Tips for a Newbie Wanting to Work with Hermes
On another forum, an earnest young Hellenic Polytheist asked me if I might share some tips for a newbie “wanting to work with Hermes” and whether or not I do GodPhone style oracular readings on the subject. The following was my answer, which I thought to share here as well:
Let me start out by saying my approach to Hellenic worship is unorthodox. In fact, it is probably unorthodox for any belief system. I hold personal, individualized communion with the divine by contemporary means in much higher regard than any by-the-book ancient practice. That is my religious esthetic.
Having said that:
First and foremost: Go directly to the source. Talk with Hermes in whatever way feels most comfortable for you. No big formal prayer or ritual required. He is the god of language and communication, so use those tools. They are sacred to him. Acknowledge his presence—the trickster-with-a-lesson-to-teach vibe in your life, (or sometimes just mischief-maker-for-the-hell-of-it). Ask him questions and keep your eye out for answers. Open up. Listen. Respond. Reading his myths can help you understand him a bit better, but again, nothing will help you to better understand his character and unique personality than communicating with the big H. himself.
(This is, incidentally, the best advice I have to offer on working with/worshipping any deity, spirit, etc.)
Try your best to ignore correspondence tables and “proper offerings” lists. The most “proper offering” to any god is something that has meaning to you, something you love that, by giving it with your whole heart to the god, communicates you are willing to share your highest values with him, and/or acknowledges that the bounty you have in your life, represented by this offering, is, in part, due to his influence and blessings.
In my purse, I keep a deck of playing cards that I have given to Hermes. They are his, but, generous deity that he is, (he truly has been generous to me), he lets me use them and keep them close to me to remind me of him. And I do use them! They are no relic. I have happily played many, many hours with them, with my family, over the kitchen table enjoying sodas and junk, winning and losing, laughing and bonding. Every time I pull them out, I wink and tell my nephews they belong to Hermes, they are “magic”, and because Hermes loves me special, I can’t lose. It makes them giggle and of course, from time to time, I do lose, which inevitably inspires one of my nephews to tell me he is now Hermes’ new favorite.
Hermes smiles upon the practice.
To give another example: Some time ago I read a young, (very young), Hermes devotee saying she felt very strongly Hermes wanted her to order a slice of pumpkin pie and eat it in his name. Self-righteous, I grumbled internally, “Pumpkin pie? What the hell does pumpkin pie have to do with Hermes? Obviously she just likes pumpkin pie and wanted an excuse to order it for herself. Pumpkin pie. Seriously. That’s not right at all.”
To which Hermes responded, “Mmmm… Pie.”
Point being: Any offering given with the intention of pleasing/honoring/sharing with a god is more than acceptable. It is the spirit and intent that counts more than anything else. If a traditionally accepted offering is, say, red wine, but you think red wine is disgusting, what kind of sacrifice is that to you? If, however, you share a nip of your favorite beer, even if it is the least fancy grocery store variety out there, then that is a true sacrifice, an offering of the highest order.
Offerings almost always draw you nearer to a god and make you dearer to his heart, especially, in my experience, with Hermes.
So sit with him, give him a little tchotchke, share a loving cup, open up your mouth to speak, open up your ears to listen and your heart to feel. Watch what happens. These are the best, most powerful tools I can give you to get your relationship with Hermes off on excellent footing.
I do occasionally do GodPhone or GodMail style oracular and/or tarot readings on things like this when there is real pain or confusion involved. Barring that, developing one’s own listening/divining skills is always the best route.