As mentioned in the post “Beltane in Ancient Greece and Rome” Hermes (Mercury in latin) was son of the King and Father of Gods and Humans Zeus and Maia or Maja (Μαία ή Μάγια), who is daughter of the Titan Atlas and she is one of the Pleiades.
He is commonly known as the messenger of the Gods, but this is the role of Goddess Iris (Ίριδα), the rainbow. Hermes in fact became the messenger of Zeus.
Hermes was born in a cave in Arcadia where Maia was hiding from Hera, the wife of Zeus and Queen of the Gods. The baby was already clever and cunning and in his first night, when his mother fall asleep he left his crib and the cave and he went and stole the herd of Apollo’s cows and sacrificed them to Zeus, in order to find out if the King of the Gods could see everything. Well, this was sacrilege and of course both Zeus and Apollo knew who did it and Apollo asked Zeus to bring the baby to Olympus and to judge him. So Zeus brought Hermes to Olympus, but he decided to perform the trail next day, giving the Gods the opportunity to meet his new born son.
During the day Hermes found a turtle and from its shell and bowels made a lyre/ kithara (λίρα, κιθάρα), and started playing some very nice music. Apollo heard the music and was excited and went to find who could play such a wonderful music. Finding Hermes playing he sat and listened to him for long time. When Hermes stopped playing, the kind Apollo asked Hermes if he would give him his lyre. Hermes agreed, asking in return the Kerykeion (caduceus), that Apollo gladly gave to him.
The heart of Apollo was softened and from that moment on Apollo is obviously font of Hermes like an older brother to a younger. Being them both sons of Zeus they indeed are brothers, but that is true for many of the Greek Gods; but the relation between Apollo and Hermes is unique. It is, then, not peculiar that the temple of Apollo in Thebes was guarded by (a statue of) Hermes.
The same night, Aphrodite (Venus) suggested to organize a match of wrestling between Hermes and her also new born son Eros, who had wings, promising that if Hermes won the fight the wings of Eros would go to Hermes.
Hermes won, and Aphrodite ran to hug the winner. During this hug, without her knowledge, Hermes stole from Aphrodite her belt of beauty.
Eros should have given up his wings but Zeus said that they should wait till the trial, so Hermes didn’t take Eros wings.
During the night, when the rest of Gods were asleep, Hermes left his room and went and stole the trident of Poseidon, the sceptre of Zeus – Jupiter (he wanted to steal the thunder as well but he was afraid that he might get burned), the armour of Athena (Minerva), the weapons of Ares (Mars), the tools (or even the fires) of Hephaestus (Vulcan) and other useful things from the other Gods, and managed to hide them somewhere that they wouldn’t be able to find them. Then he returned to his bed and slept.
Next morning, there should be a trial, but there was a panic as no God or Goddess had their equipment, and Hephaestus having not his tools he couldn’t make new ones. It was quite clear who did it, but Hermes wouldn’t give them back unless he would be exempted from all the charges.
The fact was that Zeus, having the thunder, could force Hermes to give back everything and continue the trial, but he didn’t want to use such means to his new born child. So, because of this, along with the fact that kind-hearted Apollo, being very pleased with his new lyre (which by the way Hermes didn’t steal) had already forgiven Hermes, Zeus released Hermes and Hermes gave back everything.
Put a statue, a picture or a symbol of Hermes on your doorway to have his protection and blessings.
Also Zeus decided that Eros should keep his wings, but because Hermes was promised wings should have his own and asked Hephaestus to make a winged cap and winged sandals for Hermes. He also decided to make him an Olympian and his own messenger.
Now, by making Hermes an Olympian there are 13 Olympian Gods, a “problem” that will be solved by the marriage of Hades with Persephone. From that moment on, Pluto would have no intention to keep a palace on Olympus and he will stay only in the Underworld. Indeed, he only went to Olympus to ask Zeus to force another son of his, Hercules, to return the stolen Cerberus. And so, the balance of the 12 Olympians was restored.
Hermes is not very well known for his love affairs. Maybe he had none. But what about his sex affairs? Well this is another subject. At least once he had sex with Aphrodite and so Hermaphrodite was born. The name is in fact the combination of their names Hermes-Aphrodite, and Hermaphrodite was a man having both female and male genitals. Even more Hermes was considered quite helpful in sexual affairs, and his phallus was carved in many of the stones with his head in the streets.
Another known sex story of Hermes is the one with Chione. Both Apollo and Hermes liked her. So Apollo tried to gain her heart, while Hermes wanted just her body. Apollo achieved his target, but Hermes put Chione to sleep and raped her the same day. So Chione gave birth to two twin sons, one having as father Hermes and the other Apollo. The grandson of this son of Hermes (Autolycus) is the famous hero Odysseus of the Homeric Epics. Now, notice that Autolycus (He who is Wolf) is son of Hermes, but also Apollo is son of Leto, the werewolf.
Now, allow me to make a parenthesis and analyse this event. So Chione (meaning white like snow… yes, the Snow White of the Greek Theology) was daughter of Daedalion, who was son of Hesperus (the Evening Star) who is son of Eos (the Dawn) who is daughter of Uranus and Earth. I say these because there are more than one ladies with the same name. Now, Chione was very beautiful and Apollo fall in love with her, and Hermes also wanted her (more sexually though). Hermes knew that he stood no chance against the gorgeous Apollo, so he tried to trick him.
He said to Apollo, that Chione would most surely have sex with him (Apollo) because he was so handsome, but she would be in love with himself (Hermes) as he was more charming than Apollo. So, Apollo took the challenge and turned himself to an old woman, and as that he managed to gain the love and affection of Chione. So this is almost a homosexual love affair of Apollo, but a lesbian one. When he gained Chione’s love he took his true form and told her the truth, and Chione, very pleased indeed, gave herself to Apollo. And the same night, Hermes, took her as I mentioned previously.
Also Hermes loves peace, and he doesn’t usually actively engage himself in battles. But, as a favour to Zeus, and using his skills and the kerykeion put the beast Argos to sleep and slaughtered him, releasing Io. Also as for the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece there are different opinions about how he was killed, and one involves the actions of Hermes (but most usually is the witch Media or Goddess Athena who do the job).
In fact Hermes’s kerykeion is a symbol of peace as Hermes used it to stop the quarrel of two snakes, the two snakes that the kerykeion has. Even Orpheus calls the kerykeion “perfect weapon of peace”.
Later Hermes will start accompanying the souls of the dead to the Underworld too, and thus becoming a psychopomp.
Hermes is a healer, and the kyrikeion is symbol of the paramedical and alternative healing methods nowadays. Also Hermes is font of gymnastics, and statues of him (as well as Apollo) could be found almost in all stadiums. He has a very persuasive speech and he is obviously quite cunning but in no way mean. He protects trade and traders, he can explain everything, and he can find the answer to everything. So if Apollo can give an omen Hermes can explain it. He is a helper of human kind and gives numberless blessings, and releases people from their problems.
Hermes is great mage also. He is the one who undid the spell of the witch Circe (daughter of the Goddess of witchcraft Hecate) from Odysseus’ companions. Also he is an initiator. Maybe this is why Hermes is so much related with the first triumph of Tarot, the Mage. If it is a Magician instead, the cunning nature of Hermes is pictured.
Hermes has many epithets according to his abilities that one would like to focus on, but Trismegistus is not one of them. Hermes the Trismegistus and God Hermes are two totally different beings. Some secret societies like Freemasons and Rosicrucians call themselves Hermetic Orders because of Hermes, but more possibly Hermes the Trismegistus.
One should call upon Hermes help:
* For help in trade. * For help in business. * For general good luck, and luck in gambling. * For help in starting new projects. * For any initiation. * For the ability to speak fluently and persuasive. * For helping a beloved who has recently died to move on. * To have prophetic dreams and to correctly explain them. * To explain any and every omen. * For help in any divination. * To be helped in achieving the blessings of Apollo. * For help in studies and exams. * For help in money matters. * For overcoming any problem. * For healing and the ability to heal. * For help and protection while travelling. * For protection at night and the evil beings of the dark hours. * For having sexual encounters (both straight and gay). * To acquire beauty (lover of Aphrodite, beloved brother of Apollo… who would be better?) * For help in any spell and magical act, including ceremonial magic. * To undo evil magic. * To be protected from Hecate and her ghosts, beasts and magic. * To banish ghosts and evil spirits.
Tip: Put a statue, a picture or a symbol of Hermes on your doorway to have his protection and blessings.
If you want to please Hermes offer him spring water, honey, pig meat and lamp meat. Also, incense burning is pleasant for Hermes. Use frankincense to please him more, as Orpheus suggests. We will soon post an invoking ritual for Hermes as we did with Apollo here. If you want to invoke Hermes (Mercury) and summon His powers stay tuned!
Call upon this big hearted God for anything you need. Even if he cannot offer you what you want, he will find for you the way to achieve it.