Several months ago, before COVID-19 escalated to pandemic status, I had a work trip to Las Vegas. I had never been to Las Vegas before, and I was oddly fascinated by the idea of this bizarre neon oasis in the middle of a desert. The environmentalist in me is upset that Las Vegas even exists (it’s really not sustainable to transport that much water into a desert), but my playful side was very much excited by the prospect of sparkling lights, unique performances, and general debauchery. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I certainly did not anticipate meeting a new god along the way.
First, let me state that I am not a Hellenic Polytheist. Though I work with Aphrodite, and have had interactions with a few other Greek deities, I don’t have a specific pantheon. For a while, it seemed like every deity I interacted with was from a different culture, to my mild frustration. I remember pouring out offerings one evening and thinking to myself, “Can’t at least some of you be from the same pantheon?!”
I worked with Aphrodite (Greek) and Cerridwyn (Welsh) the most, followed by the Lord of the Wild Woods (who doesn’t seem to have a pantheon proper), with occasional interactions with Ganesha (Hindu) and Sekhmet (Egyptian). Aphrodite is the only deity I actively sought out – the others just seemed to pop into my life. Some stayed (Cerridwyn and the Lord of the Wild Woods), one seems to be an occasional visitor (Ganesha), and another seemed to fade into the background, though I suspect will return at some point in the future (Sekhmet). I am eclectic – not really by choice, but the way deities have presented themselves to me defies any known pantheon organization.
All this to say, I wasn’t really looking for Hermes.
While I was in Las Vegas, I had planned to do some very Aphrodite things like catching a burlesque show, seeing a Cirque du Soleil dance performance, and eating at a famous Italian restaurant that was recommended to me by a friend. Dance is an art that I very much associate with Aphrodite, and taking pleasure in food has started to become a part of my everyday devotion to Her. Since it was a work trip (with several somewhat-mandatory networking events in the evenings), I knew I wouldn’t have a ton of free time, so I didn’t plan any more Las Vegas shenanigans beyond that.
But, this story starts before I even get to Las Vegas.
I was in my local airport, where my flight kept getting delayed due to bad weather at my connecting airport. Things were perfectly fine where I was, but there were tornadoes near the connecting airport. Without thinking, I prayed to Hermes for a safe and speedy journey.
Now, I knew Hermes was the God of Travellers, but I had never prayed to Him before, or called Him in a circle, or really done anything to connect with Him at all. I haven’t worked very closely with any of the other Hellenic deities. AND I’m not a fan of the “1-800-DIAL-A-GOD approach” to Paganism – I firmly believe that you need to establish a good relationship with a deity and honor them before asking anything from them. But this all happened so instinctively and intuitively that I did it without thinking.
I had a mild moment of panic right after my prayer, when I realized I had asked for something without even so much as an offering. I knew that there had to be some reason that I felt called to pray to Hermes in that moment, so I went with it. I made another prayer promising to make Him an offering whenever I got to where I was going. While I was stuck in the airport waiting for my flight, I started doing some clandestine research on my phone whenever my coworker was out of sight.
Frustratingly (but unsurprisingly), there isn’t a whole lot on the internet about modern Pagan worship of Hermes. I found a couple of articles, but nothing that was really helpful. I opened up my search to include more general historical information. Messenger of the Gods, yes… God of Travellers, yes… Walker Between the Worlds, yes… and God of Gambling? I could have sworn I heard a cackling laugh as I scrolled through that page on my phone.
The pieces started to fall into place. I was TRAVELLING to LAS VEGAS – the gambling capital of the United States. Hermes is also associated with transgressing boundaries and social norms, which is pretty common in Vegas.
I was working through all of this when my flight finally started to board. Thank you, Hermes!
I landed at my connecting airport only to discover that my flight to Las Vegas had been cancelled while I was in the air. At this point, I was super annoyed because I had already spent WAY more time in an airport than I wanted to that day, and if my first flight just hadn’t taken off, I could have slept in my own bed and cuddled with my cat! Ugh, why, Hermes? WHY?
I frantically made calls to reschedule my flight for the following day and to get a layover hotel room. As I was waiting for my checked luggage for two hours (only to find that it had gone on to Las Vegas without me), I apologized to Hermes for asking for help without any other acknowledgement.
I didn’t so much hear a voice as I got a general feeling/ a phrase dropped into my head, “I’m not like Aphrodite and I require offerings.” It was very matter-of-fact. Okay, I thought, duly noted.
It was super late by the time I finally discovered I wasn’t getting my luggage. I was so tired when I got to the hotel room, and all of my travel altar supplies were in my checked bag (which had beat me to Las Vegas). So, I had to improvise a little. One of the articles I read said that coins are one of the traditional offerings for Hermes. I fished some coins out of my purse (I was so tired I don’t even remember which ones) to lay them on the nightstand, I said a short prayer honoring Him, and then I promptly fell asleep.
I went to the airport the next day only for my flight to be delayed AGAIN. I eventually discovered the spiritual reason why my flights needed to be delayed (other than to teach me patience…), though I was still a little annoyed. Finally, I was on my way to Las Vegas!
Las Vegas is WILD, y’all. The first time I really got to walk around the city was during lunch on my second or third day there. EVERYONE was daydrinking. And not even casually daydrinking – they were walking down the middle of the street with giant frozen daiquiris. Like almost a quart of alcohol. There were topless women around every corner, scantily clad in feathers or sequins or both, who would let you take pictures with them for money. I passed a restaurant called, I kid you not, Eggslut.
At night, everything was lit up. It was so bright I had a hard time believing it was actually nighttime. The whole city was extravagant and over-the-top. And there was this wild energy to it – wondrous, joyous, mischievous, and debaucherous.
That energy wasn’t just from the people (though they were definitely putting off similar energy) – this was Otherworldly. I’m still not sure what kind of spirits live in Las Vegas, but I had not encountered them before and have not encountered them since.
Some of that energy was also Hermes. I didn’t sense Him all the time, but He was definitely there.
The night I finally arrived in Las Vegas, I set up a small altar in my room. I had brought tealight candles to light for Aphrodite for my stay there, but now the tealights were evenly distributed between Her and Hermes. I set up Aphrodite’s candle and accoutrements on the left side, and Hermes’ candle on the right. It was a nice feeling to finally have a feminine and masculine deity from the same pantheon on my altar.
In my day-to-day practice, I don’t really work with the divine masculine too much. The Lord of the Wild Woods seems to play by His own rules, and has never really asked for much in the way of an altar. I honor Him in many other ways, but He would much rather meet me in the forest than visit an elaborate altar set up.
Along with the candle, I also placed an offering of coins on Hermes’ side of the altar – one of each denomination I had (US quarter, dime, nickel, and penny). I don’t know why this was important, but it is what I needed to do. I have also done this since, and now it is my standard procedure for coin offerings.
I lit His candle (along with Aphrodite’s) every night I was in Las Vegas, and said a prayer of honor and thanks. It was still several days before I finally felt Him – distinct from the other energy swirling around Las Vegas.
My first real tangible sense of Hermes was during my one free night in Vegas. Every other night, I had a work event planned, so I had to squeeze all of my Las Vegas fun into one evening. I realized by Day Two that I wasn’t going to have time to see both a burlesque show and a Cirque du Soleil performance, so I compromised. I went to see Zumanity, which is the raunchiest show Cirque du Soleil offers.
I originally wanted to see it in honor of Aphrodite (as well as for myself – my own personal interests just so happen to align pretty closely to Aphrodite’s… Imagine that!) And I still did. But by the end of the performance, I knew Hermes was there.
The show itself was delightful. It opened with the performers waggling dildos at the people in the front row and trying to give sex toys to some very embarrassed couples. There was nudity. Lots of it. The performance explored many stages and types of physical love – from the innocence of a first kiss and the tender caress of a bare breast to kinky acrobatics hanging from the ceiling in chains to an artistic quasi-orgy as the finale. There were elements of burlesque and striptease (for both male and female, I am happy to say). There were gravity-defying acrobatics. And the whole show was hosted by a drag queen. It was great.
I can feel Aphrodite pretty much all the time, and I definitely felt Her at the beginning of the show when I said a little prayer in dedication to Her. Part of the way through the performance, I felt something else. Similar to that wild energy I had encountered in the city before, but more concrete. Whatever this energy was, it was enjoying the show just as much as Aphrodite was. Hermes had come to play.
The only other time I distinctly felt Him was my last morning in Las Vegas. I was running back and forth between work stuff and trying to get my room packed up for my flight back home. I was headed to the elevator when I stumbled upon a lone Nerf gun dart in the hallway. No one around. No other darts around. Just one lone dart, a mischievous reminder of some fun that had occurred during the night.
As I got into the elevator, I heard a male voice in my head say “IT’S ABOUT TIME!” and my brain was immediately flooded with a web of connections. Hermes is the God of Messengers and Communication. His Roman name was Mercury. I am a talkative and inquisitive Gemini, the star sign ruled by the planet Mercury. Gemini is also an air sign, and Air represents communication and inspiration. (Side note: I’m still not 100% sure I believe in all astrology, but I definitely did as a baby Pagan. I got indoctrinated out of it by my scientific training, but it was one of my gateways into magickal things, so some of it still resonates with me.)
It’s about time… – Did this mean Hermes had been trying to get my attention before, and I hadn’t picked up on it? Had He been present in my life? For how long? Why was He teasing me about just now acknowledging Him? The answer to those questions were Yes, Yes, At Least Since University, and Because He Thinks It’s Fun, though I wouldn’t find out those answers for another couple of months.
So that, my friends, is how I met Hermes in Las Vegas. I’ve been exploring a relationship with Him for the past few months, and it has definitely been an experience. I discovered that I had gotten very comfortable in my spirituality and that adding a new god into the mix is making things interesting. He keeps me guessing, which can make it difficult for me to know what to do.
But I think that’s how He likes it.