Planet, God, Element – Variations on a Theme
Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system, and the closest to the sun. Hermes to the Greeks, the Roman adaptation of the planet and the God was Mercury, the messenger God, due to the celestial body’s “quick-footedness” as it traverses across the sky. In the Western zodiac, Mercury is the planetary ruler of the signs Gemini – the twins/dual nature and Virgo – balance/scales; the element Mercury was likely so named because it exhibits both solid and liquid traits; and the word mercurial means volatile or subject to sudden and unpredictable changes.
In Western astrology, Mercury influences communication, higher thought, education, technology, transportation, and short-distance travel.
Back and Forth
Because of its proximity to the sun, Mercury has a short orbital cycle, less than 1/3 that of Earth’s. Due to the relative speeds that both planets move (and some geometry I’m not going to explain), there are times this planet literally appears to be moving backwards. These periods are called retrogrades. Several planets have retrograde periods, but Mercury’s is the most well-known and likely the most influential because it happens often – about three times a year.
Mercury retrograde dates for 2015 are:
January 21 – February 11 (in Aquarius)
May 18 – June 11 (in Gemini)
September 17 – October 9 (in Libra)