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Transcendental Mercury

Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
–William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Mercurius is the Logos become world ... [He] truly consists of the most extreme opposites; on the one hand he is undoubtedly akin to the godhead, on the other he is found in sewers.
–Carl Jung, The Spirit Mercurius.

Core meaning:

Mercury’s seemingly up-front, matter-of-fact, and even banal qualities and correspondences represent only the surface appearance of an energetic force that is far more complex than is generally recognized. Through the cognitive network symbolized by Mercury, the other planetary principles partake in a mutually recognizable form of com­munication with one another, especially within the crucible of human consciousness. This plexus of interconnecting pathways of communication facilitates and unites the planetary forces in the microcosm of the human psyche.
        In its evolution through various planetary symbols, the Transcendental energy is chan­neled through experiences of identity-separation (yang) and -unification (yin). In a similar fashion, in alchemical symbolism, the final stage of rapport between the yin and yang princi­ples is called the coniunctio: a process that proceeds through various stages of “chemical” separatio and unio, culminating in a union of differentiated qualities within the alchemical vessel, i.e., the psyche.
        Just as the alchemists were well versed in astrological lore and borrowed freely from astrological principles to enhance their philosophical-allegorical understanding of pro­cesses of spiritual transformation, alchemical symbolism has, in turn, influenced and enhanced our understanding of the astrological symbols of transformation. In our present study, this transformation of energy is symbolically imagined as one assisted by the mediating force of Mercury.
        In alchemical literature, which preserved and refined astrological thought and tradition, Mercury is sometimes referred to by his Greek appellation, “Hermes,” or by the Latin “Mercurius.”1 The alchemical retort was referred to as the vas Hermeti­cum or vessel of Hermes-Mercury. In the Mercurial Fountain illustrated in the Rosarium philosophorum (1550), the basin of the fountain is adorned with six stars, signifying the other celestial spheres (including Sun and Moon) that were visible to astronomers during the Middle Ages. The planetary principles are “contained in Mercurius,” whose personification symbolizes “the unity of the seven planets.”2 This alludes to the unify­ing function of the hermaphroditic Mercury, who symbolized the gathering, sorting, and ordering function in the alchemical process of the separation and unification of psy­chic elements.

        In alchemy, these are usually represented as metals which, when sepa­rated from their corrupt amalgams or base forms, are transformed into symbolic “gold.” This is a philosophical or spiritual gold, representing an enlight­ened, spiritualized, or individuated consciousness. (Hence, Gerhard Dorn, a philosophi­cally oriented alchemist of the sixteenth century, would write: “The gold we seek is not the common gold.”) Therefore, in the ratio­nal, cognitive qualities symbolized by Hermes-Mercury, the various levels of Logos (spirit) / Eros (soul) dualism are unified. The “golden germ” (the potential for higher consciousness) is sealed within the vas Hermeticum and “heated.”
        As the living vessel of Hermes-Mercurius, a human being has the potential for vitalizing (heating) and elevating (sublimatio) consciousness. It is explicitly the vessel of Hermes that serves as the agent of unification and that is a mediator of the various opposing principles (or metals) that are eventually brought into harmony or rapport.

        The union of antagonistic elements is referred to with a terminology that is explicitly astrological. Throughout the alchemical literature, Mercury plays a central role in combining opposing principles of solar and lunar consciousness. Just as we have four key elements (originally: moist, dry, hot and cold; these correspond to water, air, fire and earth) and seven astro­nomical bodies (the seven that were known to antiquity) at the basis of all astrological thought, Jung writes that the “synthesis of the four [moist, dry, cold, warm] was one of the main preoccupations of alchemy, as was ... the synthesis of the seven.” In one alchemical text, Hermes-Mercury speaks to the Sun: “I cause to come out to thee the spirits of thy brethren [the planets], O Sun, and I make them for thee a crown the like of which was never seen; and I cause thee and them to be within me, and I will make thy kingdom vigorous.”3 Jung goes on to explain that the above “refers to the synthesis of the planets or metals with the sun.”
        Here, Mercury performs the active (yang) role of causing planetary spirits to “come out” to the Sun (i.e., to appear to and to unite with consciousness). In addition, their unifi­cation is metaphorically portrayed as a crown: a symbol of soulful union (yin) and of dis­criminating spiritual consciousness (yang). The various planetary qualities are united through the intercession of Mercury, and this union results in a genera­tion of special powers, which are symbolized by a crown. Therefore, the individuated seeker attains an elevated form of consciousness, i.e., this is an internal, spiritual, and soulful result, rather than a merely material one, as Mercury-Hermes states: “I cause thee and them to be within me.” Finally, Mercury enables the “kingdom” (the unique realm of transformed consciousness) to be made “vigorous,” i.e., full of life. As with all authentic individuation processes, the result is an immediate one, directly experienced in everyday life.
        Elsewhere in alchemical literature, we find other examples of the Mer­cury-Hermes role being described as a special process of union. “The ‘centre’ unites the four [elements] and the seven [planets] into one. The unifying agent is the spirit Mercurius.” Jung adds that the “idea of Mercury as a peacemaker, the mediator between the warring elements and producer of unity, probably goes back to Ephesians 2:13ff”:

Mercurius is conceived as “spiritual blood,” on the analogy of the blood of Christ. In Ephesians those who are separated “are brought near in the blood of Christ.” He makes the two one and has broken down the dividing wall “in his flesh.” Caro (flesh) is a synonym for the prima materia [the elemental material which is destined for alchemical transformation] and hence for Mercurius. The “one” is a “new man.” He reconciles the two “in one body,” an idea which is figuratively represented in alchemy as the two-headed hermaphro­dite. The two have one spirit, in alchemy they have one soul.

        The “spiritual blood” unites “those who are separated.” This notion of sep­aration alludes to a one-sided and extreme form of (yang) consciousness: the experience of life as alienating; the experience of the social collective as an aggregate of distinct, separate, unrelated beings (i.e., the nihilistic point of view). The Savior attempts to alter this condition with his blood. He can make “the two one,” because he has “broken down the dividing wall ‘in his flesh’.” In other words, he has unified the opposites internally: he is individuated. He is whole.
        Like the Savior, Mercurius personifies a cosmic duality. And like Christ, he is con­ceived of as “spiritual / blood” [yang / yin]. The cold, dry, immaterial spirit (yang) is united with a hot moist matter (yin), the latter symbolized by blood, which is typically associated with human feeling, warmth, and even love (i.e., blood is the fluid of the heart).4 
        Most importantly, Mercury is imagined as a central con­tainer within which the opposing planetary forces are brought together. As hermaphrodite, Mercury personifies a conjunction of spirit and soul; of animus and anima; of Sol and Luna. Jung writes that the “circle and the Hermetic vessel are one and the same, with the result that the mandala [a sacred or “magic” circle] ... corresponds to the vessel of transformation.” Therefore, Mercury plays a special role in synthesizing planetary forces within the astrological vessel of humanity, i.e., the circle of the zodiac and its idio­syncratic expression as a horoscope or “birth chart.” Mercurius is the “true hermaphroditic Adam and Microcosm,”5 for, in receiving and transmitting the alternating male and female planetary qualities, Mercury partakes of a dualistic flow of energy. In the words of the alchemical philosopher, Gerhard Dorn:

Our Mercurius is therefore that same [Microcosm], who contains within him the perfections, virtues, and powers of Sol [in the dual sense of sun and gold], and who goes through the streets [vicos] and houses of all the planets, and in his regeneration has obtained the power of Above and Below, wherefore he is to be likened to their marriage, as is evident from the white [yin/soul] and the red [yang/ spirit; my brackets] that are conjoined in him. The sages have affirmed in their wisdom that all creatures are to be brought to one united sub­stance.6

Mercurius effects and personifies the union of opposites on a microcosmic human level. The oppositional tensions of the planets are resolved and integrated through a mediation of Mercurial discrimination, analysis, and comprehension: the cru­cial elements of consciousness that are astrologically symbolized by this planet.
        Therefore, it should be clear that the alchemical Mercury possesses qualities that are synonymous with the astrological Mercury. This is especially so concerning symbols that reflect an evolution of consciousness. As the symbol of cognition and rational comprehension, Mercury provides a means of bridging the tension of psycho­logical and emotional polarities, all of which are personified by the various planetary forms. Through Mercurius, the spiritual (or solar) consciousness can rationally communicate with the lunar (or soulful) dimension of consciousness. Mercurius is imagined (i.e., symbol­ized) as an agent of unification, because through Mercury the needs of one side of exist­ence (e.g., Logos-spirit-yang) are made comprehensible to the other side of existence (e.g., Eros-soul-yin). Mercury piques our curiosity, forms the question: Why?7 and then searches for a way of balancing the dualism inherent in consciousness.
        Mercury symbolizes the fundamental pathways and elements of communication (e.g., the nervous system; psychic functions promoting cognition, communication, and comprehension). Alchemically, this is symbolized by Mercury’s role as a unifying agent of chemical properties: a force that allows various “met­als” or “chemicals” to enter into rapport with one another. Mercurius is envisioned as standing between Sol and Luna–the fundamental forms of Logos and Eros–and provid­ing, through receptive awareness and active transmission of thought, a mediating function that leads to continual philosophic and spiritual (i.e., psychic) growth. For the more literally inclined alchemists, this was imagined as a mere chemical interaction; for the alchemical philosophers, the “heavenly marriage”8 was an internal, philosophical process, yet one that simultaneously attempted to transform “metals” or chemicals through ritualistic enactments (i.e., repeated chemical “experiments”).
         The special alchemical relationship between Sun and Mercury is of significance for our own purely astrological purposes, as our rational functions and faculties (Mercury) are directly related to the ego’s ability (Sun) to process information and to build and organize an effective ego-complex structure. In an apt metaphor expressed through astronomical fact, Mercury is “the planet closest to the Sun.”9 Gather­ing, sorting, processing; seeking, receiving, and transmitting information, Mercury directs a singular focus upon each detail–one at a time–whether in the process of transmitting that information (e.g., giving a lecture) or receiving it (e.g., listening raptly to a speaker). Without this essential Mercurial function, it would be difficult for the ego (Sun) to comprehend or express itself. Without a properly functioning Mercury, the ego-complex would be overwhelmed by details that it could neither sort through nor process effec­tively. Without Mercury’s discriminating ability to analyze and present data, ego-expression is subject to a void of Mercury: a babbling incoherence; a “scat­ter”-brained inconsistency.
        Mercurius provokes the first stage of union between the yin and yang planetary principles (i.e., Sun and Moon). In alchemy, this is expressed as the marriage of Sol (spirit) and Luna (soul). “As the little star near the sun, he [Mercurius] is the child of sun and moon,”10 i.e., the consciousness born of their union. Mercury assists in creating addi­tional unions between the other yang / yin planetary couples, i.e., the lat­ter ontological stages of Mars-Venus; Saturn-Jupiter; and (in modern times) Pluto-Neptune. The alchemists conceived of Mercurius as the “spiritus vegetativus, a living spirit, whose nature it is to run through all the houses of the planets, i.e., the entire Zodiac.” According to Jung, “We could just as well say through the entire horoscope” or “through all the characterological components of the personality.” In the archetypal “Journey through the Planetary Houses,”11 Mercury corresponds to the cognitive function that attempts a comprehensive synthesis of planetary symbolism. Mercury’s rapid transit of the natal chart–comprising a restless seeking and questioning–further portrays its continual and dynamic influence.
        Mercury’s role in uniting the masculine and feminine ener­gies reflects a character trait of the alchemical Mercurius: a hermaphrodite who is “fittingly called ‘duplex’, both active and passive. The ‘ascending’, active part of him is called Sol, and it is only through this that the passive part can be perceived. (The passive part therefore bears the name of Luna, because she borrows her light from the sun.” Mercury’s solar consciousness is intimately linked to a lunar consciousness, as “it is only through this that the passive part can be perceived” or made conscious.12  “Luna secretes the dew or sap of life. ‘This Luna is the sap of the water of life, which is hidden in Mercurius’.”13 Thus, within the unifying mediator of Mercurius–a hermaphrodite who contains Sol and Luna (the red and the white)–there is a deep-seated bilateral capacity to grasp, comprehend, and experience the seemingly oppo­sitional psychic forces. Through their marriage in the Mercurial waters (of receptive awareness and active analytical comprehension), a new consciousness is born: the alchemical unio mentalis. Mercurius is “masculine and feminine and at the same time the child born of their union.”14
        Mercurius as quicksilver represents an adaptable and changeable energy: one with a peculiar ability to shift into a variety of plan­etary forms, “mimicking,” “animating,” and “quickening” the celestial spheres as it travels through their realms. This process is symbolized by the peregrinus microcosmus or “wandering microcosm”: Mercury represented in a voyage or “odyssey in search of wholeness.”15 (Astrologically, it is symbolized by Mercury’s Tran­scendental “couplings” with the other planets; by natal aspects; or by dynamic, transiting aspects.)

        Through Mercury’s search for an essential ingredient in spiritual truth (yang); union based on empathic under­standing (yin); and understanding enhanced by the “unifying / force of language” (yin-Eros / yang-Logos). An animating force that “quickens” the planetary ener­gies by means of its relentless absorption and transmission of truth, Mercury stimu­lates the flow of psychic energy and directs information gleaned from each celestial realm (or form of consciousness). Again, through its “freewheel­ing” interaction between each astrological stage of yin and yang, Mer­cury partakes of an energetic dualism that is expressed in its hermaphroditic nature. The felt awareness (Eros-soul) and rational grasp (Logos-spirit) of the various planetary principles (especially as experienced in the microcosm of human consciousness) is the immediate result of Mercury’s quest to obtain a truth partaking of multiple realities by adapting to each of them: absorbing, reflecting, and qualifying their natures; and creating the formal means of expressing such realities through sign, symbol, language, schemata, diagram, blueprint etc.
        Mercury and its “higher octave,” Uranus, signify two different yet closely related psychic functions. Mercury represents a dynamic search for the elements that compose the multiple facets of consciousness (i.e., “thought forms”), while the unexpected reversals and shocking reformations expressed through Uranus signify a search for a higher order: a more sophisticated synthesis and expression of consciousness (i.e., the reformation of thought). The restlessness of Mercury (seeking to comprehend itself) and the Ura­nian tendency to restructure energy forms (a self-regulation of psychic energy, expressed through the dynamic reversals of its extreme forms of expression) exemplify the transhuman ori­gins and qualities of these energy complexes. A “thought” which suddenly appears “out of the blue” (Mercury’s color) partakes of a transpersonal or archetypal pattern and origin. Likewise, Uranian intuitions that appear “out of nowhere” (the immaterial nature of Uranian energy) are expressions of a suprarational, transpersonal con­sciousness. In this sense, Uranus and Mercury (whose astrological symbols or “glyphs” are shaped like antennae) are planetary “receptors” of higher states of consciousness: receptors capable of transmitting the subtlest expressions of spirit and soul.
        In accord with ancient astrological and occult traditions, the alchemists invoked the spirit Mercurius as a mediating agent in their quest to render form to such philosophic inquiry. Jung writes that the “union of alchemical opposites formed a ‘correspondence’ to the unio mentalis that took place simultaneously in the mind of man, and not only in man but in God.”16 Mercury’s special mental role is sug­gested here. In the mental union simultaneously experienced by God and man, Mercury is linked to the Divine realm (human cog­nition based on a transpersonal, archetypal, divine pattern; Mercury as a receptor that “steps down” the energy of higher planetary forms of consciousness). Here Jung is again referring to the writings of Gerhard Dorn, who states: “We conclude that meditative philosophy consists in the overcoming of the body [the base instincts and unconscious nature] by mental union [unio mentalis] ... [and] that He may be one in All.”17 According to Jung, “The goal of the [alchemical] procedure is the unio mentalis, the attainment of full knowledge of the heights and depths of one’s own charac­ter.”18 Jung further theorized that the “unio mentalis, the interior oneness which today we call individuation, he [Dorn] conceived as a psychic equilibrium of opposites ‘in the over­coming of the body’, a state of equanimity transcending the body’s affectivity and instinc­tuality. The spirit (animus), which is to unite with the soul, he called a “spiracle” [spiraculum] of eternal life’, a sort of ‘window into eternity’ (Leibniz), whereas the soul is an organ of the spirit and the body an instrument of the soul.”19
        This final occult goal–the union of opposites upon a newfound (or higher) level of awareness–is a process realized in a special manner through an intercession of the hermaphroditic, unifying form of Mercury. Therefore, Mercurius is conceived as “many-sided, change­able”; “the ‘twin’, made of ‘two natures’, or ‘two substances’”; “the ‘giant of twofold sub­stance’”; the “winged and wingless” dragon; the “spirit and soul of the bodies”; composed of elements that are “dry and earthy” and “moist and viscous”; “passive” and “active”; and even “good and evil.” Through the “united double nature”20 of the hermaph­rodite, “Mercurius duplex” presages the final goal: the union of psychic oppo­sites, the mysterium coniunctionis.
        As a force that both unites opposing principles and symbolizes their presence in the dualistic tendencies of consciousness, Mercury–by standing in between and uniting–forms a triune structural dynamic and is often symbolized as such. Hermes-Mer­curius is referred to as “All and Thrice One” (omnia solus et ter unus); “triple in name, one in essence” (triplex in nomine, unus in esse); the “three-headed Mercurius” or “three-headed Hermes” (Hermes tricephalus); the “union of three” (triunus); the triune “Mercu­rial Fountain” (fons Mercurialis); “a three-headed snake” (serpens Mercurialis); and “tri­ple natured–masculine, feminine, and divine.”21 This triune form alludes to Mercury’s role in processes of separation (into complementary plane­tary pairs, such as Mars and Venus) and unification (the psychic integration of the Mars and Venus principles). Interpreted psychologically, Mercury represents a function that integrates rational and nonrational aspects of consciousness.

Improper manifestation of the energy:

Alchemical lore warns of a “darker” aspect of Mercury. Besides its role as spir­itual unifier, Mercurius duplex is conceived as duplicitous; shifty; wily; poisonous (“a spreading poison that has brought death to many”); “a child of chaos”; 22 “many sided, changeable, and deceitful”; “inconstant”; “good and evil”; “dark and light”; “visible and invisible”; “coarse and fine”; and related (through Saturn) to the devil. Since Mercury takes on the qualities of the planets that it serves to link, in its close proximity to the various planetary principles, Mercury may be contaminated or inflated with either the yin or the yang planetary elements. The “darkness” or “coarseness” of one side of the duality indicates that one of the Mercurial functions has now become obscured and is operating unconsciously.
        This is reflected in the horoscope when Mercury is portrayed as a hyperac­tive planet. For example, in its contact with Saturn, Mercury may “serve” Saturn by encouraging emotional constraint and the fear of change. “Understanding” may suddenly shift into “excluding” other viewpoints, perspectives, or emotional realities that would lend greater expansiveness or wholeness to the soul (especially the soulful qualities corresponding to Saturn’s complimentary yin form, Jupiter). In its rigid adherence to Saturnian principles (structure, order, discipline, the “laws of limitation,” and the utilization of those laws in effecting achievements), Mercury excludes other realities by force­fully proclaiming its belief in the already analyzed and categorized details that constitute an established Saturnian point of view. The complimentary Jupiterian impulse to expand beyond established borders of reality (and to expand the collective frontiers of the soul) is here usurped by a fixed belief in the limits of the “already known”: the logically deducible realm of material reality. In defending this rigid, Saturnian posi­tion, the Mercurial “light of reason” is transformed into a dark, obscuring cloud: one of opaque absolutism.
        Conversely, by adhering to or becoming contaminated with the Jupiterian impulse, the wandering curiosity of Mercury will expand beyond its ability to maintain focus, following an endlessly widening, tangential trail through a morass of ideas and concepts that all seem linked in some maddeningly inflated and endless fashion. This will lead to a fixation on Jupiterian “facts,” especially those pertaining to philosophical, religious, ethical, or other forms of the “codified wisdom of the ages”–yet one lacking a truly soulful awareness of such matters.23
        In merg­ing with Mars, Mercury will give voice to such forceful, opinionated and heated exchanges that the “separation and differentiation of identity” principle symbolized by Mars will be excessively extolled, with the result that it backfires and causes alienation, separa­tion, and misunderstandings with others.
        Overactive, one-sided contacts with yin planets such as Venus may lead to com­pulsive communications concerning romantic obsessions or opinionated exchanges regarding aesthetic beliefs. Instead of an intimate, soulful experience, a fixed notion concerning the nature of love (e.g., romance viewed in a hyperrational manner) will block anything other than a superficial exchange of intimacy.
        In Mercury’s contamination by Neptune, ideas and opinions concerning a mystic dimension of the soul will inhibit a deeper, authentic spiritual experience. Here Mercury will insist upon communicating something about the vague, obscure, or indefinite nature of the Neptunian experience, yet an overriding focus upon the significance of the word (or in some other graphic notation, such as the symbol) will eclipse an essential Neptunian soulfulness: the merging with and dissolution into the anima mundi or world soul.
        With Pluto, the attempt to comprehend the essential nature of something and to use that knowledge to reshape or transform that essen­tial nature lends the Mercury-Pluto contamination a particularly terrifying power. In applying a willful analysis to a person or a thing (e.g., a myopic view of how something should be transformed and a concern over the “dictatorial control” one will have upon the transformed person, place or thing), the Mercury-Pluto contaminated native is obstructing his own depth transformation potential.
        In every one-sided Mercury-planet contamination, the word or rational form obscures the truth it attempts to shape or articulate. In the effort to express its triune structural nature, Mercury has grasped too tightly upon one planetary principle to the detriment of the opposing principle. The latter then falls into an unconscious darkness (the unrealized, unvitalized part of life) and will later emerge only under special circumstances. (Only an enlightened consciousness can redeem it.) In all the Mercury-planet contaminations, the philosophical Mercury (mercurius philosophicus) or spiritual Mercury (mercurius non vulgaris) is bogged down by the common or crude Mercury (mercurius vulgaris; mercurius crudus). Instead of lending fluency of expression to the ineffable experiences of spirit and soul, Mercury is overly attached (earthbound or “concretized”) to some aspect of the form of communication itself. This is reflected in the manner of expression (e.g., Plutonian willfulness; Jupiterian expansiveness; Venusian sensuality; Martian force) or in the words, symbols, or language systems that are overvalued and that serve as a substitute for the realities they are meant to convey. Rather than the word serving to clarify and enhance our experience of the mystery of life, the word usurps the place of the mystery itself.
        When Mercury is psychologically unintegrated, the traditional astrological literature warns of a scatter-brained, unfocused native; one who cannot ratio­nally ascertain his place in the larger scheme of things. Such a person may have difficulty in making decisions; forming critical judgments; communicating clearly and objectively; comprehending elabo­rate concepts; retaining details, facts, and figures; or making simple logical deductions. For such a native, two essential elements are lacking:
        Existential conditions, such as a lack of educational opportunities, may have dampened the native’s interest in such Mercurial pursuits. This, in turn, may interfere with the urge to absorb, reflect, comprehend, communicate, or plan in an orderly, rational manner. This impasse will force Mercury to operate primarily on an unconscious level. Mercurius “duplex” then becomes duplicitous or diabolical. This is the trickster aspect of Mercury, which will reveal itself through an inner shiftiness and an underhanded unconsciousness. This means that one “hand” of Mercury is overgrasping or is overidentified with one of the (yin or yang) planetary principles, to the detriment of the complementary principle. Instead of functioning as a mediator and forming, on a higher level, a transcendent union (as reflected in his hermaphroditic nature), here Mercury is overidentified with one form of con­sciousness at the expense of another.
        If, for example, the native is overidentified with the yin side of the equation, the yang-oriented impulses (symbolized by Sun, Mars, Saturn, or Pluto) are then trapped and operate primarily unconsciously. The need to redeem this one-sided (or partially uncon­scious) Mercury is expressed in the alchemical notion of the “Freeing of Mer­cury,”24 illustrated in the Grimm fairy tale, “The Spirit in a Bottle”: a story of Mercurius hermetically sealed in a glass bottle. If Mercury is not capable of func­tioning as a mediator between planetary energies, the native will experience difficulty in finding his “Logos”: a formal means of communicating with clarity. Yang thought-forms will become blocked and will emerge only through dreams, unex­pressed longings, the “subtext” (or subliminal meaning) behind “surface” communications, or the acting out of the unconscious self (e.g., hysterical expressions). The yang consciousness will only be expressed symptomatically, through snide remarks; double entendres; aggressive or awkward body “language” etc. Essentially, the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. In between stands Mercury, who says one thing but is secretly thinking another. He may pursue his unconscious agendas by expressing himself in “half-thought” imag­inings and in “unthinking” remarks (e.g., insults). For the native who is unaware of his “duplex,” situations seem to “figure themselves out” or to reach “untoward con­clusions” (i.e., an inability to consciously plan for and reach a proper conclusion).
        When Mercury’s powers of comprehension and rational deduction have fallen this far into the realm of diabolic unconsciousness,25 a further problem arises in the native’s ability to believe in the self-regulating nature of the Mercury energy. For a native so far removed from the ability to tune in to his own thoughts, the fear is that the “wheel will have to be reinvented”: that a thinking process must be created from scratch. The thought process is, however, largely autonomous; we receive thoughts (generated as they are from within the overall psyche) just as much as we can be said to create them. Yet instead of teasing out or channeling thought in this intuitive manner, the native may despair that he must work through every word, every detail, every aspect of communication in order to effectively utilize the Mercury complex. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, as “channeling Mercury” into the conscious realm is far different from controlling each of his frenetic movements. Indeed, for every human function (i.e., for each planetary principle) the conscious mind must work with a largely autonomous, instinctive, and intuitive process that proceeds along by itself, directed here and there by conscious­ness yet certainly not invented by the ego or created from scratch. We may seek to formulate a thought and, in the process of properly “listening” (being mentally receptive), a thought coalesces in a manner that is largely involuntary and instinctive: generated from within the psyche and reformulated within consciousness.
        The same holds true no matter which planet is “unintegrated.” The native must engender a belief in the autonomous reality of the psychic function involved (e.g., the reality of love [Venus]; the reality of the “expansive philosophical mind” [Jupiter] etc.). One must cultivate receptivity to the presence of the energy in question. (And this requires an appropriately introverted atti­tude.) Besides instilling a belief in such energetic potentials, one must develop a positive point of view regarding the use of such energies. Since unintegrated energy is largely blocked from conscious expression, this means it has been experienced mostly in a negative form. Once psychic energy has been redeemed, its beneficial effects are enormous, yet this is often difficult for the native to imagine, since things pushed into the unconscious are often viewed only negatively.

Transcendental potential:

Relocation to the Transcendental Mercury line offers the native opportuni­ties in which this function finds a formal means of expression. This will occur through encoun­ters with those who have evolved a Mercury principle within themselves to such an extent that the “unattractive” or “unconscious” aspects of Mercury (the “dark,” “coarse,” and “poisonous” dimensions) are transformed into a more positive, creative form of expression. For instance, someone with an unintegrated Mercury who is not verbally oriented may, under this location, expe­rience language as a tool that can be tailored to suit his needs in fur­thering relationships with others, rather than as something that leads to experiences of intellectual intimidation, alienation, or separation. In relocations in a foreign country, the attempt to learn a new language26 will stimulate such underutilized mental functions. This, in turn, will stimulate other functions, such as comprehending ideas and formulating concepts.
         Under this location, the ability to rely on the autonomous expression of Mercury is enhanced. This may be coupled with a positive external experience, such as encounters with those who personify creative aspects of Mercury (e.g., personally meaningful and relaxed communication instead of impersonal, irrelevant, intimidating discourse). Mercury as mercurius philosophicus may be personified as the curious seeker who, by receiv­ing and transmitting knowledge, furthers the evolution of others by teaching eternal truths and ideas. Here Mercury is functioning as a mediating agent between the Eros-yin and Logos-yang principles, communi­cating to each their mutual needs and articulating their realities in a manner further­ing growth and enhancing comprehension. When functioning properly, Mercury lends form to the unknown and helps to shape the otherwise elusive language of human cogni­tion and consciousness.
        The possibility of actualizing creative, philosophical aspects of Mercury in a Transcendental locale is exemplified by the prolific and visionary writings of Jules Verne [with Secondary Transcendental Uranus]; the acclaimed literary achievements of William Butler Yeats; the direct, simple clarity of the novelist Jack London; and the “prodigal genius” who gave intellectual form to an eclectic variety of ideas, Nikola Tesla. In each of these examples, Mercury found a significant formal expression in the world-at-large. Under the Transcendental location, instead of haphazard or disjointed expressions of mental energy, Mercury coa­lesces into forms that communicate knowledge, enhance comprehension, and further the quest for greater understanding.

Personalities with Primary Transcendental Mercury:

Catherine the Great ([with equally underaspected Uranus] Empress of Russia remembered for her “educational” reforms, “eclectic intellectual prowess,” and “notable intelligence, curiosity, and wit,” who “frequently corresponded” with leading French “intellectuals” and established “literary reviews” in Russia); Claudette Colbert (born in Paris under the line of her Primary Mercury, remembered for her “charismatic / voice” [Second­ary Neptune / Primary Mercury] and for acting in “smart” roles in which she easily “matched wits” with Hollywood’s leading men); Peggy Fleming ([with equally underaspected Venus] ice figure-skater acknowledged for her “skillful / grace” [Mercury / Venus] and for the personification of “beauty / in motion,” who won her first gold medal in France, directly under her Primary Mercury line); Grace Kelly ([with equally underaspected Jupiter/Uranus] actress who traveled to the European locale of her Mercury line (over the principality of Monaco), where she assumed her final role as Princess of Monaco); Jack London (prolific author of numerous Klondike tales, such as Call of the Wild and White Fang, whose Primary Mer­cury passes precisely over the Klondike in its vertical, Transcendental Midheaven position); Jackie Robinson ([with Secondary Transcendental Mars] athlete who relocated to his Primary Mer­cury line early in life, where he “attended school” and “learned the skills” necessary to participate in a “variety” of athletic sports, who later “educated” baseball fans about racism by becoming the first African American to play in the major leagues); Bertrand Russell (Welsh “intellectual” known for his “eclectic and prolific writings” and his “advanced analytical skills”); Nikola Tesla (renowned “intellectual” who once suffered a nervous breakdown in an attempt to read the complete works of Voltaire; known as the foremost “intellectual / of electricity” [Primary Mercury / Secondary Uranus], who immigrated to the U.S. and constructed a lab­oratory in New York City, in close proximity to his Primary Mercury); Jules Verne (whose prolific “writing” is filled with prophetic insights [with Secondary Uranus] that anticipate in “literary form” the scientific discoveries of the future); Queen Victoria (whose “overly detailed concern” with the “efficient handling” of the daily business of the monarchy was said to interfere with the theatrical displays of royalty required of her; whose “careful scrutiny of facts and details” led critics to say she had “drill eyes” and that she “insisted on consultation even over trivial details”; who from 1832 to 1901 faithfully kept a dairy comprising 122 notebook volumes; and whose prolific “correspon­dence” is contained in over a dozen published volumes); Kaiser Wilhelm II (the last emperor of Germany, born in Potsdam, Germany, near his Primary Mercury, who was remembered for his imperialistic “speeches”); William Butler Yeats (Nobel-prize-winning “writer” born in Sandymount, Ireland, almost directly under his Primary Mer­cury line).

* * *

Keynote phrases for Mercury:

•The animating energy behind forms of communication.
•Traditionally, Mercury is hermaphroditic and contains qualities that derive from active (yang) and receptive (yin) energies. Mercury unites these opposing tendencies, especially in the role of transmitting (yang) and receiving (yin) information.
•Cognitive functions that determine communication and more advanced intellectual abilities.
•Intellectual (rather than philosophic [Jupiter] or divinely intuited [Uranus]) communica­tion.
•The ability to learn and refine skills.
•Education, especially elementary education.
•The “automatic pilot” aspect of cognitive experience, especially concerning the performance of tasks that rely on the smooth functioning of previously learned motor skills.
•Physiological structures in the brain and nervous system that facilitate communication.
•In Indian astrology, Mercury corresponds to “matters pertaining to learning.”27
•The yin and yang functions of reception, comprehension, and expression of information.
•Everything that facilitates communication and that leads to an understanding of the self- and soul experience.

1. The Romans identified Hermes with Mercury. See Jung, “Mercurius and Hermes,” Alchemical Studies, pp. 230-234.
2. Jung, The Practice of Psychotherapy, p. 204.
3. Kitab al-’ilm al-muktasab, edited and translated by Eric J. Holmyard, as reproduced by Jung in Mysterium Coniunctionis, p. 9.
4. In the symbolism of the alchemical “heating” of the emotional foundations of the soul, a similar meaning is at work: a “turning on” and “turning up” of the emotions, until they are sublimated and unified with spirit.
5. Gerhard Dorn, “Congeries Paracelsicae chemicae,” Theatrum Chemicum, vol. 1, p. 578, as cited by Jung in Mysterium Coniunctionis, p. 16.
6. Ibid.
7. “Gemini’s character is essen­tially that of the child who always asks ‘Why?’” Alan Oken, As Above, So Below, p. 109. (Gemini is one of the astrological signs ruled by Mercury.)
8. See Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, p. 5, n. 4: “Senior says: ‘I joined the two luminar­ies in marriage and it became as water having two lights’ (De chemia, p. 15 f.),” and p. 4: “The opposites and their symbols are so common in the texts that it is superfluous to cite evidence from the sources ... Very often the masculine-feminine opposition is personified as King and Queen ... or as servus (slave) or vir rubeus (red man) and mulier candida (white woman); in the “Visio Arislei” they appear as ... the King’s son and daughter.” In a footnote, Jung adds: “The archetype of the heavenly marriage plays a great role here.”
9. Mercury’s only significant aspect to the Sun is the conjunction  (as it is never more than 28 degrees from the Sun).
         Regarding aspects traditionally deemed significant, such as the conjunction (0), semisextile (30), semisquare (45), sextile (60) etc.: technically, any angle of separation between planets forms an aspect or degree, but relatively few of these celestial degrees of separation are considered to be of significance in the horoscope. (See my appen­dix B.)
10. Jung, Alchemical Studies, “The Relation of Mercurius to Astrology and the Doctrine of the Archons,” pp. 225-226.
11. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis pp. 224-235.
12. Ibid., p. 97. Just as yin is characterized in the I Ching as the “perfect complement of the creative–the complement, not the opposite, for the Receptive does not combat the Creative but completes it.”
13. Ibid., p. 131.
14. Ibid., p. 459, n. 16.
15. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, commenting on an illustration of the “Grand Peregri­nation,” from Maier’s Viatorium: “Two eagles fly round the earth in opposite directions, indicating that it is an odyssey in search for wholeness.” F. 97, facing p. 201.
16. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, pp. 470-471 (“in the mind of man” = my italics).
17. Gerhard Dorn, “Philosophia meditativa,” Theatrum Chemicum, vol. 1, p. 456, as reproduced by Jung in Mysterium Coniunctionis, p. 465.
18. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, p. 474.
19. Ibid., pp. 470-471.
20. Jung, The Practice of Psychotherapy, p. 218.
21. Ibid., p. 216.
22. Jung, Alchemical Studies, “The Relation of Mercurius to Astrology and the Doctrine of the Archons,” p. 228.
23. The role of Mercury as an agent of unification positioned between the collectively oriented symbols of Saturn-Jupiter is intuitively described in the alchemical texts: “Another aspect of the dual nature of Mercurius is his characterization as senex [Saturn] and puer [Jupiter]. As a unifying force standing between the pairing of Sun and Moon: “Mercurius is also designated with the Gnostic name ‘Father-Mother’.” Ibid., “The Dual Nature of Mercu­rius,” p. 220, 220, n. 39.
24. Ibid., “The Problem of Freeing Mercury,” pp. 202-203.
25. Ibid. See “The Relation of Mercurius to Astrology and the Doctrine of the Archons,” p. 228.
26. We should note, however, that “foreign languages” are traditionally assigned to the rul­ership of Neptune, as the initial experience of encountering a new language is, indeed, a “for­eign,” dreamlike, strange, and disorienting experience.
27. Dreyer, Indian Astrology, p. 90.

Additional Mercury quotes:

All things follow from the Word.

Seekers of wisdom first
need sound intelligence.

… we need the Word
to keep things known in common.
(Heraclitus, trans. Brooks Haxton.)

One learns in teaching.


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