The Gifts of Hermes: A Pathworking

This pathworking came out of a one of those periods in life where everything comes into play. The spirits one has the deepest relationships with, dream life, waking life, the events of the world, it all (to use that much overused and ugly word) synchs. It is the whole life equivalent of a flow state. It went on for weeks and came to a head at the moment that Mercury stationed direct after a retrograde period.

This is a not a beginners pathworking. You must already know how to journey and to put yourself into the required light trance to use this effectively. I find the voice of the ‘guide’ in most ‘guided meditations’ to be overbearing and overly prescriptive, so this pathworking is written as a story in the first person.

‘The Gifts of Hermes’ are one of three creatures that you will encounter in the underworld during this working. Strictly speaking though, they are the gift of your ancestors, mediated through Hermes. The working is an opportunity for your deep ancestors to gift you something that has been lost to your line through trauma, history or bad choices. It comes from those ancestors who stand before that loss, whether that is a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand years ago. It may not be immediately apparent what that is, but it is something that will be planted within you to be worked out in weeks and months to come.

Some notes on the pathworking:

The initial descent is down a spiral stair. It is not by accident that this spiral is turning to the left.

Music much enhances this working, particularly for slowing and regulating movement down the stairs which should be very slow indeed. The descent should take as long as it takes but remember you are going to the Underworld not the basement. I have found Max Richter’s ‘Sleep’, from the beginning, to be perfect for both pace and atmosphere.

Your guide into the underworld is clearly Hermes, but it is also a youth called Max. I cannot explain this to you but I hope that Max will offer you some explanation himself.

This is not a pathworking where everything is explained and all the meanings laid out laboriously.

It is only intended that one of the three creatures be ‘encountered’ and brought back from the working. At this point it is clear that there is one paragraph for each of the creatures, depending on what gift is given.

Finally, I can’t recommend enough reading the pathworking numerous times before attempting it in a full-on journey. Familiarity with the pathworking as story will make for a much more profound encounter, and reading in itself will begin the process of making this journey.

If you would like a more printer-friendly version of the text below you can find it here as a pdf.





The Gifts of Hermes.

There is a door in my house that I did not know was there. A door where there was not a door before. I open it and it is dark inside. There is no light switch on the wall and there is a smell of earth that comes out of it and spills into the house where I am standing, it is something like the smell of earth after rain.

Stepping inside I realise that I am on the top step of a spiral staircase made of stone that curves away to the left into the darkness. It is cooler in here than in the house. There is a very faint breath of air rising towards me. In the dark, just where the stairs turn out of sight, there is someone standing with their back to me, as if waiting for me to step down and follow.

The door closes behind me and we are plunged into darkness. I take my first step downwards and, as if anticipating me, the figure in front steps down one t0o. Progress is going to be very slow.

Though there is no light source, I can see the person in front, always just at the point where steps are about to take him our of my view. There is a sense of light from above him, skimming down his back. I am following a beautiful naked youth. The light from nowhere grazes the orbs of his shoulders, the rise of his buttocks, his calves as they flex on each step and his round heels. Every now and again, a slight ruffling sound draws the attention to the feathers, like small white wings that are wrapped around his ankles. He has night black hair, and his skin is pale as paper. I know his name, although it does not matter: he is called Max.

The steps down continue. They are deep steps requiring careful placement of the feet in the dark and the backs of my calves are soon burning. Max continues to lead the way never speaking, nor looking back. His presence is reassuring, and I would never have attempted these steps without knowing he was there leading the way.

It is when I realise that I have lost track of time, when I realise, I do not now know if I have been treading these steps for five minutes, or for a night and a day, that suddenly my feet are together on solid ground. It is hard packed earth, like you might find in the floor of a cave. Instead of steps, now there is a tunnel, cut from rock. It is still dark, very dark indeed. Max’s naked form is still visible a short way down the tunnel but is almost elided into the dark that surrounds him and becomes complete ahead of him. Despite this almost total darkness he steps forward again, upright and completely confident in the way. I follow. Progress is still slow, feeling the walls of the tunnel, and wary lest there is something in the roof for me to crack my head on. This sense of vigilance and hyper-awareness goes on for some minutes, all the while I can see Max just ahead.

Then the sounds of the tunnel change. A hissing sound, an echo to a footstep, my breathing no longer so crushed up against me, as though the air has started to move again. Then the walls disappear and a little light, a low grey glow enables me to see that I am standing on the edge of a precipice. The drop is immense and is soon in darkness. Looking up, I see that I am at a door in the wall of a canyon. Upwards the canyon also appears to go on for ever but I feel that somewhere up there is the light, the upper world that I left behind when I stepped through the strange new door.

In front of me, and Max is already on it, is a narrow bridge. It is two planks of wood wide and has rope railings suspended from occasional poles. It seems solid and dependable. Max’s weight is probably insignificant, but the bridge makes no complaint nor movement has he steps slowly forward. There is water in the air, like a fine mist, enough to make me wonder if it is rain falling from the world above. I step onto the bridge. Is it possible to be both unafraid and terrified at the same time? Our slow walk continues. The mist becomes heavier and the hissing I heard is louder. I am, all the while aware of the sheer depth of the drop beneath me. Soon it is heavy rain and with each step heavier until I become aware that this is not rain at all. This is a waterfall. I am walking through a falling river. It begins to batter at me, and I have to hold tight to the rope guides, the wood is slippery underfoot and I am bent almost double to push through the force of the pounding water. Just at the point I feel it is going to end badly I step through, and I am behind the waterfall, in a tunnel very alike to the one I came from. Max still waits patiently on the path, never turning, never speaking: implacable.

Before carrying on I peel off my clothes and leave them here in a sodden pile behind the waterfall. The air is cool around newly naked skin, and I can feel it won’t take long to be dry again. The tunnel continues and with a renewed determination I follow Max into the dark again.

Eventually there is a little light. It is a blue-grey light with no discernible source, and it reaches its height, which would still best be described as gloomy as the tunnel finally comes to an end. I step out and into a huge cave or hall. It is circular. I am instantly aware of the sensation of being regarded, not just by one but by a host of beings. There may be faces carved into the rock, but it may be that I am just imagining shapes. I have an overwhelmingly strong conviction that this is the Hall of my Ancestors.

Here are not just, in fact maybe not even, the ancestors that I knew or know of, here instead are my ancestors of deep time. These are ancestors whose bones are now stones. They are ancestors who lived a thousand years and a thousand miles from my here and now. They are ancestors whose forms are not human. They are in the walls, and in the air, and in the darkness, they are in the floor and in the wetness that still beads on my skin.

Max has stepped to the far side of the cavern and looks as if he will turn to greet us. But as he turns, he brightens, flares and separates into three balls of light. The lights fly towards me and, over a low stone platform in the centre of the hall they dim and become three creatures.

A mole moves cautiously across the rocky surface of the platform, immune to the darkness through its blindness, but perfectly at home finding its way.

A hare sits alert on the other side of the stone platform, blinking with moon-eyes, looking about but mainly directly at me.

A swallow from the third ball of light is flickering around the hall. In the semi-darkness it is something like a bat in its movements but now and then it is close enough to see the fork and the white flash.



The mole.

After a few moments watching these creatures in this strange environment, the mole begins to move directly towards me. Compelled by its slowness and its determination I step forward and meet it at the edge of the stone. I cup my hands and it pads into them. Holding the mole low, in front of my groin, feeling its almost-not-there weight, the softness of its thick fur, the tickle of its nose I am surprised that it disappears. It evaporates, not into the thin air as the saying goes, rather into my body. I can feel it take up it’s position in my lower abdomen. There is something new inside me.


The hare.

In a flash the hare leaps from the stone platform. It run, joyously in a wide circle around the centre of the hall three times. After its third lap it bolts straight for me. It jumps, legs pushing like a sprung trap and before I could react it flies into my chest. I takes my breath away and now I feel it there, inside me.


The swallow.

Careening around the huge space in the hall the swallow is a marvel to behold. I follow its wild razor-edge turns and pivots as best I can. The sight of it is enough to make my heart swell. Then, without warning it pitches towards me and without slowing or deviating flies as if to go above my head but at the last minute it plummets directly down, through the top of my head and into me.



As the creature returns to me and becomes part of me again, I regain something I had been lost. The other two creatures have vanished, and I am alone in the dark. It is a pitch blackness now without even the light of my guide to shimmer before me, but it feels a warm, sensuous and nurturing dark. I stay a while, simply standing there in the regard of my ancestors. I take time to think on who these beings are, my ancestors. There is a sense of gratitude like a warm fire but, when examined, maybe that feeling is actually love. When I am ready, I simply ask Max to come and get me. Out of the darkness there appears a faint light and I am standing on a spiral staircase going upwards. Above me, perhaps around just one turn on the stairs, the light of the house is filtering down. A few steps and I am back in the house and as I step out and turn around, the door is no longer there. I have returned home.

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