Sunday, 8 September 2013

Prayer to Mercury


Earlier this year as I was writing a post entitled Roman Gods, Indian Gods I came across a beautiful hymn (which is included at the bottom of that post) to the Vedic God Pushan, who, as pyschopomp and the God of journeys, roads, prosperity, good luck and cattle (which were equated with wealth in Vedic times, as they were in the earliest Roman times) is either the Vedic manifestation of Mercury or a God very similar to Mercury.* Over time I have adapted it as a prayer to the God whom I honour most (Mercury). It is as follows:

Prayer I
Great Mercurius or whatever name it is that you prefer,
Lord of the path, guide us on our way; go close before us.
Drive away that which would do us harm.
Protect us from deceit, wherever it be.
Wise Mercurius, wonder-worker,
We desire the help that you gave our people in times past.
Lord of prosperity, make wealth easy to acquire.
Make our paths easy to travel, lead us to happy destinations.
May you provide for us and invigorate us.
We praise mighty Mercurius and we seek your goodwill,
May you know the sincerity of our prayer by this incense that is lit,
May it find favour with you.
[based on Rig Veda, Book 1, Hymn XLII]

I have also put together another prayer based on Horace's Ode to Mercury (Horace's Ode is reproduced in full in my post on The Nature of Mercury), which I also use:

Prayer II
Divine Mercurius, who helps us to perceive,
We praise you, the shrewd deliverer,
Who is eloquent and cunning.
May you guide us to happy homes,
And confine trivial arguments.
Grant us humour, great Mercurius,
Who is dear to all the Gods.
May you know the sincerity of our prayer by this incense that is lit,
May it find favour with you.
[based on Horace, Odes, 1.10]

A hybrid prayer is as follows:


Prayer III
Shrewd Mercurius, who helps us to perceive
And is eloquent, wise and cunning.
Guide us on our way; restrain arguments.
Drive away that which would do us harm.
Protect us from deceit, wherever it be.
Lord of prosperity, make wealth easy to acquire.
Make our paths easy to travel, lead us to happy destinations.
We pray that you protect this household,
And that this offering find favour with you.


Mercury by another name?

It is well known that in the ancient world Gods of different pantheons were often equated with each other (in the Religio Romana we call this the interpretatio Romana - Caesar, Cicero and Tacitus are perhaps the most famous Romans to have adopted this approach), with the assumption being that the same (major) Gods manifest differently across cultures. Thus the Germanic God Woden (later to be known as Odin) was equated with Mercury, as was the Hellenic God Hermes and the Egyptian God Thoth. Using the same approach I surmise that the Vedic God Pushan may (possibly) be Mercury by another name - however Pushan is no longer a major God of the Indian pantheon, but Shiva, also known as Pashupati, the Lord of cattle/animals, is (Shiva as we know him today was unknown in Vedic times). The Rig Veda has "Pashupa" (protector of cattle) as a name of Pushan - thus if we are looking for the contemporary Hindu equivalent of Mercury perhaps we need look no further than Lord Shiva himself.

Replica of bronze statue of Mercury (orig. Roman Britain).
Image source: Lucanus, formerly lion-of-krete.deviantart.com 
Roman era statuette of Mercury in silver (orig. France).
Image source: britishmuseum.org
Mercury by Augustin Pajou (c.1780 CE).
Image source: necspenecmetu.tumblr.com


Odin rides to Hel by W. G. Collingwood (b. 1854)
Image source: gs90.inmotionhosting.com

Bronze statue of Hermes the ram-bearer, c 500 BCE (Greece).
Image source: mfa.org


Detail of papyrus manuscript depicting Thoth, c. 1275 BCE (Egypt).
Image source: britishmuseum.org


Contemporary image of Shiva and his sacred bull, Nandi, in rich pastures.
Image source: amritsartemples.in


* Likewise, both Pushan and Mercury are associated with goats.


Written by M. Sentia Figula. Find me at neo polytheistRoman Pagan and on Facebook
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7 comments:

  1. Hi there! I no longer have that deviant art page (lion-of-krete), but happy to see the photo of my Romano-British Mercury figurine on here! I love your blog. Keep up the good work. Sincerely, Leonidas (lion_of_krete at yahoo dot com)

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    1. Many thanks:) I'm very glad you approve of the use of your beautiful image in this post although I'm sorry you're not on deviant art anymore, which I regularly trawl for images. I'm also very pleased you like my blog - I enjoy working on it:)

      Pax et Fortuna

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  2. helo.i am praying to roman gods for some time now.i am also praying to mercury to help me with my university studies.but recently i started to doubt if he can be asked this at all.maybe you can tell me what mercury can be asked?:)

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    1. For university studies I would not forget either Mercury or Minerva. Mercury is a shrewd and opportunistic God renowned inter alia for his written and spoken eloquence - which is surely very useful to many students, but Minerva is the Goddess of skilled thinking and strategy, which are also much needed. As a God of language Mercury is the keeper of knowledge (for we communicate and preserve knowledge through language and writing) but Minerva helps us to skilfully apply our knowledge, perhaps in problem-solving exams for instance, meanwhile Mercury helps us to be convincing and articulate. Hope that helps and Mercury and Minerva look favourably upon you:)

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    2. Thank you for your quick reply:).so i asume that i could ask mercury for improving my speech and writing skills?i will research about minerva and i think i will add her :).Maybe you can also recomend me a good book on roman/planetray gods so i would know better about them and what they can be asked ?:)))

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    3. My pleasure:) Unfortunately I cannot recommend any good books on this topic because, strangely, very few scholarly books offer comprehensive treatment as to deity attributes – instead such information tends to be scattered through the pages of a variety of good books such as Beard et al’s “Religions of Rome 2: A Sourcebook” or in the notes to the Penguin Classics edition of Ovid’s Fasti. For something faster and cheaper you might consider looking to the right side of this blog and clicking on the “Labels / Index of this Blog” (eg, you may find my October 2013 post on “contemporary visions of the divine” a useful quick reference guide) or you might want to Google “Theoi mythology” – this will take you to an excellent website dealing with the Gods from a Hellenic perspective, so it is not Roman but the Hellenic and Roman pantheons have a great deal in common so it is a good starting point. The Deo Mercurio website is quite good for a Gallo-Roman perspective on the Gods.

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