Mercury is a shapeshifter, and I’m trying to accumulate some of my stories, understanding the mono-myths of Mercury. Mercury, in the Roman pantheon, he’s described as the messenger of the gods, and he’s usually depicted as the guy with wings on his sandals. At first, I understood — in sanitized mythology — Mercury was a benevolent deity, and more a messenger than a deity.
Arcturus in Greek mythology, the one who would bridge the worlds, between the upper and lower realms.
Fleet of foot, speeding through the sky, delivering the messages as need be. Roman god postal service: Mt. Olympus Express Delivery. However, deeper in the mythology, there’s a shape–shifting, somewhat ambiguous maybe amoral attitude marked by the planet’s namesake.
In the Neo–Classical Egyptian myths, this god is known as Thoth. Although from an alleged pure bloodline, he’s still one tricky bastard.
Again, I ran into the trickster in Northern European myths as the Fox. Shapeshifting and loose with verbal instructions, kind of a weasel–like character. Not exactly trustworthy, but sometimes fine in a pinch, depends on the situation, the story, the narrative, the myth.
Kokopelli is different from Coyote, the way I heard the stories. Much of this is really verbal tradition, as that’s how it got passed to me, several times. Kokopelli — now a fetish of fertility — was originally a hunch–backed medicine man of small stature, but large endowment. He got his reputation for blessing a hunting party and when the hunters returned, complete with carnal celebrations, the females would all get pregnant — in a hurry. Kokopelli, because of his physical stature and importance as an herbalist and healer, had to stay behind with all those lonely women. He is depicted as a hunchback flute player. Whose flute got played? Consider the setting and the flute player was the same as the guitar player, these days — maybe more a legend than a myth.
In the natives of what is now the American Northwest, the Raven is the trickster. In the real world, the more common variation, the grackle, that dusky blackbird, kin to the Raven, variations of that bird have proven to be clever enough to use tools, a typical measure of intelligence. The most common suggestion I’ve heard is that the Blackbird — Mexican Blackbird to me — is as bright, if not smarter than, an average dog. I know one dog, belongs to a buddy, and that’s a smart dog.
“That dog’ll hunt.”
Can’t say anything as I’m not really a dog person. But the naturalists support the hypothesis that the blackbird is a smart creature with possible cognitive skills.
In England, London, UK? The Tower, long a symbol of English Rule? The Ravens there are considered, like, holy. Protected. As mythology changes with geography, the Raven in the southwest is more an imp, still a trickster, just not as revered as Coyote.
The first time I met Coyote, he was a figure in literature — in a series by Albuquerque–based author, Rudolfo Anaya. Consider a figure in Zoot Suit, hair greased back, perhaps wing-tips, and long, gold watch–chain, all topped with a broad–brimmed fedora, silk shirt open, and in keeping with the mythology? Probably a Virgen de Guadalupe medallion of some sort. All part of the myth. To call up such an image of the Trickster, it’s almost a clown–like look, and yet, within the ethnic striations of the novel and its setting, that worked, rather well. Sharp–dressed character leaning against the hood of a lowrider —
Some years ago, perhaps alongside the rise of the Southwestern Cuisine trend, or the southwestern styling within interior design, the single image of the howling coyote rose to prominence in popular culture. Returning to East Texas after years in the desert, the preponderance of Southwestern Style was troublesome, much like Mock Tudor in the high desert where adobe and muted tones make better sense. So the Coyote figure started to work its way into popular culture. He belongs in the west. Coyote belongs to the West.
Coyote figures in much of the mythology that was, that is, part of the backdrop to my every-day existence. As a figure, he’s been present for many years.
Mercury — the planet energy I describe when I use the term, “Mercury?” There’s a simple association with the various myths about the messengers, the odd deities that are worshipped, the way we understand what we understand. It’s about thinking. It’s about thought processes and the power of the mind. Then, too, it can also be about the confusion that arises, from time to time, with interpersonal communications. Attributed to? Mercury. Or Coyote.
One of the last nights in Santa Fe, recently, real coyotes had made their way down the canyon some, and could be heard, talking back and forth with the characteristic “Yip–yip” barking. Not usually very large, the dog–like creatures have easily adpated to the intersection of modern civilization and the edge of the wild, that thin, sometimes fuzzy, line that marks man–made on one side and nature–made on the other side.
Like Mercury, the swiftest moving planet, the planet closest to the Sun? Coyote lives in a world that orbits close to human, with occasional forays into our world, scavenging and wreaking havoc then skirting away.