Like a matryoshka

Sometimes, you wonder about the bigger picture, the wider perspective where things fall in place like pieces of a larger puzzle. For good or for bad, being an historian means that I have the habit of thinking about that a lot, since I’m expected to detect long-term trends that go beyond the immediate consequences of specific events. So when I wondered about being on a Hermes trip, my mind sort of saved the idea in the back of my head and kept working on it while I moved on with my everyday life. Until it produced a new thought two or three days ago.

When I first wondered about a hermetic pattern, I considered it from the point where Mercury became part of my religious life. There was certainly a background, one that made it extremely easy for Him to become a focal point of my practices in a short amount of time, but the square one was that online conversation, as well as my first prayer and offering to Him. But then my mind wondered about the differences between conscious and unconscious religious life, at which point it triggered another idea: what if the Hermes trip can be traced to long before that initial hello to Mercury? So I gave it a thought, connected a few dots and eventually reached the question of whether I’ve been on a road that’s part of a wider road which in turn is part of a greater individual trip. Like a Russian matryoshka doll, where a series figurines are inside larger ones.

See, the reason why I specialized in a particular field of History is because in my early days as a pagan, I gained an interest in Ingui-Freyr after going through an encyclopaedia my parents have at home. Eventually, that interest became religious, leading me to Heathenry, and in an effort to understand the native culture and cult of the god, I started doing research on Norse History and mythology. In fact, religious devotion and academic work nurtured each other. That’s nothing new among reconstructionist polytheists, but it was that dynamic that led me to Sweden to do a Master’s in History a few years later. If I had not developed an interest in Freyr and Heathenry, things might have happened differently. But I did and while I was in Sweden, I first researched about what later became my doctoral topic, which is now taking the form of a book to be proposed for publication. At the same time, it was after coming back from Sweden that I turned to Roman polytheism and it was during my PhD that I started working on a Latin cult of Freyr and began worshiping Mercury. In a way, it all fits and the dots connect.

So if I’m on a Hermes trip, I’m wondering how far back it stretches and how big it is. Because when I think about it, I am where I am because at some point in my life I was, so to speak, a guest at Freyr’s place. He was truly a patron, in the most practical sense of the word, in that He hosted and nurtured my interest in a given topic, leading me to where I am today. And now I find myself doing that very hermetic thing that is bridging worlds, be it by translating a Norse cult into a Latin context, taking it from one cultural realm to another, or by working Norse topics in Portuguese academia (or vice-versa). I guess you can call it “liminaling”, i.e. doing things in a liminal fashion, with one foot in a world and another in a different one. All thanks to that initial look at the letter F in an encyclopaedia fifteen years ago and the ensuing religious interest. So I guess the question now is how far my devotion to Ingui-Freyr is actually a doll inside a larger Hermes matryoshka? Of course, this may be nothing more than my mind trying to find rational patterns in a series of random events. That possibility is always there, but so is its opposite and I wonder if there’s a winged foot behind the whole thing. This calls for divination…

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