I wonder…

HAT

First it was Mercury, who, to my knowledge, came into my life during an online conversation with a Hellenic friend of mine. The Facebook chat kept failing every few minutes, so my friend commented that Hermes was having fun with us. And that was the seed. Internet glitches, a laugh and the race was on. When I say Mercury showed up like a sudden gust of wind, that’s because He did. I did not see it coming, but He quickly made Himself at home. And I reckon I pulled a chair or two for Him to sit on, ’cause once the seed was planted, it soon became obvious that Him and I have multiple common interests: sports, writing, research, long-distance trekking, travelling, humour and dogs, including the stray kind, of which me and my parents are usual adopters or feeders. Interestingly enough, our newest dog was sitting in the middle of a road when I my mother drove by on the same day my father got a job offer. She stopped the car to see if the animal was alright, but as soon as she opened the door, the dog jumped right in. Next stop: a new home! And then we sometimes go the extra mile to help lost travels and tourists: several years ago, we drove 15 kilometres just to lead a group of motorcyclists to a nearby main road and, when I was a kid, we invited a Belgium tourist to dine with us, after we led him to the local camping park. Which, come to think of it, may not have been the safest thing to do, since he was a complete stranger, but what the heck. It all went well. I guess there is a reason why my mom loves our domestic shrine to Mercury and says she feels good next to it. Or why I found a 5 Euros banknote on the floor of a crowded canteen by the time the mailman delivered my caduceus pendant; the same 5 Euros I then used to buy a lottery ticket and got a 25 Euros prize out of it. And did I mention that I was born on a Wednesday of May? Yeah…

So this is how or why Mercury came to be such a huge part of my life in just a couple of years. About two months before that started to happen, I added the Egyptian god Khnum to my religious life, for reasons that are completely unrelated to Mercury. Yet the Potter of the Nile did open the flood gates (now there’s a good metaphor for a water god), in that before Him I did not consider worshiping Kemetic gods. I knew they were out there, but they were also outside my cultural focus, which already had to juggle between Roman and Norse pantheons. And this despite the fact that, as a child and I guess like many other children, I had a fascination for ancient Egypt. In fact, the only book I ever borrowed from my high school’s library was on Egyptian mythology. From then until 2011, the only two Kemetic gods that caught my eye were Anubis and Thoth, for obvious reasons: a dog-friend like myself has a hard time resisting a dog-headed deity and the ibis god presides over writing, study and books, which is right up my alley. But, like I said, I never considered worshiping Them, even if They were on the back of my head. Until Khnum opened the gates, followed by Anubis several months later. And now it may be Thoth’s turn… perhaps. I honestly don’t know.

See, I’m increasingly a writer. I’m working on a book right now and there’s a second project down the road. Not to mention the academic papers, which I’m trying to keep at a rate of at least two per year on peer review journals. And when I’m not writing, I’m speaking in public or teaching classes on History and mythology; or publishing posts here. A few weeks ago, as I was writing, Thoth clicked. There’s really no other way of putting this. I wasn’t watching any Egypt-related movie or show, I haven’t been reading on the topic, nor was I working on a text in any way connected. Out of the blue, as I was writing, my mind pointed the lights at Thoth. And just like Mercury a few years ago after the initial seed was planted, He’s been in my head ever since. What I’m going to do about it is yet unclear. It may be an involuntary mental connection, linking a childhood reference with the very action I was doing at the moment. Perhaps He’s saying hi or perhaps it was just my subconscious empathizing with a god I can naturally relate to, with no move from His part.

And then another thought occurred to me: first Mercury, then Anubis and now Thoth… am I on a Hermes trip? Starting with His Roman version, then an Egyptian god He was syncretised with and now another? I wonder…

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This month: October

October was originally the eighth month of the Roman calendar (from Latin octo, meaning eight). The Calends, sacred to Juno, are on the first day, the Nones on the 7th and the Ides, sacred to Jupiter, are on the 15th. The 2nd, 8th and 16th days are considered unlucky. In my personal practice, the first Wednesday of the month is dedicated to Mercury, the 19th day to Minerva and the 21st to Ingui.

October 7: Silvanalia
Despite the fact that Silvanus appears to have been very popular at one time, no festive dates are known. This is not, therefore, an historical celebration. It’s just me trying to get closer to the Roman Lord of Woods and, as such, setting aside a day in His honour. The choice of date was practical and symbolic at the same time: in the northern hemisphere, the tree-planting season goes from late September to early March, so a day anywhere in that period would be a good idea to pay tribute to a tree-god; and since I have almost no festivals in October, I picked the Nones of that month.

Besides a formal ceremony, activities in this day may include offerings to wood spirits – from music to beverage and wreaths – as well as planting trees and volunteer work at a local forest.

October 29: Figularia
The Potter’s Festival (from Latin figulus) is not an historical celebration, but my way of integrating the Egyptian god Khnum in my religious calendar. An explanation of the choice of date can be found here and, just as in these last two years, I’ll be making food offerings to the Divine Potter of the Nile, as well as a clay statue of a ram that I’ll then leave on the banks of a river (e.g. here).