In Greek mythology Hermes (Mercury in Roman Mythology) is the messenger of the gods. He is the divine messenger and also the psychopomp- the emissary of the Soul. Â Hermes conveys information from the gods situated on Mount Olympus (a symbol of the transcendent realm and the location of the archetypes or divine ideas) to the world of mortals. His winged helmet represents the capacity to engage in flights of consciousness. This enables him to move freely between the mortal and immortal worlds. It is his duty to guide the Souls of the dead to the underworld. Hermes also leads living Souls to the underworld, or inner worlds, including Orpheus who was searching for Eurydice. This symbolising the spiritual seekerâ€™s efforts towards uniting with what Jung described as the anima, which is also an aspect of the psychopomp. He is the god of revelation and the bringer of dreams.
Carl Jung demonstrated how the archetypes are registered in the human psyche as symbols and that this occurs primarily through the dream life. This enables the Soul to offer meaning and direction to the personality so that it may implement its purpose. Hermes relates the unconscious to the conscious.
In terms of Jungâ€™s psychology Hermes would be responsible therefore for synchronicities which the Soul instigates as a means of conveying spiritual intent to the individual. Hermes was the god of boundaries which he himself is able to transcendÂ by wielding his magic wand- the caduceus. The caduceus symbolises the unification of spirit and matter thus enabling Hermes to serve as an intermediary between the mortal and the divine realms.
Hermes is therefore able to convey the purpose and intent of the Soul to the individual who treads the spiritual path. This is how the psychopomp functions as it serves to unite the personality with the Soul so that it may become a perfected instrument of expression for the Higher Self.Â Hermes sought to help the heroes of Greek myth.
His helping of the questing hero symbolises the fact that the Soul responds when one seeks to fulfil its purpose and intent. In the Odyssey we witness the ingenuity and ability of Hermes to persuade the nymph Calypso to release Odysseus from her charms. She had kept Odysseus captive after he was shipwrecked on her island promising him immortality if he married her but Zeus, at the request of the warrior goddess Athena, sent Hermes to release Odysseus. Hermes also saved Odysseus from being transformed into a pig by the goddess and sorceress Circe by giving him a herb which resisted the spell. In both instances here, we witness symbolism which demonstrates the capacity of the psychopomp, as an aspect of the Soul, to assist towards freeing the hero from the entrapment of illusion, which the Hindus refer to as maya, so that we may proceed further on our evolutionary journey.
Hermes is also a trickster and we must take care both when receiving and analysing the contents of the unconscious which are revealed to us through our dreams and also through our meditations. It is important here that we develop the quality of discrimination here in discerning between that which emanates from the Soul and that which is simply the product of our imaginings and the effects of the astral plane.