Mercury is very often overlooked in astrology, and it’s influence considered to be merely a ‘back-up’ to other, more dramatic planets. In my opinion, however, Mercury is in fact one of the most strong and powerful indicators of the subject’s fundamental character and likely path through life.
In mythology, Mercury is a direct descendant of Hermes, the messenger of Zeus and the God of Travellers. Mercury invented the lyre, and he was a marvellous athlete. He is usually shown stripped for sport, clad only in winged sandals and helmet. His characteristics are typically those of Gemini, which is one of the two signs he rules – he is intellectual, perceptive, versatile and argumentative; an excellent communicator. This planet stimulates the mind in all ways, but under stress can make us destructively argumentative, critical, nervous and tense.
It is generally agreed that the fundamental characteristics which distinguish mankind from other animals are our ability to think, to reason, to remember, to plan and to use tools. All of these attributes come under the rulership of Mercury. The Mercury-ruled sign of Gemini governs the hands and arms, which are singularly responsible for mankind’s dexterity in tool use. Mercury also rules the brain and the nervous system.
It follows then that from Mercury’s placement in the Natal Chart, we can form a good picture of how a subject’s mind works, at what speed, whether he thinks in a logical or intuitive way. We can also assess how the subject reaches decisions, and how he communicates with others. I believe that the mind is not the highest of man’s faculties, because it is superseded by the intuition, which comes from the eternal spiritual nature of man. However, in a practical way, the mind is equally as important as the spirit, because without it, the spirit cannot express itself. The mind, ruled by Mercury, is therefore the focusing lens between man’s higher and lower natures, thus making possible communication between the two.
The promise of any Natal Chart cannot be fulfilled unless Mercury provides the individual with the intelligence, communicating ability, knowledge and understanding to do so. Even if the subject has all of the other ‘ingredients’ for great success, they will lie unexpressed and dormant without the power of the mind to make use of them. Of course, in astrology, nothing is cut and dried, and there is no such thing as a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ Mercury placing. It is, however, important to understand the possible placings of this planet, in order to channel it’s energies in the most efficient way possible.
Mercury’s orbit lies between the earth and the sun, and as seen from the earth, Mercury always appears to be near the Sun. For astrological purposes, Mercury cannot be more than 28 degrees away from the Sun, and so will always be found in either the preceding sign, the same sign or the following sign. In interpretation, Mercury has a special relationship with the sun, and so in the interpretations that follow, we have also taken the sun’s position into account.