I heard recently that writers tend to choose either Apollo or Hermes as their patron Greek deity. I always thought of myself as an Apollo kind of gal, but I’ve learned a few things about Hermes that might move me into his camp.
We are told that his mother, the nurturing Pleiad Maia that we named our month of May after, noticed signs he was quite the trickster early on when he jumped out of his cradle and ran off to steal his brother Apollo’s cattle.
The story I like best is about Io, the daughter of a local river god, who was pursued by Zeus. Zeus’ wife Hera got mad, turned poor Io into a cow, chained her up, and had Argos the god of war stand guard over her. So Zeus sent Hermes to lull Argos to sleep and free Io. Apparently Hermes was good at that sort of thing—sometimes using music, or in this case, just telling a long boring story and when it put Argos under, Hermes cut off the war god’s head and rescued Io.
Hermes is the patron of travelers and also of the home, which I love since my heart is in both worlds. And adventuring types should know that his name comes from “herm,” which means “stone heap,” like the way travelers still today mark their trails with stones to prove they were there.
And here’s the writer part: he invented the alphabet, and is the patron of language. But he is also the god of musical instruments, possibly creating both Zeus’ lyre and Pan’s flute. Plus he is a sort of diplomat, good at reconciling competing sides. I think it’s all related.
So he is this really clever, well-rounded, likable guy, and maybe most important, he’s the one who escorts people to the underworld after death. I figure, why not get on his good side now?