Hermes - Hestia - Notes on Hermetic Intoxication

Notes from James Hillman's benefit lecture for the Joseph Campbell, Maria Gimbutas library, Spring 1997

Christine Norstrand

Hermes is part of the dominant myth of the millennia. Myth of The Future. They myth behind Hermes is millennial thinking.

Modern psychology only belongs to a Christianized west. Others have different myths. Mohammed and nomads and tribes. Have same calendar but their worlds do not threaten the end of time because times does not begin for them with Jesus Christ. "What comes next?" is part of the Christian plan so it belongs to us.

In this context, two movements, both with seeds in Jung:

  1. Jung-relativizing the ego. Christian is only one of many orientations, rather than the ultimate reality. Futurism is a Christian projection. The western mind cannot speak for the whole world, just as the ego cannot speak for the entire psyche. Little value of this basic mythic outside of our culture.

  2. Global variety is second movement. In the air we breathe, the light we see by. Personality, the idea of personality.

    Basic to our collective consciousness is global awareness, multiculturalism, multinationalism, the world wide web of the internet are superficial to the underlying sense of futile identity, borderlessness. Diffuse borders and undermining effect on personality and identity. Borderline Personality Disorder rampant -- lost of personal certitude, lack of self definition, lack of borders.

    Globalism and futurism (lack of borders) translate to hostile attack against what is breaking in. Cults - extensions of same ego, the like-mindedness of cults.

Ego deconstruction by globalism. Invokes reactionary responses: xenophobia, genocide...

Jung - regressive restoration of persona. Return to status quo ante.

Mythic consciousness of Hermes - wears the cap of invisibility, winged thoughts. Globalism = an overdose of Hermes.

Monotheism of Hermes holds in thrall. Instrumentation. Technologicial obsolenscence in 8 months.

Hermes rules the stock market. More people in the market than ever. 37% of population of the U.S. owns shares. Scams, laundering, thefts, surreptitious moves that the government cannot control.

Saturn - used to control money. Hermes - money backed, not by gold, but by words and numbers.

Hermes has no resting place on home or earth.

Hermetic appetite for information. Hermes actually carried the messages. No comments or involvement. Even carried messages to the realm of the dead and world below.

Culture lost gods - the gods have withdrawn. We have messages but do not carry gods' messages, only our own agenda, only information, nothing of the gods. Nothing of art, beauty, compassion.

Communications of daily life - flowers, cooking, feasting, mornings together.

Zeus - flashes of inspiration. Like coup de feu, falling in love with an unknown person.

Communication can take place in many different ways. Teaching is slow without Hermes.

Hermes is not the only means of connection. Not sole god of communication. Pulling all communication into the Hermeneutic -- exclusive definition of communication, leaves out insensate cilia, art, touch degradation.

Pan. Hero. Boundaries get diffused between gods and mortals.

Heinrich Zimmer - all the gods are within, function of human psyche.

Ego figure in teh psyche that leads the way. Hero with gods is brutual strength. Incorporates reason for being: service to gods, trascends mortality.

Greek definition of communications differentiates between the transmission of the communication and the context.

Apollo, Hermes brother. Apollonian realm had content. Hermetic intoxication may also delude us. Hermes is a thief, a deceiver, a trickster. Inspiration of hackers.

Hermes - "god in the disease" (Jung).

Deceits is as much Hermes' business as is business. We are suspicious because part of Hermes consciousness is to be awake to deception. "Like cures like" (alchemical maxim).

Cyberspace fascinates - utopia. Fantasy fascinations you. A universe that is no place. An attribute of the old Christian god. Omnipresent and timeless.

When you jar these, what is being lost in the improvement?

Hermes, god of finding and losing, going and absenting.

Subtleties at a dinner party - tone, body language, perfume. All are gone. How long, centuries of social skills too elaborate?

Civilization depends on its own Africa, the sounds and smells of rituals. Knowing not only the message but its sender and receiver.

Angelos a true message announces something, revealed something, says something. A message from the god.


Hermes has only one counterpart, Hestia (Vesta). So what might tame Hermes?

"Vesta!" Old Roman toast. She was first. Must be focused at home in oneself and present. Warms life to all that came within its presence. Focus - later word for hearth = Hestia. Home fire glowed, not her symbol but she herself.

Vas - inhabit. Also from essence. Hermes gives quick intuition, Hestia gives its focus. Salt is her element, mercury his. Salt fixes.

Hestia - criminal cases and judgements left on altar. Writing - recordkeeping. Contracts. Hermes makes deals. No timelessness with Hestia. Futile. Narrow vessel for holding water that would not stand. No futurism. No forward moment, unlike Hermes. Circles around itself. Always seated on circular element, circles around herself. Domestic architecture. Gods mount Olympus. She rests at home. Only service to her is domestic meal.

One went to Hestia for sacred asylum, for quiet focus.

Hestia - disciplined devotion to inwardness. She is not only in the home; she is at home So "home pc" fails to embody the relationship.

Cock and ram - sexual animals. Pornography and Star Trek on the internet. Penis and head / between is a stone slab, no heart, no guts.

Hestia is immune to Eros. Her virgins were buried alive if gave off any Venusian allures as walked through Rome. Purity.

Put into each day - a praxis of isolated ascetic rituals. Home paralleled with globalism. Hestia - antidote to Hermetic intoxication.

More millennia: desire for place, tenemos, a vessel, place as refuge against time. Hestia is located.

Space/time are abstractions with meaning or value, without qualities or difference (Kant, Descartes).

At millennial ending, we see world in vicious struggles for place. These battles of today are symptoms - Psychology looks to symptoms for where boundaries are shifting.

Self protection, xenophobia - excesses of Hestia to Hermes: very idea of place becomes irrelevant.

Millennia - end of time in temporal and spatial manner. Global millennial fantasy. Return to place frees us of desolation of spatial thinking and end of time.

Where we are and its effect onhow we are becoming, focus of a life. The place you are is essential truth of a life rather than the moving on and going forward.

Hestia is the cure: Takes away the Hermetic intoxication, the inflation of a god above all others. She is the cure for Heremetic intoxication - that we must hurry, must live in a future.

The cycles of the soul are not our cycles. The sould not measured in time of bodies or time in years.

Hestia shifts from time to place. The cure for Depression while bringing depression = rejection of time for stability of place. No escape into the future.

When we do not look back, we remain innocent and stupid. Europeans always looking back, so cynical. Future comes from projection of these archetypal realities.

We look back for information about archetypal form of our insights. All future forms are fantasies, predictors. All are projections. No single eye can tell it like it is.

Future = that which is not. Future is another name for unconscious, the mirror in which we see our own subjectivity.

Millennial thinking about the future is an archetypal fantasy. Archetypal if:

  1. Any actual moment occupies an ancestral place.

  2. Life requires a deep faith or existential cerntainty. Futurism demies certitude, by speculating about the unknown.

The effects of futurism on prsent life: Making us all homeless. The hearth is wherever you're actually focused.

Hestia gives any environmental situation a sense of home, a sense of being here.