In Search of the Roman God Mercurius

I have been working with Mercury also known as Mercurius (the Roman God of Exchange et cetera), since 2008 but have only recently begun to scratch the surface of his personality (let alone his mysteries!). I have encountered him as stately diplomat, knowledgeable teacher, wordsmith, swift-footed divine messenger, animal husbandman, lord of commerce, patron of public transportation, god of communication, and also as meddler, confusion monger, cheat, liar, and thief of wit. His facets are many. In addition to his manysidedness, I will say one of the greatest challenges in my search for Mercury has been his syncretism with Hermes. Sometimes I think I am one of zero people who actually think of Mercury as an individual god, separate from Hermes. To my thinking, they are like twins; they look alike, but they are different people with their own unique proclivities and personalities. A few times I have actually given up and tried working with Hermes. Each time, both gods protested! The second big challenge to working with Mercury is the scarcity of scholarly, English language works that treat him within his Roman cultural context with minimal (or even simply moderate) reference to his Greek brother. I have no trouble locating the precious few books that exist but they are in a language that I do not speak (usually French)…So close, yet so far. Each time this happens I hear Mercury whisper, “You know, you could always learn French.” Given the problem at hand (my lacking French knowledge not being the least of it), I appealed to him and constantly received the message that direct communication with him was best anyway, whether I had the scholarly sources of not. Who’d of thought it? The god of communication wanted me to actually communicate with him. Such rocket science was beyond me in the early stages of our relationship, but I eventually figured it out.

We slowly made regular direct contact; however, over the course of the three years that I have known him, at times he has seemed utterly present and at others profoundly distant. At first, I childishly thought it was me, that he did not like me or that I was not doing enough to honor him, but based on further conversations with him, I discovered that being everywhere and nowhere, present and distant is part and parcel of his nature. This realization was solidified for me in a vision from about four weeks ago. In it, I was in the middle of a vast ocean standing on a very, very tiny landmass. I felt very insecure and unsafe. The water was everywhere and I was nowhere. When I took control of my emotions in the situation I could suddenly leave the tiny landmass and navigate my way to more solid ground. When I arrived on the much larger, lush tropical island, Mercury was waiting for me on a high cliff overlooking the vast ocean that I had traversed. He actually looked completely out of place (black shirt, jeans, and bare feet sans wings) in this tropical paradise. We talked for a time and he helped me to see that I was being too clingy for a swift-footed god of wind and change. When I began to accept his transient nature, he reminded me of some old roles and began cluing me into other roles that he was playing in my life at the time. In the very same vision, as divine messenger (an oldie but a goodie) he returned my attention to Elegua, who also happened to be on the island and who had some words for me regarding our budding relationship. As I began speaking with Elegua about offerings and other matters, Mercury flitted off.

Mercurius’ transitory nature as expressed in the vision is consistent with other experiences I have had. Earlier I had noticed that he was exceedingly good to me when I needed him for “the big stuff” and wily as ever when I wanted him for “the little stuff”. For example, when my life changes majorly, that often but not always heralds the coming or going of a deity or spirit in my life. When the deity or spirit is coming, Mercury is usually the one who makes initial overtures with deities (before I figure out what the heck is happening), drafts contracts and the first set of “rules of engagement”, and arranges for the preliminary sets of signatures. This is the behind the scenes stuff that he only recently saw fit to share with me via an impression during a divination session; by the time I get a tap on my noggin (i.e. Mercury patching a call through from a deity), he, Hekate, Odin, and the other deities I work with have already come to some conclusions about their relationships with one another and the basics of how and why they will involve me. In the case of my March 2011 initial contact with Dionysos, by the time my head stopped spinning from the initial encounter, Mercury had a contract and sticky notes labeled “Initial Here” on the proverbial table for me to sign. He’d all but licked the tip of the pen. On the flip side, when I have to be out and about by 8:30AM, I hit snooze at 8:15 for ten minutes and then jump out of bed yammering prayers to Mercury to make the bus late. He pats me on the head for being audacious, and then chuckles knowingly as I exit my apartment just in time to see the bus sail by…without me on it. The bus was indeed late, but not late enough. He gets a kick out of that sort of thing because I was foolishly more than half serious in my brazen request.

The search for Mercury has been long and hard, but I think that fact is my fault. The tighter I squeeze the farther he flies but, when I relax and go with the flow, he’s present in some way or another, or sometimes he isn’t but in either case I am alright. Whether our relationship continues or ends in the near future, I feel blessed to have known and worked with Mercurius. But I won’t lie, I hope to get to know him better in the coming months! At this point, my intuition tells me that Mercurius and I have a least a few more encounters to look forward to.

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2 thoughts on “In Search of the Roman God Mercurius

  1. This all jives very well with my experience of Hermes – which isn’t to say I’m insisting They are the same deity; generally I think a good rule-of-thumb is to treat deities as independent until and unless you have good proof otherwise, and *especially* if They tell you They are separate! At the very least, They may want you to focus on that aspect exclusively for some reason.

    The way He comes through for the big stuff but teases you with the little stuff is classic. And that He paves the way for other gods, which has also been my experience (or in my case, mostly for spirits, but same basic principle – His presence in my life rarely exists to draw me closer to Him, but rather closer to others, which can be frustrating at times).

    • Hermes and Mercurius seem like separate deities but the link between the two of them is indeed strong. So, it makes sense that both Hermes and Mercurius work in some similar ways, especially in the big picture. Also, your comment about Hermes drawing you closer to others rather than to him definitely resonates for me in my relationship with Mercury, and yes, it can be frustrating!!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I often feel that my work with Mercury has been the most difficult to connect with other people about, ironically. He seems to be less popular in the magical/neo-pagan/recon community than one might think given the breadth and depth of his influence in the worlds.

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