Image of Mercury as he appeared to me in February of 2015
A yellow-orange figure with wings sprouting from his head. He has large orange eyes which his orange helmet cannot contain. His arms are held tight to his body, one hand clutches a book and the other is open like a claw. A billowing garment hangs from his waist, concealing one leg, the other boasts a winged ankle.
This image was at once one of the most clear and one of the least surprising: active, winged, and helmed, he strongly resembles many traditional images of Mercury and Hermes, though he lacks the Caduceus.
On the Spiritus Mundi mailing list, Christopher Warnock often complains of the way in which Mercury retrograde seems to have been chosen as a New Age scapegoat: along with Luna Void-of-Course, it seems to have absorbed all the “negativity” and malific influence that was (traditionally) ascribed to numerous planetary aspects and interactions. Although I have only a little more interaction with the New Age community than I have with traditional astrologers, I can definitely see this dynamic at work. Rufus Opus has talked about the magical “storms” associated with bad astrological “weather” like Mercury retrograde in the context of his Hermetic practice.
For myself, I have an interesting relationship with Mercury in general and the retrograde period in particular. You see, while I’ve seen everyone else scrambling around me trying to deal with unanticipated communication, computer, and travel related disasters, I’ve never personally experienced any difference. I’ve never noticed periods of my magic backfiring, only to later discover that Mercury was running backwards. I kind of thought it might just be that New Age hooey. Specifically, I thought that people were just more self-conscious about the sorts of disasters they were already living with every day—you know, just like I was.
Then I discovered that I was born under Mercury retrograde.
Although I don’t have hard data to compare to, and I’m still dealing with the fallout in a lot of ways, I do feel that the Venus talisman and tincture I made in preparation for that retrograde period helped me get through relatively unscathed. So, in anticipation of the upcoming Mercury retrograde, Aradia and I decided to put together some talismans along similar lines.
Now, in a magical fantasy world where we’re planning further than two weeks ahead, we’d have done that a week or so ago, before the “pre-retrograde period” I keep reading about. In that same magical fantasy world, though, sticking to one’s daily practice would be fun and easy, not real effort, and I would already have fixed everything that’s wrong with my brain years ago.
I like to work during the Hours of Night. Unfortunately, this is the wrong time of year for that. We printed out the templates and started casting our circle just as the Hour of Mercury came this past Tuesday—taking advantage of the waxing, near-full Moon, rather than waiting on the Day of Mercury—and were barely able to suffumigate the charms, incant the Orphic Hymn to Hermes, and light the offering candles before the Hour had ended. As with the Venus retrograde, we made a planetary incense blend to suffumigate, and then used the excess to make a tincture as a backup/battery for the talismans. We also recharged the safe-travel talisman I made with Sannafrid shortly before making the road trip from Sunrise to KC.
I look forward to seeing how well they help. We should probably have made a separate talisman for Aradia’s workplace; we should definitely do so before the retrograde gets much closer.
The contents of this post will come as no surprise to people who’ve been working with talismanic magic longer than I have. Nor, possibly, to people whose studies have been shorter but more organized than mine. Maybe my learning curve is a little shallow, or maybe I just haven’t read the right sources yet, or maybe it’s this trial-and-error for everyone and they never talk about it.
The negotiations went better than I ever could have imagined. I was able to convince the responsible parties of the harm done, of the necessity and appropriateness of a formal and public apology. The meeting went well enough, in fact, that my desire to become actively involved in the festival and the HSA has been renewed. This post isn’t actually about that, though. That post will come later. This post is about the talismans.
When I got back to Aradia’s apartment, I put the talismans back on the altar and thanked them verbally, as well as making an offering of incense and a candle. Prior to this, the Jupiter and Venus talismans had been “fading” some: although I could still feel their effects I my “sphere” (to use the Hermetic terminology), they felt wan and then to my magical senses. When I lit the candle and incense, all four talismans erupted with power. The Jupiter and Venus talismans now “feel” almost as strong as they were when I first made them. I’m not really sure how to parse the changes I feel in the Moon talisman, or what to do with the Mercury talisman whose highly specialized task has been achieved.
I will be thanking the Jupiter and Venus talismans again at their appropriate hours this afternoon. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.
1 – Please don’t judge me on the source. It’s the only pretty version of the seal that I can find.
I disassembled my Yesod Altar last night and built up an altar representing the powers of Mercury in Hod. This, of course, is a part of my ongoing studies in Western Ceremonialism.
I chose last night to do it, in part, because I wanted to upgrade the talisman I’ve been using to help with my studies in Ancient Greek.
Then I remembered (again) that Mercury is still retrograde, and that not only is any magic a bad idea, but that Mercurial magic specifically directed at communication was an exceptionally bad idea.
The results from my last experiment were less than ideal. To say I haven’t slept right since would be an exaggeration, and imply a causal connection that is probably better attributed to a combination of school-stress and the manic side of SAD exacerbated by unseasonable weather. In this wake of this, a friend pointed out that perhaps Mercury Retrograde and the Vernal Equinox (the former in general and the combination in particular) were not the best time to be fucking with shit if I didn’t want to break my brain (again). I decided he was right, and have pretty much set aside all my experiments in favor of some basic aura maintenance and Yoga. This is probably the best decision I could make, because I really do feel a lot better after another rest.
But I’m starting to get antsy. That’s, again, at least party the unseasonable weather and the inevitable energy burst of spring. But I’m hot to get back into the magic. This isn’t βούλομαι—a rational wish or desire. This is ἐπιθυμεω (longing desire) bordering on ἐραω (love+lust).
I have always been drawn to magic; the more I do it, the more I lust after it.
I cant wait for Mercury to turn direct so I can get back to work.