Mercury is the Messenger of the Gods. He is never further than 28° from the Sun, and is to be found in the same sign as the Sun or in one of the two adjoining signs.
Some astrologers contend that Mercury functions better in a chart when it is at least 10° away from the Sun and best when it is in another sign.
Mercury in a close conjunction to the Sun can give a very brilliant mind, but the style of thinking is less objective, more subjectively influenced by the will or the ego, and the person may have difficulty perceiving and reflecting about himself. It generally takes time, many years of living, before the Sun-Mercury person can begin to see himself with perspective.
The further distant from the Sun that Mercury is posited, the greater scope of perspective it tends to give. The person can see himself and reflect on his nature more easily; he comes to know himself earlier in life.
One client with this conjunction spent years in therapy and later trained to become a therapist herself. For years she thought her personality was quite integrated, logical and consistent. Only after studying psychology, doing dream interpretation and learning astrology was she able to see that she, like most of us, had a variegated and multi-faceted, somewhat inconsistent, set of psychodynamics.
Mercury tends to take on the tone and qualities of the planets it aspects, very much like the Moon, the other planet signifying the mind. After all, it is Mercury’s job to communicate the messages of the other planets (gods) to our inner selves as well as the outer world.
Mercury with Venus gives a refined, harmonious mind, a gracious style of communication, and diplomatic manners of speech.
With the Moon, the emotions and feelings are easily communicated, but the objective, reasoning process may suffer. A man with this configuration may project it onto his mother or wife, “Why does she have to be so logical, so sensible, when I’m feeling emotional?” All the while, the woman complains he “head-trips” his feelings.
Mars with Mercury gives a very quick, shrewd mind, and a cutting tongue. One tends to fly off the handle and regret later the impetuous speech. He or she may act too quickly on an untested idea.
Mercury-Jupiter is the expansive thinker who sees the big picture and tends to exaggerate. He may promise more than he can deliver. He is thorough and broad-minded, “everything is true for somebody, somewhere, sometime.”
With Saturn, Mercury is logical, serious, methodical and a good long-range planner. He sees the long view and does not look for the “quick fix.” He may be a pessimistic thinker, tending toward depression, but he can be counted on to be super-cautious. His motto is “when in doubt, don’t.”
Mercury with the outer planets is really the magician who can bring in and communicate ideas from the collective unconscious.
With Uranus there is a high degree of intuitive insight, the genius and/or the “crackpot.” He may have eccentric ideas that are years ahead of their time.
Neptune and Mercury produce the poet, the musician, artist, mathematician, and the liar. A client with Mercury-Sun-Neptune in conjunction was a brilliant thinker and a teacher who could explain and expound non-linear concepts in ways that linear, literal thinkers could understand. He was a talented musician and composer as well. But no one dared to discuss any important subjects or plans with him after he had a few “tokes.” He would go off in a dream world where his ideas became impossibly inflated.
Mercury-Pluto is the “legal eagle” mind. It gives the capacity for deep mental research; it signifies the penetrating thinker. No question is asked without a motive. Idle conversation is not of interest unless it conveys secrets that may offer power over another or a situation. This is the x-ray (and X-rated!) mind which tends to read the thoughts of others.
Mercury represents the capacity for learning and the method and attitude with which we go about learning. It is not the I.Q., for that cannot be determined from the chart. It does show how intelligence is communicated or how we access our data bank, our memory files. It is the ability to retrieve impressions. So, it is related to a type of experience some call “psychic” – what we once observed, then forgot we knew, then remember suddenly as if flashing on it for the first time.
Mercury shows how we interpret the information picked up through the senses, as well as our ability to cognate and to objectify what is perceived. The process of analyzing and comparing is involved, as well as naming, labeling, in order to give that which is observed a meaning and value. Dualistic, linear thinking which includes ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, black and white, either/or come into play.
Perception of the environment and the use of symbols to interpret and communicate those perceptions by defining things, categorizing, and classifying the sense data is involved. Curiosity and the urge toward experimentation and exploration of new experiences through the trial-and-error process is Mercurial. We have an idea. We act on it and find out what works and what does not.
On the physical level, Mercury represents the connection of the synapses of the nervous system: how the impulses which move through the nerves to the brain are interpreted, then relayed back as response and finally action. Speed is the ingredient. All experience takes place in the brain and nervous system. The sense organs, eyes, ears, and so forth, pick up various ranges of vibratory frequencies and transmit them to the brain for processing and interpretation, sensation. We literally feel pain and pleasure in the brain. Those sensations are transmitted to the nerves related to particular areas of the body and we have the illusion that our finger hurts or the wine tastes sour on the tongue.
Much of childhood experience is related to Mercury. Learning about the immediate environment, learning to organize sounds into speech by imitating and mimicking others, exploring and experimenting. Do I eat it; do I stick it in my ear, or what? A baby puts every new thing first in the mouth to check if it is edible by running it through the sense of taste. He looks at it, puts it in the mouth, shakes it; does it make a sound? What is it for, what can I do with it? He laughs with delight when he figures out the round blue thing rolls when he throws it. He mimics mother, saying “ball.”
Mercury is the most important planet in synastry, in relationships. If we cannot understand each other, and cannot communicate our thoughts and feelings to others and comprehend theirs, we have no basis for relationship. An amusing example occurred with a classmate. We compared notes after a lecture, and he remarked, “It looks like we were at two different talks.” His water sign Mercury was exactly squared to my fire sign Mercury! For all practical purposes, we had been hearing different talks. Our notes would have been useless, the one to the other, had either of us missed the class.
When you know a person’s Mercury sign, you can make some adjustment in your mode of communication to accommodate his patterns of thought. After all, Mercury is first of all adaptable and versatile. You can teach anyone when you speak to his Mercury.
Air signs are objective, observing, abstract and tend to be detached and logical. They are good listeners. Water sign Mercury is the opposite. It is subjective, reactive, emotionally involved with, or attached to, ideas. It needs to feel touched to learn. Fire sign Mercury is self-expressive, creative. It wants to know: What can I do with it? How can I play with it? It is the passionate thinker and speaker, who needs to learn to be a good listener. Earth Mercury is practical, experimental, experiential: “I know it, because I’ve done it, seen it, heard it, touched it, tasted it.” It can be literal to a fault, misunderstanding metaphor and allegory. It tends toward a rather narrow or simplistic interpretation of poetry, myth and scripture. However, it understands technical and scientific material very well.
Some archetypes for Mercury and Gemini are: Peter Pan, The Puer Etemus (eternal youth and “committaphobic”), Alice in Wonderland, the Trickster, the Magician, and the Thief.
Mercury was known as the God of Commerce. For years his head in profile was on our dime, and he was depicted in full regalia, winged helmet and sandals on the cover of the old telephone books. His staff with two entwined snakes and two wings at the top is the symbol of the physician; so he is associated with the healing arts as well.
*Picture Christina Balit
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.