Mercury As Singleton
Mercury and Venus together are the “Perceptors.” Mercury correlates with the thinking, logical, communicative process, which includes the synapses, or nerve connections, in the brain and spinal column. It represents the discrimination function and the ability to discern. In medical astrology, Mercury rules the nerves and the nervous system. Both Mercury and Venus are involved in the total process of receiving, interpreting, and communicating information transmitted to the brain by the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
Mercury represents logical, linear thinking, while Venus correlates with perception of space and relationships including color and design. The left hemisphere (Mercury), is verbal and communicates through speech and language.
The right hemisphere (Venus), correlates with non-verbal communication – gestures, facial expressions, drawing, dance, painting, music, etc. The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” illustrates the two kinds of communication and perception. It was recently reported in the news that men tend to listen primarily with the left brain (right ear), or the analytical, verbal, linear side. Women, on the other hand, tend to listen with both ears, and the data is processed in both the left and right hemispheres. The right brain hemisphere (Venus), synthesizes data and puts the pieces together. The left hemisphere analyzes data, takes it apart piece by piece. Data broken down by Mercury is assimilated and synthesized by Venus. That is the “mental digestive process.”
In general, Mercury correlates with the capacity for learning and the manner in which a person approaches learning.
- Fire signs learn through action, by playing and being creative.
- Water signs learn through feeling and emotion; the comprehension is subjective.
- Earth signs learn through practical experience, “hands on” learning, in which the five senses are engaged.
- Air signs learn classically through listening, discussing, reading and objective understanding.
- Mercury in Cardinal signs wants to reach out with thoughts. It takes one idea and pursues it to a conclusion.
- Mercury in a Fixed sign has the tendency to sit still and digest incoming information.
- Mutable sign Mercury may be all over the place; it has “blossoms” of ideas. In
- Personal signs, Mercury thinks in terms of “my perception, my experiences.” In Social signs, the tendency is to learn through what others say.
- If a Social Mercury is well aspected to Jupiter, the person learns best with others, in a classroom situation, and may be a perennial student.
- In Universal signs, Mercury seeks the wider scheme of things, the “big picture,” or the “whole enchilada.” Perception is oriented toward larger relationships and philosophical structures.
Mercury rules Gemini, the sign that represents the child phase of the planet: experimenting, curiosity, exploration of the environment, and imagination. The Gemini type Mercury can get too caught up in experimentation. This planet also rules Virgo, the sign representing Mercury’s adult phase. Here the concern is with analysis, discrimination, and discernment in order to know what is true and what is not. The problem here is getting so focussed on details that “you can’t see the forest for the trees,” and maybe even the bark of one single tree! Mercury is always rational. It is the Trickster, for with Mercury begins the sense of humor. Humor is, after all, an alternate way of playing with reality.
Some Mercury archetypes are: the student, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, the Puer Eternus/eternal boy, Hermes the “shape changer” who likes to play pranks to find out what will happen. Mercury is essentially amoral. It just observes the facts, and leaves it to Jupiter to judge them. It likes to set up experiments to find out the consequences. It also represents the archetype of the messenger or the Angel. In fact the word angel is derived from the Greek word for messenger. It just gives you the facts, the data. What happens after, what the other planets do with it, is not Mercury’s problem.
When Mercury is a singleton there are special, unusual issues in terms of thinking and communicating. The person with a natal Mercury singleton has special gifts and/or problems with perception and communication – for example, an opera singer who stutters badly when she speaks, but never when she sings lyrics. These people are misunderstood, especially in childhood. Winston Churchill was considered stupid and beaten by his teachers when he was a young boy. As a statesman/politician, his speeches were a source of inspiration and encouragement to his own country, and the entire free world during and after World War II. Richard Idemon, with a Mercury singleton at the zero degree of Aquarius in his fourth house, spoke in sentences at the age of six months. People thought his mother was a ventriloquist.
Perceptions are unusual, different, and extraordinary. The five senses are highly acute, and usually one or two predominate. For instance, a young woman, very nearsighted, can hear sound far above what is considered “normal” for humans. Dog whistles and very high-pitched electronic sounds are painfully audible to her. On another level, Churchill once said, “Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear a word you say!” He perceived the core of the person’s being and “heard” the man’s “subtext.” A singleton Pluto opposed Churchill’s singleton Mercury! One or more of the senses can be capable of perceiving into the “paranormal” range. Some people with Mercury singletons seem “psychic” because they can see auras (electromagnetic fields surrounding a person or object), are clairvoyant, hear other people’s thoughts (telepathy), and can feel others’ physical sensations (clairsentience), and so on.
How accurately we perceive through the five senses, and how clearly we interpret the data through the nervous system and brain, colors the quality of our thinking ability and our capacity for discrimination. If we misperceive or misinterpret what is perceived, we form incorrect thought, come to erroneous conclusions, and act in inefficient and sometimes disastrous ways. For example, a nearsighted person sees a long, slender, curving brown object in the grass. He interprets it to be a snake and beats it with a stick, only later to discover it was only a piece of rope! Or, worse, he has a heart attack due to fear and shock at the mental image of a snake; an image based on poor perception and faulty interpretation of data received.
People with Mercury singletons almost always have some very odd or “quirky” ways of communicating. Since all singletons imply a degree of stress, and they certainly come out when the person is under stress, the thinking and communication of these people is notable. Among well-known and famous people we find politicians, actors, and writers. Winston Churchill was a brilliant, powerful orator and prolific writer, but he had a terrible time at school. Richard Idemon (the only person with whom I have been personally acquainted who has a Mercury singleton), was first an actor, then an extraordinary astrological thinker and teacher. Last month, we mentioned British actor Derek Jacobi (“I, Claudius”). Then there was Herman Melville, author of the great classic Moby Dick, who expressed archetypal themes in his work, a tendency of Mercury singletons.
Hitler’s henchman, Heinrich Himmler was both mentally brilliant and a monster, an evil genius. One of the most sinister leaders of Nazi Germany, Himmler was head of the Gestapo and responsible for implementing the “final solution of the Jewish problem.” He murdered millions of people. His Mercury is at zero degrees of Scorpio (Singleton Water), in the 8th house of death, along with his Libra Sun. The zero degree carries with it qualities of impetuosity and immaturity. That degree has a violent, often repressed side to it, which can include issues of abuse, sexuality, and homicidal or suicidal tendencies. It is a degree very similar to a negative Mars or Aries. The Moon is in Aries at zero degrees as well, and it makes a quincunx to the Mercury. This provides a hint at early childhood abuse, probably sexual, or a child with a genetic predisposition toward cruelty. Mercury rules the South Node (latent habitual tendencies), and disposes of both Pluto and Neptune, indicating a powerfully evil and warped imagination. Mercury makes an out-of-sign sextile to Saturn (ruler of the 12th), and trine to Neptune (ruler of the 1st). The inherent thanatos, or death lust, was all too easy for him to express. Neptune opposes Saturn, both at the 29th degree, to add confirmation. That degree is called by some the “death degree.”
Two contemporary U.S. political figures have Mercury singletons: former President George Herbert Walker Bush and Vice-President Al Gore . I started looking at Gore’s chart years ago and used to wonder how that Mercury in Pisces in the 8th house (only Water sign planet), would work in his life. He has authored a book and is an excellent speaker – unfortunately not so inspiring for the contemporary masses as Churchill was in his time. We saw when Gore was under stress during the presidential campaign and debates, he tended to exaggerate, and he seemed to inflate or distort some of his facts (a Piscean/Neptune tendency). He was misunderstood, misquoted, and quoted out of context. Gore is a natural storyteller, and I do not mean that in any derogatory sense. But unfortunately, many of his hearers think he lies when he tells the truth. They would probably believe every word he says if he told them the lies they wanted to hear.
As discussed in the Introduction, the singleton (and all Inferior Functions), tends to have material from the unconscious attached to it which comes up when least expected or desired, and it can undermine the Dominant function. To make this Mercury more problematic, is the fact that it is the focal point of a wide Yod configuration, or “fickle finger of fate”, comprised of the Pluto-Saturn-Mars in the 1st house and Neptune (Mercury’s dispositor), in the 3rd house. This indicates it is very difficult for Mr. Gore to communicate who he really is to others without being misunderstood. I suspect Mr. Gore uses a lot of psychic energy trying to hold down all his deeply passionate feelings. This may account for his rather stiff, wooden public affect. Gore’s Dominant Function is Fire: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius! He really is a warrior philosopher-king, but his singleton Mercury undermines him at critical moments. His Sun-Neptune opposition also leaves him vulnerable to deception, theft, and fraud.
Former President Bush has Mercury at that “flakey” 29th degree” of Taurus (was “Desert Storm” an indulgence in thanatos?), the only Earth sign planet. It is in the 9th house near the Midheaven, and rules the Virgo Ascendant and Gemini Midheaven, and it is the dispositor of his Gemini Sun. That makes it a very potent influence. We all remember at least a few of his very strange utterances! “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Of course, if you read his lips you might think that was what he was saying, but not so! He was really using the imperative tense, i.e. “(You will)] Know new taxes!” He told us he meant to impose more taxes. He communicated a lot of other things “up front” too, only in ways that were perceived by only the more astute observers.
Mercury is a trickster, especially a singleton Mercury. People misunderstood what he was indeed saying, and he may have intended it that way. When he gave TV addresses, he would rhythmically drum the fingers of his left hand (he is a “south paw”), on the desk while speaking. This is a technique those who stutter use to overcome the speech impediment. It is also an indication of extreme nervousness, bordering on hysteria, a Mercury and mutable failing. The nerves could have been perpetually “jangled,” making him chronically irritable because Mercury squares Mars – sharp but “raspy” mind. He has suffered (and may still), from thyroid disease, a Mercury and Taurus illness. As President, he affirmed verbally that “we’re winning the war on drugs,” but he nodded his head from side to side, signaling “no, not so.” Asked by the media if he had prior knowledge of the Russian coup, he denied any knowledge, yet his head bobbed up and down in the affirmative. Of course he did! One cartoonist depicted the man talking out of all four corners of his mouth! To give him credit, he is a very savvy person, and he probably found it hilarious that the public “bought” his verbal products. A sense of humor is a Mercurial quality. Mr. Bush Sr. has a T-cross comprised of Sun opposite Jupiter and Uranus squaring the opposition. That adds to the nervousness and gives a very “off the wall,” wacky sense of humor, as well as a degree of hubris.
Among the women who have Mercury as a singleton, we find some very powerful politicians as well. There was Catherine de Medicis, wife of King Henry II of France. She was a brilliant and manipulative tyrant, a great strategist, who was for all practical purposes the real King of France during reigns of each of her three sons. She has a reputation in history as being almost as cruel and evil as Himmler. She persecuted Protestants as he did Jews.
Empress Catherine the Great of Russia was even more brilliant as a political strategist than Medicis. She appropriated the crown from her ineffective, weak husband whom she subsequently had murdered. She was considered an enlightened person; she established literary reviews, encouraged science, and collected art, espousing the national culture. Both of these ladies relied on their heads, not their hearts.
Actresses Helen Hayes and Mary Astor were renowned and beloved by the public, for they used their Mercuries in positive ways. Hayes, along with Ethel Barrymore, is one of only two American actresses who have had theatres named after them. She, like Derek Jacobi and G.H.W. Bush, has her Mercury singleton as the ruler of the Ascendant and Midheaven. She is only three days younger than Heinrich Himmler, and they both have the initials H.H. What a difference three days makes! They both have a Mercury/Moon connection, but in Hayes’ chart it is an opposition, an aspect of awareness and a potential for integrity of mind (Mercury), and heart (Moon).
After a disastrous fourth marriage, Mary Astor became an alcoholic and drank for eleven years. She finally sought therapy, and with the help of a priest/psychiatrist recovered and wrote six books. Her Mercury singleton is the focal point of a T-cross with Uranus opposite Neptune, pointing toward alcoholism resulting from nervous anxiety. Pluto (disposed of by Mercury), in the 7th house shows she could benefit from and be healed by therapy. Neptune in the 8th house (Mercury rules this house in her chart), of rebirth and rehabilitation suggests the spiritual therapy with a priest.
Entertainer Anita Bryant, has Mercury Retrograde in Pisces in the 8th house (only planet in a universal sign), which got her in trouble when she publicly opposed Gay Rights in Florida. If I remember correctly, she later came to regret her words – Mercury Retrograde!
In general, a Mercury singleton is less problematic than the other planets, with the possible exception of Jupiter, ruler of Mercury’s opposite sign(s). That is because there are not many cultural or social myths and biases around Mercury issues. It is a relatively neutral energy. We have seen in the above examples that the nature of the mind and the quality of thought and communication with the Mercury singletons range from the sublimely inspiring, through the quite humorous, to the diabolically degrading.
Next we will look at Venus as a singleton with its issues of holistic non-linear perception, aesthetics, form, and sensuality as well as relationship and attraction.
Example Charts Used in the Article
About the author:
Eleanor Buckwalter has studied, practiced and taught astrology in Los Altos, CA for more than twenty-five years, including three years with the late Richard Idemon, a psychological astrologer. Her primary astrological focus of interest is parent-child relationships and family dynamics.