The Way of the Stars (Issue no. 23)

Merry meet, my friends!

The first issue of The Way of the Stars of 2008 is here :)

It got published at The Daily Spell on Jan 3rd. 2008. It covers The Sun and The Moon as a duality and the featured planet of the week was Mercury.

Come and take a look ;-)

The Way of the Stars

An Introduction to Astrology

By Pablo Dotro(*) – The Mage of the Many Shadows.

“Lady of the Azure Mantle,
to you we call in the clear, dark Night.
To read our Destiny in your Heart,
these words I offer thee,
in perfect love and perfect trust.”


Merry Meet, my dear friends! I am sorry for the delay ;-)

This week, our main topics are the relationship of the Sun and the Moon, an expression of the inner duality of our self and this week’s featured planet: Mercury, ruler of the mind. Let’s take a look…


The Sun and the Moon.

The Sun and the Moon are, by far, the most important of the planets present in every chart. Their placement by sign and house, their angular relationship with each other and the rest of the sensitive points of a chart are very significant considerations in every chart analysis. They are “the luminaries” of the chart.

They represent the opposite sides of the fundamental active-passive duality, and as such play a fundamental role in our quest to understand human nature. The table below shows a few examples of this relationship:

The Sun

The Moon







Ego and basic character


The mind

Matter and the body

Creative potential




The essential link between the Sun and the Moon is that former represents the parts of our personality that we usually consider our “self” or ego, and the latter represents the inner, more emotional traits.

The nature of the duality is similar to the one existing between The Magician and The Emperor versus The High Priestess and The Empress cards in the Tarot. It permeates our whole being.

When we interpret a chart, these two symbols manifest in many ways. Often, the Sun brings out the basic personality, and the Moon expresses itself as an underlying background of emotions. The Moon is, however, of paramount importance in our relationships with others. Since she rules our habits, our emotional response and our instincts, it is probably even more relevant than the Sun for the success of any emotional link with other people.  

In any case, every one of us has both the Sun and the Moon present… When they are well placed, the resulting personality is straightforward… often meaning people who attain a great deal of innate self knowledge and self esteem, for there is little conflict between the wishes of the rational self/ego (the Sun) and the needs of the emotional self (the Moon). Life “moves smoothly” for them.

Of course, on the other hand in some other charts there is tension between the symbols… either because there is direct opposition (i.e. the person was born near the full moon), or because the Sun/the Moon are placed in signs into which they hold no dignity(1) (“in fall/detriment” or “in exile”, for example). In these cases, the resulting personality may exhibit some tensions and interesting twists: the needs and desires of the emotional self and the objectives of the ego may be at odds with each other. It often takes a great deal of inner work to balance this duality… and because of the celestial mechanics of our Solar System, most of us fall into this category.

In a few weeks, I’ll teach you about the special “angles” the planets form with each other (what astrologers call “aspects”), and then I will devote some time to explain the “special case” of those who were born under the full moon (i.e. with the Moon exactly 180 degrees apart from the Sun).

There is, of course, an immense variability in how the Sun and the Moon interact in each birth chart. Some charts may be dominated by the Moon, while others may have a strong solar component.

The Moon has a connection to the physical body and eating habits, so in many charts its relationship with House 1 and the Ascendant (who also relate to the physical body), with House 6 (which relates to our habits and routines) and House 4 (traditionally, the house of the Mother and Home) is an important key.

The Sun has a connection to creativity and the ego, so in many charts its relationship with House 1 and the Ascendant (how we show ourselves to the world), with House 10 (traditionally, the Father, our job and our position of social prominence) and House 5 (creativity, self expression) is important.

There is even some anecdotal evidence supporting the observation that the Sun/Moon placement in our mothers birth chart is related to the position of the Moon in our charts (for example, my mother is a Virgo, with a lot of planets also in that sign… and my Moon is in Virgo).

Some authors refer to the Sun-Moon duality as the “Solilunar paradox”, but in truth there is no paradox… they are simply opposite ends of the fundamental dual forces of the Universe. As Hermetic thinkers often say:


“Everything is dual; everything has poles;
everything has its pair of opposites;
like and unlike are the same;
opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree;
 extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths;
 all paradoxes may be reconciled.”


Today’s featured planet: Mercury, The Messenger of the Gods.

In Astronomy:

  • Mercury is the planet that is closest to the Sun. From our viewpoint, Mercury is never farther away from the Sun than 28.3 degrees.  
  • The planet is composed of 70% metallic elements and 30% silicates. It is one of the densest objects of the Solar System, with a density of 5.43 grams per cubic centimeter.
  • Mercury’s diameter is of around 2440 Km (38% of Earth’s). Gravity at Mercury’s surface is around 38% of that we feel on Earth.
  • A “year” in Mercury lasts 88 days, and a “day” is 58 days and 16 hours on average.
  • It has almost no atmosphere, and its rocky surface (like that of our Moon) is littered with impact craters.
  • Temperatures on Mercury are extreme, since it has no atmosphere and is only 57.9 million Km away from the Sun. A typical “day” under sunlight is at around 427°C (~800°F), while at night (or in the shade during the day) the temperature lowers to around -193°C (-316°F).
  • Until 1965, it was believed that the surface was “locked”, with the same face looking towards the Sun at all times (just as in the Earth-Moon system). Detailed radar observations have, however, proved this false. It is nowadays understood that our original assumptions were based on incomplete optical measurements limited by the difficulty of observing Mercury when it is close to the Sun.
  • Being the planet closest to the Sun, Mercury is the fastest planet on our Solar System. Its closeness to our main star and its speed were key to one of the earliest proofs of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity in 1916.

In myth and legends:

Mercury is quite elusive to observe. Its short separation from the Sun means that it is only visible either immediately before sunrise or just after sunset. Its speed makes these sightings difficult: only in brief periods of the year is Mercury far enough from the Sun to be visible. Many myths related to this planet in ancient civilizations are related to this phenomenon.

In Sumerian and Babylonian mythology, the early Sumerians first identified it as a planet in the 3rd millennium BCE, and named it Ubu idim gud ud. Around one thousand years later, the Babylonians called this planet Nabu or Nebu, the god of writing and “Messenger of the Gods” in their religious pantheon.

In Greek mythology, this planet was given two distinct names, as early Greek astronomers-astrologers thought they were observing two planets. It was identified with the solar god Apollo when it was observed before sunrise and with Hermes when it was observed after sunset. Both gods share the attribution of being gods of wisdom and the arts. It was Hermes, however, the one who prevailed when advances in observational techniques allowed the ancient Greeks to realize they were observing the same planet. Hermes, like the Babylonian Nabu is the Messenger of the Gods, a god of writing, commerce and feats of the mind.

In Roman mythology, the Romans indentified the Hermes of the Greeks with Mercury to such a degree that the two gods are almost undistinguishable. Roman astronomers-astrologers also equated the planet assigned to Hermes with Mercury. The closeness of Mercury to the Sun was also related to Mercury’s role as Herald and Messenger to the Gods.

In Egyptian mythology, the planet Mercury was associated to Thoth, the god of Wisdom, Writing and magic. One of its attributes was the understanding and governing of the laws of Nature by means of knowing the true name of everything.


It is interesting to note that by fusing the attributes of Hermes, Mercury and Thoth, later occult thinkers gave birth to “Hermes Trismegistus”, the father of Western magickal ideas. After the Renaissance, astrologers have also associated this more “magic oriented” figure of Hermes-Thoth to the planet Mercury.

Also (in more modern terms) certain archetypical characters like Peter Pan (a clever, agile and ever-young kid who guides children into fantastic lands); Tom Bombadil (from The Lord of the Rings, a merry nature-spirit that is both young and old and has strong magical powers associated with words and names and guides the Hobbits out of the haunted Old Forest); Harry Potter (a very young boy who wields strong magic, also associated with the power of words) are fit incarnations of Mercury.

In the astrological tradition:

Mercury has long been associated in astrology with words, be them written or spoken, with commerce, with movement and short travels. Mercury represents our mental abilities for abstraction and short-term memory. It is related to learning, but it strongly leans to the basic, everyday learning of elementary education, high school and vocational institutions than the erudition expected of a College graduate.  

Of all the planets, Mercury is the only one that is gender-neutral and is often considered “the hermaphrodite planet”.

Mercury rules also curiosity, common sense, learning by experience, communication, ingenuity and reasoning. Because of all this, it is often said that Mercury has a lot to say about how we relate and express ourselves in front of others. It also is a key to understand how we connect different concepts into coherent logical constructions.

As this planet rules over our verbal and written expression, it has links to commerce, transactions and sales.

When Mercury is not well placed in the chart, it may translate as a lack of its qualities (memory lapses, a passive mind, lack of curiosity, bad luck with commercial transactions, etc.) or as an inharmonic expression of mercurial traits: the convincing words and clear perception of the salesman can turn into the twisted wit of the con artist, a quick mind can help others transcend their limits, or can make them manifest to take credit. As always, every symbol has two sides. For an example of a simple way of inharmonic expression of Mercury, you may want to take a look to my past article on Mercury retrogrades(3).

In more esoteric terms, Mercury is The Magician of the old planets. So it is closely connected to both the idea of mental transformation, the technical aspects of the art and science of Alchemy and almost everything related to “practical magick”. As we will see in a few weeks, this is also shared/expanded by the role of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto).


Coming up next week:

Next week I’ll tell you about different ways astrologers have of classifying the planets. Also, our featured planet will be Venus, ruler of beauty and love. Remember you can read this one and all past columns in my blog(4).


(*) Pablo is an advanced astrology student at the Centro Astrológico de Buenos Aires (, a First Degree student at Witchschool, and has extensive experience in Wicca, ceremonial magick, computer science, the Internet, physics and chemistry.






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