Astrology -

Mercury Mind-Games
by Michael Star
©1998
in Astrology Zine.

Mercury Mind Games

Click for STAR SIGNS zine cover page.

I am Michael, known as starman down in the e-mailroom, and I am going to write in the first person, the I-way, so we can get a little more personal here. I've got some confessions to make... but we'll get to that later.

Well, okay, just a little one for now:
I really like to play with words. Must be that mercurial mind of mine. You see, I have the fast-moving planet Mercury in the Sign of Gemini in my birth horoscope, and Mercury is what they call the natural ruler of Gemini. I guess you could say Mercury acts like a little king when he's in his own Element, which is Air, and in his own Sign, which is Gemini. He thinks he "rules" when it comes to writing and talking and using the thinking machine we call the intellect.

Funny how they call that silvery liquid metal mercury "quicksilver". Maybe it's because it moves so quickly when you try to catch it. It just fragments into little elusive beads and slips away in a dozen directions at once, just when you think you have it pinned down. And when you look right at it, you really can't comprehend its true character, because it mirrors and mimics you with that shifting shiny surface. When I was a kid and we weren't so aware how poisonous mercury can be, we used to break an old thermometer and rub the bit of mercury on a penny. The silvery stuff would make a copper one-cent coin look like a nickel five-cent coin. Talk about making things appear as they are not!

I guess that's why the Romans called the god Mercurius a trickster. He even had a fake I.D. - he was previously the Greek god Hermes, a.k.a. "the patron saint of thieves", whose mother was Maia (which means "illusion"). Not that Hermes was a thief - those poor souls who were so poverty-stricken they stole to survive and got imprisoned when caught would pray in supplication to Hermes for deliverence from their perilous fate.

Mercury was the chosen "messenger of the gods", one who could travel between worlds and communicate with both gods and men. In the limited perception of earthlings (who tended to believe in Illusions), Hermes was seen as a legendary trickster, and the mythology books still tell of the time he scarfed some stuff from Apollo and then talked himself out of trouble by inventing an instrument called the lyre (funny how that sounds like "liar") and giving it to Apollo to apologize. There's also some titillating trivia about Hermes and the curious stones the early Greeks erected in his honour at crossroads...but we can't get into that here (you might want to dig up some dirt on "herms" through the WWW search services, though).

But I digress. Dare I declare my mind is like Mercury ...full of facts, covering tracks, diverting attention by wordy invention, with subtle intention? My little confession has turned into a tiny trick, a little con, for which I confess once more: I like to teach (as did Mercury a.k.a. Hermes, who taught astronomy and divination). I have told the truth, but there were other truths behind the obvious truths. You may have perceived what was going on while you read this meandering message, or like many people who think literally and not laterally, you may have been reading the words but not "reading between the lines", as the saying goes.

Words are definitions which try to limit a larger and perhaps undefinable concept to something everyone can agree on. But when we focus on the words and forget their limitations, we forget to be aware of the larger truths they were designed to designate, but not deny.

If you have read this rambling play on words (which was labelled as an article called "Mercury Mind Games" in an e-zine whose purpose is to entertain and enlighten), you have been informed of many facts (perceived truths) you may not have known or noticed before. You have read of qualities and key words characteristic of mercury the metal, Mercury the myth, and Mercury the planet - and how they all connect by having qualities in common. Connecting and relating things (or people) is how the mercurial mind learns and teaches. By perceiving the similarities in dissimilar things, it understands them both better. By connecting one set of ideas to a different set of ideas, it comes up with new ideas that contain qualities of both.

Hopefully, you have been led to perceive some new truths while watching the words that were more subtle than just superficial small-talk. You may see it as a trick, or you may see it as a telling of the truth. You may see it as a reflection of what you see in yourself, for what we see "out there" is usually a reflection (or projection) of what we see "in here" in our own psyche. Some philosophers and seers say that what we see in others is also in ourselves ("Judge not, lest ye be judged"), and that they are only acting as a "mirror" for us - like the shiny surface of the metal mercury.

A mirror acts to let us see ourselves - both the positive and the negative - from a perspective outside of ourselves, from the opposite viewpoint. Our right hand looks like our left hand in the mirror, and it is interesting to note that in Latin the word for "left" is "sinister". Do we see that mirror-image of ourselves as something sinister, or as something similar to an aspect of ourselves which we have judged as "not nice", and therefore not to be seen or shown? If we are too concerned with judging the mirror-image as "bad" we may not notice the truths it is revealing to us so we can see both sides and make a conscious choice to accept the reality of both - but to choose the best.

Yin and Yang - opposite parts of the same Whole. By saying or seeing or being one thing, and then its opposite, Mercury's dualistic approach lets him perceive the polarities, discern the differences, and then conceive the central sameness. He'll argue both sides of an issue to convince himself he has seen the whole truth and settled on what he sees as the central truth. He'll study seven separate philosophies to see the similarities and conclude a common thread can lead to a central truth. Maybe it is Mercury who can best see some truths even in the words of "liars".

Though often accused of obfuscation, fickleness, flightiness, fence-sitting or phoniness, mercurial minds are merely on a mission to seek understanding, or teach truths - by seeing or showing the point between two opposites. Comfort is between cold and hot. All light or no light produces no sight... we only see by the contrast between the extremes. "X marks the spot" where two separate lines connect. Truth may lie between two lies, if we can see the differences! That's what Mercury looks for... the happy medium between the two extremes. But he has to try the two, or imagine both boundaries, before he finds his middle ground.

The contradictory (dual) quality of Mercury is the strategy which supports his strength... to tell what's true, then tell the truth to others who cannot connect the contradictions to their common cause. Up and down are two sides of the same coin. Day and night are two sides of the same Earth. Intellect and imagination are two sides of the same mind. Good and evil are two sides of the same person. Justice and mercy are two sides of the same sentencing. Right and wrong are two sides of the same judgment. True and false are two sides of the same perception.

The qualities in us which we share with Mercury are what let us perceive what our senses show us and give it meaning. Suppose we perceive with our eyes something we have never seen before. We don't know what it is, but we do know what it is not. Discerning the differences has already helped us understand it better. It is not likely to be just like anything we know. But if we see similarities, it may be a little like something we know. Perceiving the opposites, not-like and alike, leads us closer to the truth about it. That's how Mercury, and our own mercurial mind, works.

We all have minds that work like this, and we all have Mercury somewhere in our horoscope. Is there a connection here? It appears so. Yet we are all different, and do not think exactly alike. But we all think. Sometimes we think in similar ways, but to different degrees. The differences depend on the different Signs (or the different Houses) where Mercury may be positioned in our horoscope charts.

Gemini the Twins.

Mercury in the Sign of Gemini works extremely close to the natural way Mercury works: perceptive, quick, connecting, contradictory, changing, curious, communicating, abstract, agile, logical. This is why Mercury is said to be the "natural ruler" of Gemini: he is naturally at his best there, for the style and strategies of the Sign are so similar to, and supportive of, the way the natural energy of the Planet is expressed and extended.

Virgo the Virgin.

Mercury in the Sign of Virgo also works extremely close to some of the other ways Mercury naturally works: discerning, discriminating, detailed, analytical, accurate, adaptable, ordered, organized. This is why Mercury is also said to be the "natural ruler" of Virgo: he can work at his best there, where the styles and strategies are so similar to, and supportive of, the expression of his type of energy. Yes, Mercury rules two Signs. His nature is "dual" - a trait which is most noticeable in Gemini and Virgo.

The main difference between Mercury in Gemini and Virgo is that Gemini is best at perceiving connections and relationships while Virgo is best at perceiving dissimilarities and differences. Mercury in Gemini spots the connections between things better than other Signs, which makes him a good writer or reporter or marketer. In Virgo he is best at seeing the differences, which makes him a good critic or quality-control inspector.

So, if you're still with me... you're either clever and curious, or you have persistence beyond resistance. That was just a bit of wit, a mercurial mind game. Okay, it only had a bit of wit, but it did have that mercurial contradictory quality - and it rhymed. I do like to play with words. It's a "Mercury in Gemini" thing. When Mercury is also "rising" in Gemini in one's birth horoscope, it shows in one's style - even when one's Sun Sign is untalkative Taurus! I confess, I can't help it... I'm just a walking, talking "contradiction" in astrological attributes.

©1998 by Michael Star

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First Published NOV 23 1998. Last Updated January 1 2008 13:00 EST.

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