[Mythic Locations] Confused about the Mercurian Temple

In the "Fallen Temple of Mercury" Story. The temple of Mercury lies within a Magical aura. Should it not be a Faerie Aura as Mercury is the equvialent of Hermes who is an olympian. Or were the Rome gods from the Magic Realm, which would explain why the Cult of Mercury were tied to the magic realm and not faerie...

Just confused.

The way I've always understood it, the Gods themselves are Faerie, but the magical traditions associated with various Gods (see Gruagachan, Vitkir, etc) tend to be magical. There probably were a few individuals who made use of something more akin to Faerie M&P to evoke magical effects reminiscent of Mercury (Portage, perhaps?), but for the most part people with The Gift are just better as supernatural stuff and without access to Faerie Magic, such individuals work better in Magic Auras.

Also, given the circumstances, I think that particular aura works better as Magic anyway since it doesn't really have any stories told about it to propagate a Faerie one while the temple itself could have used a Mercurian equivalent to Hermetic Architecture to acquire a Magic aura. Obviously, YMMV.

By TSE p.124 Hermes is among the ancient Faerie gods from Mount Olympus. And the safe part of (real) ancient history has the first temple of Mercurius in Rome founded only 495BC. So Mercurius is usually seen as a Roman-Etruscan version of Hermes - and would have hence been a faerie too.

This does not fit at all with priests of Mercury being the forefathers of the Order of Hermes.

Luckily, there is a - not so safe, but plausible - derivation of the real Roman cult of Mercurius (start from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dei_Lucrii ).

Assuming this for ArM5, we get a popular cult of ancient entities tied to the Magic Realm and going far back in history with the Romans. And this cult later only assumed the name and trappings of a Cult of Mercury. Which also gives us an explanation for the "Fallen Temple of Mercury" lying within a Magical aura.


Or, one doesn't even need to use the justification One Shot provides.

I see no reason why magical practitioners can't "worship" a faerie entity. It's common enough in the Ars Magica canon. A magic aura could have easily overcome any faint faerie aura in that spot, especially as the Cult of Mercury found its power growing, the need to commune with the god of Mercury for power lessened...

Alternately, the very rituals cast by the CoM could themselves have gradually subsumed a prior Faerie aura.

Indeed. Just that their magical practice then would not come from the worship of Mercurius, but from elsewhere. So from where?


Human magic is different than Faerie magic?

I am not sure what you mean by 'Human magic'.

But RoP:F p.121-136 Faerie Wizardry is certainly different from the magical traditions based on the Magic Realm, which other ArM5 books detail. And while some faeries are drawn to Gifted individuals and may even play at being wizards, the House Merinita changed by - at least - faerie-led Quendalon does stick far out of the Order of Hermes.


To be a little more precise here:

We would need to explain the historical development of a cult of a Faerie God, which spreads out with the Roman Empire and becomes a cult of Gifted individuals (ArM5 p.9) rarely meeting in person, and practicing rituals based on the Magic Realm in the service of that Empire.

This is not impossible. But it is far more complicated than starting with a cult already worshiping beings from the Magic Realm, which just develops its cult practices related to Roman roads and commerce into Magical rituals.


Maybe you do. I don't.

The Temple of Mercury was built in a magic regio because The Cult of Mercury was a magic tradition and the cultists seemingly knew that was the most effective thing to do for their magic casting. Even if the cultic activities at the site were associated with the worship of a faerie god (which may or may not be the case), then clearly the regio's magic aura is of stronger magnitude than any impact that faerie worship at the site might have on the prevailing aura. In any case, (by 1220) the cultic activities have apparently not been performed at the site for hundreds of years.

After all, the typical magus in 1220 is a member of the Order of Hermes and a Christian. This doesn't mean that Hermetic magic or the location of a covenant is necessarily associated with either Hermes (arguably a faerie) or the Divine.

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I prolly agree with Mr Love here.

There's the "deep" Cult which is magic-based, and the public face which brought faeries in.

Either it started as pure magic, and faerie invaded the public face.
Or some priest-reseacher ended up hitting magic while developping a purer, truer ritual.
Or even, this group of persecuted magic practitioner hid behind the Cult and perverted it over time.

There is a nice, quite simple way of integrating the early development of the ArM5 Cult of Mercury with early Roman history, which does not need to force real history overly, and which I elaborate on now.

I assume an indigenous cult of Magical entities in monarchic Rome - say, the cult of the gods of profit I mentioned above. Around 510BC the last of the Roman kings is expelled, and the Romans establish a volatile oligarchic republic.

Our shadowy magical cult has to weather this political revolution. For that purpose, it brings around 495BC a foreign deity to Rome, which is already revered by neighbouring people and appeals to the Roman lower class, the Plebeians: Greek Hermes as the god of trade and traders, under the name of Mercurius (derived from Latin merx: merchandise, with a not-so-Latin ending).

While the young republic first defends itself successfully and then expands, so does its trade. In order to further develop their ancient magical practices, our profit cult now becomes a "deep" part underneath the spreading public veneration of Mercurius.

And this "deep" part develops into the Cult of Mercury consisting of Gifted practitioners (ArM5 p.9), while its practices transform into the Mercurian rituals serving the Empire and spanning its extent.


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It begs a chicken/egg question: did the cultists start with magical thinking, which attracted one or more faeries, or did they venerate the faerie(s) Hermes-Mercury, who taught them magic, or what?

I suspect the former.

Nice meat on the bone, thanks.

We don't actually know that any worship went on in the lost temple. Temple could just be the name for meeting places of the Roman magi, in the way we have Masonic Temples today.

The statue of Mercury might just be for inspiration, much like the Lady Justice found in front of courthouses.

Cue any number of conspiracy theories about what did and does happen in Masonic temples!

Mercurius did not have a flamen - a priest dedicated to his service - in Rome (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamen ).

So there was no official cult of Mercurius, for which the Roman republic or empire took responsibility. His veneration in the temple on the Circus Maximus was likely watched by the senate and the collegium of pontefices (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_o ... oman_State ), but otherwise left to his worshippers. Temples of Mercurius without any worship, but used by a group of Gifted practitioners of rituals, are hence quite possible in the Roman republic and empire.


The word 'temple' is misleading in Ars Magica. Look at the Amazons in Rival Magic; they all have temples...which are just their laboratories in Magic Auras. Mercurian Temples (at least, in the Ars Magica background) probably were not 'churches' for gathering of worshipers, but rather where the priests of Mercury (i.e. wizards) lived and did their magics. That would almost certainly include worship of Mercury, but most of the time it would be magical activities - studying the Mercurian rituals, making magical charms, etcetera. Some of the references to the Cult of Mercury seemed to suggest that wizards working in the Roman Empire just called themselves priests of Mercury and their real job was selling charms and enchantments.

The more important question is how the priests of Mercury avoided the effects of the Gift, which is a serious problem for most magical traditions. The Cult of Mercury relied on mass rituals with dozens of wizards working together, so how they pulled that off is anybody's guess. There are a few options:

1.) Only Gentle Gifted practitioners allowed. This limits your available pool of wizards to about 10% of the Gifted Population (Rival Magic suggests that number in the Soquotran section, and it seems about right; if you added House Jerbiton to all the other Gentle Gifted magi, you'd probably approach 10%).
2.) Some Parma Magica style ability that blunted the effects of the Gift. It's possible that Bonisagus only re-invented the Parma, which the priests of Mercury actually invented for the express purpose of blunting the Gift, which normal Magic Resistance doesn't do.
3.) Everybody initiated into Unaffected by the Gift virtue, so the cult members didn't creep each other out at all.

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ArM5 is quite detailed here:


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