Restoration of the Hermes Staff – by Gabriel Matson

photo 3The staff of Hermes, belonging to the ATC and originally assembled by Pete Pathfinder Davis is fashioned from two pieces of lathed wood  one fitted to the other with glue to form the length. Plastic eagle wings, found by Pete on the side of the road having broken off a travel trailer, are glued to this. Each end of the staff is fitted with a hollow plastic sphere found in a junkyard, also by Pete. All of the painted parts showed heavy damage from age and use, therefore my first step in the restoration process was a careful inspection to determine what I could do and with what; I decided to sand down as much of the old paint as possible, with the exception of the beautiful two-toned handle. After sanding, I repaired and touched up the damaged glued surfaces and dings in the wood with superglue. The exposed glue was then sanded over to better take the new paint.

photo 4I tested my painting strategy with two wooden stars  each survived a couple days in my back pocket with little discernible damage to the wood or the thin coat of paint I applied. I used wood pre-stain as a paint primer designed for preparing wood for staining; it helped the paint adhere strongly to the surface and prevented further chemical drying from the solvents in the paints. I started painting with the plastic spheres on the ends, while covering the rest of the staff with foil (which I could reuse for the whole project) and interfacing with painter’s tape. After sanding and touching up the first coat, I applied a second coat (spheres only). The gold painted sections were done by hand; two to four coats were applied depending on which part. The final-coat brush strokes formed a spiral around the staff for the symbolic projection or reception of energies in ritual.

photo 1For the finishing touches, I applied two layers of a clear coat (basically wood varnish much like what is used for exposed wood furniture). Pieces of amber were then glued to the four mold-inject points as a stop-gap measure for the backside of the wings, and a final touch-up coat of gold paint applied to the wings. All in all, the process took about twenty two hours of work.

Much ritual was observed throughout the entire process; time spent in communion with Hermes over particulars of detail and especially the choice of amber for the stones on the reverse side. Each stage of the restoration required periods of rest and explicit energy work, yet the physical energy, planning and execution of the project played an equal role in the restoration. In addition to the restoration process, the staff became well travelled, being moved from the the ATC Mother Church in Index to Seattle, then to Bellingham, back and forth to Seattle multiple times, then to Spring Mysteries at Fort Flagler, and finally back to the Mother Church where it hangs in the library.

The first public use of the refurbished staff was by myself as priest of Hermes for Spring Mysteries Festival 2013. He was most pleased with the effort and journey of the staff, and paraded around with it with the utmost pride. To hold the completed staff is a rush of power and emotion equal only to the experience of an Hermes invocation, to which doing so compounds the experience. It is my hope that this staff will continue to be used by subsequent invokers of Hermes, furthering its legacy as an artefact of the ATC and a tool of ritual.


photo 2

Images Courtesy of Gabriel Matson, Dusty Dionne (the second to last photo) and Glenn Howard (the last photo).


Restoration of the Hermes Staff – by Gabriel Matson — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The Circle of Hearth and Kin - Restoration of the Hermes Staff – by Gabriel Matson

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