Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, and from an astrological perspective, she is never more than 27° away from the Sun. Indeed, in some traditions, Mercury is known as the Little Sun. Mercury governs intelligence and communication of all forms. Mercury is the only planet that is equally at home during the day and at night.
The Janya of Mercury: Sai Mati
In the Filianic Tradition, the Janya, or Great Angel, that is associated with Mercury is Sai Mati, and Sai Mati is associated with the element of Air.
Sai Mati is the Janya of Intelligence, and at her highest level, she is one with Solar Intellect. It can be said that Sai Mati is the Light of the Sun. The Moon mediates this Intelligence to us, where it becomes the lesser human capacity for reason. Sai Mati is associated with Sophia in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Athene in the Hellenistic tradition in her capacity as the Goddess of Wisdom, Sri Saraswati in the Vedic tradition, and Our Lady Mary in her capacity as Sedes Sapientiae, or the Seat of Wisdom.
Sai Mati is the source of inspiration and genius. In Modern Astrology, human genius is sometimes assigned to the planet Uranus, but this usurps the place that Sai Mati has always held, by whatever name she has been assigned throughout the ages. There is an interesting story about Uranus and Sai Mati’s planet, Mercury. The orbits of both of these planets were a little off by Newtonian physics. The anomalies in their orbits were mysteries to 19th Century scientists.
The mystery surrounding Uranus was solved first. Apparently the eccentric orbit could be accounted for if there was another planet beyond Uranus tugging on it. Using the anomalies in Uranus’ orbit and Newtonian physics, the planet Neptune was discovered in 1846. Shortly after that, in 1859, anomalies to Mercury’s orbit were also found. Scientists thought that they would solve this mystery in the same way by finding another planet closer to the Sun than Mercury. Indeed, there were those who thought they saw another planet, and they named this planet, Vulcan.
It turned out that Vulcan did not really exist. It was Albert Einstein who eventually solved this mystery, by proposing the theory of general relativity! Indeed, Mercury’s anomalous orbit is in part what induced him to come up with this theory. While the details of this are beyond my level of understanding of astrophysics, apparently Mercury is so close to the Sun that the ordinary Newtonian laws of gravity do not work very well. This story is a digression to be sure, but it seems appropriate somehow.
It seems that no other astrological event strikes as much terror in people in the modern world as a Mercury retrograde does. People who know nothing about astrology except for their Sun Sign get nervous about Mercury retrogrades.
Because the Sun is the center of our Solar System, when we observe the movements of the planets from Earth, with the exception of the Sun and the Moon, all of them go retrograde, or backwards, from time to time. Astrologically, when a planet is retrograde, she is debilitated, and she does not work as well. As Mercury rules communication, when she is retrograde, matters related to communication are impaired. This can cause problems in offices like lost paperwork, computer malfunctions, and general annoyances of that nature.
Honestly, I do not think that Mercury retrogrades are nearly as bad as they are made out to be. Other astrological events such as eclipses and eclipse seasons seem far more chaotic to me. The most important thing to remember during Mercury retrogrades is to take extra care and double and triple check your work, particularly if it involves paperwork or other forms of communication.
For more information, see The Mercury Retrograde Cycle.
Spirit, Soul, and the Material World
The glyphs of the traditional planets are made from three symbols, the Circle of Spirit, the Crescent of Soul, and the Cross of the Material World. These glyphs are the same as the glyphs for their Janyati. Sai Mati is the only planetary Janya whose symbol contains all three elements.
In Sai Mati’s glyph, the Circle of Spirit, or the connection with the Solar is resting on top of the cross of the material world. The Crescent of Soul is resting on top of the Circle, but it is lying on its side, passive. This represents the Lunar capacity as it is subordinate to and reflective of the Solar. In Sai Mati, we have the perfect configuration of Spirit, Soul, and the Material World forged together to bring us Wisdom.
On a lighter note, a friend of mine with some knowledge of astrology says that she always remembers the glyph for Mercury because it has a thinking cap. That is a wonderful way to remember as well.
Astrological Associations of Mercury
Sect: Both Day and Night
Oriental Element: Mizu 水 (Water)
Rules Gemini, Day House
Rules Virgo, Night House
Exalted in Virgo
In Detriment in Sagittarius and Pisces
In Fall in Pisces
Nighttime Triplicity Ruler of Air
In Joy in the 1st House
Oriental (in front of the Sun): Hot and Dry
Occidental (behind the Sun): Hot and Wet
Day of the Week: Wednesday
Orb: 7° (Moiety 3.5°)
Colors: Yellow (saffron), bluish grey
Plants: Beans, plants that bear their seed in husks or pods, three leaved grasses, walnut and walnut tree
Animals: Hyenas, apes, foxes, squirrels, weasels, spiders, parrots, swallows, and bees
Stones: Millstone, fire-stone, topaz, and all stones of diverse color
The Way of Light
There is a spiritual path associated with each of the non-Luminary Janyati. Each path is complete in and of itself and if followed fully, will lead to the Divine. That being said, the path associated with Sai Mati is one of the two purest. Sai Mati’s path is that of study and contemplation, or the Way of Light.