Ludi Mercuriales 2015

If Mercury’s number is four, his day of the week being the fourth for over a thousand years now and tradition saying that He was born on a fourth day, then it makes sense that the first four days of April should be a great time to honour the Swift One. It is, after all, the fourth month of the year and it includes April Fools, which is a fitting date for a Trickster. So a couple of years ago, I started marking these four days as the Ludi Mercuriales or the Games of Mercury.

This year’s preparations started on the end of March. I cleaned his domestic shrine, made four small wreaths, printed wanted posters as part of a prank and glued them on different streets late at night, so as to give people a laugh on the morning of April 1st. When I woke up, as is usual on the Calends, I offered incense and wine to Janus, Juno and my Family Lares, plus salted flour for the latter and the house genii, as well as water with a dog biscuit for my deceased pets. Since this year’s April 1st was also the first Wednesday of the month, Mercury was honoured with a candle, incense and wine. These are all normal monthly offerings at my place and it was only later in the morning that the Ludi Mercuriales were ritually opened.

I placed the image of the Winged One in a temporary shrine by the fireplace – the de facto altar – and surrounded it with the four wreaths I made the night before. Then I performed a fully formal ceremony in Roman rite and offered Him almonds, walnuts and jam, plus some more incense and a teaspoon of cinnamon. I also burned the morning offerings before closing the ceremony. Then in the afternoon I bought a lottery ticket and rode my bike to a sea-side town around 30 kilometres or 18 miles from here, stopping four times along the way to erect small herms. On each of them I poured wheat, wine and placed a wreath. Then I rode back home, offered Him a flower on arrival and a few hours later I did some volunteer work at a food bank. All of this while wearing on my wrist a coin I keep in Mercury’s domestic shrine and which signals that what I’m doing is a tribute to Him.

Herms 01-04

This morning, after waking up, I again offered a candle, incense and wine to the son of Maia and later burned them. Today’s activities will be mostly indoors, consisting of writing and baking. Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting Him with a final draft of a divination method I’ve been working on for almost a year now (more on that later) and go for another bike ride. Saturday will be the big day: for all intents and purposes, I see April 4th as Mercury’s birthday, much like March 19th is Minerva’s. It’s the fourth day of the fourth month, so it seems fitting. As a result, I’ll be offering Him a cheesecake topped with strawberry jam, burn a slice in a formal ceremony and then ritually profane the rest so it can be consumed by me and my family. It’s like a birthday cake and Mercury, being the birthday boy, gets the first portion before his guests are served. His shrine will also be decorated with a wreath I’ll be giving Him and in the afternoon I should be jogging in his honour. This, of course, coupled with morning offerings, some divination and informal libations throughout the day.

Yes, I’m pampering Mercury. But it’s a special occasion and He is very dear to me, so He deserves all the extra effort that the first four days of the fourth month call for. It’s once every year and it stands like a crown jewel amongst the countless other gestures of devotion and gratitude towards Him. May his blessings be many and his laughs abundant! May He be glad and share his joy with us! Be honoured, Mercury!

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