The Mercury Retrograde last month worried me. Sometimes, I don’t even notice Mercury Retrograde; other times, it has a more dramatic effect, such as my car accident of 2012. This retrograde had some other volatile astrological factors that I felt would turn up the heat (two eclipses, Saturn issues, among others).
So, like, literally the day the retrograde started — nothing like preparing beforehand, right? — I decided to do something about it. I decided to propitiate a Mercurial Deity* for protection during the Mercury Retrograde time frame.
The thinking is this: during Mercury Retrograde, it appears that the planet Mercury is moving backwards. An analog for that would be Mercury moving downward instead of upward, or Underworld-wise instead of Heaven-wise. So some people work with Mercurial Deities in their forms as psychopomps or Underworld gods during the retrograde period.
I decided to work with the God Hermanubis from the Greco-Egyptian period, because I already have a relationship with Anubis, who takes on a partial Mercurial role within the Egyptian pantheon, and that would make it easier to “bond” with the Greek “Hermes” aspect of this Deity.
Formulating my plans, I made a list of what I needed for the Work:
- An image, sigil or other visual focal point
- A black candle, preferably long-lasting, or a white jar candle that I could decorate
- Some kind of potion for anointing the candle, myself, and objects of travel and communication
- An invocation
- A mantra. I do a fair amount of Deity work via mantras, which do triple-duty as (1) mental foci for me, (2) extended invocations, and (3) offerings to the Deity via time, breath, voice, and attention.
- A suitable incense
What I had at home fit most of these needs:
- access to a brand new translation of the Orphic Hymns for Hermes Chthonios. (“Chthonios” means “of the Earth or the Underworld” and refers to Hermes as He leads souls to the land of the dead.)
- access to other prayers to Hermanubis via the Internet and my library
- “black” storax, the incense substance associated with Hermanubis. Actually, I didn’t have black storax; I had an aged tincture of sweetgum leaves and balls. Sweetgum is Liquidambar styraciflua, a source of storax. Since my liquid looked black and smelled like storax I deemed it good enough.
- myrrh oil, black bog oak, obsidian, and other items for a Hermanubis anointing potion – lots of tables of correspondences are online if you need them
- an unused black vigil candle
- cedarwood incense
I prepared a potion with the “black storax” liquid, myrrh oil, and some herbs and small crystals and used it to anoint the candle and myself. I drew a simple sigil for Hermanubis based on the common Mercury planetary symbol ☿ and glued it on the outside of the black seven-day candle. Finally, I searched for invocations and ended up adapting one from Gordon White’s The Chaos Protocols (which he adapted from the Greek Magical Papyri):
O high one, O mighty one, O master
of secrets for those in the Underworld,
O Pharaoh of those in Amenti, O Chief Physician, O Good
Son of Osiris, he whose face is strong among the gods.
You appear in the Underworld
before the hand of Osiris.
You serve the souls of Abydos in order
that they live through you, these souls,
the ones sacred to the Underworld.
You are Anubis. You are Hermes. You are the one
who went forth from the heart of the great
Agathodaimon, the father of the father of all the gods.
And receive my offering and praise
Hear my prayer, Great One, and look with favor upon my petition!
It took me a couple of hours to get everything together. I began the work the evening of July 8, and kept it up most days until the retrograde was over, August 1.
Every day I lit the candle, read the prayer, gave water and incense as an offering, and chanted the mantra. The most important part of the working actually was the mantra. I chanted 99 repetitions of the mantra, “Io Hermanubis, Dua Hermanubis.” (“Io” and “Dua” are Latin & Egyptian words that mean “hail, praise, joy.” I already use those words in other contexts so I was familiar with them. “Hail Hermanubis, Praise Hermanubis” would have been a very good alternate mantra.) I always ended the Rite by asking for protection from the baneful effects of Mercury retrograde for me, my husband, my pets (by name), and my household. You gotta ask these things.
The first week, I was very strict about the practice. I wanted it to “take.” When the vigil burned out, I substituted other black candles. As the weeks went on, there were some nights I didn’t do the rite, and others where I chanted the mantra in bed before I went to sleep. This was okay; I could feel that the connection, the current of Power was still there. Sometimes I chanted the mantra in the car or out in town. When the retrograde period began to draw to a close, I went back to the full rite because retrograde effects are often worse at the beginning and the end of the period. The full rite took about 20 minutes to do.
So how did it work? I think it worked great. We had no car problems, no computer or phone problems, no problems with warranties or contracts or paperwork or major appointments, no buyer’s remorse, no accidents. We experienced none of the weird chaos that these periods can bring.
There was an unexpected revival of good energies from the past – classic Mercury retrograde in its beneficial form. We visited pleasantly and productively with an old friend and Eternal Harvest tradition member whom we had not seen in 8 years. We also heard from an old acquaintance we hadn’t talked to in 19 years.
It was not a 100% problem-free period. One of my cats had a hypoglycemic crisis — and while he could have died, and it was stressful, what it meant was that he is cured: he is no longer diabetic! Plus he got a shot at the vet that has cleared up (at least for now) another long-standing health issue that affected the quality of his life. He’s healthier now than he has been in years. Healing for him was something I included in my prayers; those prayers have been answered abundantly.
There was a minor printer glitch which led to necessary corrective action (i.e., buying a damn printer cover so dog hair and dust wouldn’t get in it). I missed one appointment with a friend because I didn’t write shit down. And, without going into detail, there was a “bad communication” incident involving my household which it was quite stressful; however, it also led to necessary actions that seem to be bearing beneficial fruit.
I pretty much got what I asked for: protection from the kind of disasters with technology and transportation, purchases, foggy thinking, and other Mercurial mayhem. The bad things that did happen were few and either mild or provided beneficial corrective action.
Moreover, three weeks of sustained contact with Hermanubis was good for my soul. I feel close to Him now, and have made reverence to Him part of my normal altar work.
Modern astrology does not teach remedies for planetary problems. However, this was a huge part of the old astrology, and still is in Vedic astrology. Western astrologers are beginning to learn about these things as we revive and reclaim our occult heritage. This is something I hope to learn more about in the future.
*Mercurial Deities are ones that are associated with travel, with communication – both spoken and written-, with magick, and with commerce. They are sometimes the “messengers” of other Deities. In modern times they would be linked to all modes of transportation and to all communication devices, including computers, routers, TVs, phones, and associated devices. Sometimes they are guides who lead souls to and from the Underworld. Sometimes they are the ones who “open the way” for magick and for speaking to other Gods. Pretty much every pantheon has one or more Deities that fulfill Mercurial functions. This doesn’t mean they’re all the same; it merely means that you probably have an ally or two within your practice to Whom you can turn for help during Mercury Retrograde.