Sunday, August 17, 2008
There's a theory in some circles that you insure the gods will come through on a request by withholding the offering until after the goods are delivered. This is more true in Christianity and Hoodoo than general modern paganism. Go to Italy and you may see an old woman spitting and cursing a statue of Mary. The local priest will pass this off. "Of course she curses the statue. Her daughter still is not pregnant." A friend of mine once gave a prayer to Saint Expedite, but she made the mistake of giving him the flowers and pound cake before she got the really cool job. When the job went to someone else, the local hoodoo expert asked her, "Why would Expedite work for the job when he already has his cake?" Magical prayer can be a lot like high-school sex.
Last week I lost my bank card. I only lost it for an hour, but that was enough time for me to call the bank and cancel the card. I had to write checks and go without online book purchases for a week. And did you know that Whole Foods does not take checks? I only found that out after I'd unloaded my cart onto the checkout conveyor belt. I let the clerks reshelve my organic golden beets and gluten-free pasta.
Life was going to be a bit rougher for the next few days.
But then I had a brilliant idea. On Friday as I said my morning prayer to Hermes, I realized I could ask him to help. Hermes is a god of business transactions. He makes sure things move. In the divine commerce of gods and men, Hermes delivers the smoke of incense and offerings to Olympus along with praises, prayers and the list of victorious athletes and playwrights. Hermes made the jump to Christianity as Saint Expedite, the patron saint of express mail. My request for a timely arrival for my debit card seemed right up his alley.
I'm not very good at asking for help, and indeed this request seemed a little frivolous. I believe that if you have food, shelter and basic health, the gods figure you are doing just fine. Asking for my new debit card to arrive in a timely fashion so that I could return to my heightened American level of consumption seemed, well, let's just say I would understand if Hermes just rolled his eyes when he heard my prayer.
I told the King of the Rustlers that I understood my request was small, but that it was also a simple thing for a god as great as Hermes. This sounds sycophantic written out in a modern context, but in prayer it's just fact. I told the Many Twisting One that if I got my card that day, I'd pour him a libation and sing his praises at the upcoming theoxenia, a public Hellenic ritual. This second offering was given with a fair amount of dread as I'd been hoping to avoid attending this particular ritual based on past experience.
The card did not arrive.
Well, I thought, I dodged that one. I may not have my bank card, but I also don't have to go to that ritual.
By Saturday morning, however, I decided to try the prayer thing again. There were these really tasty gluten-free protein bars I wanted and the only place that carried them was an online site that charged $4.95 for processing check payments.
I made the same offering to sing the Whisperer's praises at the theoxenia and then remembered that the date of the ritual conflicted with something I really wanted to do. I was torn. If the card showed up on Saturday, rather than having dinner with friends I rarely see, I'd be stuck sitting in someone's living room eating bad potluck and trying to block out the screams of the high priest's hyperactive children.
Thinking quickly (praise Wingfooted Hermes) I amended my prayer. Scratch that earlier offer, I told the god. Instead of singing your praises at the theoxenia, I'll write a piece about you on my blog.
The private libation was still in play. That means I'll have to buy some honey and perhaps a nice Cabernet with the bank card that came in the mail later that day.
I also have to write this blog. The bad ritual would have been torture for an evening, but having to write something carries a higher price. You'll note I haven't written a blog entry in quite a while. It's hard for a writer when the act of writing makes the brain switch into depressed mode. I can journal everyday, but when I write something at all creative, especially something I want people to read, I have a tendency to spend the next few days hating on myself. I have to watch myself for health reasons. This high-risk writer's block is also something I want to overcome so that I can write again. Hermes held out for the more significant offer using the small thing--for him such an easy, simple bit of work--to garner the more difficult offering. More difficult, but also exactly what I needed.
So here's to you, Thrice Great Hermes, Glad-hearted and Glorious. Thank you.
Thought up fresh by Yvonne Rathbone at 11:02 AM