In ancient Greece Mercury was known as Hermes, the divine messanger of the gods. Traditionally he’s considered a trickster. He is the clever god of intellect that disobeys normal rules and breaks conventional behaviour. In fact he is also the protector and patron of thieves and merchants and he’s one of the few gods that can come and go freely from the Hades.
In the myth he tricked his brother Apollo, stealing his sacred cattle. Once he had been exposed he gave Apollo a lyre made from a turtle shell as a gift to be forgiven. Apollo, the great god of music and poetry, was so pleased that in return he gave Hermes the staff he used to make the legendary Caduceus.
Mercury as a Force
You can think of Mercury as the force of change and exchange. It is a force of movement that continuously exchanges news, pieces of information and ideas as well as materials, goods or even people. Merchants, deliverymen, journalists, mailmen, and taxi drivers work with Mercury on a daily basis since they move things, news and people.
This force hates boundaries since they block “the winds of change” and make circulation stagnant. For this reason Mercury protects thieves. They serve its energy by “moving things” from a place to another. They say there is no door that Mercury can’t open.
And what about dresses? The mercurial force tries to change them too! So we have dress codes for every occasion, the world of fashion, halloween costumes and so on. Mercury plays with our identity giving us masks and disguises. They can be fun, but they are also a way to con people. We begin to understand why Mercury is ambivalent and deceptive, a real trickster. In particular, he loves to make fun of dull, stiff people but if you are a smart guy you are going to like him.
Ever wondered why Mercury is always so smiling and funny? Basically because something makes us laugh when it pops out unexpectedly: a bodybuilder in a tutu, or an old hag riding a harley davidson, are funny because they’re unlikely events. And less likely an event is the more information it carries, so again: information exchange. Laugh is for the heart what the news are for the mind: fresh air.
The Caduceus is the staff of Hermes, an ancient symbol carried by heralds and messangers: “It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings” (cit. Wikipedia). This symbol is very interesting since it reflects Mercury’s nature. First of all, the wings: they are a symbol commonly used to represent the Air element and the connection between heaven and earth; they often appear also on Hermes’ helmet (intellect) and shoes (movement, speed).
The staff itself, the vertical part of the symbol, was a gift from Apollo. It represent the solar, masculine principle of ascension, but also the ordering, rational force that draws a line dividing good and evil, black and white, left and right. It is the light that casts the shadow, the logical force of reason that creates the duality of the world.
As we know Mercury has the ability to overcome boundaries and differences. With its rapid movement he continously exchanges black to white and viceversa, putting the opposites in comunication. This double movement of exchange is represented by the snakes, which dynamically climb the staff with their characteristic entwined shape.
Mercury’s glyph can also be seen as a simplified Caduceus, where the the circle surmounted by the lunar arc forms the two serpents.
- cheerfulness, friendlinessCarefree, talkativeness, sociability, jesting,
- communication, connection, crossing, trade, curiosity, brother,
- intuition, intelligence, knowledge, attention, observation,
- change, healing, speed, motion, movement, shrinking,
- superficiality, forgetfulness, immaturity, inconsistency, versatility, cunning,