I started by buying strawberries and flowers after sunset of the day before. I tend to see Mercury as the same god as Hermes, if nothing else because it makes sense to me that, since He’s a very mobile deity of travellers, He’s one of the likeliest divine beings to be known far and wide by different names. Since Pausanias says that Hermes was believed to have been nourished under a wild strawberry tree – the remains of which were kept in a sanctuary to Him – I find that particular fruit to be a proper offering and snack in a day devoted to Mercury. As for the flowers, I happened to pass by a shop on my way home and thought of making a wreath, which I eventually did.
In the following morning, after the usual prayers and greetings to several gods and my ancestors, and after having breakfast, I made an offering to incense and a candle to Mercury by His small clay altar, decorated with beads I keep for such occasions. Then I went to a nearby park to get a small willow branch, which are thin and flexible enough to work as a frame for a home-made flower wreath. I also ordered a new mobile phone, since my old one decided it was time to bow and leave the stage. I waited until December 7th to buy it and did it online, which allowed me to get a pretty good discount. Overall, things that are very Mercury-related: acquiring a communication device, using the world wide web, and working things around to get a bargain. The next thing on the to do list was a visit to the public altar in Belém.
I packed a few things, took the flower wreath and made my way to the subway and afterwards the train line that runs parallel to the Tagus river. That was another mercurial activity: travelling! Even if a small distance in an urban area. The altar is pretty well preserved, with the inscription visible and no signs of ill-intentioned damage. And so I laid the flower wreath on it, took a strawberry and a few handfuls of wheat grains, giving the first portion to Janus, the following two to Mercury, and a final one to the genii loci. It’s a quick and informal thing, I know, but it’s also more of a personal devotional act than a great traditional ceremony which, in any case, couldn’t be easily performed in a public garden.
The rest of the day was spent doing research at a university library, going through editions of medieval documents. It was a work thing for my thesis, but it’s also something that can be related to Mercury, since He’s a god of writing and a divine interpreter (and trust me, there’s a lot reading between the lines when analysing medieval documents). The fact that in my everyday life I often do things He may enjoy and the likelihood that ahead of me lies a good dose of work journeys is probably the reason why He grew into a major devotion of mine in a short period of time. We have a mutually enjoyable routine, so to speak, and I have had a share of signs that He’s out there paying attention.