In the ancient Greek city of Pharai there was a
busy market, enclosed by a high stone wall. At the very center of the
market, among the press of grain merchants and fish sellers, was a
rough-hewn statue of the god Hermes, the divine
The Greeks called Hermes “the friendliest of gods to men.”
He is the herald and interpreter for more remote Olympians,
speeding back and forth between the surface world and the spirit worlds
in his winged sandals. He presides over chance encounters and happy
coincidences. He is lord of journeys, the special patron of travelers,
including merchants, gamblers, and thieves. You will often encounter
him in border areas, places of transition: at crossroads, gateways, and
on the road itself. He also presides over the border zone between sleep
and waking–he frequently communicates with humans through dreams and
dreamlike states–and over the liminal zone between the living and the
The oracle of Hermes worked like this:
THE MARKET ORACLE
Around dusk, when business is winding down and the last vendors
are closing up shop, you bring your question to the statues of Hermes.
Your question might range from “Will I be healed?” to “Is my husband
cheating on me?” or “What will be the price of olive oil next
season?”–perfectly appropriate, since Hermes is also the patron of
commerce. All that matters is that your question reflect what is truly
important to you at this time.
You will want to bring some oil for the lamps, to show respect
for the god. You might burn a little incense. But there are no dues to
pay, and no priests to collect them. What is going on here is between
you and the god, one to one, and between the two of you and the world
You have made your modest offerings.
You are ready to approach
the statue. You will speak your question directly into the right ear of
the god. This should be shared with no one else.
Your next step is to stuff your hands over your ears, blocking
out external sounds. You will walk like this all the way to the gate
through which you entered the walled market.
As soon as you have stepped outside the market, you will unblock
your ears. The first words of human speech you overhear will give you
the answer to your question. The words might be a simple yes or no, or
an enigmatic phrase that will set you scrabbling for associations, as
you might do with a fragment from a dream. Whatever you pick up will
relate to your question. You have made sure of that by evoking the
Hermes energy, the power of synchronicity.
Adapted from my book Conscious Dreaming: A Spiritual Path for Everyday Life Published by Three Rivers Press.
Herm of Hermes. Version of Hermes-at-the-Gate by Alkamenes, 5th century BCE. Now in the Istanbul Archeological Museum