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Hermes is a Greek god, the son of Zeus and Maia. He is best known for his theft of Apollo's cattle when he was but an infant, an act which has him associated with thieves and cunning. But his charm won over Apollo, who gave him his kerykeion (Latin: caduceus) in exchange for the lyre that Hermes had made.

He is a god of chance and of luck. One method I have known people to use in order to honor him is to place coins on the roof of the car, and drive away, thus scattering the coins randomly throughout the street. Dice are also associated with him. I personally like buy lottery tickets as an offering to him.

Along with being associated with gambling and travel, he is the messenger of the gods and the guide of souls, psychopomos. Many modern Hellenists leave an offering for Hermes before leaving on a long trip. Like Hekate, he is associated with doorways, and herms were usually erected as boundary markers in ancient Greece.

The number four is sacred to him, and the fourth day of the month is celebrated as his birthday.

The ancients saw him as a god of flocks, athletics (particularly running and other sports requiring speed), and fertility. Herms, in fact, were carved with phalloi on them.

Forms of divination associated with him involve either dice throwing or by kledon, which is a form of divination where one shuts one's ears, goes into a busy marketplace, and opens them. The first thing that they hear is the answer to their divination. It is recommended that you leave an offering to Hermes before entering the marketplace. :)

In more modern times, he became to be associated with magic and Hermetic philosophy. It is a fairly reasonable conclusion to make given his job of guiding mortals between the worlds.

About the kerykeion:

The kerykeion is a wingless caduceus and is a symbol of the messenger of the gods. In the symbol, two snakes are wrapped four times around a staff. The symbol has been confused with the Asclepius staff, which is the staff of healing, in the modern day. Its most common form is the caduceus, which is the Roman version of the same symbol.

If you wanted to best represent Hellenismos as a faith, it is my firm opinion that the symbol for us should be the kerykeion. As a symbol of the messenger of the gods, it is extremely appropriate.

Recommended Reading:

  • Hermes: Guide of Souls by Karl Kerenyi
  • Gods of the Greeks by Karl Kerenyi
  • Greek Religion by Walter Burkert
  • Greek Mythology by Fritz Graf
  • The Greeks and their Gods by W.K.C. Guthrie

    For more information on Hermes, please visit the links page.

  • ©2005 by Kyrene Ariadne