Planets & Astrology: Mercury

This message will self-destruct? In Roman lore and in astrology, Mercury is the messenger planet, directing the ways we think, communicate and share information. As the planet closest to the Sun, this makes a whole lotta sense!

Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system (since Pluto got demoted), but please don’t judge him by his size. He’s a speedy devil, orbiting the Sun in a mere 88 days. While the Sun governs our self-expression, Mercury helps us put our solar “vibes” into actual words. Language—both written and verbal—are this planet’s main domain. The way we organize, synthesize and transfer data also falls to Mercury, which governs our mobile devices, scheduling and transportation.

This zippy little planet hangs out in a zodiac sign for an average of three weeks. But there’s an exception during those notorious retrograde periods when Mercury passes the Earth in its orbit. This happens three to four times each year, causing Mercury to linger in a single sign (or pivot between two zodiac signs) for up to nine weeks. All things communication tend to go haywire during these periods of Mercury retrograde, which last about three weeks, which is why these signal-scrambling phases have gotten such a bad reputation.

Mercury is the social director of your birth chart, governing your peer relationships.

Every planet lords over a zodiac sign—and in Mercury’s case, there are two: chatty Gemini and analytical Virgo. Glib, garrulous Gemini reveals Mercury’s gift of gab, and his ability to flirt, charm and work the room! Gemini is the yang, or masculine, expression of Mercury; the more outward expression of communication.

If you were born with Mercury in Gemini, lucky you! A killer orator, you’ll have them at hello and you could sell Frappuccinos to a even Starbuck’s barista. But you may also make fast promises (ones you might not keep) and speak out of both sides of your mouth. No matter what zodiac sign your Mercury is in, this planet reveals your dual nature. For those born with Mercury in Scorpio, for example, their alter ego could emerge during seduction and sex. Mercury in Libra folks could tend toward people-pleasing when they want to keep the peace. How you zip about town—including the type of car or bike or scooter you choose—can even be directed by Mercury’s position in your chart. 

To learn where Mercury falls in your natal chart, you can do your chart for free here.

The second expression of Mercury shows up through Virgo and is yin, or feminine, in nature. This is the analytical aspect of Mercury. How do we process data? Are we messy or organized? Do we like to throw things in a pile or store them neatly on shelves? Do we process information through visuals, kinesthetic touch or by listening? Mercury’s placement in your chart has something to say about this. If you’re born with Mercury in sensual Taurus, you may be quite tactile, relying on the power of touch to synthesize data. Mercury in community-minded Aquarius? You may need to feel the collective energy of a group in order to make a final call.

Who do you really click with? Mercury is the social director of your birth chart, governing your peer relationships: siblings, platonic friends, coworkers, and neighbors. If you yearn for more satisfying interactions with other fellow Earthlings, let Mercury be your guide. His placement in your chart speaks volumes. In assertive Aries, you need exciting, active, daredevils who let you be the Alpha; in nurturing Cancer, you crave friends who are as loyal as family. Look to Mercury for a more rewarding extracurricular life, too. His position in your chart shows you where to “get a hobby,” and even where you’ll excel at making things by hand.


Planetary Stats: Mercury 

  • Changes Zodiac Signs: Every 3-4 weeks
  • Zodiac Sign It Rules: Gemini and Virgo
  • Body Part: Hands
  • Day of the Week: Wednesday


Mercury governs:

  • Communication
  • Information & Data
  • Organizational systems
  • Mobile devices
  • Transportation


Special positions of Mercury: 

Domicile: Gemini & Virgo
The planet’s home base, an easy flow if placed here in the chart.

Detriment: Sagittarius & Pisces
Opposite sign of home base, may need to work harder to integrate the planet’s energy if placed here in the chart.

Exalted: Virgo
The planet’s most powerful position, indicates ease and added fortune with using the planet’s energy if placed here in the chart.

Fall: Pisces
Opposite sign to the exalted position, can indicate struggles with utilizing the planet’s energy if placed here in the chart.