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Doty, W.G. (1978). Hermes Guide of Souls. J. Anal. Psychol., 23(4):358-364.

(1978). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 23(4):358-364

Hermes Guide of Souls

William G. Doty, M.Div., Ph.D.

THE MYTHOLOGICAL configuration (or ‘mythologem’) represented by Hermes was, according to Magda Kerényi's preface to Karl Kerényi's Hermes guide of souls: the mythologem of the masculine source of life, an important personal guide for the author, as it was for Thomas Mann (KERÉNYI 10). It was Kerényi's 1942 Eranos lecture upon which this book is based that led to permission for him to leave Hungary; he acknowledges that quirksome aid that Hermes lends the scholar and the journeyer; and his tombstone in Ascona, Switzerland, bears the Greek phrase meaning, ‘initiated into the Hermetic mysteries’.

I have some sense of the power of the Hermes mythologem, since for about four years I have been tracing literary and visual manifestations of Hermes, who appears as a classic example of what is known in North America as a trickster figure. I have come to think of Hermes as one of the most essential deities for surviving our times: he is a figure of transition, of duality and complexity, a messenger and interpreter, and, as Kerényi emphasises, a figure who encompasses both poles of human sexuality. Parallels that I have found in Africa, North and Central America, Japan and Northern Europe suggest that such a mythological Gestalt has had a universal value.

Before speaking directly of Kerényi's book, a basic introduction to the many aspects of Hermes in literature and graphic representations will suggest some of the background needed to evaluate it (Kerényi's exposition in Jung and Kerényi, Essays on a science of mythology, pp.

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