This blog

This blog was originally inaugurated on May 1, 2010, the day I left Santiago de Compostela after four months of doctoral research in Galicia. Which was curious, as it turned out, for at the time I was mostly focused on the Norse god Freyr and so my religious identity was somewhere between Roman and Vanic polytheisms. But a few months after returning from Santiago and moving to Lisbon, a different god caught my eye and quickly became an important part of my beliefs and practices. He’s the son of Maia, the Swift One, the Fleet-Footed, the Lord of Wayfarers and Wanderers, the Trickster known as Hermes in ancient Greece and Mercury in old Rome. And the reason why that’s curious is because, in Roman times, Galicia was the place where the Lares Viales or gods of pathways were most popular. Hugely so, if one is to judge by the number of known altars that were dedicated to them. So it is fitting that Mercury proved to be an irresistible god after I spent four months – of all numbers! – in a part of Europe that was and still is deeply marked by wayfaring, even if today it assumes the Christian form of pilgrimage routes to the shrine of Saint James.

So when this blog was originally created, the Vanir were an important part of its focus. Hence why the notion of trail, a path walked on where you learn and meet other people, was coupled with the qualifier “golden” – for the gold that’s associated with the gods of Vanaheim – thereby resulting in the blog’s title: Golden Trail. But after seven years since the original plan, with all the changes that happened in my religious life and all the shifts in cultural identity and focus, it was time for an update. And thus, as of April 2017, this is a refurbished site with a strong mercurial and western-Iberian emphasis.

One of the golden scallops on the streets of Santiago de Compostela. A different sort of golden trail.

One of the golden scallops on the streets of Santiago de Compostela. A different sort of golden trail.

Its title remains relevant. Mercury is a divine wayfarer, a guide, patron and companion of wanderers, travellers and hikers, as well as a god of movement. And what is a trail – or road or path – if not a route through which things move? He also has gold-like qualities, not just in His rod, wealth or joyful character, but also in His precocious nature and long list of skills. Furthermore, the words golden trail can convey the notion of a special road, one that’s blessed or fortunate, and not only does that fall well within the mercurial realm, it also serves to highlight that this is a blog where you can find information on an Iberian cult of Mercury. A golden trail or a mercurial path, with the gold-like quality taking on a very literal sense from the equally golden scallops that mark old pilgrimage routes on the medieval streets of Santiago de Compostela. And the Lares Viales, which were greatly popular in Galicia, are a natural Iberian retinue of the son of Maia. So, there’s different layers of meaning to the title of this blog, all summed up in its tagline, a wayfarer’s path, which can be the everyday roads, the divine ways of Mercury or His western-Iberian cult. And yes, there’s a dog in the header and it has to do with this god.

This is not to say that I’ve forgotten Freyr or any of the gods who were the original focus of this site. They remain a part of my religious life, but have taken a back seat as the Fleet-Footed and those around Him assumed the leading role. Change is a natural part of life and I will not deny it; but nor will I also forget where I came from, and so, rather than erasing the original First Rites, I added to them. Because you cannot change the past, only build on it.

So, what’s this blog about? Mostly it’s on religion, particularly Roman polytheism, with a very strong emphasis on Mercury and His retinue. It’s also an expression of who I am, nationally and culturally, a gay man who was born, raised and currently lives in Portugal, where my family has roots that go back at least four centuries. Expect therefore multiple manifestations of a strong western-European, particularly Portuguese perspective in what I say, do and think. This site also has a zero-tolerance policy towards homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, racism, misogyny and overall religious extremism, including that which is voiced by fellow polytheists. And because Mercury stands at the centre of this refurbished blog, you can expect to find occasional posts on various non-religious aspects of the mercurial world: astronomy, History, languages, travelling, humour, even sports.