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A Quick Guide to Literary Character Creation with Mercury

This article was written by Llewellyn
posted under Astrology

Here's what you need to know to assess Mercury in astrological terms.

Sign Rulerships: Mercury is a multi-tasker. The planet rules two signs: quick-thinking Gemini and analytical Virgo. They're both signs of airy intellectualism. Gemini is curious and wide-ranging, while Virgo is discriminating and precise.

House Rulerships: Mercury rules Gemini's third house of communication and Virgo's sixth house of work and service to others.

Dignity: Mercury, with its lightning-fast orbit around the Sun, rules short trips. That means it's debilitated in Sagittarius, the sign of long-distance travel. The intellectual Mercury is equally uncomfortable when it's forced to wallow in the depths of Pisces' watery emotions. Mercury is exalted in Virgo—one of the signs it rules—and Aquarius, the airy, thoughtful sign that's also associated with the technology of modern communication.

Physical Associations: Mercury rules the parts of the body we use to gather and convey information: the shoulders, arms, and hands that belong to Gemini. Mercury rules the parts of the body we use to analyze data, too—the brain and the central nervous system, which belong to Virgo.

Geographical Associations: Mercury is associated with cold, dry locations.

Element: Mercury corresponds to the element of air, like a thought, a whisper on the breeze, or a message broadcast across an open sky.

Masculine/Feminine: Mercury, like the trickster he is, embodies qualities that are both masculine and feminine.

Metal: This planet is associated with mercury, of course, which is also referred to as quicksilver. Mercurial matters are fast-moving and free-flowing. They seem solid, but they're almost impossible to grasp. They slip into liquid at a touch. Mercury, like the words and thoughts he communicates, is fleeting.

Mercury's Strengths and Weaknesses
At his best, Mercury is smart, clever, curious, and creative. He's adaptable, attentive, and reactive. He's perceptive and keenly intelligent. He's got a quick wit and a wicked sense of humor.

Sometimes Mercury is too clever by half. He's not just cunning—he's also crafty and confusing. He lies. He cheats. He gossips and he steals. When Mercury goes bad, he turns misdirection into an art form. He's so bad, he's good.

Creative Guidance
For a writer, Mercury embodies the writer's mind of grasping multiple storylines and weaving them together, deftly, cleverly, succinctly, and skillfully. He is the consummate storyteller, revealing neither too much nor too little, but exactly what the listener needs to hear at a particular juncture. He offers information on a need-to-know basis.

Mercury was a psychopomp, a conductor of souls. Writers are psychopomps in their own right. They lead readers down the path of adventure and excitement. They live vicariously through the experiences of others. They're willing to venture into an underworld under the safeguard and protection of a guide, knowing that they'll be safely delivered and ultimately returned to their own world—changed and made better by the experience.

Just as Mercury could cross between the land of the living and the land of the dead, he can move between the worlds of conscious awareness and unconscious revelations. His magic wand gave him mantic powers over sleep and dreams. If you want Mercury to visit you during the night, keep a notebook by your bed so you can record the messages he leaves for you in the early morning hours.

Mercury's Goals and Motivations
With Mercury in…Your character's communication style will be …
AriesBold and direct
TaurusSlow, careful, clear, and musical
GeminiQuick and wide-ranging
CancerKind and compassionate, but also prone to emotional outbursts
LeoDramatic and self-centered
VirgoMeasured and precise
LibraCharming, gracious, and collaborative
ScorpioSecretive, understated, and not very revealing
SagittariusOutgoing, humorous, curious, and philosophical
CapricornBusinesslike, with glimpses of dry, subtle humor
AquariusFriendly, kind, but somewhat offbeat and eccentric
PiscesSlow, gentle, flowing, and somewhat confusing

Twenty Questions

  1. Create a new character for your story, or choose an undeveloped character from your existing cast, and put words in his mouth. Make him an unlikely messenger—and to complicate matters, try to ensure that his message will be misinterpreted, either as a joke or an outright lie. Many a truth is told in jest.
  2. Mercury is a trickster. How is your character not what he appears to be? Write a story in which Mercury deliberately deceives another character.
  3. Play tricks on your readers. Move parts around. Plant false clues. Misdirect. Change the ending.
  4. Write a story in which a Mercury-based character breaks boundaries, crosses borders, and enters and exits a world that's forbidden to the rest of us, like a prison or an asylum. You could also try sending your character into Mercury’s own supernatural world—Mount Olympus, home of the gods, or Hades, the realm of the dead.
  5. How does your character think? What could impede his thinking?
  6. How does your character express himself?
  7. Where does he get his information?
  8. How does he verify his sources?
  9. What stumbling blocks does he have when it comes to communication?
  10. What was your character like as a child?
  11. Where did he go to school?
  12. Who was his favorite teacher?
  13. What was his favorite class?
  14. How does your character dress?
  15. What does your character drive? How does he travel?
  16. What is your character's daily routine?
  17. Describe your character's neighborhood.
  18. Does your character have brothers, sisters, or cousins? How do they relate?
  19. Is there a supernatural twist to your story?
  20. Will your character receive a message from the spirit world?


Excerpt from Astrology for Writers, by Corrine Kenner


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