the Hellenic god, and the merchants (who were often Greek or Hellenic) brought over their god.  Because of this, Rome never had an official high priest to Mercury, but imported rituals and festivals from Greece all the same; the name Mercury, with its name referring to goods and merchants, stuck.  Like the Hermaea, the date may be shifted around if needed.  Unlike the Hermaea, the Mercuralia has more literature on it and is much more applicable to my life and goals.
  • After a real rough travel during some snowpocalypse or other (the big Christmas blizzard on the East Coast of 2010), Hermes has really helped me out in keeping me safe and swift on the roads.  I always make a vow and a bargain with him before any long-distance trip: keep me, my goods, and my passengers safe from all harm, delay, and impediment within reason, and I get you a bottle of nice, dark wine to be dropped off at a crossroads as thanks.  I up the number of bottles of wine if something starts looking really awry or desperate, and he hasn’t failed me yet.

All in all, I use 27 or so days of the year as major events for Hermes, plus weekly adorations and any rituals I specifically need to call on him for.  As far as religious practices go, it’s involved, but it’s worth it.  For those on similar but different paths, a quick search on the internets revealed the following rituals for the god: