One day, while meditating with Hermes, he sullenly asked me a rather strange question.
“Why don’t we fight?” he asked sadly.
I shook my head. “Why would we fight? You’re a good deity. You do your job. You live up to your titles and epithets, and do exactly what you are supposed to. You are nice to people, you don’t infantilize them by solving their problems for them. You don’t enslave people, that I’m aware of. I’ve got no cause for quarrel with you.”
He thought very long and hard about it, and then came up with a brilliant strategy: he’d start relentlessly complaining about my level of devotion to him. At first, I thought he was serious. Sometimes, with Hermes, that’s a mistake.
I wrote a ritual of dedication, and we hashed out something of a contract. He wasn’t satisfied. He asked for more. I gave him more. He asked for even more. That was about when I put my foot down.
“I’m sorry, dude, but I actually don’t even have any more to give you. I already have too many obligations to other divinities for me to give you any more.”
“So get rid of them.”
“Wha- I can’t! If I’d break my obligations to other deities for you, then what good is any obligation I make to you?”
“I don’t care, do it.”
And we fought. And we fought, and fought and fought and fought.
“I’m leaving!” He’d shout, only to crawl into bed with me after my husband was asleep.
“I thought you were leaving,” I’d say.
And he’d say, “Yeah. I lied.”
This went on for a year. At last I asked him, “Hermes. What the holy fuck?”
He answered, “I wanted us to fight.”
No, but seriously, what the fuck.
Every deity I now work with, I have picked a fight with. That is, in fact, generally how my intimate relationships with deities begin. I never plan to do it. I often plan not to do it, then do it anyway. Sometimes the fights are big fights, other times they are little fights. Unless I’ve had that fight, however, it is unlikely that any sort of intimate relationship with the deity will take place.
The fight isn’t about who wins and who loses. That is very much beside the point. Fights in the astral space, like any kind of story or conflict which unfolds there, are all about translating higher and ineffable principles into a language that the conscious mind can understand. They are about you communicating your values to the deity, and the deity communicating their values to you.
I need to know, before the relationship gets off the ground, how the deity deals with anger. I need to know what they’d do if they ever found themselves in a situation where having control wasn’t an option, not because I think it will come up, but because it says a lot about who they are and what they value.
With Apollon, the fight was about philosophy and seeing the future.
With Zeus, the fight was about the meaning of leadership, and a leader’s responsibility to the proletariat.
With Dionysos, the fight was about Freedom.
With Hermes, though, the fight was so subtle that he missed it. I yelled at him, and astrally swung a sword in his face. Without anger, without fear, with impossible speed and gentleness, he disarmed me, and held me fast in strong arms. That was all I needed to know. That for him, it wasn’t about ego, or winning, or honor. It was about cunning, finesse and gentleness. The aim was to prevent harm, and bring everything to a place of peace. The whole thing was over in 15 seconds, but it was all that I needed. Good deity. So many cookies.
I had what I needed, but he didn’t.
Later, he explained, “I was with you all the time, but your heart never belonged to me. It belonged to the ones you were struggling with. I did the only thing I could. I picked a fight. Because you, Thenea, of all people, need friction to start a fire.”
Every deity I butt heads with takes a little bit of my heart. I love them, a little. I love the fight, the struggle and the conflict. It’s a part of who I am. Offering a little bit of what I love to a god is a way of honoring them. When the god you love is a god of peace and harmony, it’s easy to overlook the need to share the warlike aspects of yourself with them, even if those are the juicy bits.
He never wanted, after all, unreasonable dedication or subservience. He wanted my Fight, because without it, I’m not me.