Some Notes on Mercury
While there is plenty of literature about the Sun, Moon and ascendant and their significance, there is far less about Mercury. However, Mercury’s importance in the horoscope approaches that of those other major significators.
Mercury’s symbolism is well known – the Winged Messenger that travels between the gods and humanity, representing the ways in which the promptings of the spirit are transmitted to the earthly consciousness.
Thus Mercury is linked with the mind and thought, with the spoken and written word, with all forms of communication, also travel and, in a national context, the media and infrastructure: utilities, roads and transport systems etc.
To understand Mercury’s importance in a spiritual context we have only to remember the saying that as one thinks, so one becomes. We can and do change ourselves by what and how we think; in this way, we can be transformed.
Mercury’s exaltation in its own sign of Virgo expresses this, Mercury being the agent of the transmutation that Virgo strives to achieve, perfecting our ‘base metals’ into the true gold of the spirit.
Thus our mind and thoughts enable us to do two things: to communicate (Gemini) and thus transmit and receive thoughts, and to transmute (Virgo) by using our thoughts to transform matter. Mercury’s position and aspects in the horoscope reveal the ways in which we do these things.
Mercury and the Sun
It is important to note the relative positions of Mercury and the Sun. Having them in different signs broadens the personality, it is said, but it is often ‘easier’ for the person concerned if both are in the same sign. On the other hand, there are circumstances where a difference is a godsend – one can easily picture someone with Sun and Moon both in Cancer but who is saved from drowning in emotion by Mercury in Gemini!
Sometimes the Sun and Mercury will share some aspects, if close together; at others, they will have very different sets of aspects. This will affect the character profoundly. Every student thinks they know the traits shown by each of the signs as a Sun sign, but someone with Sun in Pisces and Mercury in Aquarius will be very different from someone with Sun in Pisces and Mercury in Aries, and different again from someone with both Sun and Mercury in Pisces.
Mercury is not surprisingly most at home in the air and earth elements. Gemini is of course one of its own signs and Mercury here generally shows a good and quick mind, and sometimes wit as well if the rest of the horoscope concurs.
Mercury in Libra gives a good sense of perspective and proportion. It usually expresses itself harmoniously and pleasantly. Mercury in Aquarius is detached, scientific, and often makes a good lecturer or public speaker; the mind is orderly and rational, although sometimes rather set in its ideas. The fixity of Aquarius does however have a positive side here in that it enables concentration and focus, something that does not always come easily to Mercury wherever it is.
Mercury in Virgo suggests a precise, neat and tidy mind, as well as a tendency to be critical, especially self-critical. It is an excellent position for an editor or proof-reader, where attention to detail is essential.
A Taurus placing indicates a down-to-earth mentality with, usually, a good sense of proportion; it does however tend to find it difficult to change its mind or let go of an idea, the fixity of the sign reducing the planet’s usual flexibility.
Mercury in Capricorn, as might be expected, is organized and structured in its thinking and, like the Virgo position, often good at dealing with detail. The classic ‘legal mind’ is of this type. In fact, it can become more obsessed with tiny details than does Virgo, so that sometimes structures and protocols assume greater importance than the original reasons for their creation.
Mercury is not so comfortable in fire, but in Aries the one thing that does suit it is that both sign and planet are speedy. The Aries mind works very quickly and reacts to situations very quickly; because of this those with this position often make good drivers, for example, though they are also apt to speak (or write) first and think afterwards.
Mercury in Leo tends to be very set in its ideas and opinions – once again the fixity of the sign tends to override the planet’s flexibility, but it also helps with focus and concentration. The natural Leo warmth is noticeable in communication.
Mercury in Sagittarius, although technically the planet’s detriment, signifies a very open and enquiring mind, with many interests and enthusiasms. Like Mercury in Aries it can be too outspoken and quick for its own good, and the very breadth of its interest may make prolonged attention difficult, but it can be highly aspirational and forward-thinking.
Water is the most problematical element for Mercury, always implying conflict between reason and feeling. It takes effort to be entirely rational, and often the thoughts are influenced by the feelings without one realizing it, though it is often noticeable to others. Mercury in Cancer tends to anxiety, but is generally kindly in its thoughts even though there is sometimes more than a tendency to prejudice.
Mercury in Scorpio is excellent for deep, penetrating and investigative mental work, despite the lack of confidence that tends to go with water. This position can be surprisingly outspoken when the occasion demands (and sometimes even when it doesn’t), although usually it is a shy placement.
Mercury in Pisces shares many of the qualities of the planet in Sagittarius, denoting aspiration and wide interests, but it is much less confident as a rule. Although shy like the other water signs, in the ‘right’ context it can go to the other extreme and talk – or write – the hind leg off a donkey! It is often very inclined to the academic or the religious life and is seldom devoid of spirituality.
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