What's Up With Mercury?
Written by Kasey Fowler, Illustrated by Sarah McCrorey
Mercury is the cosmic messenger. As the planet of communication, Mercury controls how all information is formed and delivered. Acting kind of like the Sun’s personal assistant, Mercury is always nearby, sometimes slowing down or speeding up, always dropping messages where they are due. Mercury is a key player in how our planet operates and carries its own purpose and energy, but it is always influenced by the Signs and Houses as it travels along.
On a personal level, the placement of Mercury in your birth chart affects how you convey your messages and process information. Your Mercury sign surfaces in your thought patterns, development of ideas, your level of organization and how you make decisions. The combination of the sign and house Mercury was in at the time you entered this world instill a certain energy in the ways you think and communicate. Chances are, you experience a blend of your Mercury sign and house energies. And since the Sun rules the ego, you naturally filter your thoughts and communication style through the psyche of your Sun sign.
If your Mercury sign or house description doesn't sound like you, look at the rest of your birth chart for placements that might steer you in a different direction. You might have conjunct or opposing planets that illuminate your mind with a slightly different light.
To find your accurate Mercury sign, you’ll need to plug in your exact birth time in a natal chart calculator. Then you'll look for the glyph that looks like the female or Venus symbol with the turned crescent moon shape balancing on her head. Next, take a look at a few things: What sign does Mercury fall under in your chart? What house Mercury was hanging out in when you were born? Was Mercury in retrograde, at the time?
If Mercury was in retrograde when you were born, you might generally experience difficulty expressing yourself or feel like you're often misunderstood. However, when Mercury goes retrograde (about three times a year) you might find yourself feeling more relaxed and more expressive—with your mind sparking epiphanies left and right, not affected by the chaos the rest of the world is enduring. Being born with Mercury in retrograde might also give you a lens that allows you to see patterns and connections that non-Mercury-retrograders aren’t able to. This placement shouldn't be viewed as a burden—it’s more like a cosmic gift, you lucky unicorn.
On a global level, we experience transitions in all of the signs as Mercury moves along its course. This change in energy takes shape in the general theme or mood of communication taking place here on planet Earth. Meaning, we might feel more dreamy and creative while Mercury is in Pisces and then experience a shift in the flow once Mercury makes its way into Aries, feeling more rushed and impatient.
A similar thing happens when Mercury goes into retrograde—we tend to experience more technical difficulties, an increase in confusion and misunderstandings and are often backed up by slow internet and a spike in traffic delays.
Mercury in the Zodiac Signs/Houses + Transits
The Relay Runner
Aries, First House
Element: Fire | Modality: Cardinal
Communication Style: Passionate and direct
House theme: Self, goals, physique, physical energy
Mercury in Aries Transits: Being more assertive, feeling rushed or impatient, finding new solutions
Fast talking and fast thinking, you’re not one to beat around the bush. Your ideas come to you in flashes and almost immediately, you put them out into the world. You’re assertive about your goals and desires and think everyone else should be the same. Why waste any more time?! When you’re on a mission, you tend to push obstacles out of your way. Slow internet, being asked to repeat yourself and slow talking co-workers are probably at the top of your pet peeves list. If things don’t run smoothly and efficiently, you're at risk of burning up or burning out. Make sure you have an outlet to release any pent-up energy to keep your brain balanced—quick and direct physical activity would suit your style.
Mercury in Aries crushes: Tulsi Gabbard, Hayley Kiyoko, Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Curry, David Byrne
Taurus, Second House
Element: Earth | Modality: Fixed
Communication Style: Deliberate and pragmatic
House Theme: Personal values, finances, material possessions, the five senses
Mercury in Taurus Transits: Being more practical, feeling calmer or slower, focusing more on the tangible
Slow and steady wins the race in your book. Your thought processes and communication style reflect that you’re not one to hurry. You know where you’re going and prefer mapping out your moves. If you’re pushed to pick up the pace, you’ll happily dig your heels into the ground.
Once you’ve made up your mind about something, you put on your blinders to ignore any outside input. You rarely get wound up and are usually calm and collected in the midst of chaos. Abstract thinking is out of your comfort zone as you prefer concrete thoughts and ideas. You value subtle details and appreciate experiencing the finer things in life. The phrase “stop and smell the roses” was probably coined by a Mercury in Taurus or a second house native, as it fits your style quite perfectly.
Mercury in Taurus Crushes: Ali Wong, Harvey Milk, Lena Waithe, Tina Fey, Azealia Banks
The Jeopardy Contestant
Gemini, Third House
Element: Air | Modality: Muted
Communication Style: Spontaneous and inquisitive
House Theme: Education, communication, socializing, siblings, friends, neighbors
Mercury in Gemini Transits: Being more distracted, feeling more unorganized, focusing more on facts
You’re a treasure trove of information. With or without conscious effort, you absorb bits of trivia wherever you go and you thrive on constant mental stimulation. With your Mercury in Gemini, you’re in the headquarters of communication, which means you're wired for smooth and rapid input or output. It also means your mouth tends to move as fast as your brain, so you can be quite the Chatty Cathy. You’re quick-witted and don’t get bogged down with details—you might even make up answers as you go. It’s true, you’re a masterful mental multi-tasker, but if you don’t slow down every once in a while, you risk short circuiting. Recording voice memos or writing things down will help you hold on to all that info!
Mercury in Gemini Crushes: Cecilia Cheung, Prince, Stevie Nicks, 14th Dalai Lama, Meryl Streep
The Time Traveler
Cancer, Fourth House
Element: Water | Modality: Cardinal
Communication Style: Perceptive and caring
House Theme: Roots, family, intimate relationships, emotions
Mercury in Cancer Transits: Having stronger intuition, feeling more sensitive or nurturing, focusing more on feelings
You're a gentle soul with a poetic flair. You speak directly from the heart. You have a knack for reading between the lines and you can feel others’ emotions with or without their words. You’re a truth empath and probably studded with vicarious scars. In social situations, you’re a great listener but you keep a guard up when it comes to opening up about yourself. In the setting of work and communication, information can feel like opening up the floodgates to you and you can easily become overwhelmed. Your use of language is typically profound and impactful. Most likely, you have vivid memories from your childhood that you frequently revisit—almost like you're experiencing the moments all over again.
Mercury in Cancer Crushes: The Wachowski Sisters, Isabella Rossellini, Princess Nokia, Solange Knowles, Elon Musk
The Motivational Speaker
Leo, Fifth House
Element: Fire | Modality: Fixed
Communication Style: Confident and animated
House Theme: Self-expression, creation, projects, entertainment
Mercury in Leo Transits: Speaking more confidently, feeling more creative, focusing more on projects
You can be quite the influencer. You have an exciting way of expressing your ideas which people find magnetic. Your style is bold and your laughter is contagious. Your fun and inspiring approach to life is in high demand and you’re happy to oblige. It actually is a necessity for you—as your best ideas are hatched when you're in front of an audience. You might have difficulty sparking inspiration alone. Born to socialize and entertain, you effortlessly win people over. But when a critic enters the room, you can get a bit tense and defensive. You'll go far in life if you can learn to view opposition as an opportunity for growth.
Mercury in Leo Crushes: Frida Kahlo, Sandra Bullock, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai
Virgo, Sixth House
Element: Earth | Modality: Muted
Communication Style: Analytical and precise
Theme: Self-improvement, assisting others, health routines
Mercury in Virgo Transits: Being more efficient, feeling more clarity, focusing more on details
Mercury is at home, again, here in Virgo and it certainly shows. You’re a whiz at processing information and getting thoughts in order. If organizing was a sport, you’d win the gold medal. Your soul squeals with joy when things are put in their proper place—both tangibly and mentally. Great at compartmentalizing, your mind could be likened to a filing cabinet graced by Marie Kondo. Being idle can be painful for you. You have a drive that demands productivity until no stone is left unturned. You easily find solutions to complex problems. However, you can feel defeated in a role of managing people; people are a complexity you can't control. You fair better in a position of the final word. This role allows your strengths to shine without interference.
Mercury in Virgo Crushes: Mother Teresa, Kate Bush, Donald Glover, Amy Poehler, Freddie Mercury
The Smooth Operator
Libra, Seventh House
Element: Air | Modality: Cardinal
Communication Style: Tactful and objective
House Theme: Partnership, karma, justice, mutual respect
Mercury in Libra Transits: Being more agreeable, feeling more balanced, focusing more on understanding different perspectives
Peace and understanding are your driving forces. People are at the heart of every decision you make. You strive to be well-liked and need to be deemed “useful” by everyone you meet. In group conversations, you do your best to make sure everyone is heard. When it counts, you play the devil’s advocate, asking questions and bringing perspective to all sides of an argument. When it comes to making decisions, you usually talk things through with a friend or partner. You often have a tough time making up your mind because instinctually, you weigh the pros and cons of every option—no matter how small. Being popular is easy for you, but you have a tendency of neglecting your own personal happiness for the sake of others. Learn to implement healthy boundaries. After all, you’re a person, too!
Mercury in Libra Crushes: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, B.D. Wong, Bernie Sanders, Leonard Cohen, Beyonce
Scorpio, Eighth House
Element: Water | Modality: Fixed
Communication Style: Intense and investigative
House Theme: Transformation, shared resources, deep bonds or connections
Mercury in Scorpio Transits: Being more suspicious, wanting deeper connections, focusing on the negative
Deep, mysterious and elusive is how you roll. You like playing the wallflower because it gives you the best view to observe and take notes on the normies on the dance floor. Your mind is always analyzing—taking in details and connecting patterns. You don’t trust people easily, if ever, and you’re often on a different wavelength than your peers. You have a dark sense of humor and aren’t great with small talk because human words don’t do your thoughts and feelings justice. Some might say you're cold, but that’s only because you haven't granted them access to your raw, unfiltered self. The truth is, under that hardshell exterior, you’re a big bowl of Jell-o.
Mercury in Scorpio Crushes: Divine, Winona Ryder, Sylvia Plath, Willow Smith, Carl Sagan
The Midnight Rider
Sagittarius, Ninth House
Element: Fire | Modality: Muted
Communication Style: Exciting and philosophical
House Theme: Expansion, travel, wisdom through experience, life-purpose
Mercury in Sagittarius Transits: Being more openminded, feeling more adventurous, focusing more on the big picture
Free and fun-loving, you're the person everyone wants to meet, but few get the privilege because you're always on the move. If you do manage to stick around, you’re the life of the party. Storytelling is your charm and when you talk, your audience experiences your tales as if they were there. You try to satiate your never-ending desire to be inspired through traveling, reading and spontaneous adventures. Your life’s mission seems to be to determine the meaning of existence and you often find yourself in philosophical debates (ones you probably started). You rarely use a filter when communicating and have a habit of blurting out whatever is on your mind. This can rub some people the wrong way, but you easily shrug it off. You’re just here for a good time!
Mercury in Sagittarius Crushes: Nikki Minaj, Sarah Silverman, Patti Smith, Janelle Monáe, Margaret Cho
Capricorn, Tenth House
Element: Earth | Modality: Cardinal
Communication Style: Authoritative and realistic
House Theme: Grounding, building a future, productivity, status and legacy
Mercury in Capricorn Transits: Being more structured, feeling more pressure, focusing more on putting ideas into action
You’re the realest of the real. You don’t get whisked away by fantasy or abstract dreamscapes. You prefer safe and solid ground. However, you do have an uncanny ability to turn ideas into reality. When making decisions and communicating, you stick to tried and true methods. Your determination and patience give you the power to be a great teacher and lead the way for others. In situations that require action, you’re the best at delegating and getting things done. Because of this, you most likely feel pressure to take the reigns in all areas of your life. You can feel uncomfortable stepping into the unknown and letting others lead, but would benefit from learning to go with the flow every now and then.
Mercury in Capricorn Crushes: Michelle Obama, Steven Hawking, Sade, Dolly Parton, Ellen DeGeneres
The Rebel With a Cause
Aquarius, Eleventh House
Element: Air | Modality: Fixed
Communication Style: Steadfast and abstract
House Theme: Community, progressive visions, humanitarianism
Mercury in Aquarius Transits: Seeing things more realistically, ignoring feelings, experiencing revelations
‘Observant and tenacious, you always seem like you’re lightyears ahead of everyone else. You’re so wise and aware, you might even feel like you’re not of this world. You always seem to know what’s happening and your mind is a force to be reckoned with. Not one to sit idle, you’re constantly looking for the best ways to put your powers to good use. Your mental dexterity allows you to navigate messages far and wide. Because of this, you’re prone to paranoia if you’re not careful. As you know, this world is not all good. You have an eccentric edge about you that sets you apart from everyone else, but that’s how you like it—the weirder, the better. You have a detached quality about the way you communicate, but that’s mostly because your brain is tuned into channels, us earthlings can’t pick up on.
Mercury in Aquarius Crushes: Rihanna, Erykah Badu, Virginia Woolf, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr.
The Escape Artist
Pisces, Twelfth House
Element: Water | Modality: Muted
Communication Style: Dreamy and innovative
House Theme: Trust, spirituality, intuition, the unconscious and subconscious
Mercury in Pisces Transits: Being more disconnected, feeling more spiritual, experiencing more miscommunications
Ground control to Major Tom? Dreamy and fluid, you have a way of slipping in and out of this realm like magic. It’s as though you transport yourself to other planes of existence. When you do find your way back to earth, you make a lasting impression with your unique perspective and eerily psychic insight. Your imagination is vivid and you might even try on new names and personalities just for fun. Conversationally, you are gentle and accepting. You disarm strangers and make those around you feel at ease. In social situations, because of your safe and quiet nature, people might forget you’re there. But, that’s perfectly fine and actually makes your astral travels easier.
Mercury in Pisces crushes: Lady Gaga, Yoko Ono, Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Billie Holiday
Kasey can be found studying astrology, learning the craft of herbalism and working with textiles in her free time. She’s a sucker for moody, minor chord tunes and enjoys daydreaming and taking walks with her dog, Olive.
Sun in Virgo | Aquarius Rising
Mercury in Libra in the 8th house