Hermes in the Cemetery #5

•May 27, 2015 • 4 Comments

Determined that not even surgery is going to stop me from fulfilling this vow, I managed to make it to another cemetery this month – and in the same trip, finally return my drastically overdue library books (they kindly waived the fees) -because this one, Pioneer Cemetery, happens to sit right next to the wonderful Knight Library at the university (unfortunately it’s named after Phil Knight of Nike, so I think of it as the Night Library, which sounds much more mysterious). After the Masonic, Pioneer is the cemetery I have visited most in Eugene, due to its age, size, location and atmosphere. I’ve done several rituals there, primarily for Hermes. It’s full of great trees, and the scent – my gods, it’s intoxicating, I think it must be incense cedar but I’m not good at telling coniferous trees apart yet.

The entrance

The entrance

The graves amongst the trees

Graves amongst the trees

A wonderful holly tree with knobbly trunk

A wonderful holly tree with knobbly trunk

New tree growing out of old

New tree growing out of old

The squirrels in this cemetery will all stop and look if you come near, as if they're expecting food - but I've learned from many experiences that these are the pickiest damn squirrels in the city, and they will reject almost all treats thrown their way, so I've given up

The squirrels in this cemetery will all stop and look if you come near, as if they’re expecting food – but I’ve learned from many experiences that these are the pickiest damn squirrels in the city, and they will reject almost all treats thrown their way, so I’ve given up

Beautifully lichen-encrusted stones, the lichen has filled in the engraving so it spells out the names

Beautifully lichen-encrusted stones, the lichen has filled in the engraving so it spells out the names

I love all the shadowy areas along the edges of this cemetery

I love all the shadowy areas along the edges of this cemetery

I left my herm at the base of a black walnut tree where I've done ritual for Hermes before, on the last day of Anthesteria many years ago

I left my herm at the base of a black walnut tree where I’ve done ritual for Hermes before, on the last day of Anthesteria many years ago

I picked up these stones along the way in, and then surrounded them with some birdseed I brought with me, nestled in a patch of ivy

I picked up these stones along the way in, and then surrounded them with some birdseed I brought with me, nestled in a patch of ivy

That's the Night Library in the background, it's a gorgeous building and I love that it sits right next to the cemetery, a very Hermes-friendly combination

That’s the Night Library in the background, it’s a gorgeous building and I love that it sits right next to the cemetery, a very Hermes-friendly combination

Für meinen Ehemann

•May 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Opening

•May 26, 2015 • 4 Comments

Looking back, I can see I was being prepared for this for months. A process of progressive breaking. First, my sprained ankle back in December. I knew it had something to do with Hermes at the time, due to some personal signs, but otherwise it seemed like just an inconvenience; I had to stay fairly still for weeks, and I didn’t like the feeling of being damaged physically. Then followed a couple months of relative stagnation – stress, disconnection, interruption. Just when I thought I might get out of it, I got sick. Really sick – worst flu I can remember having. Again, laid up for weeks, and stuck in a malfunctioning body. And it had something to do with one of my personal spirits, who is connected to illness – in fact, it was almost perfectly bookended by his two holy days. This time, a very brief respite, and then the worst of it – the gallbladder emergency, pain, endoscopy, surgery. And through it all, Dionysos. I remembered that owl pellet I found last month, after praying to Him and admitting that I was not properly Open. I remembered how I felt it might foretell something difficult, emotionally and physically challenging, but I had no idea. After they extracted an organ from me, from my digestive system, filled with hard indigestible stones, I saw that owl pellet again – regurgitated, indigestible hard bones. It was disturbingly shamanic.

This was an ordeal on several levels. I faced some of my worst fears – being put under anaesthesia, for instance, and having a scope shoved down my throat. I was physically cut open and had a part of me removed. It was terrifying. And I had gone into it at my lowest point, already depleted from months of illness, anxiety, depression. And yet, where I would have thought I would simply have fallen apart, I didn’t. In fact, in the days following, as I recuperated at home with nothing but time on my hands, I felt better than I have in months. Clearer. Lighter. Free. This time, finally, the enforced stillness of body came with a stillness of mind I had desperately needed. The connection flooded back, I had powerful dreams, I prayed.

I don’t know why it works like this, but it often does. I have done enough reading on initiation rituals and shamanic ordeals to know this. Maybe some of it is in our brains. It also seems to be the way some gods do business. Certainly Dionysos is famous for tearing you apart. I wonder, would I have needed to go through this if I had been able to learn my lessons from the lesser trials? I don’t know. But regardless, this is clearly what I needed now, to shake things loose, to transform, and to do the Work that has been set before me. And so, as I have before, I find myself saying Thank You to my gods and spirits, Thank you for torturing me, Thank you for breaking me. Thank you for removing those things inside that were blocking me. I see now how to be the thing you want me to be – I know you told me and told me, but I actually get it now. I am Opened. And not just metaphorically.

Warning Label

•May 7, 2015 • 5 Comments

You know how they say that if you go to Fairyland and manage to get out again, you’ll either be mad or a poet? Well, the truth is that you’ll either be just plain mad, or a mad poet, but it’s not like the poet thing will let you off the hook from the madness part. You’ll probably always be on the verge of veering off into non-functional insanity, holding on by the thin rope of your inspiration.

And the things that were familiar and comforting before will seem strange and remote. And you will have no common language with the people around you, and even the words of your art may fall on deaf ears, although you will not be able to stop it lest you fall into the abyss again. And you will still love Fairyland with all your heart, even after it has done this to you. You will always be looking for the door back in.

Sound like fun? Then I have some spirits you should meet….

Hermes in the Cemetery #4

•April 23, 2015 • 3 Comments

This month has been a difficult one, especially the last couple weeks during which I have been extremely sick with some kind of super bug that’s going around. Yesterday, however, I still managed to do my monthly trip to a cemetery for Hermes, even though it was more walking than I’d done since falling ill. It was the fourth of the lunar month and therefore an appropriate day, and I felt a strong call to go on a walk with my gods. I went to the Masonic Cemetery, the one closest to my house and also the one I’ve spent the most time in. There’s something special about this cemetery, spread out over a wooded hillside, that makes each visit magical.

Those who know a little ancient Greek will understand why I love that the cemetery is accessed via Potter St. The cemetery in ancient Athens is called the Kerameikos, after the potters' quarters where it was located (kerameikos=ceramics)

Those who know a little ancient Greek will understand why I love that the cemetery is accessed via Potter St. The cemetery in ancient Athens is called the Kerameikos, after the potters’ quarters where it was located (kerameikos=ceramics)

The entrance, where I have left many offerings for Hermes over the years. I have also taken home several shriveled crabapples from the tree on the right, figuring graveyard apples are good for a variety of magics.

The entrance, where I have left many offerings for Hermes over the years. I have also taken home several shriveled crabapples from the tree on the right, figuring graveyard apples are good for a variety of magics.

The crown jewel of this cemetery is the Hope Abbey mausoleum, constructed in an Egyptian style

The crown jewel of this cemetery is the Hope Abbey mausoleum, constructed in an Egyptian style

The entrance to Hope Abbey (this has been the site of a couple of Anubis rituals in the past)

The entrance to Hope Abbey (this has been the site of a couple of Anubis rituals in the past)

The cemetery association has placed explanatory plaques by all of the graves of Eugene's early families. This is the grave of Eugene Skinner, our founder.

The cemetery association has placed explanatory plaques by all of the graves of Eugene’s early families. This is the grave of Eugene Skinner, our founder.

I came up here to leave a coin offering on Skinner's grave, and found someone had already placed flowers all over it. I love this city.

I came up here to leave a coin offering on Skinner’s grave, and found someone had already placed flowers all over it. I love this city.

When I came upon this stone pedestal, which I've always loved, I knew it was the place for my herm.

When I came upon this stone pedestal, which I’ve always loved, I knew it was the place for my herm.

The four stones I left for Hermes

The four stones I left for Hermes

For those who don't know, placing stones on graves is a Jewish tradition. There are quite a few Jewish graves in this cemetery. This one had a beautiful array of stones.

For those who don’t know, placing stones on graves is a Jewish tradition. There are quite a few Jewish graves in this cemetery. This one had a beautiful array of stones.

The gift I received on this visit. I have never actually found an owl pellet before, but this was on the ground right off the path on the way toward the pedestal. Aside from being a really neat natural find, it also contained a message for me.

The gift I received on this visit. I have never actually found an owl pellet before, but this was on the ground right off the path on the way toward the pedestal. Aside from being a really neat natural find, it also functioned as an omen for me, related to some of the communications I’d been having with my gods on the way there.

Hermes in the Cemetery #3

•March 25, 2015 • 6 Comments

For my third visit, I chose Mulkey Cemetery, a small but fairly old cemetery that also happens to be the site of my initiation into Hermes’ Mysteries, which I performed almost exactly eight years ago. (I did actually do a Mystery rite a couple years before that, in Montana, but felt it hadn’t quite clicked – although later I understood that it simply planted a seed that took years to grow.) I had not been back to Mulkey since that night, and things looked quite different than I remembered. This has got to be the most well-tended cemetery in Eugene, unsurprisingly in a fairly upscale neighborhood, with lots of flowers and elaborate plantings surrounding the tombstones.

Beautiful tree gate

Beautiful tree gate

A view of one corner plus the hills beyond

A view of one corner plus the hills beyond

If you click to enlarge, you can see these informational posters that tell the history of the cemetery, and show the original plat map

If you click to enlarge, you can see these informational posters that tell the history of the cemetery, and show the original plat map

To show how old this cemetery is, this grave lists the person as having lived and died in "Eugene City" which is how Eugene was originally referred to

To show how old this cemetery is, this grave lists the person as having died in “Eugene City” which is how Eugene was originally referred to

A sad grave marker, but also a little confusing - why does Lloyd have two dates?

A sad grave marker, but also a little confusing – why does Lloyd have two dates?

One of the elaborate plantings I mentioned, several graves have these growing around them, clearly cared for

One of the elaborate plantings I mentioned, several graves have these growing around them, clearly cared for

This angel has lost its head, wings, and book, though they were all scattered in the area

This angel has lost its head, wings, and book, though they were all scattered in the area

An interesting stone - seems to be vaguely pagan. I like the bottom of the second side which has not only the lyrics "Enjoy the silence" but the actual musical notation for them from the Depeche Mode song

An interesting stone – seems to be pagan, given the pentacle, moon, astrological symbols and Celtic knotwork. I like the bottom of the second side which has not only the lyrics “Enjoy the silence” but the actual musical notation for them from the Depeche Mode song.

When I did my Mystery rite, I was stunned to find a high seat waiting for me - this roughly carved tree stump that adorns one grave. However, in the intervening years, the wood was colonized by giant bracket mushrooms and moss, and has half fallen apart, which is also beautiful (although I couldn't sit in it anymore).

When I came here for my Mystery rite, I was stunned to find a high seat waiting for me – this roughly carved tree stump that adorns one grave. I sat in this for the main part of the ritual. However, in the intervening years, the wood was colonized by giant bracket mushrooms and moss, and has half fallen apart, which is also beautiful (although I couldn’t sit in it anymore).

A view of the stump from the back, with wonderful fungi, and the hills beyond.

A view of the stump from the back, with wonderful fungi, and the hills beyond.

Of course, I left my herm stones here.

Of course, I left my herm stones there too.

Images of Hermes

•March 3, 2015 • 14 Comments

As part of my Year with Hermes, I already shared my playlist of songs for Him, now I wanted to share some of the images I have saved for Him (especially as today is Khutroi, the third day of Anthesteria, when Hermes Psychopompos is honored). I keep similar folders of images for all my gods and spirits on my computer, and set them as a slideshow screensaver on holy days (my usual screensaver just runs through all my images). I’ll begin with ancient images:

line drawing of vase painting, I think - Hermes Kriophoros

line drawing of vase painting, I think – Hermes Kriophoros

my favorite ancient image of Him ever - found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC

my favorite ancient image of Him ever – found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC

line drawing from a vase painting, Hermes Psychopompos

line drawing from a vase painting, Hermes Psychopompos

ancient herm statue

ancient herm statue

And then modern depictions meant to be Hermes or Mercury:

"The Souls of Acheron" by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, 1898

“The Souls of Acheron” by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, 1898

"Hermes" by William Blake Richmond, 1886

“Hermes” by William Blake Richmond, 1886

"Consecration of the Herm" by Fyodor Bronnikov, 1874

“Consecration of the Herm” by Fyodor Bronnikov, 1874

And here are some that I personally associate with Him, regardless of the artist’s intent:

"Betwixt & Between" by David Delamare

“Betwixt & Between” by David Delamare

don't have a title or artist for this one - but I think of the scarecrow as a kind of herm

don’t have a title or artist for this one – but I think of the scarecrow as a kind of herm and these are particularly creepy

no idea where this one comes from either

no idea where this one comes from either

unknown

unknown

a Magician card, unknown origin

a Magician card, unknown origin

unknown

unknown

You’ll notice some themes here – the Magician is obvious, but the crow/raven connection is a personal one (although of course Hermes has a traditional association with birds, especially birds of omen). I will also note that while I prefer the bearded version of Hermes, as seen in herms and many other ancient depictions, almost all modern images specifically intended as Hermes show Him as clean-shaven, younger, and usually have the whole winged sandals/cap thing in there somewhere.

 
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