The Planets: Cast of Characters, Part 4- Mercury

When children feel secure and comfortable in their own space, they seldom take sides. They remain neutral in an inquisitive state, eager to understand and comprehend what they can, in whatever ways they can. They want to roam, play, ponder, and question everything in their free-spirited nature. Their neutrality shifts to like or dislike, to nice or naughty, to well-behaved or unruly depending on their reaction and interaction to whatever is going on around them or whoever is demanding their attention and conformity. An external force, perhaps a loud noise, another child crying or insisting impatiently for attention, or the disciplining voice of a parent can throw off the child’s equilibrium. They find it difficult to remain neutral. What child—what adult for that matter- can remain neutral for too long?

The planet Mercury is similar to a child, in that respect. When positioned alone in a house in the natal chart, Mercury’s neutrality can remain intact longer and will operate quite comfortably from and within its own resonance and frequency. The level of comfort will, of course, be modified according to the sign and element.

While it is not uncommon for Mercury to occupy a house by itself, it is highly uncommon if Mercury remains in a childlike purity, in an unblemished, undisturbed state without having to contend with aspects from other planets in the chart or aspects from planets in their current transits. Hence, the innate quality and preferred state of neutrality can be quite difficult to maintain.

If planets cast their own energy or a mix of energy by aspect, or if a transiting planet is doing the same, Mercury’s neutrality will be affected according to the instinctual response latent within Mercury based on its relationship to the planet(s) involved. Will Mercury be the bright intellectual or the mischievous trouble-maker, or both? The personality traits to emerge will depend on the condition, yogas, and the house rulership of Mercury and the planet or planets associating with it. In the presence of any planet, Mercury can become chameleon-like, coloring its own qualities by blending the tints and shades from its associates.

When the eager apprentice (Mercury) is in the presence of the King (the Sun), the youth is typically well-behaved, having learned that it is improper to behave otherwise in front of royalty. Mercury is comfortable in the presence of the Sun, who illumines and purifies the intellect. To what rate will this radiant intellect be made manifest depends on the placement of the Mercury-Sun conjunction, the houses they rule, and whether or not they are associating with the 1st or 5th Houses. These are the requirements for a fully formed Buddhaditya Yoga, which turns this common conjunction into an extraordinary personality trait in far less few birth charts. For this yoga to take full effect, Mercury and the Sun must be in good condition as well, which means they should either occupy their own signs, be in exaltation, or gain strength through directional position (dig bala), and not be afflicted by challenging planets. When these conditions occur in the natal chart, the individual will likely inherit the gift of genius.

Albert Einstein had a debilitated Mercury in his natal chart. You may wonder how this is possible. This is where condition, placement, yogas, divisional charts, dasha sequence, and nakshatras are necessary for full interpretation. Einstein has several conditions which counter the debility. Yet, even though difficulty may remain active, the debility is in itself an energetic draw, an inborn vortex if you will, where there is a need to satisfy or learn something, and to experience it in an uncommon way, in a manner which is typically quite different compared to individuals with planets that are not debilitated.

When in the presene of Jupiter, Mercury takes on the role of the scribe or the messenger. Here, at its best, the student is ready to absorb, analyze, and communicate the wisdom pouring forth from the sage, the priest, the teacher, the guru. The Egyptian Thoth in his role as scribe comes to mind, or as his role as the dog-faced baboon or man with the head of a baboon when he is A’an, the god of equilibrium. Thoth, in his role as arbitrator, required neutrality to oversee the three epic battles between good and evil, the first being the battle between Ra and Apophis, the second battle between Heru-Bekhutet and Set, followed by the third between Horus and Set. Each pair of contenders represented order and chaos which Thoth mediated, and if any gods were injured during the course of their wars, Thoth, as healer, would see to it that their wounds were mended so none would destroy the other. And isn’t it true that when we find a place of neutrality, our wounds can be healed?  Thoth has been known by seemingly countless names, including the Scribe of Ma’at in the Company of the Gods and Hermes thrice Great. Hermes, perhaps Thoth’s most popular form, is the Greek god who possessed great intelligence and speed, with the ability to move between worlds, perfect for his role as the messenger of the Gods. So much can be said regarding Thoth/Hermes and the inherent qualities of the planet Mercury!

When Mercury turns to Jupiter to quench his thirst for knowledge, there may be danger lurking depending on the nature of Jupiter. Is Mercury deriving his information from a highly regarded, proven source? Will the pupil have the ability to distinguish between true wisdom and made-up nonsense that sounds good? Will the anxious, restless student be properly taught or misguided? Is the priest honorable and revered or self-appointed and unholy? Is there an overzealous teacher insisting “My way is the only way”? Is Jupiter’s presence creating great enthusiasm and advancement or is it causing self-righteousness and intolerance of others beliefs, of other religions and paths? This will depend on Jupiter’s placement and condition in the natal chart.

When Mercury and Mars are in association, the aggressive, defensive, and competitive qualities of Mars modify Mercury’s neutrality. How this shows up will depend on the sign and house placement. In some cases you may witness that, for example, the intellect (Mercury) becomes sharp (Mars); the humor (Mercury) rowdy and perverse (Mars); the speech (Mercury) increasing in volume and provoking debate or controversy (Mars). When the King’s warrior (Mars) is influencing the youth or apprentice (Mercury), will the relationship develop into a noble, respectable mentorship, where Mercury gains proper knowledge and preparation for his mature years ahead? Will Mars be the coach of life-affirming guidance or destructive, manipulative schemes? Again, the condition of Mars in relation to the chart as a whole will determine his underlying motivation.

Court jesters in medieval times had quick wit and were expected to criticize the King’s guests when their behavior deserved a response. Unlike other members of the court, jesters reported to the King as the sole providers of the bad news no one else dared to speak.  By far, the most common role of appointed jesters was to provide entertainment, and if the King demanded it, the performance must be top-notch and satisfying.  Thus, Mercury here must be the marriage of the discriminating intellectual and the effective comic. Shakespeare’s jester, Feste, in Twelfth Night is “wise enough to play the fool”.

Laughter and humor are great qualities which emerge from Mercury’s playfulness. Making people laugh is part of the social-orientation of Mercury. Despite the preference for neutrality, Mercury enjoys company. One might say Mercury truly needs company, just as the child needs someone to teach, encourage, or protect him or her.  Who doesn’t love the sound of children laughing, or the sound and vibration of adults blissfully swept up in the laughter spiraling through their auras and linking them in true friendship? ‘Comic relief’ can be divinely inspired, intentionally lifting the moods and Spirit of those listening. “If I wasn’t laughing, I’d be crying.” But under the wrong influence, Mercury can be the smart ass, thinking he’s clever and funny, when in fact, he is neither. Poking fun can cause serious injury as inappropriate laughter arrives abruptly and at unexpected times. In those such instances, he is immature and ultimately ineffective.

Who else might Mercury be keeping company with?

In the presence of the Moon, Mercury may speak pleasantly and from the heart. Depending on the circumstances, he may learn to develop the bad habit of saying what others want to hear and what is expected for fear of upsetting the Queen herself. He typically expresses his feelings with ease, though often under the dictates of his emotions. The heart and the mind, the intuition and intellect, can be in beautiful harmony, in sync, emphasizing a certain sensitivity, perhaps granting the ability of prophecy, of telepathy, of intuiting what others are thinking or feeling, and possessing the capability of sharing what may be revealed.

In the presence of Venus, the Princess, Mercury can become the bashful adolescent causing scenes in the hopes of getting noticed by the fair one. He may inadvertently make a fool of himself while trying to capture her attention. Together they will enjoy each other’s company. They will find great pleasure in socializing and will not take life too seriously.  Overindulgence can cause harmful issues and lead Mercury off on a useless and meaningless tangent. But in the end, he will learn much.

On the other hand, when Mercury is in the presence of Saturn, the elder or Sage, he will be forced to take life seriously. His thinking and mentality will be disciplined, focused, and keenly in pursuit of ancient wisdom, often giving a modern spin to what has been learned in order to share with his peers. He will come to understand responsibility. Through trial and error, he will begin to realize the power in his words and use them with precision.  Or, if spiritually inclined, he may learn to control his tongue and savor the silence. Like any youth obligated to remain in the presence of their elders for too long, Mercury will feel the restriction and pressure and will likely act out immaturely or develop nervous disorders, and his once  humorous nature may be easily suppressed.

Mercury is said to correlate with The Magician as the inquisitive and mature Mercury who, through his study and neutrality, has come into awareness of meaning, purpose, and power of the four suits. In the Tarot of the New Vision card (shown), Mercury addresses an audience with commanding presence but keeps company with a mischievous monkey hiding behind him. Some also link Mercury to The Lovers, due in part to Mercury’s enjoyment and need for connection and relations.

Look at your own Mercury. What house, sign, and element is it in? Is Mercury alone? How easy is it for you to remain neutral to your surroundings? Is it difficult for you to take sides? If Mercury is with other planets in your chart, who is present? What are their motives, and how are they influencing Mercury? Which aspects (natally and/or by transit) are affecting Mercury? Which planets are involved, and how does their influence modify Mercury? Are you the inquisitive youth, the average student, the bright intellectual, the stand-up comedian, the prankster, the writer or scribe, all of them, or a combination of them?

In Part 5, we will look at the King’s appointed priest, Jupiter, and find out if he is who he claims to be.

Written by Renate Maria Bell -certified Vedic Astrologer, Jyotish Visharada, and approved teacher with the Council of Vedic Astrology. She can be reached at 2022© Do not use, post, repost, or reprint in part or in whole without the expressed written consent of the author.

Image of The Magician from The Rider-Waite Tarot deck