– Gameness til the End
Hendrik Goltzius: Mercury, with The Gamecock
Mercury is a major Roman god, being one of the Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He is the patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages/communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he is also the guide of souls to the underworld. He was considered the son of Maia and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is possibly related to the Latin word merx (“merchandise”; compare merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages). In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms, both of which share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. In Virgil’s Aeneid, Mercury reminds Aeneas of his mission to found the city of Rome. In Ovid’s Fasti, Mercury is assigned to escort the nymph Larunda to the underworld. Mercury, however, fell in love with Larunda and made love to her on the way. Larunda thereby became mother to two children, referred to as the Lares, invisible household gods.
Mercury has influenced the name of many things in a variety of scientific fields, such as the planet Mercury, and the element mercury. The word mercurial is commonly used to refer to something or someone erratic, volatile or unstable, derived from Mercury’s swift flights from place to place. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand.
Silver statuette of Mercury, a Berthouville treasure
Mercury did not appear among the numinous di indigetes of early Roman religion. Rather, he subsumed the earlier Dei Lucrii as Roman religion was syncretized with Greek religion during the time of the Roman Republic, starting around the 4th century BC. From the beginning, Mercury had essentially the same aspects as Hermes, wearing winged shoes (talaria) and a winged hat (petasos), and carrying the caduceus, a herald’s staff with two entwined snakes that was Apollo’s gift to Hermes. He was often accompanied by a cockerel, herald of the new day, a ram or goat, symbolizing fertility, and a tortoise, referring to Mercury’s legendary invention of the lyre from a tortoise shell.
Like Hermes, he was also a god of messages, eloquence and of trade, particularly of the grain trade. Mercury was also considered a god of abundance and commercial success, particularly in Gaul, where he was said to have been particularly revered. He was also, like Hermes, the Romans’ psychopomp, leading newly-deceased souls to the afterlife. Additionally, Ovid wrote that Mercury carried Morpheus’ dreams from the valley of Somnus to sleeping humans.
Archeological evidence from Pompeii suggests that Mercury was among the most popular of Roman gods.The god of commerce was depicted on two early bronze coins of the Roman Republic, the Sextans and the Semuncia.
Mercury portrait on a bronze Semuncia (215-211 BC)
When they described the gods of Celtic and Germanic tribes, rather than considering them separate deities, the Romans interpreted them as local manifestations or aspects of their own gods, a cultural trait called the interpretatio Romana. Mercury in particular was reported as becoming extremely popular among the nations the Roman Empire conquered; Julius Caesar wrote of Mercury being the most popular god in Britain and Gaul, regarded as the inventor of all the arts. This is probably because in the Roman syncretism, Mercury was equated with the Celtic god Lugus, and in this aspect was commonly accompanied by the Celtic goddess Rosmerta. Although Lugus may originally have been a deity of light or the sun (though this is disputed), similar to the Roman Apollo, his importance as a god of trade made him more comparable to Mercury, and Apollo was instead equated with the Celtic deity Belenus.
In Celtic areas, Mercury was sometimes portrayed with three heads or faces, and at Tongeren, Belgium, a statuette of Mercury with three phalli was found, with the extra two protruding from his head and replacing his nose; this was probably because the number 3 was considered magical, making such statues good luck and fertility charms. The Romans also made widespread use of small statues of Mercury, probably drawing from the ancient Greek tradition of hermae markers.
Names and epithets
Mercury is known to the Romans as Mercurius and occasionally in earlier writings as Merqurius, Mirqurios or Mircurios, had a number of epithets representing different aspects or roles, or representing syncretisms with non-Roman deities. The most common and significant of these epithets included the following:
- Mercurius Artaios, a combination of Mercury with the Celtic god Artaios, a deity of bears and hunting who was worshiped at Beaucroissant, France.
- Mercurius Arvernus, a combination of the Celtic Arvernus with Mercury. Arvernus was worshiped in the Rhineland, possibly as a particular deity of the Arverni tribe, though no dedications to Mercurius Arvernus occur in their territory in the Auvergne region of central France.
- Mercurius Cissonius, a combination of Mercury with the Celtic god Cissonius, who is written of in the area spanning from Cologne, Germany to Saintes, France.
- Mercurius Esibraeus, a combination of the Iberian deity Esibraeus with the Roman deity Mercury. Esibraeus is mentioned only in an inscription found at Medelim, Portugal, and is possibly the same deity as Banda Isibraiegus, who is invoked in an inscription from the nearby village of Bemposta.
- Mercurius Gebrinius, a combination of Mercury with the Celtic or Germanic Gebrinius, known from an inscription on an altar in Bonn, Germany.
- Mercurius Moccus, from a Celtic god, Moccus, who was equated with Mercury, known from evidence at Langres, France. The name Moccus (“pig”) implies that this deity was connected to boar-hunting.
- Mercurius Visucius, a combination of the Celtic god Visucius with the Roman god Mercury, attested in an inscription from Stuttgart, Germany. Visucius was worshiped primarily in the frontier area of the empire in Gaul and Germany. Although he was primarily associated with Mercury, Visucius was also sometimes linked to the Roman god Mars, as a dedicatory inscription to “Mars Visucius” and Visucia, Visicius’ female counterpart, was found in Gaul.
Vulcan created a net out of unbreakable steel so that he could catch Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, and Mars, the god of war, in the act of making love. He was jealous of their relationship, because Venus was his beloved wife. Vulcan managed to catch them but, afterwards, Mercury stole the net from the blacksmith god so that he could catch Chloris, a nymph whom he admired. Chloris was tasked with flying after the sun while it rose and scattering lilies, roses and violets behind it. Mercury lay in wait for at least several days until he caught her wing in the net over an unnamed great river in Ethiopia. Mercury then gave the net to the temple of Anubis at Canopus to protect the sacred spot. In Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, the net is stolen 3,000 years later by Caligorant, who goes on to destroy the temple and the city.
Mercury’s temple in Rome was situated in the Circus Maximus, between the Aventine and Palatine hills, and was built in 495 BC.
That year saw disturbances at Rome between the patrician senators and the plebeians, which led to a secession of the plebs in the following year. At the completion of its construction, a dispute emerged between the consuls Appius Claudius Sabinus Inregillensis and Publius Servilius Priscus Structus as to which of them should have the honour of dedicating the temple. The senate referred the decision to the popular assembly, and also decreed that whichever was chosen should also exercise additional duties, including presiding over the markets, establish a merchants’ guild, and exercising the functions of the pontifex maximus. The people, because of the ongoing public discord, and in order to spite the senate and the consuls, instead awarded the honour of dedicating the temple to the senior military officer of one of the legions named Marcus Laetorius. The senate and the consuls, in particular the conservative Appius, were outraged at this decision, and it inflamed the ongoing situation.
The temple was regarded as a fitting place to worship a swift god of trade and travel, since it was a major center of commerce as well as a racetrack. Since it stood between the plebeian stronghold on the Aventine and the patrician center on the Palatine, it also emphasized the role of Mercury as a mediator.
Because Mercury was not one of the early deities surviving from the Roman Kingdom, he was not assigned a flamen (“priest”), but he did have his own major festival, on May 15, the Mercuralia. During the Mercuralia, merchants sprinkled water from his sacred well near the Porta Capena on their heads.
Mercury in his role as messenger on a 1949 stamp
issued in connection with the Universal Postal Union.
- DC Comics character The Flash borrows some aspects of his appearance and powers from Mercury. The Flash possesses tremendous speed, and similarly to Mercury’s helmet and sandals, he wears a winged mask and boots. The original Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, wore the same metal winged helmet that Mercury is often depicted wearing.
- The now defunct Mercury car brand was named after the Roman god. The first logo the Mercury brand used was a side profile of Mercury’s head, complete with winged helmet.
- The United States’ so called Mercury dime, issued from 1916 to 1945, actually features a Winged Liberty and not the god Mercury, but is so named because of the uncanny similarity between the two.
Cast of Mercury holding a caduceus and a purse,
with a cockerel or rooster, a tortoise and a goat is
inside a 2nd century silver cup from Gaul.
The quick Mercury is the next closest in the sequence, showing Mercurius (the Roman version of the Greek Hermes) with his typical iconography. The winged sandals and cap are fairly familiar; the staff with the two intertwined dragons might hint at a Caduceus. Mercurius is accompanied by a rooster, a bird that due to its habit of crowing at dawn became a symbol of the victory of day over night.
Mercurio/Mercury himself – in his original meaning – did not find his way into the traditional Tarot, but ever since the early occultists threw themselves into Tarot studies, Mercury/Hermes evolved into the thrice-bloated Super-Hermes and heavily tainted the poor, unsuspecting Il Bagatto.
Mercury, the messenger of the gods. In Roman times, Mercury was regarded as the god of merchandise, merchants, and commerce. He is often depicted as holding a purse to signify his rulership over profits. Today Mercury is regarded as the thinking faculty, and rules all types of communications, information, inquiry, and investigation.
Mercury by 17th-century Flemish sculptor Artus Quellinus,
identified by his hat, drawstring purse, caduceus, winged sandals,
cock (rooster), and goat (Source:Wikipedia)
In a personal natal chart Mercury indicates
- The reasoning mind
- Communication, conversation, writing
- Assimilation of information from the environment
- Analysis and discrimination
- Concentration and focus
- Respiratory system, nervous system
How will we define Mercury as used in astrology for business? Remember, there are three different options in the business use of astrology.
- The first is reading a person’s standard natal chart from the point of view of business. What does your chart say about you as a business person? What are your strengths and weaknesses as applied to your professional life?
- The second is reading the chart of a business itself. It is fairly easy to find the date of incorporation of publicly held businesses, and many small business owners can say the date they first opened their doors or made their first sale.
- The third option is to view the vocations that have been found to be good expressions of certain planetary energies.
Mercury in a Businessperson’s Chart
Let’s look at Mercury in a businessperson’s chart. Extrapolating meaning from the personal definitions, we can say that Mercury in a businessperson’s chart describes their conscious thinking and intellect, how shrewd they are. It also describes their conversation style and their aptitude for spoken and written communications. It can describe their facility with information technology and analytical tools. As the general ruler of commerce, Mercury can describe the person’s approach to business, and their natural facility in purchasing, sales, and negotiating.
Mercury in the Chart of a Business
When we look at Mercury in the chart of a business, we take the essential meanings of Mercury in a personal chart and combine them with the meanings of Mercury in a mundane chart. A business is an entity in that it has a birth, a life cycle, and an end, and it has meaning and purpose like any other being. It is like a child of a person’s imagination and desire. But it’s also impersonal, in that it doesn’t carry its own conscious evolvement even though it passes through phases and cycles like everything else on earth. In this way it is more like a mundane chart and the meanings from that branch of astrology apply.
In a business chart, Mercury describes communication and information systems, merchandising and inventory control, news, electronics, publications, and machinery, especially electronics and transportation.
Much thanks for the following vocational information to Noel Tyl. As my first astrology teacher in the 1970s, his work continues to influence my thinking to this day. He has recently published Vocations, the New Midheaven Extension Process, which outlines the various vocations that are connected with each of the planets.
Some of the vocations associated with Mercury include communications, sales, travel, broadcasting, accounting, and media. Do you see how these are connected to the other descriptions? The essential energy of Mercury takes slightly different but related forms in the different expressions.