In astrology, Mercury is the messenger planet of communication, calculation and language, logic and rationality, neutrality and impartiality. Neptune is the illusionist planet of spectacle and fantasy, all that is synthetic and virtual, glitzy and glamorous, dreamlike and nightmarish. Together, their interaction tracks the life cycle, evolution and complex of communal storytelling and irrationality, the verbal and written traditions of myth and imagination, and accompanying departures from accuracy and reality. This cycle is associated with impracticality, delusions, myth-making, tall tales, unreliable narrators, media propaganda, conspiracy theories, distractions, frauds, hoaxes, absurdism, surrealism, nonsense, inspiring or deceptive language. This planetary pair has an interesting correlation with some of the major players and entities contributing to the current Post-Truth era of political discourse disconnected from discernible facts and reality.
An example I think perfectly encapsulates the Mercury-Neptune complex is the inception of Wikipedia.org, a site that every 21st century student is told to use with extreme discernment due to its occasional unreliability. Wikipedia.org was created on January 13th 2001 at a Mercury-Neptune conjunction in Aquarius. While this reflects a lofty Aquarian goal for being the world’s first and best decentralized open-source encyclopedia, naturally the biases of volunteer editors and the occasional untrustworthiness of its information is baked into the idea of the site itself, perfectly reflected by the conjunction of Mercury and Neptune at its creation.
People who have these two planets in aspect by sign and degree, especially by hard aspects like the conjunction, square and opposition can sometimes struggle with discerning between illusions and fact, deceptions and reality.
Jenny McCarthy was born at a Mercury-Neptune conjunction, and she is the most prominent purveyor of the anti-vaccination movement. What dangers from vaccines that actually do exist are extremely uncommon, but autism is absolutely not caused by vaccines, nor is autism so pathological a condition to risk your child suffering from mostly preventable old-timey diseases. She has essentially spread misinformation about vaccines and y’know, kids are dying now because their parents don’t science well. She protests that she is not anti-vaccine, but clearly has argued against vaccines for many years in this vaguely amusing set of contradictory statements.
You’ll notice I found a picture of her campaigning for “greening” vaccines with Jim Carrey who is also skeptical of the science of vaccines. Jim Carrey was born at a Mercury-Neptune square. While he’s got Mercury conjunct Jupiter, a classic aspect for a comedian, the square to Neptune says something about his…weirder side. It’s a funny thing, sometimes Jim Carrey seems perfectly lucid and “woke”, and other times he comes off as if he is mentally unwell. You can YouTube the uncomfortable interviews yourself.
Reaching back a bit now, remember how Lance Armstrong was that heroic cyclist who overcame testicular cancer and got everyone to wear yellow wrist bands in the mid-2000’s? But it turned out he was doping and denied it for years even though basically everyone knows it’s true? Well, we don’t have a birth time but we can see that he was born at a wide Mercury-Neptune square, as part of a greater T-Square with Jupiter and Saturn. This probably says something about how his inspiring victories weren’t all that they seemed (Jupiter conjunct Neptune), and that he would eventually lose his titles (opposed by Saturn).
One of the most recent and alarming manifestations of the Mercury-Neptune complex is the story of Jussie Smollett staging a hate crime on himself. Jussie Smollett was born at a solar eclipse in Gemini in opposition to Neptune and Mercury in Gemini in a whole sign opposition to Neptune. Gemini is his annually profected sign for the year that he is 36 years old, so this highlighted the transits of Mercury and solar eclipses for the year, both of which figured into the story of his bewildering deception.
In the wheels above you can see his transits from the time of his staged attack to the day he turned himself into the authorities. The Chicago Police first announced that they were investigating Smollett as a suspect in his own attack on February 16th and officially charged him with filing a false police report on February 20th. In this time, you can see that this was when the Mercury-Neptune conjunction was closest. It should also be noted that Mercury entered its pre-retrograde shadow at the conjunction with Neptune, so as Mercury goes retrograde we will likely hear more developments about Smollett’s case.
Alex Jones of InfoWars is a bloviating conspiracy theorist on the alt-right who no thinking person should ever listen to with any degree of seriousness, full stop. Alex Jones’ history of disengagement with reality is so extensive and varied it’s hard to know where to begin. Probably the most deranged thing he has ever claimed in his promotion of various conspiracy theories about school shootings is that “no one died” in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, when in fact, 27 children and teachers were killed, 28 if you count the gunman’s own mother. I don’t want to boil Jones down to one aspect, but I think it’s worth pointing out that he was born at a close Mercury-Neptune square, the basic meaning of which he lives out with astonishing clarity.
Donald Trump was born at a Mercury-Neptune square across Cancer and Libra. It doesn’t matter if you like him or not.The fact is that his public statements in the last decade both as a presidential candidate and president are more often than not unclear, contradictory, incoherent and often blur the lines between sheer ignorance, deliberate deception and pure delusion. Don’t just take it from me.
“Here’s the problem: As fact checker Glenn Kessler noted in August, whereas Clinton lies as much as the average politician, President Donald Trump’s lying is “off the charts.” No prominent politician in memory bests Trump for spouting spectacular, egregious, easily disproved lies. The birther claim. The vote fraud claim. The attendance at the inauguration claim. And on and on and on. Every fact checker — Kessler, Factcheck.org, Snopes.com, PolitiFact — finds a level of mendacity unequaled by any politician ever scrutinized. For instance, 70 percent of his campaign statements checked by PolitiFact were mostly false, totally false, or “pants on fire” false.”
Trump is also quite a fan of Alex Jones, predictably. Trump is also no stranger to propagating conspiracy theories himself, especially the infamous Birther conspiracy against former President Barack Obama. But in case you think I’m just being partisan here, I definitely won’t mention Karl Rove (Mercury-Neptune square) or Bill O’Reilly (Mercury-Neptune conjunction) and instead I’ll talk about a prominent Democrat with this aspect.
Another person born when Mercury was square Neptune…was Barack Obama himself! Obama was born at a Mercury-Neptune square across Leo and Scorpio. Interestingly with Obama, his speech was deceptive in an entirely different way. Especially as a presidential candidate, Obama was able to give voice to a utopian vision of hope and appealed to our highest aspirations. This might also be seen through his Mercury-Jupiter opposition, bespeaking his uplifting oratory. But the reality is that while Obama the individual is left of center, Obama the president governed as a hawkish moderate and even a conservative at times, in ultimately misguided attempts to gain conservative cooperation.
Obama was clearly frustrated by a conservative opposition that never acted in good faith, embraced conspiracy theories and even went back on their own principles if it meant appearing to cooperate with him. For example, the main idea for Obamacare actually came from earlier Republican proposals for healthcare reform and they acted like it was a communist takeover. His Mercury-Neptune square can be seen as a Mercury that struggles against delusion, propaganda and spin rather than one that is consumed by it. He was particularly irked by people who refuse to acknowledge the science of climate change. His trademark phrase was even “Let me be clear”. Even the birther conspiracy itself can be described by a fake mystery (Neptune) surrounding birth documents (Mercury).
Even between just Obama and Trump we can see a broad range of manifestations of the Mercury-Neptune square with the same thematic underpinning. While Obama sold a message of hope for participation in the political process to fix our problems, Trump sells a message of fear and hatred of immigrants, refugees and other perceived enemies. While Obama sold a hopeful vision for the future (“Change We Can Believe In” and “Yes We Can”), Trump sells an escapist nostalgia for the past (“Make America Great Again”). They both sell visions that are not necessarily rooted strictly on fact or present reality, but while Obama sells dreams, Trump sells nightmares. But they’re both still Mercury square Neptune. Of course I’m not saying they’re equivalent in their delusion or deception, I’d vote Obama over Trump seven days of the week but I can still recognize their shared participation in the Mercury-Neptune complex.
Another relevant nativity to consider on this topic is that of Vladimir Putin, who was born at a Mercury-Neptune conjunction in Libra. Putin is the mastermind behind Russia’s colossal feats of deception, manipulating elections from the shadows, boosting puppet candidates, exploiting voters’ divisions and biases through disinformation campaigns and propaganda. The extent of Putin’s campaign to undermine democratic countries through these methods is expertly outlined through the recent documentary “Active Measures” which you can watch at home through various streaming services.
A less triggering manifestation of the Mercury-Neptune complex is the power of imagination to create entertaining fiction through immersive worlds and fantasy stories. Acclaimed fantasy author Neil Gaiman was born at a Mercury-Neptune conjunction in Scorpio. His work is highly informed by and alludes to mythical archetypes across world religions and folklore, sometimes explicitly and deliberately playing with and subverting them, as he does in American Gods and Norse Mythology. His works often deal with supernatural themes and the idea of other worlds or dream worlds, as he does in Coraline, Stardust and The Graveyard Book.
Ray Bradbury is another visionary author of science fiction and other genres, the mind behind classics such as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, I Sing the Body Electric, Something Wicked This Way Comes, etc. He was born at a Mercury-Neptune conjunction in Leo. C.S. Lewis was famous for writing the Chronicles of Narnia, and he was born at a Mercury-Neptune opposition across Sagittarius and Gemini. What schoolchild who’s read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe hasn’t looked at the back wall of their closets just to make sure it didn’t open up into a fantasy realm? Lewis also imbued his stories with Christian allegories and motifs (and perhaps even astrological ones), which isn’t unique in itself, but remarkable to the extent that he did.
But it’s not just authors of literature who embody these complexes, but also authors of code. Satoshi Tajiri is the original creator of the addicting cultural phenomenon of Pokemon. He was born at a Mercury-Neptune square across Leo and Scorpio. Ultimately he wrote an immersive fantasy world of virtual creatures that has distracted us from reality for nearly 24 years. The story of his life up to his Saturn Return in Pisces and his creation of Pokemon is actually quite touching.
So as Mercury slows down and goes retrograde against Neptune through March 2019, just remember to be extra vigilant because little will be as it appears to be. You can’t stop living during these periods, but as circumstances allow, try to wait before proceeding with important matters until Mercury is well clear of its retrograde phase and its conjunction with Neptune. On the other hand, this might be a great time to crack open a big fantasy epic you’ve always been wanting to read, or perhaps you have a sci-fi short story you should start writing. It could also be a good time to indulge in some flights of fancy and fantasy, get some bingewatching in or enjoy a new videogame. In any case it could also be a nice time to briefly escape thinking in the here and now. But eventually this vacation will have to end because Mercury has tons of stuff to do! Mercury will see better days starting April 16th once they enter Aries. Best of luck.