Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of February 15th - February 21st,  2002

Curious about Hermes

Columns Archive


   Last week we related a myth about the birth of Hermes,

Gemini has a number
of dualistic images

the Greek equivalent and model for the Roman Mercury. What is being woven into the fabric of the story are truths about the nature of this planet, and of how the pagans perceived it.

   People that have either Mercury or Gemini strong in their charts are precocious. Their mental acumen is apparent at an early age. If either of these energies are strong and are not compromised by hard aspects, then the ability to comprehend what they are being told and to figure things out can be quite pronounced. In the myth this is demonstrated by the young god's growing to the size of a small child within a matter of minutes, and then climbing out of his crib so that he can invent the first lyre and learn to play it! Unfortunately, the mind is a good servant but a poor master. When the mind is in charge, a certain rational analysis sets in which rules out factors such as faith, spirit, and karma. Mercury's philosophy is generally to try and out-think other people, and in this arena they excel. The problem is other factors could wind up eventually influencing the final outcome.

   We witness these mental gymnastics when Mercury decides that he is going to steal Apollo's cattle. His ingenuity is strong. By making natural boots for the cattle out of bark and grass he is able to hide their tracks and therefore (so he thinks) prevent anyone from following the cattle and discovering who took them, or where they went. When he is challenged by Apollo (who discerned the author of the outrage through his own gift of prophecy) with the theft of the cattle, Hermes attempts to use his youth as a guise, arguing that he is far too young to have perpetrated the crime. When brought before Zeus (Jupiter), the moral authority of heaven, he is asked his identity. Once again, his verbal elusiveness attempts to slip the noose by playing off of Zeus's comments.

Thoth, the Egyptain Mercury

The Egyptian Thoth was related
to Mercury, although associated with the Moon

   "Zeus frowned and asked: 'Who are you, little boy?

   'Your son Hermes, Father,' he replied. 'I was born yesterday.'

   'Then you must be innocent of this crime.'

   'You know best, Father.'"

   This is typical Gemini, even today, although the myth is well over two thousand years old. Intellectually realizing that the jig is up, Hermes then tries to rationalize his way out of the situation.

   "'I was too young to know right from wrong yesterday,' explained Hermes. 'Today I do, and I ask your pardon.'" When the communicational scenery changes, the Gemini, or someone with a strong Mercury, will change right along with it.

   For those who study the myths in earnest, it is obvious that variations on a theme can be found over and over again, with either different versions of the same myth, or similar themes turning up in different myths that appear to have derived from a single source. Because Mercury was the God of Thieves, we find a very similar myth being told two weeks ago in the myth about Hercules and Cacus, a famous thief who stole some of the hero's cattle, disguising their trail by dragging them backwards. But whether it is Cacus, a thief, or Hermes, the Lord of Thieves, they all bring back to mind an old adage.

   "You can always tell a Gemini, but you can't tell them anything."


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