Next to your Sun sign, the Moon in the chart is the strongest influence on who you are. In many cases, in fact, the Moon sign can be more dominant. For instance, given a fire sign Sun (Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius) with a Capricorn Moon, in my observation, the Capricorn Moon will outweigh the fire sign Sun. In many respects, these people often react to life's challenges more like a Capricorn—driven to establish security through success. Unlike the typical fire sign Sun, they will be cautious, serious, even prone to depression, and hard on themselves and others with that typical Capricornian perfectionism.
Look at the Moon signs of people around you, and you may find out why they don't live up to the best—or the worst—of their Sun signs. The table on the previous page shows examples of people born under the twelve Moon signs. If you've been reading and studying about Sun signs for a while, you already have the foundation for understanding how those signs work with the Moon and other planets. There are not only twelve Sun signs, but twelve Moon signs, twelve Venus signs, and so on—the same twelve signs applied to various facets of your self. The Moon represents such basic functions as the emotions, security, the mother's influence, and how we deal with dependency in ourselves and others. Your Moon sign describes how you handle these crucial areas of life.
To begin applying characteristics of the zodiac signs to planets other than the Sun, we will use what astrology teachers call keywords—that is, lists of words or phrases that apply to the sign and planet in question. Begin by making a list of the qualities of the sign involved. For instance, suppose you are trying to understand what someone with Moon in Gemini is like. You may know from reading and observation that typical Geminis are verbal, communicative, quick-witted, insatiably curious, easily bored, restless and changeable, live in their heads, and love to laugh. Then match those qualities with the concerns of the Moon we have explored in this chapter to see how they would mix. Here are some keywords for the two:
Moon in Gemini:
live in their heads insatiably curious loves to learn restless easily bored quick-witted witty, loves to laugh the emotions mother's influence mothering the home base security response to crisis instinctive response intellectualizes rather than feels mom encouraged reading and learning devours parenting books might move often leaves security due to boredom think on their feet in crisis quick with repartee
There is much more to Moon in Gemini—and to any Moon sign, for that matter—
than these quick matches through free association can give us, but at least you have an idea of how to begin. Take one from column A and one from column B and see what kinds of insights you come up with about Moon sign and the signs of people close to you.
To conclude this exploration, the Moon in our birth charts is of great significance. If your Moon is placed in a difficult sign such as Capricorn, Scorpio, or Pisces, or if it forms difficult aspects to planets such as to Saturn, Pluto, or Neptune, then serious stresses and challenges may have occurred in early childhood in laying secure foundations or establishing roots. In such a case, dependency and the ability to trust are affected, and the individual may also have difficulty in dealing with emotions in a balanced way. Getting a good understanding of the Moon in any chart is extremely useful8. I would, however, add one caution: Don't try this at home!! Get a chart reading from a well-balanced, humanistic astrologer before drawing any dire conclusions about your own parenting ability or your son-in-law's mental health status based on a surface reading of the Moon sign.
8 NOTE: Want to learn more about the Moon? Donna has been considered an expert on the Moon and its influence in our lives. She wrote two books devoted to the topic: The Moon in Your Life: Being a Lunar Type in a Solar World, published in 1996 by Red Wheel/Weiser, and Moon Signs, published by Ballantine Books in 1988.
Mercury, the ruler of Gemini, is the planet governing mental skills, intelligence, verbal abilities, and communication. People with Mercury or Gemini strong in their charts often excel at mental tasks and can charm us with wit and an engaging line of patter—pop astrology warns us, "Don't rely on Gemini." Mercury can also be slick and superficial, but intellect, in its proper place, is a great tool. Let's see if we can find clues as to what that proper place should be.
Like the earth's Moon, Mercury has no atmosphere due to the gravitational pull of its nearby parent, the Sun. Also like our Moon, it has phases; with the proper telescope, you can see a New, Crescent, Half, and Full Mercury. This suggests that the proper place of
Mercury (intellect) would be as a satellite to the Sun, which is our basic character or soul. Intellect and verbal ability are valuable when in proper balance to the rest of the being and the body. The Sun is the heart; words and learning are empty and mechanical unless you also have heart. Mercury is tiny compared to the Sun, and intellect is only a small part of the total being. The Sun, not Mercury, is the center of the solar system, and we cannot make the mind the center of our lives without becoming eccentric.
Mercury stands between Venus and the Sun in our solar system, and Mercury (communication) is the bridge between our inner selves (Sun) and other people we want to share with (Venus). Mercury always stays close to the Sun in the zodiac—it is rarely more than 27° from the Sun in our charts and is most often in the same sign and house as the Sun. However, if our thoughts are too wrapped up in ourselves, we create a barrier instead of a bridge. It is interesting how much the symbols for Mercury (above, on the left) and Venus (on the right) look alike—one of my irrepressible students said Mercury was a horny Venus. Venus rules love, and it is hard to sustain an intimate relationship if you can't communicate.
Mercury — the Myth and the Metal
In mythology, Mercury was the messenger of the gods, a speedy guy with wings on his cap and shoes. It is said that thoughts have wings, and our thoughts and words do move swiftly, carrying our messages. Mercury was also the god of commerce and industry, and we cannot carry on business without communicating. Often, however, what advertising and sales people communicate isn't the whole truth but a version of the truth that will sway us. Likewise, the god Mercury was so cunning and clever that thieves of antiquity adopted him as their patron saint. Mercury's tools—words—are as often used to cover up and deceive as they are to exchange and communicate. Mercurial people, too, can be somewhat amoral in using their skill with words.
Besides being a planet in our solar system and a mythological god, mercury is a metal, and a very peculiar one at that. It is liquid in form, yet doesn't really behave like water. if you pour it out on a table, it won't leave any traces of wetness. Instead, it forms into little silvery balls and runs in all directions. Because of its sensitivity to changes in temperature and pressure, mercury is used in thermometers, barometers, and blood pressure instruments. Mercurial people are similar to the metal in many ways. Fluid, adaptable, and changeable, they respond easily and quickly to the changes in the social climate around them. (This group includes not only Gemini Sun, Moon, or Ascendant, but also those with many aspects to Mercury in their charts or with several planets in the third house of the chart, the house of communication.)
Another common name for the metal mercury is quicksilver. Both quicksilver and mercurial are words that have been used to describe fast-moving, fast-talking, and ever-changing individuals. The metal runs off in all directions when you pour it, and mercurial types are restless and distractible, with a tendency to scatter themselves. Scattering doesn't hurt the metal mercury, nor does it seem to hurt mercurial people—they have the ability to bring all those scattered bits of data together and make connections between them, just as the droplets of mercury readily coalesce. Then, too, going off in all directions is one sure way not to get stuck in the mud! Mercury people get exposure to many different points of view and have a broader exposure to a variety of experiences and ideas than do most other people. As a result, many are interesting conversationalists and have a seemingly unlimited capacity for mental growth.
Mercurial people can appear quite sensitive and responsive to other people. However, it is a very different sort of sensitivity than we find in the water signs—Pisces, Cancer, or Scorpio. (In astrology and other occult sciences, water stands for feelings.) Mercurial sensitivity consists mainly of perceiving and comprehending with intellect rather than with emotion, which mercurial people tend to run away from rather than face. However, the capacity for rational thought also keeps us from drowning in emotions, helping us keep a rational perspective on our more irrational feelings. In counseling or mentoring situations, particularly, both parties need a strong Mercury for the awareness and insight that can result from verbal exchanges such as these.
The metal mercury readily takes on the shape of anything it comes into contact with. Dip a dime in mercury, and it adheres to all the little grooves and surfaces of the coin. Likewise Mercury people instinctively mimic others, consciously or unconsciously. The knack of mimicry is often a source of humor and delight. Improvisational genius and talk show host Wayne Brady is brilliant at doing imitations, and he has Mercury conjunct the Sun in Gemini.1 Drew Carey, Wayne's boss on "Whose Line is it, Anyway," also has Sun in Gemini, with Mercury strongly placed in the sixth house but on the angle.
1 Wayne Brady was born June 7, 1972, and Drew Carey was born May 23, 1958.
The Mercurial type's propensity for mimicry is true of more profound patterns of behavior as well. When they are with you, they may take on your thinking and behavior, so that they seem as much like you as an identical twin (Gemini's symbol). However, when they leave you, the droplets of mercury coalesce and adhere to the surface of the next social contact. This tendency for mimicry gives them the capacity for mixing well with all kinds of people and adapting to all kinds of situations, rather than just being stuck in their original cultural background.
Mercury is used extensively in switches and other electrical devices because it is a good conductor of electricity. It is the heaviest liquid (13 times as heavy as water), and its fluidity creates less friction and resistance in the electron flow than solid metals. So, too, do the verbal skills and charm of Mercury people allow them to move fluidly around all different social circles without creating resistance and friction. Their gift of gab cuts down on the friction that differences of opinion or background might create.
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