Zodiacal Affinity: Mercury and Virgo.

House Affinity: Third and sixth.

Polarity: Neutral or dual.

Colors: Specked or spotted.

Anatomy: The thyroid gland, the brain and nervous system. Sight, the tongue and organs of speech. The hands.

Metal: Quicksilver.

Gem: Quicksilver and lodestone.

Astronomy: Mercury completes its orbit around the Sun in 88 days. Because it is inside Earth’s orbit, it is never more than 28 zodiacal degrees from the Sun.

People: Students, writers, editors and journalists. Technicians and messengers. Employees and staff. The intelligentsia.

Things: Documents, letters, books and pictures. Neighbors, bargaining, buying and selling.

Symbology: The glyph for Mercury combines the crescent of receptivity, the circle of oneness and the cross of matter. It has a serpentine, intertwining property, as seen in the caduceus of Mercury, signifying the planet’s dualism and its creative, electrical energies.

The horoscope of Courtney Love features a powerful Mercury.

Mercury retrograde is seen in about 20% of all horoscopes.

Aldous Huxley, Ralph Nader, Hilary Clinton, and Chrissie Hynde were born while Mercury was retrograde.

The mental faculties engaged in perceiving, associating and communicating.

Traditional Attributes
The concrete, mundane mind and its faculties. Perception, memory and speech. The hands and coordination. Thought, reason and analysis. Learning and communicating. Interacting with things and surroundings. Electricity and electrical energies. Data and information. Technology and efficiency. Computers, transportation, cars, telephones and the media. Youth.

Humanistic Interpretation
Mercury symbolizes the principle of interchange, association and relatedness. It gives a mental formulation to one’s solar principle, giving one a unique reason for being. Mercury represents the coordination of our many organic, emotional and mental processes— our central nervous system is one of its many manifestations. Mercury is also the symbol of differentiation; it steps the unified solar force down to positive and negative electrical changes. Like the mind, which separates and analyzes, Mercury has a dual character, shown in the mythos of Hermes, the Greek Mercury, who was not merely the messenger of the gods, but a divine liar, theft and trickster. Mind and language may attempt to communicate facts, but it can never do so with complete truth and it can’t replace direct experience, because it necessarily separates the knower and the known.

For A Man
Although Mercury’s role in a birth chart doesn’t vary significantly for men and for women, in a man’s horoscope Mercury indicates where a man should be able to operate best without gender conditioning. As explored in-depth in another feature, Mercury’s angular connections with other planets, especially Mars and Saturn, reveals how gender biases are transferred to Mercury and the mind.

For A Woman
Because Mercury is neutral, biases and prejudices can be exposed with its aid. In woman’s birth chart, Mercury shows her best approach to attaining social recognition and equality without engaging in or reacting to gender conditioning and sexual politics.

Mercury spends about three weeks of its 88-day cycle retrograde, and about twenty-percent of all horoscopes feature Mercury retrograde. In a birth chart, Mercury retrograde indicates a mind turned inward toward introspection and self-examination. Exploring one’s inner dimensions may be easier and more inviting than dealing with “real world” issues, and the larger, philosophical issues underlying life often hold more appeal than life’s more mundane side. One’s own ideas and thoughts are likely to be more interesting and intriguing than those of others. Mercury retrograde, therefore, is well-suited for writers, artist, musicians, philosophers and people whose work require the development of new ideas and high degree of concentration and creativity. Far from indicating mental slowness, Mercury retrograde figures largely in the horoscopes of some of the most intelligent individuals of any era.
      Because Mercury’s polarity is neutral, its significance when retrograde does not differ as significantly between men and women as do some other planets. Yet there are some subtle differences.
      In a man’s chart, Mercury retrograde suggests an aptitude for studiousness and intense mental work requiring long hours of solo work.
      In a woman’s chart, Mercury retrograde suggests a personality who strikes out on her own, often breaking new ground and embodying the ideals of new womanhood during any era.

See the section on The Four Faces of Mercury for more on Mercury’s significance in the birth chart. In the meantime, read an early treatment of the subject in my A Handbook for the Humanistic Astrologer, or online browse the section on Directive Intellect

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