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MERCURY - Weaver of the Threads of Life

The sun sets the purpose and releases the will-to-be that is to energize the new life-cycle in answer to the need once more to integrate spirit and matter, the One and the Many. The Moon arouses and gathers the inchoate substance left over from the past cycle, within the boundaries and the structural pattern provided by Saturn. And Jupiter directs, inspires, leads into paths of ordered development and harmonious functioning the substance that answered the Moon call and became "set apart" within the Saturnian walls. This substance is a crowd of unrelated units of matter. It is true that all these units had been linked in the far distant past. But they have now forgotten this fact. They have lost the memory of their inter-relationship — and this loss of memory is the very foundation of the state of chaos, the state of absolute materiality and separateness.

Now that a new life-cycle has begun, a new opportunity is given to the scattered units of matter to learn once more the great lesson of relationship. This lesson can only be learned progressively, step by step. And this is the reason why there needs must be Saturnian boundaries. A limited number of units of a particular type are "set apart"; and the lesson of relationship is to be learnt by these units among themselves. The lesson could not be learnt well if new and strange units were constantly being met. This constant incoming of unfamiliar units would disturb the establishment of deep and permanent relationships between the units constituting the original group. It would create confusion, dissipation of the energy of relationship, a break-down of the growing sense of unity in the group. Therefore the Law of Saturn must establish a strong barrier between the "Elect" who are within the pale — and the "barbarians" who stand outside of the pale.

The "Elect" thus isolated and left to themselves are compelled to become closely inter-connected, inter-bred, interwoven. This inter-weaving produces "patterns of relationship" which in their totality constitute the tribal Soul, the tribal Culture, the tribal Tradition. And this Tradition is nothing but collective memory: the memory of the deeds accomplished together, of the images perceived together, of the feelings born from constant interaction and interdependence. The many beings inter-related within the definite structure of the Saturnian Law come to realize that they "belong together"; that they are multiple aspects of one total Reality which is the tribal Whole.

This Whole finds its symbolical representation in the tribal or national God, in the Church, in the King-Hierophant who becomes the "Center of the Covenant", the "Son of Heaven" — Heaven here meaning the archetypal pattern of relationship which is finally perceived as the spiritual reality of the tribal Whole. The weaver of this pattern of relationship is, in astrological symbolism, Mercury.

Here we should at once clarify our thoughts as to the difference existing between Saturn's structural framework and Mercury's pattern of relationship. The former is — as far as the men of the tribal group can see or experience — imposed from without by the Great Ancestor or First Ruler. This beneficent God of the Golden Age (Saturn) must always appear to the tribesmen as belonging to a level of being far transcendent. He was indeed a God incarnate on earth; and they are his seed. Because of this, they are "noble men", true Aryans (Arya means "noble"), true "Celestials", truly the Elect.

Likewise, the Law of Saturn is God-given. It is a direct Revelation from Heaven — that is, it is a projection of the Archetype, of the Plan which God had for his most beloved children, a Plan which He moreover, in His great love, traced in the skies through the ordered movements of the celestial bodies, so that the Wisest among these children could constantly witness His decrees. Even in modern America, the Constitution is endowed with an almost similar meaning. Even more so was the Law of Manu in India — the Koran in Islam — the Bible in the orthodox Protestant Churches, worshipped as a Divine Law imposed (benevolently imposed) from the outside by the Great Ancestor or Son of God.

On the contrary, the "pattern of relationship" woven by Mercury, the Master-Worker, is growing from the inside, as the result of the ever more complex and more complete interrelating, commingling, commerging of the many cells constituting the tribal Whole or national organism. This pattern must evidently conform to the general structure determined by the Law of Saturn; yet within this framework it may grow with at least relative freedom.

In terms of physiology, Saturn represents the skeleton — truly a frame-work which is generic, depending upon the form of the species, and thus, we might say, imposed from above. Mercury refers to the nervous system, which follows the generic bony structure, yet is susceptible of quite wide individual variation, as it is conditioned by the growth of the organism as a whole. It is in a condition of emergent evolution; and the result of this emergent evolution is individual consciousness. Individual consciousness is to the physiological organism what culture and tradition are to the racial Whole. It is an ever accruing synthesis of the vast number of relations which constantly integrate the myriads of cells into a personality.

The nervous system is the objective form assumed by the totality of inter-connections established within the living organism as every cell relates itself, directly or indirectly, to every other cell. It is therefore both the symbol of organic interrelationship and the actual product of such a constant interweaving of cellular behavior. The nervous system grows more complex as the organic commerce between cells increases in activity, in speed, in significance. And the same is true as we consider the national Whole. Roads, canals, railways, telegraph and telephone lines, buses, and finally radio broadcasts, constitute the nervous system of this national organism. They are all lines of communication, growing out of men's desire to associate, to travel, to become related through commerce and through all cultural and social activities. Truly, they are conditioned by the geographical structure of the land (skeleton); yet man succeeds in overcoming natural obstacles as his engineering ability develops. Likewise, in the perfected physiological organism, the nervous system covers the whole organism, and lines of organic communication subtler than the nerves may develop; lines which are no longer limited by the Saturnian frame-work — just as radio communication is not limited by the geographical lay-out of the land.

This progressive liberation of Mercury from Saturn, of lines of communication from the structural frame-work of the organic Whole, occurs when the authority of Saturn becomes challenged by Uranus and the most distant planets; in other words, when world-civilization begins to supersede geographical and local cultures. As this occurs, Jupiter, who had been operative under the Law of Saturn, changes his rhythm. Then tribal religion is superseded by universal religion. Jupiter becomes the truly expansive power which sends men upon the quest for a universal — and at the same time a "personal" because immanent — God; or else upon the quest for gold, wealth, and markets ever expanding. Jupiter, the tribal High Priest, becomes then the conquistador and the imperialist, the colonizer and builder of empire. Mercury follows the lead, for he weaves patterns of relationship as Jupiter bids him do so.

Jupiter is first the power of organization of functions; then the power of expansion and assimilation. Therefore Mercury, being the servant or messenger of Jupiter, is first the power of organic inter-relationship, which means the power to receive impressions or sensations and to transmit them through the entire organism by means of the afferent and efferent nerves. At a later stage of evolution, Mercury becomes the power of thought-association and generalization; the substance of the activity of the mind. Through the agency of the mind, man expands his range of activity. He overcomes the physiological Law of Saturn and weaves patterns that link him with the greater Whole — with the Planetary Being.

When such a linking has become definite and deliberate enough, the individual man finds himself reborn at a higher level of selfhood — the psycho-mental level. He experiences a new "Golden Age". He becomes subject to the law of the planetary Saturn, which transcends his own personal Saturn as much as the complete metabolism of the whole human organism transcends the chemical reactions of one single cell. But before this transfer of level can become a reality, and not a mere intellectual concept, man must pass through the forbidding gates of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. He must be "initiated" . . .

In Tibetan astrology, Mercury (Lhagpa) is symbolized by a "Hand". In Blavatsky's Voice of the Silence it is written: "Behold the fiery aura of the 'Hand' of Lhagpa extended in protecting love over the heads of his ascetics". This symbolism will be easily understood if one considers the fact that Mercury has dominion over the zodiacal sign Gemini, which refers to the lung region and to the brachial plexus controlling arms and hands. But the symbolism of the Hand goes much deeper. It is the Hand which gives birth to all culture, because it is through the Hand that the forces of super-personal and social integration operate. The five-fingered Hand and the Mind-ego symbolized by the five-pointed star are completely connected. In a sense, the latter is Jupiter and the former Mercury.

This is so, at least as long as mental and cultural processes in man are controlled by the power of tribal or group integration — and thus are not individual and conscious as much as collective and unconscious manifestations. Archaic man used his hands in order to exteriorize the dictates of the tribal Spirit and of his instincts; not as a means to manifest the powers of conscious intelligence and personality. Workmen and artisans of the ancient past created under the inspiration of a religious faith and of traditions based on occult-magical realizations. Their hands were indeed guided by Jupiter. Their hands were moved by the influx of "Primordial Images" through the gates of the solar plexus; not by the formal or rational concepts issued from the brain. The same is true even today of most types of "automatic writing".

As man begins to function as an individual at the psycho-mental level, Mercury operates thenceforth on two planes. Behind the Hand stands the rational mind — until this mind becomes so freed from the bodily organism that it evolves as it were its own Hand. Thus we hear of the power that Yogis or Adepts possess of moulding "astral matter" as if by a mental Hand. The mind, energized by the will, can control other minds, just as men, during the period of muscular power, subjugated others by the might of their hands. The Hand at the end of a wand has always been a symbol of royal power. It is Mercury acting as the visible symbol of Jupiter. Eventually Mercury becomes linked to Pluto. He becomes thus the revolutionary mind of the Civilizer or of the Initiator, glowing with the fire of cosmic visions revealed by Uranus.

Thus Mercury can be seen operating at various levels. The patterns of relationship he weaves at first are framed in by the structure of the loom of the body. The shuttle goes to and fro within the Saturnian boundaries. And lo and behold! a nervous system is born. If only we could read the wondrous hieroglyphs made by the myriads of nerves and nerve currents as they cross each other and tie themselves in knots which become power-stations and centers of awareness and instinctual, then conscious, response! If, above all, we had ways to decipher the magical patterns traced by the life-force within the brain, as the signals from the entire organism intertwist and pursue their wondrous courses hidden to us by the empty word "memory"!

Yet even this amazing tapestry woven by Mercury with the physiological threads of our nerves, is — we are told — only the material representation of an even subtler Work. And if we listen to the teachings of certain types of yoga, especially Kundalini Yoga, we begin to see that, behind or within the physical nerves, currents of energies can be perceived to which the Hindu gave the name "Nadi". These currents deal with what have been called "etheric" or "astral" energies; and much confusion has arisen in the minds of students of Oriental lore as to the meaning thereof.

It might clarify the matter to say that with these Nadi we deal with the essential Mercury realm: that is, the realm of pure organic relationship or "operative Wholeness". These mysterious energies constitute in their totality the force-aspect of the human organism; while the physical cells, organs and nerves constitute its matter-aspect. Force or energy is the product of relationship. Lack of relation is a symbol of impotency. The absolutely unrelated unit is the symbol of absolute powerlessness. This is the reason why the so-called "Black Magician", he who emphasizes separateness and denies love, is necessarily defeated in the end; because he is essentially powerless. And because he is essentially powerless he must make a desperate show of outer power. The only relationship he can accept is that of hunter to prey. He must be the hunter. He must kill everlastingly, and absorb the vital power of his victims — because he is himself powerless and utterly afraid. He is compelled to kill — or he must give in and be killed.

In this planetary pair, Jupiter and Mercury, great depths of significance can be fathomed. But in order to do this we must forget the ordinary concept of Jupiter as the Greater Fortune. Jupiter can be also the ruthless autocrat, the high-priest crystallized in dogma, the glutton who lives but to grow fat, the man drunken with pride. And Mercury always becomes polarized by the Jupiter function — which in turn always operates together with Saturn.

Saturn "sets apart" and isolates. Jupiter-Mercury relates. But this relatedness operates naturally within the Saturnian boundaries. As it operates fully, man reaches fulfillment and individual perfection. Physiological perfection is the result of a highly evolved nervous system through which all biological functions are perfectly integrated. Spiritual perfection occurs when the spiritual potencies latent in every cell of the organism are gathered together along the spiritual axis of the body — the spine — and through a process of intense and total synthesis are integrated in the brain — or rather in the Solar Center in the Head, the Sahasrara chakra of the Hindus.

Astrologically speaking, this process refers mostly to the mysterious cycle, of over eleven years duration, which links Saturn and the solar photosphere. It is the sun-spot cycle of modern science. In the human organism it refers to the linking of the Saturn-center at the base of the spine to the "thousand-petalled Lotus" on the top of the head, which is the human photosphere and thus has been symbolized in all times as a halo around the heads of saints and buddhas.

But before this ultimate linking up of the lowest and the most high can be accomplished, and before the resulting ecstasy or spiritual bliss can be attained by the individual, it is necessary that the Jupiter-Mercury function should operate most fully. Such an operation is symbolized, in mythology, by the caduceus of Mercury. He who understands thoroughly the various meanings of this important symbol grasps some of the deepest secrets of organic being.

The central rod of the caduceus and the two intertwining serpents refer to the process of synthesis by which the spiritual potencies latent in every cell are gathered around the spinal axis (the central rod) and led up to the head. The entire symbol is one of centralized and rhythmic relationship. It is the hieroglyph of Mercury, the Master-Weaver in action. The weaving Hands go to and fro; and the tapestry of perfected being emerges, from which Man may learn the significance of his own being and of universal life.

Thus Mercury is the giver of understanding and the revealer of significance. Within the realm of Saturn there is nothing that Mercury may not know; for he connects every point of the realm and unifies the whole, so that the Golden Flower of significance may blossom forth, whose roots are in Saturn.

Then the time comes when the realm of Saturn is transcended. Uranus becomes active and a period of transition begins, during which the entire organism is being repolarized at a higher level. This repolarization is harmonious — relatively speaking — if the Saturn period has come harmoniously to maturation and fulfillment. It involves tragedy in proportion as there has been disharmony and lack of fulfillment in the Saturn realm; especially if the Law of Saturn has become a hard shell stifling the life-force. For if this has happened Jupiter has had to turn to the opposite extreme and counteract Saturnian selfishness or formalism with devotionalism and religious fanaticism. The unity of the Whole — be it an individual or a national and cultural whole — has thus been broken. Thus Mercury, symbol of this unity in operation, is cut in twain. The individual is no longer "of one mind". He is rent by mental conflicts.

Then the transcendent inspirations and intuitions of Uranus are compelled to act discordantly. They have to fight against the Saturnian shells. They are moreover twisted and perverted by a discordant Mercury; and as well by a Jupiter who then acts in the capacity of the ruthless conquistador and the greedy imperialist or capitalist. Also, as this occurs, the Mars-Venus function becomes uncontrolled and unbalanced. Emotions run riot. Then Neptune must pour its strong acid in order to dissolve the frantic egoic will as well as the feudal fortified castles of the soul. And Pluto becomes the tribunal of implacable judgment, the ruthless cathartic that leaves the organism temporarily cleansed perhaps, yet exhausted and little wiser to face the future.

Mercury is the Hand that weaves the many patterns of the living. It is a servant; at times, a treacherous one. It is a synthetizing agency, which has little to say as to what it synthetizes. It relates everything there is. It co-ordinates. It fashions. It combines the quintessence of all relationships, of all life-functions. It is the Master-Workman, the Master of Works.

This edition copyright © 2008 Michael R. Meyer
All Rights Reserved.

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