“A man with no motive is a man no one suspects. Always keep your enemies confused. If they don’t know who you are or what you want, they can’t predict your next move” — Peter Baelish (Little Finger) Game of Thrones, Season 4
In most myths and stories Mercury is usually portrayed by a character like Peter Baelish in the Game of Thrones. A person who is a “shapeshifter”, intelligent but slippery. One who blurs the lines between ally and enemy. He may start out as the ally to the hero, but his agenda is usually to stay on the winning side, so he may betray or help the hero at a critical moment
Every planet but mercury has a unique and a pretty fixed lens through which they see the world. A well-disposed Mercury sees no black and white situations, only grey shades to be navigated. He is neither the judge or the jury, and simply has agreed standards of qualitative and quantitative measurements.
Most people know Mercury from the notorious mercury retrograde cycles. A retrograde planet is one that is moving backwards rather than forward, and all planets do that. Mercury just does more frequently. During retrograde cycles the energy of the planet gets introverted. Since Mercury’s job is to manage the day to day affairs of our life the overrated fear of Mercury retrograde becomes a cultural phenomenon.
Mercury is associated with learning, education, commerce, mathematics, and details like contracts, balancing a check book that make life smooth for us. He is also the mental machinery of a scientist or even philosopher who measures, dissects weighs and experiments to understand the laws of nature.
In western mythology he is called the “messenger of the Gods”.
While all the planets build us up, our consciousness speaks through mercury.
A well-disposed mercury in the horoscope produces skilled communicator, writers, artists, entertainers and any other activity that requires the ability to form clear ideas and thoughts and communicating our inner world to the outer world.
All mental pattern-recognition and repetitive mental behaviors are also the purview of Mercury. A highly skilled mercury is fond of puns, double meanings, metaphors and poetry. Mercury loves anticipating and mediating the riddles and uncertainties of life.
The words mercantile or merchant derive from the root word Mercury. Mercury functions as an excellent participant in the world of business, trade, and commerce. The Arthshastra or ancient Indian treatise in economic policy dating back at least three millennia is dedicated to the planet Mercury.
In 2015, The Human Connectome Project funded by the US National Institutes of Health to studied the neural pathways of the brain called Connectomes that govern the communication of signals from one part of the brain to another. Their research showed that people with better language skills, vocabulary, education and income tended to have significantly greater connectivity between regions of the brain associated with higher cognition. This could be a glimpse of Mercury’s role in our consciousness.
Mercury loves connections and loves variety, so our mercury brain is on an endless search to take in more and more data from the environment, which can also turn into a detriment and lead to mental overload and breakdown. The absent-minded professor is a perfect archetype of mercury overload.
Without silence to balance our mind and security to ground Mercury, this can also lead to more serious conditions such as the modern day epidemic of ADD, Autism as Asperger.
In the information age, we are raising children with too much Mercury or external stimulus, which is resulting smaller and smaller attention spans but bigger and bigger appetites for more information.
To understand Mercury’s curious, malleable and neutral nature we turn to the Vedic mythology of Mercury’s birth. Jupiter, the Cosmic guru was pre-occupied with spirituality, theology, mystical codes and rituals of the Vedas at his ashram. His students were the Gods, kings, celestial beings as well as learned mortals. His wife Tara, which means the Stars, was frustrated because her husband had little time for emotional connection and enjoying the pleasures of day to day life with her.
So, when she met one of her husband’s students, the Moon, who had a passion for relating and connecting at the level of the body and mind, she was smitten with him. They had a notorious affair and she eventually eloped with him. This was a quite a shock for the great guru Jupiter and knocked him off his feet, as well as a big scandal in the celestial social circles.
After much strife, and interference from other Gods, Tara finally returned to Jupiter, but she was already pregnant. By the way, Tara, like all partners or consorts of the Hindu gods and goddesses in Vedic mythology, represents their other half.
Tara’s running away with the Moon shows that even when we have all the access to spiritual knowledge of our unity consciousness, like Jupiter, it does not mean that we are still not vulnerable to the temptations and persuasions of our moon mind. This is why so many Gurus and spiritual teachers as well as disciples, fall from grace, -- like Jupiter, they don’t acknowledge their Moon Mind.
So Mercury had two fathers, Jupiter who raised him and his biological father the moon.
The three distinct parts of our mind in Ayurveda Psychology are represented by the two fathers and their son in this way :
Our moon will sense or have a feeling about someone or something, we can of course never totally rely on our feelings, as they can be subjective, but we thrive and suffer as a result of this connectedness with our loved ones.
Our Jupiter can go beyond the moon and actually experience others within himself, like many empaths, he can merge the object with the subject. It is totally impractical to have this type of consciousness, but we thrive and suffer due to this type of universal connectedness.
But their progeny, Mercury, systematically navigates the world through facts, figures, logic, categorizing, and dissecting, so he loses the interconnectedness of all beings, ecosystems and the mind.
In ancient cultures, like Tao in China, Shinto in Japan, Wakan-Tanka of the native Americans, or Yoga of India, Jupiter qualities were celebrated and sought after in leaders and mentors. In the modern information age, you need have a good Mercury to navigate life, lead and be considered the wise sage.
So back to our story… Tara never openly acknowledged who the real father was, and Mercury grew up confused, not knowing if he belonged to the Moon or to Jupiter. He also had a great deal of resentment towards his real father the Moon, who he felt had abandoned him.
In the horoscope, Mercury does not perform well when placed with the moon or in the water signs of Cancer, ruled by the moon, and Pisces ruled Jupiter. The feeling and empathetic nature of the water element blurs the details and neutrality of Mercury clouding his judgement. It’s a little bit like trying to communicate when you are overwhelmed with feelings or crying.
The fire signs give Mercury great acumen and further increase his intelligence, But Sometimes the impatience of the fire element, makes mercury’s job a little harder, like trying to communicate when you are very excited.
Mercury is best placed in the Air signs and earth signs. In the air signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, he is free to move around learn, communicate and explore. In the earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, he can put his ability to manage life to good use in the practical world.
As a neutral planet, who takes on the characteristic of the planets he is conjunct, Mercury usually functions at his best when placed alone.
Once again we go back to our Story… Mercury grew up a talkative child and is described as speaking even when he was in the womb. Since Mercury had no firm convictions, beliefs agenda, or pedigree, even as a child he was always questioning and extremely inquisitive, as he wanted to understand and learn everything.
He would ask his mother. What am I supposed to be? Am I a man or a woman? What is my lineage? Do I believe this or that? What is my purpose? Should I become a mystic, should I get married, who should I marry? Should I this should I that?
Lord Brahma gave him the name Budh, from the Sanskrit root word Budhi, which means the intellect. And the discriminating reasoning logical, conceptual part of our mind.
In the Vedic Astrology mythology, each planet has its incarnation on earth, as a living being or avatar, that exemplifies the highest manifestation of that planet’s teaching. Invoking the qualities of these super hero’s through storytelling, mantras and visualization, are used as remedies for our planets that are causing us strife.
The Buddha is considered the highest manifestation and incarnation of Mercury. The Buddha was named Sidhartha at birth but later given the name Buddha, the same as Mercury.
But how does Mercury, the noisiest planet in our head space, who won’t stop dissecting analyzing and talking even when we want to go to meditate or sleep have anything in common with the Buddha, who is associated with stillness, serenity, and detachment and meditation.
In myths and stories Mercury rarely gets to be the hero as his character exists to take the greatest advantage of the situation in his favor. The Buddha is an exception because he did not become the hero by winning some great battle or making some noble sacrifice.The Buddha contemplated, dissected and step by step calculated the predicament of our life, which is that no matter how well we perform in the world, we will still suffer old age, disease and death and other burdens of life.
So he directed his intellect inwards and discovered that the permanent freedom from suffering was not outside but within the heart and mind, which is the greatest advantage one can gain through a highly evolved Mercury. He merged Mercury’s skills with Jupiter’s cosmic intelligence and the moon’s purified (not subjective) emotions uniting mercury with both his fathers.
Every planet has an agenda: Sun leadership, Saturn, commitment, Jupiter, ethics, Moon, happiness, Venus, harmony, Mars, courage but Mercury’s agenda as we have seen shifts around to his advantage.
Perhaps at the end of the day, the only planet that may be truly capable of authentically reflecting on our biases is mercury, as he is capable of witnessing our actions with clarity and without an agenda. Although Mercury looks neutral and uncommitted on the surface, when his skills are turned inwards, like the Buddha, he has his unique super power to approach a situation without bias and observe our true motivations.
After all he is the child of cosmic intelligence and emotional intelligence.