The Magic of Mercury, our psychopomp to our subconscious

THIS VIDEO IS ALL ABOUT my shamanic and alchemical experiences of the god Mercury, and the understanding of the Mysteries he has inculcated of in me, over time.

But if you prefer to hear about it in an article, then please just read on:

Mercury’s presence in my life has been so all-encompassing for so long now. So I feel a bit like an ant who’s been given the job of describing Mount Everest, and I have a horror of damning him with faint praise.

But one thing I know for sure is that Mercury always inspires my pen and my voice.  He is the smith to my wordsmith.   He is the key to my keyboard.   He is the wright to my playwright.  If he wasn’t, I would be playing wrong…and clueless.

To me, any content – whether written or spoken – without his guidance, is just fruitless word salad verbiage.   If it doesn’t touch anyone’s heart; it doesn’t move anyone… and so there is no growth, only death.

Mercury may be the smallest planet in our solar system but in terms of spiritual guidance, he certainly packs a punch.

I’ve come to the view that without Mercury, there is no joy, no vivacity, no play, no fun, no ecstasy, and no merriment … a word that comes from him.

Otherwise, the mills in the heavens would just grind on and on endlessly… and to what purpose? Well, when Mercury appears, dancing out there on the starry rim, suddenly there is a reason again – he is the catalytic fuel that sparks  life.

When my daughter was young, I used to sing to her the following ditty… you probably know it…

Row row row your boat, 
Gently down the stream,
Merrily merrily merrily merrily, 
Life is just a dream.

So much wisdom packed into those four short lines!

The ‘merrily’ part, of course, is Mercury who always appears as the boatman to guide us down the stream.   He is the ferryman in so many ancient myths and rhymes and songs. He is the psychopomp, the mediator between the humans in this world and the gods in the Other Worlds.

So as the boatman,  he ferries the mythological hero down into the Underworld – the subconscious mind – where he meets the gods who present with his own Shadow during the Dark Night of the Soul.

For instance, Urshanabi is the Mercury who takes Gilgamesh in his boat down the Waters of Death, into the Underworld.   And then when this Sumerian hero has passed all his trials down there, and won the Hallows, Urshanabi rows him out again, back to his human life on Earth.

He is Anubis, the navigator of the huge solar barge of the Egyptian King Khufu that was found in the Great Pyramid at Giza, and which is thought to be about 4,000 years old.

He is the Greek Charon, the ferryman who conducts the souls of the dead across the River Styx to Hades.

That is how Mercury has always been to me … my boatman, although it took me most of my life to recognise him. He was so hidden, so engrained down deep into my subconscious mind, that I was oblivious to him.  

But I’d sometimes catch him, peeping out with a lop-sided grin from behind an oak tree, or from under a mushroom, or as I came to realise over time, beaming out through the eyes of everyone I’ve ever loved.

We feel Mercury in our hearts during the merriment of the month of the May – the quicksilver love that sparks fertility again after the land has stood frigid and hard as iron for many a cold moon.

I call it Mother Nature’s alchemical hijack – she is so determined in her intent to bloom that she has no respect for our social taboos regarding such, and she can cause the most unlikely pairings to occur.

But when the sap is rising in the greenery and blooming into sweet, fragrant blossoms, the sap is also rising up our loins and blooming into sweet, fragrant love… and it’s this love that keeps the world going round.

That’s when we see Mercury in his green livery as Jack-in-the-Green or Robin Goodfellow.

We also Mercury in his trickster aspect as Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You’ll probably remember how Puck whizzes around the forest as fast as Mercury whizzes around the Sun, dropping Eros’s love potion, willy-nilly, all over the place and causing quite a merry dance among the players.

It makes the fairy queen fall madly in love with an ass-headed human… …which may seem strange, but if you listened to my last video on sacred shamanic sex, you’d know that if fairy queens didn’t fall in love with ass-headed humans, the Earth would become a desolate wasteland… as the Rosicrucian writer who called himself Shakespeare describes to us here:

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain, as if in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea, contagious fogs which, falling in the land, have every pelting river made so proud that they have overborne their continents. 

The ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke in vain. The ploughman lost his sweat,and the green corn  hath rotted ere his youth attain’d a beard;  The fold stands empty in the drowned field and crows are fatted with the murrion flock;   

The nine men’s morris is fill’d up with mud and the quaint mazes in the wanton green, for lack of tread, are undistinguishable. 

The human mortals want their winter here; no night is now with hymn or carol blest: therefore the moon, the governess of floods, pale in her anger, washes all the air, that rheumatic diseases do abound ...

Life really is so often like this Shakespearean drama, in which our eyes are veiled to the Mysteries, as much as Titania’s were veiled by Puck’s love potion, and we remain in blindness to its true nature until our boatman comes along in what the ancient Vedic Indians called maya, or illusion.  But we need to be reminded of it, regularly.  

As I’ve said before, we are like people with dementia.   We walk into rooms with purpose and then stop, because we can’t remember why we’re there. In our ass-headed human form, we have no recollection as to why we took incarnation here, let alone remember to call on the boatman.

Henry Fuseli,Titania and Bottom, Google Art Project

So the vessel of our subconscious mind tosses up and down on the stormy, wind-driven waves of comedy and tragedy, and we can get a bit seasick, although we don’t know why.

Talking of the sea, you will know I’m sure, that the word sea in French, is la mer.  It comes from the Latin mare, meaning’ briney water’.   But it goes back again to Mercury who guides all trade, transport and communications.

At the time when the secret priestly language of Latin was being constructed, all such commerce was conducted across the sea routes.   So many of our associated words, that are derived from Latin, go back to this navigator across the waters, such as merchant, mercantile and mergers, and markets and marine.

Mercury is also the playwright of the masquerade of the Commedia dell-Arte, in which he appears as the Harlequin or Juggler.  

Harlequin Circus by Quim Abella and Joaquin Abella

In the Tarot, he is the number one card, the Magician… in other words, Mercury is the first character that the Fool meets as he sets out on his hero’s journey.

And it’s just as well because no dragon was ever slain, no damsel in distress ever rescued, without the supernatural aid of Mercury.

Another Mercury word, derived from the Latin, is mercy, and so it’s no coincidence that it turns out to be the crux, and the redeemer of the knot of the situation in another well-known Shakespeare play, in which the beautiful Portia speaks these words.

The quality of mercy is not strained. 
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.
It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. 
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes the thronèd monarch better than his crown. 
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, the attribute to awe and majesty wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; 
But mercy is above this sceptred sway. 
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings; 
It is an attribute to God Himself; And earthly power doth then show likest God's when mercy seasons justice.

That’s from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice… which by the way, is not called the Trader of the Venice, the Peddler of Venice or even the Vendor of Venice … which would have given these writers some nice alliteration… no, it is the Merchant of Venice, because it is a tale about Mercury and mercy.

And so we learn from the portal of Portia’s lips that the quality of genuine mercy is not strained; it is true, and a cosmic truth because  the divine grace of spiritual mercy is, in effect, the ambrosia from the abundant cornucopia of the gods, and in particular, Mercury. And so it is his mercy mainly that I experience Mercury’s interventions in my life.

It usually take me ages to realise that I’m stuck.  But in the end, he just takes pity on me struggling to get my sail up in a hurricane, or trying to bail out my flooded vessel with a tiny teaspoon.  He helps me to let go and hand it all over to him… even if he has to sometimes trick me into it!

In France, the French have named their days of the week after Roman gods, so their Wednesday is mercredi, the day of Mercury, and it is best to appeal to him at dawn on that day.

But I don’t call him in the name of Mercury and perhaps you’ll allow me to explain about that because you may find it useful in your own practises.

Well, if you go back further than the Roman occupation – and believe me, you’ll need to if you want to find the seedbed of magic and mystery – our culture derives from the stories of the Scythians of what is now the Russian Steppes. They migrated through the Caucusus mountains, and then fanned out across Europe and Scandinavia, after the melting of the glaciers at the end of the last major Ice Age.

These Scythians are the earliest ancestors of those of European and Scandinavian stock, and that’s why we are called Caucasians.

Some went to Norway, Finland and Sweden, and their name for Mercury was Odin.   But those who became the Germanic peoples called him Woden, and so that’s where we get our Wednesday from … it’s Woden’s day.

 But to the Welsh, he was Gwyddion,  and herein hangs a tale… it’s just a short one, I promise, about how I finally met Mercury.

ONE DAY, I was on a shamanic journey in which I travelled through the veil into Avalon. And there I came upon a huge standing stone covered in scribbled fairy glyphs that were barely visible under the green moss that had layered itself over them, over time.

I heard a beautifully haunting melody.   I started to hum it to myself, and those notes turned out to be an open sesame key.   A door swung open in the fairy stone, and so I walked inside.There was nothing much in there… it was just an empty room.  But then …three tall elven men appeared, wearing high, blue crowns that glistened like the sea.

I jumped then and got a bit flustered. I realised I had no clue why I was there, in what was obviously their room, it was now turning out, and so I had no excuse for trespassing. But then one of them just chuckled and said: “It’s OK.”

And so I felt more confident when I saw that his face was gently wreathed in laughter lines and his eyes were shining with intelligence and humour.  So I relaxed. Then I saw that he had a thick, leatherbound volume in his left hand and he was holding it open at a certain page, to show me a poem.   I looked, and there at the beginning of the second line of the second verse, was my name printed.

Then he said:  “We wanted to show you that just as you tell stories about us, we tell stories about you.”

It wasn’t long after that I learned the name of this elf.  He was Gwyddion, the Welsh Mercury, and the other two men with him, were his brothers Govannon and Gilfaethwy.

They were the Children of Don, the starring characters in a whole series of myths that have come down to us as the Mabinogion.

Now it may seem strange to hear me talking about fictional play actors as if they actually exist … but I wouldn’t be the first writer to realise that her characters already have life in the Other Worlds. They are often in shadowy, skeletal form and require from the ink of the scribe’s pen some blood to revive them into a more material lifeform.   And then they can come to life through  plotlines that follow the wisdom teachings that had provided the architecture of these plays and poems with their scaffolding thousands of years before the Roman era. It’s a sort of rehabilitation job, if you like.

And so, over a number of years, Gwyddion guided me in the writing of The Glastonbury Chronicles.

This is a series of three fictional books which weave back together those Welsh myths as I believe they were originally composed. The scaffolding of those volumes charts the eternal love story of the twin souls, Gwyddion and Arianrhod, which goes through many ups and downs – lifetime after lifetime, worlds within worlds – just as our lives do here on Earth and for the same reason.

The play of our life becomes a tragedy when we develop misunderstandings that are founded on ignorance of who we truly are.   They are derived from a common consensus that have come about through false religions, science or politics, which is really all the same thing. We can only remember who we really are by going down into our own Underworld, our subconscious minds, and for that, we need the boatman.

In the first book, The Dragon Whisperer’s Son, Arianrhod doesn’t recognise the great love between her and Gwyddion, because she is blinded to it by the social morays of the time. Over the course of the series, Gwyddion helps Arianrhod through her trials in the Underworld, which, in effect, weave back her conscious mind to become one again with her subconscious, and this makes her whole again, so that she can remember who she is.

All this is described in Chapter One of The Dragon Whisperer’s Son – just click on the link to read it.

But at the end of the day, self realisation is the answer to every question; it is the solution to every problem; it is the healing balm to every disease.

In writing The Glastonbury Chronicles, I have become so much closer to the Welsh Mercury, Gwyddion, and so it is this practical experience that is inspiring my words to you here.  

So to conclude, I’ve realised over time that we need to rely on Mercury’s quality of unstrained mercy to progress spiritually … and that we need to rely on it a lot! The challenge is to remember to remember to ask for help, something, for some reason, I’ve always found hard to do. I think we were all brought up to be independent and self-sufficient, but that is just delusion – a delusion that we are alone and that no help is coming.

We cannot live our lives successfully without relying on the mercy … not of the strangers of The Streetcar of Desire, but on the gods and goddesses, the overlighting spirits who, far from being strangers, have always been with us, waiting to be asked… so don’t be a stranger…to them anyway.

The Dragon Whisperer’s Son is available here on Amazon and all good online bookstores.

Or you can read the first chapter HERE.