As I mentioned in my post about painting and decorating my new Epona statuette, I’ve had a (monochrome) statuette of Mercury in my domestic shrine area since probably 2005-ish. He’s gone with me from Chicago to Istanbul, and from Niagara Falls back to Illinois. For whatever reason, I had been hesitant about applying paint to the statue, until the highly satisfactory results of the Epona experiment made it clear that I simply had no excuse.
I might also mention that I have a very extensive set of photos printed (in glorious technicolour) of religious artwork, each of which make their way over the course of the year to the said shrine area, where they are mounted on mini-easels for the duration of their holy days. Currently, for example, I have colour images of Magna Mater (for Hilaria Matris Deum) and Rosmerta (for a. d. VIII Kal.)—which means that poor monochrome Mercury and Ðirona (on whom more in a subsequent post!) have been looking all the more washed out by comparison.
The Mercury statuette in question is one that North American purchasers of such products will likely recognize:
(Can I mention how odd it is to be switching back and forth between speaking/thinking of the statuette as an object, a commodity, and as a vessel or conduit for the deity’s numinous energy? But such after all is the human condition as well: we too are flesh and bones, but happily also ensouled…)
Anyway, this is a wonderful image because of its motion, its dynamism, and also the calm and serenity that it paradoxically conveys. Mercury, unruffled, stands atop the clouds, beholding all about him, ready to bound off on his next swift adventure. Still, there are one or two oddities here. One looks in vain here for Mercury’s purse, and even his caduceus is replaced by a little wand lamentably deprived of snakes. To substitute for the missing symbol of prosperity, I decided it would be fun to clothe him in cloth of gold, as Raphael did:
Ancient depictions of Mercury/Hermes on frescoes don’t show much consistency in terms of colour schemes, unlike, for example, the Virgin Mary who always wears blue, or Mars who practically always wears red. In researching this project, I’ve seen frescoes with Mercury in teal, maroon, blue… so gold seems a reasonable variation. Plus I figure Raphael may have known a thing or two about painting. Anyway, behold the result: