He lives in a library, where arched columns stretch several stories high, and the shelves hold rows upon rows of polished hardcovers. Their glossy bindings never dull with dust. Their pages never lose their smell, whether they are rough with ink and textured paper, or white, crisp, shiny sheets. His greedy fingers are always worked under their pages as his invasive eyes scour their intimate corners. Until - impatient, unsatisfied - he thrusts them back on the shelf (exactly where they ought to be, as per his exhausting organizational methods) and flies to the next shelve many floors down.
Perhaps his books aren't enough anymore. Perhaps his thousands of catalogs don't scratch that mental itch that's been bugging him lately. It isn't enough to simply fill up his mind with tales of dashing heroes, the history of the telephone, the physics of how a shark swims, or the complete history of the Russian empire. Learning and thinking on his own can only take him so far. The inner walls of his own mind can only make so many connections inside itself. Perhaps it's time to fly out, over tongue and teeth and pink lips, or through fingertips, to deliver his knowledge to the rest of the world.
Of course! CONVERSATION! Discussion, debate, gossip! He needs to connect with other people. He needs to talk to them, write to them, sing or act or speak in front of him. Outside of his mental library he is free to flirt and flit from one person to the next, intimately or casually, gaining new insight into other people as he flies from place to place. And when discussion isn't enough, he can work his fingers into a project or a puzzle, stringing his mind and his hands together in unison. This is where Mercury lives: in the quick movements, in firing synapses, in words and dialogue. And this is where he travels - between thought and speech, the land of the gods and the land of the mortals, delivering his messages back and forth until his winged feet can't fly anymore.
The glyph used for Mercury (☿) is the alchemy symbol for the metal of the same name, and may also be symbolic of Hermes' winged helmet and caduceus staff. The glyph contains a circle, a cross, and a crescent, all in one. The cross grounds Mercury in the reality of the rational, factual, concrete world. The circle is us, the person, the mind or body of self. And the crescent is our higher intellectual or divine ascension, as we gain knowledge that enlightens us to the world. Altogether, this is a symbol for a planet that takes earthly facts and transports them into ourselves, and then onto higher intellectual aspirations. It is a planet of learning, thinking, talking, and basic motor skills; your logical mind at work.
Mercury is your lower mind, the part of your brain that takes information in, processes it, and then communicates it back out. Whether you use your Mercury through teaching, building, fixing, writing, or speaking, it is a major component of your personality. And an often overlooked one at that! Too many astrologers talk about your Sun, your Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Pluto, skipping over half the planets in the process. But isn't how a person thinks just as interesting, if not more so, than every other aspect of their personality? Isn't Mercury worthy of your time?
I say it is. Whether through thoughtful discussion, an intellectual debate, sitting in a classroom, or reading alone, your mind is absorbing information in from your environment and deciding how to move and what to say. In your Natal Chart, Mercury shows what you are interested in learning how, how you think, and your own style of communication. This is also your memory, attention span, intelligence, and how you process the world around you.
A healthy Mercury requires mental stimulation and a constructive outlet. Everyone is a different kind of intelligent, and it depends entirely on what you are interested in learning about. We can all think of at least a handful of our favourite activities, our favourite topics to discuss, memories of great conversations we've had. Whether you're into art and culture, history and humanities, science and nature, building and trades, or anything in between, we all know what it's like to feel mentally engrossed in what we love. That high of having all our attention completely consumed by something - that is exactly what Mercury wants! And when it doesn't have enough of that, your attention span shortens, your mind becomes fickle, and your Mercury starts to bounce around trying to find something compelling to think about.
When you see an unhealthy Mercury, boredom is usually the culprit. Think of a small child, stuck in a classroom, forced to sit still, unable to follow the lesson because they aren't captivated by anything the teacher has to say. They grow more impatient and fidgety. Their mind screams and clamours for something interesting to do - a game, a puzzle, a more compelling topic to think about, a better conversation. The child will act out this need to move around and explore, and the frustrated teacher will react with discipline and punishment. But their behaviour isn't the problem, the boredom is! And the answer to a Mercury mind that is erratic and childish, is to feed it the kind of information and activity it's hungry for.
An additional thing to keep in mind, is that Mercury stays within 28° of the Sun at all times. Your Mercury Sign can only be in the same Sign as your Sun, or in one of the Signs on either side. For example, if you have your Sun in Scorpio, your Mercury can only be in Libra, Scorpio, or Sagittarius. If you have your Sun in Gemini, your Mercury can only be in Taurus, Gemini, or Cancer. In the philosophy of astrology, this means that who you are and how you think are never totally different from one another, as your mind and your ego are almost inseparable.
RULERSHIP AND EXALTATION
The majority of astrologers will tell you that Mercury is Ruled by both Gemini and Virgo together, and is Exalted solely in Virgo. But I say that Mercury is just Ruled by Gemini and Exalted in Virgo; not that much of a change, but the start of how I practice astrology differently than many other astrologers.
Gemini represents the Air side of Mercury, the half that is relational and communicative. Here is Mercury's childlike, scattered, changeable, nature, easily bored and quick to move onto something else. Virgo is the Earth side, which is practical and analytical, the mind which dissects information to better understand it. Both of these Signs are rational, reasonable, and intelligent. Gemini is a tad bit more logical, and Virgo more practical, but both prefer to stick to the scientific facts of what things are and how things work. Although their minds are adaptable, able to contort themselves to communicate with a variety of other people, they are nevertheless always grounded in the small picture of details and data.
Mercury is in Detriment in Sagittarius and in Fall in Pisces. Neither of these Signs would choose to see the smaller picture when they can choose to see the bigger one instead. It isn't enough to see the world as it is. These are Signs of imagination, of how things could be, or should be. They are more creative than logical, more idealistic than practical. Sagittarius takes the facts and then balloons them into impossible ideas as their questions get more and more absurd. Pisces is irrational, impractical, emotional, and fanciful - everything Mercury is not. Both these Mercury Signs are challenged to learn how to be more sensible, to think more rationally. And most of all, to communicate mor eeffectly to the people around them.
MERCURY THROUGH THE SIGNS
MERCURY IN ARIES moves your mind at full speed ahead, like the Ram charging forward. Mentally, you go hard or go home - diving head-first into what interests you, learning as much as you possibly can, all at once, until it isn't challenging anymore, you get bored, and move onto something else. Like a firecracker, you can be very dramatic and loud one minute, and then lose interest almost as quickly. And when you hold a conversation with somebody, it is the same story. This placement is known for being very obscene, tactless, and off-the-cuff. You don't take the edges off your words and say exactly what is on your mind, without any care for how it might effect other people. In a good way, you are quick to laugh and hard to offend. But to some, you may be too offensive and brutal for them to handle.
MERCURY IN TAURUS slows down your thought process to a crawl, like the Bull ambling across a field. You completely commit to the small number of topics which interest you, digesting information slowly, letting your mind turn it over for a very long time. Like a pebble against the sand, you can take even the most complex ideas and smooth them out into simple concepts. When you communicate these ideas out you speak slowly, quietly, and repeat yourself to really hammer your point into the conversation. It isn't often that you do talk, for you prefer to listen, and seldom give your opinion unless directly asked. But when you do talk, you are bluntly spoken, straightforward, stubbornly locked in one way of thinking, and likely to totally dominate the conversation with what you have to say.
MERCURY IN GEMINI is in its Ruled position. Here your mind is free to flit from one fascinating topic to the next, whatever it may be. Your mind needs constant activity and entertainment, or else your short attention span will cause it to wander somewhere else. Your mind is strong because has this inherent flexibility, able to contort itself to learn and communicate effectively about a wide variety of subjects. But it is also fickle, and demanding, eating up information and never feeling satisfied enough to stop. Luckily, your love of reading, watching, and learning new things means that your opinions are varied and your mind open to change. And your linguistic talents make you an charming communicator, able to adapt your techniques to fit a variety of other people.
MERCURY IN CANCER makes you think and speak in an emotional way. You are sensitive and deeply impacted by what other people think. In some ways, this gives you a compassionate voice that sees and understands how other people work. In others, it can mean that your rational mind gets overloaded by wayward emotions, and discussions can suddenly become too personal. In order to keep this from happening, you may close yourself off from discussing topics that make you angry, sad, or stressed out. You might choose not to engage with others in conversation, become introverted, and hide away to keep from getting upset. But you should make an effort to expose yourself to different points of view, even if they make you angry, because only listening to those who agree with you will create an intellectual bubble around yourself that prevents you from changing when you need to.
MERCURY IN LEO is very loud, very dramatic, and very good at entertaining people. You are a powerful speaker, able to use your voice and your magnetism to capture the hearts of those around you, which makes people listen and follow you wherever you lead them. This is why this is called such a great leadership position; actors, singers, and politicians with big voices usually have their Mercury here. But your talent for public speaking isn't limited to the podium. Should you apply yourself creatively, you can use an artistic medium to express your thoughts, beliefs, and opinions in a more meaningful way. At times, it is true that the way you speak can be too fiery, too self-centered, and too arrogant for some people. But you need that kind of pride and enthusiasm in order to make the impact that you do, so you can't dim the fire too much!
MERCURY IN VIRGO is in its Exalted position. Your eyes sift through the world with a very fine sieve. You notice every detail, every mistake, every flaw, everything that needs to be corrected and fixed. And you know just the way to do it, because you also think in practical terms of how things should get done. You are a very rational, intellectual thinker, one who deals in the cold hard facts. But there are times when you see your own beliefs and opinions as facts - and anybody who disagrees with you is swiftly criticized as an idiot. As adaptable and malleable as your mind is, you spare little time in judging people for their stupidity, and have a difficult time understand other points of view when it conflicts with your scientific understanding of the world. It is important that you become more tolerant of humanity's many failings and weaknesses, instead of aiming to fix everything yourself.
MERCURY IN LIBRA is always weighing and balancing two separate but equal ideas in their mind, tipping their mental Scales back and forth. You see both sides of every issue, understand both sides of every argument, and can debate any side of any topic. It's impossible for you to hold onto only one opinion at a time, because you can't help but see things from other people's points of view. And in conversation, this shows up as you constantly dip back and forth between the perspectives of those around you. A common trope is for you to say something like, "I understand what you're saying, but...", showing them you are sympathetic to their point of view, before coercing them into the opposite point. In this way, you have a very beautiful, polite way of speaking that agrees with everyone, erasing conflict and replacing it with intellectual reasoning and empathetic understanding.
MERCURY IN SCORPIO makes you obsess over whatever interests you. Your mind grabs ahold of whatever it is you are learning about, gobbles up as much as it possibly can, and becomes completely consumed by its desire for more. It isn't possible for you to be only "casually" into something (or someone). You need to go deep, and dark, where others fear to tread, in order to get to the truth. When you communicate with others, you tend to listen more than speak, and analyze more than you let on. But when you do speak, your words have the barbed tail of the Scorpion. You can fully appreciate the complexity of light and dark, of good and bad, and seek to teach others how to unite both within themselves. And you understand that in order to do that, you have to strip away the bullshit and aim straight for the heart.
MERCURY IN SAGITTARIUS is in its Detriment position. You are too impatient to sit down and grind through the facts, the details, the petty "whats" and "hows". You are far more interested in the "whys" and the "what ifs" of this world, and are fascinated by subjects that expand on your perspective. The drawback here that while you are an open-minded and creative thinker, your ideas are impractical, and not likely to actually work in practice. And while you communicate with genuine warmth and a friendly smile, your sharp tongue and love of sarcasm can offend your more delicate audience members. Also, people don't follow your logical leaps, despite your enthusiasm, which makes it difficult to communicate your ideas clearly. Overall, it is wise for you to sometimes scale back your vision and better organize your thoughts to become a more effective communicator and visionary.
MERCURY IN CAPRICORN is very good at balancing between the big picture and the little one. You can see your ambitions and long term goals, where you want to be in the future, and all the little steps of how you are going to get there, all lined up in a neat little row. You take in practical information, stuff you can use, not just nonsensical filler. And you think in a very dry, very rational, very realistic way, organizing your thoughts so you can be more effective in achieving what it is you want to achieve. The downfall is that you can be too hard on yourself (and others), judging too harshly, overthinking yourself into fits of anxiety or falling into a pit of despair. People can feel intimidated by you, especially since the way that you speak is so detached - friendly, but formal. To be a more effective leader, you must learn how to communicate in a way that doesn't come across as judgemental, and instead show some of that inner sensitivity that you hide so well.
MERCURY IN AQUARIUS is the hallmark of an independent thinker - a scientist that uses logic and rationality to understand the world. You are able to see and appreciate the full complexity of everything, as if you were seeing into the fourth dimension. You can look at things from all angles and all points of view, making you a very understanding person, with opinions and judgements that are very well-rounded and fair. When you speak to people you do so with warmth and understanding, entertaining as much as educating. That is, until a lightning bolt of anger turns you frighteningly cold and heartless, dead-set on winning regardless of how much you might tear someone apart. As a stickler for truth and honesty, you may be able to justify these emotional episodes as you "telling somebody that needed to be told". But as a lover of rational, open-minded discussions, it may be better to use your cleverness to get your point across instead.
MERCURY IN PISCES is in its Fall position. With this placement, you have no boundaries of rationality to keep the bullshit away, instead absorbing all the information around you as if it were all true. This is why you are so gullible, so easily led and manipulated into believing what other people want you to think. As well, you fail to communicate clearly, and come across as less intelligent than you actually are because if it. It is important that you develop a healthy bit of skepticism and put more mental walls up between you and other people. But just as important is realizing that your particular way of taking in and relaying information, while it may be illogical or irrational, works very well for dealing with people. You have a psychic insight into the emotions of others and an intuitive knowledge of how they work, and you can use this to your advantage in your quest to help others.
Mercury might get ignored in your astrological readings, but it's a darn shame when that happens. Your mind is a big part of who you are, and has a big impact on how you see the world. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the way your Mercury works and why you should pay more attention to it, in your chart as well as others.