I became caught up in the excitement of it all when I was young, following my mother to her Transcendental Meditation Hindu Voodoo meetings and middle of the forest hippie enclaves. I didn’t do any drugs, of course, I was a kid, but I was into the vibe.
I was a big fan of Greek mythology at the time. I’d turned onto it at the library through Edith Hamilton’s book on the subject. My favorite god was Mercury.
I know that his Greek name is Hermes, and the Romans changed his name to suit their needs, but I like the sound of the word better. So Mercury was, and is, my favorite Greek god, regardless of semantic differences.
I adopted his staff, the Caduceus, as my own emblem, and even have one tattooed on each arm for protection.
Mercury is the messenger god, and the protector of travelers and those in transition. That is his primary metaphoric quality.
It is well known that he is the one that conducts souls to the afterlife.
He has wings on his sandals and hat to enable flying between the various planes of existence – where the gods live, here, the afterlife, wherever.
His staff is wrapped with two serpents and finished with wings.
He is also the god of cunningness in its many forms: business, thievery, mediation.
He has always been the trickster in the various pantheons he’s evolved through, and he is the conductor of dreams, second only to Morpheus in that realm.
He is the grandfather of Ulysses, and symbolic of my affinity for archaic divinity and mystery.
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This next part is about my past, a dream, and a little strange:
Once Upon a Time, when I was seven, my mother left my father and moved with me to the mountains in pursuit of a supposedly more ideal lifestyle. It was a popular thing for hippies to do.
I tried to get along, but most of the other boys were dense or rough, and the greater part of my friends ended up being fellow cub scouts or the sons of Mormons that were trying to convert my mother.
I found comfort in fantasy literature, and occasionally something more complex. I often chose this over engaging with the regular world. I began to dislike anything except escape. I was twelve. My mother became concerned that something wasn’t quite right.
One day one March when I was listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, my father, having cut a deal with my mother, appeared with his car and coerced me to get into it with him. He drove me away from my mother, telling me it was for my own good and that I was going back to the city to live with him. Nobody had even bothered to pack me a bag.
I cried hysterically for hours, huddled in the passenger seat. I was upside-down with myself. And to be honest I never completely righted.
Eventually I sobbed myself to sleep, curled and clinging to the door handle. I could feel the acceleration of the car banking through the sharp curves of the high canyon highway my father was racing along.
And unfortunately I slipped into paralysis instead of dreaming. Curled there, asleep but conscious, not breathing, unable to call out to my father to wake me before whatever was down there came up from dreamland to meet me. Sleep paralysis. I really can’t bring myself to offer a clinical definition.
I felt something slither up through the car seat and enter my spine. It was a snake. And then it was two snakes. Split.
They surged upward, winding around each other, braiding low in my belly. It was erotic, and magic. I remember how it made me think about girls. Oh, God. Girls.
The snakes continued winding until they crossed themselves again, higher. I felt their power and their heat. They opened their eyes. I saw into the ultraviolet depth.
They stretched and grew and wrapped around each other and my heart. They gripped me. Assured me that they would never hurt me, because they loved me.
Their constriction tightened when they reached my throat. I gasped to breathe but I could not. I wanted to say something. Remember, I told myself, that one day a time will come when you need to explain what is happening to you right now.
Finished with my body, they twisted their helix into my mind, behind my eyes. Their mouths opened, their tongues twitched. They whispered that to be is the greatest thing in the universe.
Still they climbed, and when they crossed for the last time at the top of my head, at the edge of where I was and thereafter was no more, each snake changed itself into a fan of feathers and then became light.
I opened my eyes. Thousand-winged Mercury appeared in a flash and then was gone. I was awake.
-By Paul Gomez, Can’t-Drop-That Beat