Mercury: the Cosmic Trickster

Mercury has so many significations in Astrology beyond communication. Join me for a deep dive into the multudinous meanings of the Cosmic Trickster

This homage to Mercury is so long overdue, it’s almost embarrassing. As the legendary patron and progenitor of Astrology, you’d think Mercury would command a little more respect. But aside from the multitudinous memes about Mercury retrograde and his role as Messenger, what do we really know about this inner planet and the archetypes it represents?

Perhaps I’ve avoided a detailed analysis of the Messenger God because it’s hard to do him justice. His significations are so varied and seemingly diverse that it’s hard to see (and remember) them all. He is associated with court games, small animals, travel, science, technology, markets, vehicles, messages, debate, sport, dexterity, pranks, liminal spaces, humour, youth, speed, wit, the internet, early education, musicians, prophets, diviners, theft, orators, weavers, speed, gambling, business and more!

The primary and perhaps overstated meaning of Mercury is communication. As the swift messenger of the Gods, Mercury (or Hermes, as he was known to the Greeks) embodies all forms of communication: spoken and written words, journalism, literature, song, and even digital communication. But Mercury's influence extends beyond mere words; it might be more useful to think of him as the principle of transmission. Communication, after all, is the exchange of thoughts and ideas; but Mercury also reigns over the transmission of people through transportation systems, the movement of goods and services, which drive businesses and markets, and the back and forth of players and pieces in sport and board games. As Psychopomp, he even guides our souls between realms.

In Greek myth, Hermes was portrayed as a mischievous and precocious youth. On the very day of his birth, he invented the lyre (a stringed instrument), stole a herd of cattle belonging to Apollo and yet somehow endeared himself to Zeus and the other Olympians. He was unanimously accepted as Herald of the Gods, even charming his big brother Apollo (to whom he gifted the lyre).

Later he was given the sacred charge of accompanying souls to the underworld. In this role, Hermes was called Psychopomp. With his wind helmet, winged sandals, and the caduceus staff, he ensures the safe passage of both gods and humans as they venture into foreign places, underscoring Mercury's connection to transitions, transformation, and the liminal spaces between worlds. In ancient times, travellers appealed to Hermes to guide and protect them on their journeys.

In Astrology, Mercury rules two zodiac signs: Gemini and Virgo. Both signs share his changeability (Mutable), dexterity, and curiosity. And both signs can excel at communication, science and technology.

Individuals with strong Gemini placements typically exhibit Mercury’s quick thinking, wit, versatility, and humour. I often think of Geminis as the pollinators of the zodiac, flitting from here to there, gathering information and dispersing it elsewhere. In Gemini, we glimpse the impish side of Hermes too, as the twins delight in pranks, games, practical jokes and gossip.

Mercury finds his exaltation in Virgo, a sign known for its meticulous attention to detail. Here, the planet's mental and practical qualities shine brilliantly. Virgo often has a knack for fixing things and its facility for critical thought and analysis can give Virgo a keen eye for business opportunities. Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun, is often associated with speed and agility, and this explains why Virgo is also historically connected to athletic excellence.

Conversely, Mercury experiences his detriment in Sagittarius and his fall in Pisces - both Jupiter ruled signs. In the expansive, broad-minded sign of Sagittarius, the precise and methodical nature of Mercury can feel out of place. In Pisces, a sign associated with dreams and mysticism, Mercury struggles to navigate the murky waters of intuition and emotion. These astrological placements remind us of the nuanced interplay between Mercury and Jupiter in Astrology. Jupiter gives us the big-picture while Mercury attends to the details. Jupiter deals with generalities, Mercury with specifics.

The placement of Mercury in the Birth Chart is tremendously important. It tells us how an individual thinks and communicates. It’s often one of the first things we notice about someone and if it’s in a different sign from the Sun we may appear quite different to our “Sun Sign.” It’s also a vital part of synastry (relationship astrology) highlighting areas of ease and/or incompatibility in communication styles.

Mind is such a miracle; it allows us to think, perceive, analyse, communicate and understand. But it can also be a curse; Mercury is a trickster, remember. We’ve all heard of the crossed-wires and technological glitches associated with Mercury’s retrogradation. But even in direct motion, Mercury can play tricks on us. When Mercury and mind struggle we can experience racing thoughts, overthinking, analysis paralysis and anxiety.

As Mercury stations retrograde this week we can anticipate some tricks and pranks from the celestial imp. Try to maintain your sense of humour - Mercury likes that!

What’s your Mercury sign? Can you guess mine? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and suggestions for future blog posts.

Peace my friends,


Categories: : Cosmic Trickster, Hermes, How does astrology work, Is astrology real, Mercury in Astrology

Mercury, messenger God, the imp as a cosmic trickster