Hermes takes me to some odd places

Sometimes doing things for the gods and spirits takes you in unlikely directions. Yesterday I attended a neighborhood association meeting for the first time, and I’m considering writing a city grant application, and it’s all because of super-local polytheism.

See, I’ve been exploring the area within a mile radius of my house more lately, and have found myself particularly drawn to a few powerful, liminal sorts of spots, most of which have some kind of connection to Hermes for me. I’ve also been learning more about the history of this neighborhood, which enhances my experience of these places. One place that I’ve felt strongly about even before the super-local focus is a set of double stairs leading to nowhere. This is actually where I found my very first recently-dead animal which I processed into bones – a raccoon that I cared for over many months, and whose skull now rests on my Hermes shrine. I eventually discovered that these stairs were once a streetcar stop back in the very early 1900’s – so there’s a transportation connection to the god of travellers – which added to my interest. They also led to the first hospital in the city, now gone, and were across the street from our 1930’s baseball stadium, which sadly burned down last summer but is still important to many people here. So, lots of history right there.

But these stairs also have a large, blank concrete side that is very appealing to those with a can of spray paint and nothing better to do. It’s a constant battle of graffiti appearing (and never interesting or artistic graffiti, just ugly tagging), the city painting over it, then more graffiti appearing. For a long time I’ve wondered what might be done about it. Then it occurred to me that in this city at least, where we have many beautiful murals, the taggers seem to respect the art and leave the murals alone. Perhaps if we had a mural there it would end the graffiti. And perhaps the mural could reflect some of the rich history of the location. (I’ve also worried that the city might just decide to rip out the stairs eventually, to solve the problem, thereby losing an important piece of heritage.)

After a couple of inquiries, I found out that one can apply for a grant from the city for such a project, but that the first step is getting support from the board of the local neighborhood association. I also discovered that a candidate for city council lives right next to those stairs, and had had the same idea for a mural but hadn’t yet pursued it. It felt like a really appropriate and meaningful way to honor the spirits there, and Hermes, if I could make this happen, and change it from a trashy, neglected spot to something beautiful and interesting. So even though the thought of attending board meetings and writing grant applications and schmoozing politicians does not exactly fill me with glee, I decided to at least give it a shot.

To get to the meeting and back last night, I had to walk through the exact part of the neighborhood that has been calling me so strongly these last months, and as I wandered past enticingly numinous alleys and little free libraries and magical garden doors, it reaffirmed my desire to contribute to it in some way, to respond to the spirits there with something tangible. Much like deciding to pick up litter in your favorite nymph-haunted woods. Some people may term this “political” action, and if so that’s fine, but I think it’s important to note that it comes directly from engagement with the spirits, and not because of my own mundane inclinations or priorities, and is done only to honor Them. Other humans being involved is just an unfortunate necessity in this case.

So that’s another glimpse into my religious life for this month – sometimes it might not even look like I’m doing something spiritual from the outside, but everything I do starts with the gods.

~ by Dver on September 13, 2016.

7 Responses to “Hermes takes me to some odd places”

  1. Yes it must be a clear realization. “Everything we do starts with the Gods.”

  2. Oh I love this so much. I do hope you will share with us what ends up happening with those stairs!
    Those spirit led adventures and stirrings are amazing but I’m glad to read someone else is drawn in by them to (always makes me feel less crazy).

  3. So, is the raccoon skull on your altar simply because Hermes led you to it, or because you associate raccoons with Hermes like peacocks are associated with Hera?

    I’ve been linking Hermes with raccoons for a good long while now, but of course, since raccoons are New World animals, not found in ancient Greece, the Greeks wouldn’t have known of them to associate them with Hermes. I wondered if it was just me, or whether others had the same idea.

    • Oh, it’s definitely because I associate Hermes with raccoons, and I know a few others who do too. Considering their behaviors, the fact that they look like little bandits, their cleverness, it seems like a natural fit!

    • The fact that the raccoon was unknown to the ancient Greeks doesn’t mean you can’t associate it with Hermes. It’s a different continent and a different time, so an ancient god that is worshiped today will naturally be associated with different animals and even His festivals might be placed in a different time of the year.

      And yes, you’re not alone in linking the raccoon to Hermes. After all, both are seen as tricksters and resourceful, so there are many who’ve made the connection. I myself have considered the same, but not being in America, I never linked the two “formally”.

  4. In North and Central America, raccoons are traditionally associated with the Divine. The Aztecs viewed female raccoons to be close to the Gods. So it would make sense if you are doing local spirits. See what the raccoon myths are in your area.

  5. I associate raccoons to Hermes as well! Mischievous and clever creatures. 🙂

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