Mercury & relationships
It’s well known that the demise of a loving partnership is often due to a lack of effective communication. The ability to be vulnerable and speak the words that lie dormant inside one’s heart can be one of the hardest things to do. Even if you are able to voice those words, to have them fully heard and acknowledged isn’t guaranteed. Being unable to understand how your partner thinks not only promotes a lack of communication, it also breeds discontentment and disconnection.
It doesn’t have to be like that, though. When you can understand the nature of your own, as well as your partner’s, Mercury placement in the birth chart, you can learn to speak and understand each other’s cosmic love language. Armed with this insight, you can build a supportive bridge between both the heart and the mind. By gleaning astrological insight into the way other’s think, you’ll gain the freedom and flexibility to communicate lovingly as the circumstances of life and your relationship evolve and change.
Who is Mercury?
While it’s not fully understood whether astrology was an invention or a system developed over time, Hermes Trismegistus (Hermes, Thrice Great) is accredited as being the mythical founder of it. This Hellenistic figure is said to have authored the Hermetic works, known as The Emerald Tablet. Associated with it was the creation of The Philosopher’s Stone and the ethos “as above, so below”, which is adopted by astrologers and modern mystics today. Many of the Hermetic source texts highlight that the Hellenistic-era Greeks looked up to ancient Egyptians’ sophisticated mysticism and spiritual practices. Thoth, the Egyptian sage who became a god, is said to have invented hieroglyphics, mathematics and architecture (including the pyramids).
In other cultures, we see Mercury in Arabic as Utarid, Roman as Haroos, Norse as Loki, Indian as Beddah and Persian as Teer.
As above, so below
Astronomically, Mercury has a unique cycle compared with other planets. Mercury gets into places along the ecliptic that other planets don’t reach. Mercury governs thoughts, those of deep contemplation and the thoughts that flicker through the mind. Like the swift planet itself, within a nano second, our mind can travel wherever we choose to will it. We can imagine being on an idyllic tropical island in one moment and, in the next, a place of terror or toil. Being able to control the “monkey mind” is an objective of many spiritual and religious practices.
Mercury’s pace through the ecliptic varies the most dramatically. It can move swiftly, just as information does across the internet. It can move in reverse from Earth’s perspective, known as retrograde — a thrice-yearly phase where we observe a period during which communication can break down and crossed wires occur, denoting confusion and other snafus.
Along with the mind and all forms of communication, Mercury is the planetary deity linked with commerce, finance, education, games, youth, trickery, tradespeople and logistics. It bestows forethought and intelligence. In our birth charts, Mercury is the planet that represents the conscious, rational or logical mind. It symbolises the urge to express perceptions and intelligence, often through speech, writing or skill. The sign Mercury is placed in demonstrates how you establish connections with others, how you think as well as your unique learning style.
Mercury as messenger
Mercury is the closest planetary body to the Sun, sharing an intimate and important relationship. The Sun in your birth chart is the source of light
and wisdom, radiating the true essence of your soul. Mercury is the planet responsible for conveying to others the innate intelligence within you. The Sun is often symbolised as a king, prime minister or a CEO. Mercury can be seen as the role of a press secretary or publicist, for example, that shares the message of the leader and, in turn, conveys messages back.
This is demonstrated astronomically when you observe the movements of Mercury in the sky. In some phases of its cycle, Mercury is super close to the Sun, as if to be in conversation. Mercury then begins to separate, as if to symbolically spread the word of the Sun. That being said, Mercury doesn’t stray too far from the Sun and can only be 27 zodiacal degrees away. That’s less than one full zodiac sign of 30 degrees.
For another way of conceptualising the back-and-forth motion of Mercury, let’s take the experience of walking a dog. Imagine the dog is Mercury and you are the Sun. When the dog begins to stray a little bit beyond you and reaches the end of the slack on the lead, you give it a gentle tug to guide the dog back to you. The dog will then move close to you, only to eventually walk ahead of you again. Then the cycle repeats. When in a loving partnership, you might see this dog-walking analogy show up in your communication patterns. You’ll go through your own phases of closeness and connection in communicating similar to when the Sun and Mercury are in close contact. During other times, you might notice distance or disconnection where you may have to give your partner, or yourself, a proverbial tug on the lead in order to re-establish effective communication again.
Due to the above-mentioned maximum 27-degree distance between the Sun and Mercury, the zodiac sign/s that both the Sun and Mercury behold in your birth chart can only be in the same sign or the two adjacent signs. For example, if your partner’s Sun is in Cancer, Mercury can only be in Cancer, the proceeding sign of Gemini or the succeeding sign of Leo. Another example is the Sun in Sagittarius. In that case, Mercury can only be in Sagittarius, Scorpio or Capricorn, which is the sign before and after Sagittarius, respectively. Other combinations such as, the Sun in Taurus and Mercury in Libra are not astronomically possible.
There are many factors to consider when understanding how Mercury works in your birth chart, as well as those you’re in a relationship with. A gateway into unlocking the mind of your loved ones starts with examining the element and sign that Mercury is placed in. This most simple of starting points can help you understand why you may opt to cross-check facts and data when making a decision while your partner may be more go-with-the-flow and not care about the details as much as you do.
Armed with this knowledge, you can begin to understand the way those around you think, begin to speak their love language and continue to build and maintain loving and intellectually stimulating partnerships.
Mercury in fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
The element of fire is considered one of the most divine as its flames reach the gods/goddesses. It is water signs that are often attributed with the gift of intuition, but the close contact with the heaven’s fire represents the gift of instinct. Mercury in fire signs will often follow their instincts, even when it contradicts logic. Fire is warming, uplifting and provides light. When Mercury is in a fire sign, the mind needs to be stimulated, inspired and active. Fire is an energising life principle. Those who have Mercury in a fire sign tend to have an innate faith that they express enthusiastically and encouragingly.
Mercury in Aries, in particular, is quick to speak — often without thinking. It is one of the signs that tends to be the most prone to foot-in-mouth syndrome. Their natural confidence in self-expression can show up as being assertive and forceful. They don’t shy from confrontation. Their ability to reason or compromise is shadowed by a desire for a new idea or experience or their own willful expression.
Mercury in Leo is the most affectionate and warm of the fire signs. Their words inspire confidence and leadership, sometimes with a tendency to dominate. A natural storyteller and a master of self-promotion, Mercury in Leo loves to have their voice heard, even if that means raising it from time to time. Their thinking isn’t always objective and can struggle to take on board new information.
Mercury isn’t at its best in Sagittarius, as it attempts to combine facts and details with broad-minded and philosophical thinking. Embodying the teacher/preacher archetype, their breadth of knowledge about a wide range of topics assists them in their seemingly never-ending search for truth. These people communicate openly and truthfully, sometimes lacking in diplomacy. Their mind is always on the future and tends to disregard mundane details.
Mercury in earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
Earth is the densest of elements. When Mercury is placed in earth signs, it can be mistaken as being slow on the uptake. Earth is methodical and cautious, so you might notice a short pause before these people speak. They choose their words carefully. Rather than rushing into saying “yes” like fire signs do, earth-sign Mercuries will usually need to think about it before committing. They are excellent at retaining information and have long memories.
Mercury in Taurus will often have an eloquent and beautiful way of speaking, though they won’t tend to say much. When they do, it will be clear and deliberate. It can take Mercury in Taurus a while to get to the point, forgetting what their point actually was. Once the Mercury in Taurus mind is made up, it can be impossible to change it. They excel at consolidating ideas, bringing them to earth in order to practically apply them.
Holding both rulership and exaltation over the sign of Virgo, this is Mercury’s favourite sign. This version of Mercury is practical, logical and rational. There is no problem this analytical mind won’t persevere with and eventually solve. Mercury in Virgo people can be so in their head that it can easily lead to stress and anxiety when they attempt to make everything perfect. Naturally discerning, Mercury in Virgo needs to put new ideas and concepts in a logical sequence in order to learn or understand.
Mercury in Capricorn is a natural pragmatist, highly strategic and serious. With a stoic approach, they can apply their mind to any pursuit or goal, regardless of the time that it takes. The ability to compartmentalise any emotion as a part of the decision-making process is second to none. Mercury in Capricorn is reserved and self-sufficient. Their reserved and self-controlled nature, while honest, can inhibit open communication.
Mercury in air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
Mercury in air signs are naturally curious, intellectual and are concerned with thoughts, ideas and concepts. Air is an element that seeks to bind and connect these ideas and each sign has their own unique way of doing so. Mercury in air signs often need to disconnect from immediate experiences in order to gain objectivity and perspective. They have a reflective and rational approach to communication and connection.
Mercury in Gemini is fluent, clever and a quick communicator and is the sign where Mercury finds rulership. With a love of engaging in banter, their mutable quality will see them shift and change their ideas quickly. Beholding the concept of duality with ease, they can appear fake or fickle to those less curious. This Mercury placement will experience a high level of mental energy that expresses through talking, writing and fidgeting. Performing manual and mental tasks will reduce nervous energy.
Mercury in Libra communicates intelligently and elegantly. Highly social, these people love to bring others together through conversation. They are tactful and diplomatic in order to establish a connection. Seeking consensus with those around them, Mercury in Libra can be hindered in making quick decisions. Their verbal style is coloured by an artistic and aesthetic sense. Those with Mercury in Libra often have a beautiful speaking voice and impeccable manners.
Mercury in Aquarius communicates openly and fluently, but can appear aloof or detached. They are future focused, so their minds are rarely in the present moment. Being a fixed air sign, these people can be rigid in their thinking and may adopt extreme views on certain topics. Mercury in Aquarius is inventive. They love to explore the possibility or idea of change, but don’t always like change itself.
Mercury in water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
Mercury in water signs express themselves through their emotions. While it can be difficult for them to communicate clearly, they may excel in poetry, writing or music. Their experience of the world is through perception. They will notice nuance and subtleties that others don’t. As their lived experience is felt, they often need time alone to make sense of their feelings.
Mercury in Cancer communicates emotionally and with sensitivity. They’ll tend to absorb words and conversations, relying on how they feel to make sense of a situation. This also gives them a great ability to retain information. They’ll often nurture new ideas before they adopt them. Cancer is a sign connected with the past, so these people have excellent memories. Their penchant for self-protection can prevent them from being objective about new ideas and information.
Mercury in Scorpio can form deep bonds through communication, even if those are non-verbal. When they do express themselves, it’s with passion, power and depth. Mercury in Scorpio is a penetrating quality, so they excel at research and investigation. Rarely interested in banter or superficial conversation, Mercury in Scorpio is guided by desire, passion and the urge to reveal hidden motives. Objectivity can be hindered by the depth and intensity of emotion.
Pisces is one of Mercury’s least favourite signs, struggling to make sense of overwhelming emotions. Adept at soulful communication and self-expression, Mercuy in Pisces can be idealistic and imaginative. They excel at compassion and empathy and can communicate non-verbally. They can perceive other people’s emotions and are highly intuitive. Their ability to apply reason or logic to situations can quickly become confusing. A preference for daydreaming can delay decisions or lead to an unrealistic concept of reality.