star school an intro to astrology for total beginners

Wanna know why your new beau isn’t very communicative?  Check to see where his Mercury is placed.  Mercury is the messenger of the gods and, in astrology, it indicates how we communicate and think.

You can get a pretty good idea of how someone expresses themselves – or not – by taking a peek at Mercury.

It’s the first planet that can go retrograde (the Sun and Moon never do).  Keep in mind that when Mercury goes retrograde in a natal chart, the energy is turn inward.  Instead of being outwardly expressed, everything in internalized.  And yes, in some cases, a retrograde Mercury placement can indicate learning disabilities.  But don’t rush off to assume that – other factors need to come into play such as heavy Mercury aspects.  Oftentimes, a Mercury retrograde in a natal chart simply leads to a mind that needs time to process before making decisions.  I’ve also seen Mercury retrograde create difficulties in communication – but not always.  For example, writers Rudyard Kipling, William Faulkner and Arthur Miller all had Mercury retrograde in their birth charts.  I would dare to say that none of them had any trouble expressing their ideas!

Star School Lesson 7: Mercury in the natal chart

Let’s look at Mercury through the signs:

Aries – the mind is passionate, positive, and original. Communication is often full o’ fire. Mercury in Aries people are not afraid to speak their minds – at best, they are candid.  At worst, impulsive and likely to suffer from foot in mouth syndrome.  Mercury in Aries people tend to shoot from the hip.  They think on their feet well. They also like to take risks and will be the first person to come out with those brilliant ideas that scare the pants off the rest of us. These people are bold thinkers! If negatively aspected, watch out for a red-hot temper and aggression.

Taurus – here, the mind and communication both tend to be plodding, conservative, and methodical. It’s not that this placement is slow-witted, it’s just that they like to ponder and take their time coming to conclusions.  Once they have made up their minds, they tend to stick with it. Stubbornly so. You’ll have an easier time pulling mammoths out of tar pits than trying to get a Mercury in Taurus person to change their mind! They can work long hours and concentrate well, no caffeine necessary. That’s because Mercury in Taurus people have tenacious minds. These are the guys to hang with when you need to cram for an exam. Because Taurus is ruled by Venus, beauty is important to them – many of them have artistic tendencies.

Gemini – Mercury rules Gemini, making this the best placement.  Mercury in Gemini people are quick-witted, intellectual, and clever.  They are able to think and talk their way out of any situation. Their brains are wired for activity and adaptability! This is the communicator of the zodiac, able to talk to anyone about anything. Lord, do they every love to talk! They learn fast and tend to be great students.  That’s because they are curious and like to learn.  Easily bored, they need tons of mental stimulation. A negatively aspected placement produces a broad but superficial knowledge and terrible (but funny) gossips.  Lots of brilliant musicians have Mercury in Gemini: Paul McCartney, Prince, Bob Dylan, Tupac Shakur.

Cancer – the heart rules the head always. These sensitive folk need to learn experientially. They have memories like elephants. Once they learn something, they tend to hold on to that information quite well.  They also hold on to emotional memories – including grudges and petty things.  They will remember incidents right down to how they felt at the time. When poorly aspected, they can be whiny complainers and cling-ons.  But when operating at the highest, they are psychic, sentimental, and able to express their feelings with ease.  (Hint: if you ever want to sell something to these people, it must have an emotional appeal.)

Leo – bold, big-hearted Mercury in Leo people express themselves with a dramatic flair and often make great actors or writers.  This is the performer’s placement – no one is more melodramatic than a Mercury Leo.  They are intelligent with an ability to convey ideas with sweeping gestures.  They are also brilliant at seeing the “bigger picture.”  Bring them on when you need someone to take charge of a project and lead the team to victory.  When these people go rogue, they become the worst sort of braggarts and attention mongers. That friend who always fishes for compliments?  That’s a poorly aspected (and aggravating) Mercury in Leo.

Virgo – like Gemini, Virgo is ruled by Mercury but where Gemini prefers a superficial knowledge of all things, Virgo is the specialist of the zodiac. That’s because these guys are analytical at heart. They will analyze a situation or person down to the finest detail.  Critics, everyone of them.  At best, they see flaws and work to resolve them. At worst, they nitpick to the point of becoming a cruel jerk. Perfectionism is their middle name. Whereas Mercury in Leos see the big picture, the Mercury Virgo person is the one to sort out all the details.  (Hint: hire both in your firm and watch your biz soar.)  PS Freddie Mercury had his Mercury in Virgo.  Because you really needed to know that, right?

Libra – Mercury in Libra is kindly, just, and positive. There is a tendency to see both sides of the coin for this is the sign of balance. Fairness , diplomacy, and ethics are important to Mercury in Libra people, which means they make excellent politicians, lawyers, and judges. They will weight all sides carefully before making decisions.  Like Mercury in Taurus, Libra is ruled by Venus and also has an artistic flair.  Aesthetic sense is strong and can produce excellent designers, both in fashion and interior design.  They express themselves with great intelligence and charm – which, if negatively aspected, can produce a smooth operator.  A poorly expressed Mercury in Libra person can also be indecisive to the point of maddening.

Scorpio – obsessive, deep thinkers with a tendency to obsess.  Whether they are breaking something down to the core or brooding over some hurt, Mercury in Scorp people go where no one else dares to go.  The bullshit detector is strong in these peeps – don’t try to con them, they will see right through you.  And when they do, boy do they lash out!  Sharp tongues, every single one of them. The best cops, mystery writers, and psychics have this placement. So do some psychos. That’s because Mercury in Scorpio people can spot a weakness a mile away – and when they do, they will use it against you.  It’s a vindictive-ly inclined mind when pissed off.  Charles Manson has this placement!  Mercury in Scorpio people are private – they can shut down and hide their thoughts better than any other sign. The poker face was invented by these guys.

Sagittarius – this placement produces a mind that is  philosophical and intelligent but it likes to roam. Which means, it needs direction and focus.  Mercury in Sagittarius people love to day dream and think about far off places and adventures where they can be the leading man or lady!  They adore expressing their opinions.  In fact, they can be candid and brutally honest.  They hurt feelings without meaning to.  After all, they were just “telling it like it is” and didn’t think you’d actually get all butt-hurt about it.  These folks are honest as they come and expect the same from you. When in negative mode, Mercury in Sag can be preachy and self righteous (my least favorite kind of people).  Kids with this placement need a ton of physical activity – it calms them down and helps them focus better.  (Psst the adults need it too.)

Capricorn – one of the smartest placements for Mercury.  The mind is intelligent, serious, and orderly.  Unlike Mercury in Sagittarius people, these guys know how to concentrate.  They can put their minds to anything, any puzzle or riddle, and micromanage it down to the core (and solution).  These peeps have natural mathematical tendencies and are great problem solvers. Mercury in Capricorns also possess keen senses of humor. It’s that dry wit.  Some of the funniest people I know have this placement. I’ve heard many an astrologer call this placement boring and stern.  I dunno – I find it to be super smart and down to earth.  But then again, I like a challenge.  When negative, they can be domineering and oppressive.  But they are always a pro, even when in that mode. (Professional dominatrixes? Hmmm….)

Aquarius – this is a fantastic placement for Mercury because the mind becomes super smart.  Like a computer or Mr. Spock!  The thinking is far-out maaaannnnnn, able to understand abstract ideas – and way ahead of its time.  These people are as original as they come. Conformity?  You won’t find it here. This is the intellectual rebel, yo.  Innovators and inventors have this placement. Easily bored, they need to feel stimulated by their companions.  If not, they will go off to find fun playmates who like to debate. They all have a wicked wit (Marilyn Manson has this placement).  When they are feeling some type of way, they can be stubborn as all get out.  Like Mercury in Taurus, you cannot move them once the mind is made up.

Pisces – like Cancer, this is a sensitive, gentle thinker.  They are poetic, magical, and musically inclined.  Intuitive as can be, they feel things down to the bones. Those people who have “visions” and see omens – probably Mercury in Pisces.  They think with their heart and have all the feels.  They are the dreamers of the zodiac and if negatively aspected will dream their lives away and not accomplish much. But when well aspected, these are the healers, psychics, musicians, and artists of the world.  They can also be moody and easily hurt. In some cases, there may be a tendency towards depression or victim-oriented behavior.  Needs to be careful with drugs and alcohol for it dulls their mighty fine senses. Kurt Cobain had this placement.

Homework: start looking at Mercury placements in charts – yours, your friends, family, celebrities.  Is the planet direct or retrograde?  How might that affect they way they process information – or communicate with you?

Next month it’s getting hot and steamy in here – we’re talking about romancing the stars with Venus!


The Mercury Retrograde Book by Theresa Francis

The Power of Mercury: Understanding Mercury Retrograde and Unlocking the Astrological Secrets of Communication by Leslie McGuirk (this one is not in print yet but totally on my wish list!)

Keep gazing at the stars – and stay curious,


Miss a previous lesson? I’ve got ’em all right here for you.

adorable Mercury image from stock photography

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