While doing my annual Festivus shopping this year,* I noticed that Galina Krasskova’s novena book In Praise of Hermes had hit the shelves, so naturally I swallowed it up greedily. I was delighted to find myself among the people in the Acknowledgements, and more delighted still with the general layout and structure of these books, which really seem inspired. They’re equally adapted for the lifelong votary who wants to do something special for their belovèd deity, and for the newbie who wants to get better acquainted with a deity who’s just come into their life.
So the novena book arrived, and I realized that I had two options: (i) tell myself “Ooh, this is a great idea that I might eventually put into practice!”, or (ii) begin the very next day. I opted for option (ii), and I’m now pleased to say that it is the day for me to write a prayer of my own for Hermes/Mercury (Day VI of the nine) and post it on the interwebs.
This kind of discipline is wonderful for a number of reasons. While simple and cheap, it requires your mind to focus on a specific devotional goal each day—not just for one day, or three, but for longer than a week. Each day sets the devotee a straightforward, achievable task that nevertheless requires a bit of planning and a bit of effort. I’ve also been mentally doing this double, reading over the day’s task and the day’s prayer in the morning and then actually doing it in the evening. This, in addition to keeping closer track of my dreams than I otherwise would, has really helped heighten my Mercury-consciousness throughout the day—weekends and holidays as well as work days, sleep time as well as wake time. So a thousand thank yous to Galina for launching this series! (I’ll be needing a copy of the novena book for the Mothers too ere long as well…)
And now, the prayer:
Hail, Mercury of many names,
god of many disguises,
god who walks many paths,
god who knows no boundaries,
god who admits no constraint,
friend of many deities,
friend of brilliant Apollo,
friend of transcendent Cernunnos,
friend of inspiring Bacchus,
friend of crafty Minerva,
sometimes more than friend of golden-tressed Venus.
Hail to you of the worn traveller’s cloak,
hail to you of the shining herald’s staff,
hail to you of the flying feet,
patron of athletes,
patron of diplomats,
patron of scholars.
I sing your praises beneath the wing of the sparrowhawk.
I sing your praises under the shade of the strawberry-tree.
I sing your praises where the crocus grows.
I sing your praises beside the gentle, subtle tortoise,
and the proud and lusty billy goat,
and the dauntless discerning boar,
and the cocksure rooster,
and the emissary serpent adorned with the horns of a ram.
Your gifts are boundless.
Your words are keen.
Your spirit is unbreakable,
though it bend a thousand ways.
You, son of Maia, are the god who in the thick of battle
turned to your opponent, for combat matched,
and told her frankly you had no quarrel with her,
the gentle lover of your own august father,
and agreed with her to quit the field,
in honour undiminished to you both.
You are the god who never fears to speak
words of truth and warning, however unwelcome,
to heroes and to mortals,
assuring them of what is to come,
exhorting them to effect what must be.
You are the god who came to Tyana,
travelling with your father in disguise,
kindly receiving the hospitality of
that couple who alone would take you in,
refilling their wine-jar, sparing their goose,
and finally bestowing on them
prosperity and glory,
peace and safety,
and the right to serve the two of you all their days.
I do not pretend, august Mercury,
to the merits of Baucis and Philemon.
I cannot demand such sweet deserts.
Only let me serve you in my turn,
contributing what I can,
seeking to walk in harmony with your fleet steps,
and let your glory shine forth unhindered
throughout this world and those beyond.
* All right, to be totally honest, I mean Christmas shopping. But it has pretty much nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, however, the way we celebrate it in our family.