Mercury is tricky, because it is the mind. That is why mythology had the baby Hermes (Mercury) creating mischief from the moment of birth, when he famously stole Apollo’s herd of cattle and lied about it, much to the amusement of the gods. Apollo is the Sun, and the interaction of Mercury and the Sun which are never more than 28 degrees away from each other in the horoscope is reflected in the constant retrograde and direct movement of Mercury in front of and behind the Sun in relation to Earth. Hermes played tricks on Apollo in mythology, just as the mind play tricks on self-perception in our own lives.

The mind processes reality according to individual character, and the processed information is just a personalized approximation of what is actually going on in the world. As you read this, or anything else, you are processing the words, forming opinions, and formulating your own ideas in complete accordance with the condition of Mercury in your personal horoscope. There is a constant inner chatter which obscures the nature of reality like clouds obscure the sun.

Mercury in Sign and House
The first influence to modulate Mercury is the sign it is in, and particularly the element of that sign. Mercury in Fire shows eager and hasty thought processes, with impressions filtered through identity issues. In Earth, it shows a grounded factuality filtering whether communication is useful or not. Mercury in Air signs reflects a very refined and abstract mind, seduced by the elegance of thought and conversation itself. In Water, impressions are absorbed by osmosis and gradually sink in, heavily tinged with emotion. The House position of Mercury tends to show where we receive the greatest mental stimulation, and where we focus our thoughts and communication. Houses reflect outer circumstances, and do not by themselves modulate the actual way our minds work.

Aspects and Aspect Types
The most easily identifiable effects on Mercury and our thought processes are from the aspects made by Mercury to the other planets. Aspects to the Sun, Moon, Venus and Mars can range in their effects dependent on sign, but the aspects to the outer planets from Jupiter to Pluto are very specific and connected with obvious behavior, which the individual can influence through conscious awareness and a motivation for self-development.

Any aspects, from sextile, to square, to trine, opposition or conjunction can have these effects. Clearly sextile and trine aspects tend to show influences that have become resources, whilst the conjunction shows an influence that completely dominates thinking for good or ill. Oppositions tend to be experienced through relationships, and often the communication behavior is projected and seen as a problem the other person has. Square aspects can be the most difficult to deal with, and will have predominately negative effects, which the individual in question has difficulty identifying and working with.

Below is a description of how we tend to communicate based on Mercury’s aspects to the outer planets, the effects this has, and how to mitigate the negative effects of the aspects.

Mercury and Jupiter are mutually attracted to each other, because they rule opposite signs: Gemini-Sagittarius and Virgo-Pisces. They are a planetary pair, like Mars and Venus. And, as Jupiter rarely creates insuperable problems, the connection between these two planets is generally beneficial, evoking tremendous curiosity, an encyclopedic memory, fortunate experiences in school and with siblings, and a light-hearted, bubbly nature. Furthermore, as Jupiter evokes a love of humor, Mercury-Jupiter individuals tend to be jokey and see the funny side of life.

However, Jupiter is always connected with strong feelings about justice, right and wrong. With difficult aspects between Mercury and Jupiter, the individual often has issues with perceived injustice, and this is commonly connected with a brother or sister, who appeared to get preferred treatment, or with an unfair situation in school. The combination of Mercury and Jupiter is very persuasive, but if injustice is a theme, then this persuasiveness can tire other people. Mercury-Jupiter when afflicted wants to be right – is right – cannot be wrong. All the right arguments have been marshalled. The inner dialogue is convincing, the outer persuasion compelling.

An awareness and respect for the ideas and intelligence of others, combined with listening skills, counteracts the know-it-all attitude that can characterize this aspect. What works for Mercury/Jupiter people is to be involved in activities in which they disseminate knowledge. What is cathartic to admit is their inner dialogue is self-righteous and subjective.

Saturn shows where we have lifelong challenges, which manifest strongly when young, and later tend to become strengths with age, though never something we are completely comfortable with. The challenge for Mercury-Saturn is an early experience of communication blockage, which typically manifests in an educational environment. There is almost certainly one particular teacher who made life difficult. The fear itself of not keeping up with fellow students can actually be the blockage preventing the easy flow of information. Nervousness about mental performance slows the person down, lowers self-belief, and contributes to educational delays. It is often the case that people with this aspect take up further education once again after the first Saturn return at age 30.

Apart from school, the root of a sense of inferiority can relate to siblings who put the Mercury-Saturn down intellectually, parental indifference or over-expectation.

Mercury-Saturn people are hesitant to speak, but when they do they tend to be dogmatic and stubborn. This springs from sensitivity about being perceived to be ignorant, and an elaborate cover up to prove they are not. Years of a sense of being comparatively ignorant lead to specific behavior ranging from a refusal to take on mental challenges, to pretending to understand something that they do not understand, or rigidly sticking to the rule book.

An awareness of a tendency to be defensive, and a willingness to be open about not understanding what is said, is the key to counteracting this aspect. What works for Mercury/Saturn people is to be involved in activities which require concentration and care, for they naturally tend to go over things more than once to be sure they are right. What is cathartic to admit is their inner dialogue is self-dismissive and fearful, and that they project a fragile facade of understanding, which they fear will be exposed as fraudulent.

People naturally want to be understood. They want people to listen to what they say and to be respected for their humor, wisdom or ideas. The challenge for Mercury-Uranus people is that they do not feel heard, and therefore their communication is designed to attract attention. The tendency is to communicate abruptly, and the content of the communication is disruptive and often provocative. One of the major influences of Uranus is to evoke a sense of detachment and in extreme cases dissociation. In group scenarios, the sense of being outside the bubble of communication brings discomfort and a desire to pop the bubble.

A long habit of disruptive communication can lead Mercury-Uranus people to actually relish the effect they have on group dynamics. They want to shake people up. They feel bored by casual and seemingly meaningless communication. They are attracted to interests which are outside the norm, like, for example, astrology. But for the other people involved in the conversation, it feels as if the flow is broken, and that the conversation goes off at a tangent. On the positive side, these people are really original thinkers, extremely intuitive, lightning-fast in understanding and in implementing strategies, and supremely attuned to the future.

Many negative influences from Uranus can be traced to actual shock in childhood, like a sudden event which reveals a more dangerous side of life, or the sudden explosive action of a parent or sibling. The reaction to this shock is dissociation, and communication problems from the lack of attunement spring from this.

An awareness of the sensation of being outside the conversation, and more delicate methods of entering it are the keys to counteracting this influence. They need to stay grounded. What works for Mercury/Uranus people is to be at the forefront, in a constantly changing and stimulating mental environment, preferably with an international or new age dimension. What is cathartic to admit is they have little control over a provocative inner dialogue that distracts them and prevents them from tuning in to others.

Mercury and Neptune are polar opposites, one representing the rational, logical mind, and the other the chaos of relativity and uncertainty. It is like the meeting of a human with a whale. This aspect leads to a preference for an alternative reality, and there is a strong tendency to create a smokescreen to escape from unpleasant communication. The mind is extremely sensitive and easily affected by atmosphere, and the wrong kind of input has a polluting effect. Mercury-Neptune people can convince themselves that something is true when it is not, and they are convincing liars. For what is truth? Is it not something which is relative? It should not come as a surprise that fake new inventor Donald Trump has Mercury in Cancer square Neptune.

People with this aspect have developed strategies for avoiding unpleasantness by obscuring the issue. This could for example be a way of avoiding conflict with authoritarian parents. Neptune often brings sorrows in one way or another, so an unhappy relationship with a sibling, or a difficult time in school can lead to the development of escapist activities. In this digital age, with entertainment available on every device, opportunities abound for the Mercury-Neptune individual to check out of reality and get immersed in fantasy worlds. However, these types are really creative and imaginative, and have a tremendous talent for empathy. They attune quickly and really listen, although an active imagination can lead to misinterpretation or misunderstanding.

An awareness of the tendency of the imagination to create alternative realities needs to be recognized and curbed. Honesty is the best policy. What works for Mercury/Neptune clients is to be engaged in areas which require an intuitive sensitivity, where they are undisturbed by noise, hustle and bustle. What is cathartic for them to admit is that they feel alone and ignored, that they cover up the truth, and that they fear their ideas carry no weight in the world.

Pluto is related to unconscious fears of losing control, and in aspect to Mercury control is the big issue. In communication, there is a sense of a chasm existing between the individual and the other person, which awakens anxiety and a compulsive need to fill in the void. Therefore Mercury-Pluto individuals tend to dominate the conversation, not allowing for natural pauses to arise, and in this way preventing a two-way conversation from taking place. Other people get tired listening, and try to break off the conversation, which only further contributes to this individual’s anxiety. Mercury-Pluto people can, and do, talk all night, but they can also stop talking for days as an act of revenge. And they can also evoke exactly this behavior in others.

This communication behavior stems from a specific atmosphere in childhood, where there was a perception, probably correct, that something important was being concealed. The individual grows up with a pressing need to find out what is actually going on underneath the surface. Later in life there is a suspicion that people are hiding something, which leads to a tendency to interrogate. A partner will begin to conceal things from this individual just to avoid awakening suspicions, and then, when found out, the Mercury-Pluto person feels vindicated, having found proof in the deception. In this way people with this aspect evoke the very lies they most fear. Paradoxically, these people are expert at concealing information, and it is a typical aspect for people working in espionage. They have an extraordinary talent for digging up concealed information and do not let go until they have got to the core of a problem.

An awareness of the psychological roots of communication behavior eventually arises, leading to less intense relationships and a more trusting attitude to others. What works for Mercury/Pluto people is to be engaged in areas which require analytical and detective abilities, especially connected with psychology, computers, and anything that requires delving beneath the surface.  What is cathartic for them to admit is they greet much of what is said with suspicion. They expect people to conceal things from them, but actually conceal things from people.

These aspects to the outer planets are of course modified by the sign position of the outer planets. These are generational influences which become apparent in the consultation. So, Mercury conjoining Neptune in Libra is far more evasive than the same aspect with Neptune in Scorpio, for example, because there is a greater desire to keep the peace. In a therapeutic situation, Mercury is very responsive to awareness and analytical thought, and it can be a lot easier modifying behavior evoked by Mercury aspects than for example aspects from the outer planets to the Sun or Moon. With Mercury, you can at least talk about things.

Adrian Duncan
18th April 2018