Mercury by William Lilly


Mercury is the smallest and innermost planet in the Solar System. Its orbital period (about 88 Earth days) is less than any other planet in the Solar System. Seen from Earth, it appears to move around its orbit in about 116 days. It has no known natural satellites. It is named after the Roman deity Mercury, the messenger to the gods.


Mercury represents the Intellect, and it may be a good or evil planet according to the conditions under which it acts. If ☿ is under the influence of ♄; that is to say, if the intellect is subservient to selfish and material things, it becomes a source of evil; if combined with ♃ it will produce pride; if united with love ?[1] it will become wise, and in this manner “crude mercury” may be transformed into the gold of wisdom.

Mercury without love is said to rule especially those who live by their wits scrientific speculators, sophists, merchants, thieves, intellectual but not necessarily moral persons, men of letters, students, etc. In the mineral kingdom it is represented by quicksilver, in the spiritual realm by the god of trade.


Mercury is a major Roman god, being one of the Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He is the patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages/communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he is also the guide of souls to the underworld. He was considered the son of Maia and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is possibly related to the Latin word merx (“merchandise”; compare merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages); another possible connection is the Proto-Indo-European root merĝ- for “boundary, border” (cf. Old English “mearc”, Old Norse “mark” and Latin “margō”) and Greek οὖρος (by analogy of Arctūrus/Ἀρκτοῦρος), as the “keeper of boundaries,” referring to his role as bridge between the upper and lower worlds. In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms; both gods share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand.

Hermes is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, and the second youngest of the Olympian gods (Dionysus being the youngest).

Hermes is considered a god of transitions and boundaries. He is described as quick and cunning, moving freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine. He is also portrayed as an emissary and messenger of the gods; an intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. He has been viewed as the protector and patron of herdsmen, thieves, oratory and wit, literature and poetry, athletics and sports, invention and trade, roads, boundaries and travelers.

In some myths, he is a trickster and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or for the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster, the tortoise, satchel or pouch, winged sandals, and winged cap. His main symbol is the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus, which appears in a form of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon, Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics such as being the patron of commerce.




HERMES, draw near, and to my prayer incline,
Angel of Jove, and Maia’s son divine;
Studious of contests, ruler of mankind,
With heart almighty, and a prudent mind.
Celestial messenger, of various skill,
Whose powerful arts could watchful Argus kill:[2]
With winged feet, ’tis thine through air to course,
O friend of man, and prophet of discourse:
Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine,
In arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine:
With power endued all language to explain,
Of care the loosener, and the source of gain.
Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod,
Corucian, blessed, profitable God;
Of various speech, whose aid in works we find,
And in necessities to mortals kind:
Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere,
Be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear;
Assist my works, conclude my life with peace,
Give graceful speech, and me memory’s increase.



HERMES I call, whom Fate decrees to dwell
In the dire path which leads to deepest hell
O Bacchic Hermes, progeny divine
Of Dionysius, parent of the vine,
And of celestial Venus Paphian queen,
Dark eye-lashed Goddess of a lovely mien:
Who constant wanderest through the sacred feats
Where hell’s dread empress, Proserpine, retreats;
To wretched souls the leader of the way
When Fate decrees, to regions void of day:
Thine is the wand which causes sleep to fly,
Or lulls to slumberous rest the weary eye;
For Proserpine through Tartarus dark and wide
Gave thee forever flowing souls to guide.
Come, blessed power the sacrifice attend,
And grant our mystic works a happy end.


CHAPTER XIII Of MERCURY, his generall and particular Significations.
  • NAME: He is called Hermes, Stilbon, Cyllenius, Archas. Mercury is the least of all the Planets, never distant from the Sun above 27.degrees; by which reason he is seldom visible to our sight:
  • COLOUR: He is of a dusky silver colour;
  • MOTION: his mean motion is 59 min. and 8 seconds; but he is sometimes so swift that he moveth one degree and 40.min. in a day, never more; so that you are not to marvaile if you finde him sometimes goe 66. 68. 70. 80. 86. or 100. in a day: he is Stationary one day, and retrograde 24.dayes.
  • LATITUDE: His greatest South Latitude is 3.degr. 35.min. His greatest North Latit. is 3.deg. 33.min.
  • HOUSES: He hath Gemini and Virgo for his Houses, and is exalted in the 15. of Virgo: he receives detriment in Sagittarius and Pisces, his fall is in Pisces.
  • TRIPLICITY, TERMS AND FACE: He ruleth the aery triplicity by night, viz. Gemini, Libra, Aquarius.

TERMS. He hath these degrees in every Sign for his Terms.
In ARIES, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.
In TAURUS, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.
In GEMINI, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
In CANCER, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.
In LEO, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.
In VIRGO, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
In LIBRA, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24.
In SCORPIO, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.
In SAGITTARIUS, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.
In CAPRICORN, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.
In AQUARIUS, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.
In PISCES, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.

FACE. These subsequent degrees are his Faces or Decanate:
In TAURUS, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
In CANCER, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.
In VIRGO, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.
In SAGITTARIUS, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
In AQUARIUS, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.

  • NATURE: We may not call him either Masculine or Feminine, for he is either the one or other as joyned to any Planet; for if in Conjunction with a Masculine Planet, he becomes Masculine; if with a Feminine, then Feminine, but of his own nature he is cold and dry, and therefore Melancholly; with the good he is good, with the evil Planets ill:
  • ELEMENTS: In the Elements the Water; amongst the humours, the mixt, he rules the animal spirit: he is author of subtilty, tricks, devices, perjury, &c.
  • MANNERS & ACTIONS, WHEN WELL DIGNIFIED: Being wel dignified, he represents a man of a subtil and politick brain, intellect, and cogitation; an excellent disputant or Logician, arguing with learning and discretion, and using much eloquence in his speech, a searcher into all kinds of Mysteries and Learning, sharp and witty, learning almost any thing without a Teacher; ambitious of being exquisite in every Science, desirious naturally of travel and seeing foraign parts: a man of an unwearied fancy, curious in the search of any occult knowledge; able by his own Genius to produce wonders; given to Divination and the more secret knowledge; if he turn Merchant, no man exceeds him in a way of Trade or invention of new wayes whereby to obtain wealth.
  • WHEN ILL DIGNIFIED: A troublesome wit, a kinds of Phrenetick man, his tongue and Pen against every man, wholly bent to spoil his estate and time in prating and trying nice conclusions to no purpose; a great lyar, boaster, pratler, busibody, false, a tale-carrier, given to wicked ARTS, as Necromancy, and such like ungodly knowledges; easie of beleef, an asse or very ideot, constant in no place or opinion, cheating and theeving every where; a news-monger, pretending all manner of knowledge, but guilty of no true or solid learning; a trifler; a meer frantick fellow; if he prove a Divine, then a meer verball fellow, frothy of no judgment, easily perverted, constant in nothing but idle words and bragging.
  • CORPORATURE: Vulgarly he denotes one of an high stature and straight thin spare body, an high forehead and somewhat narrow long face, long nose; fair eyes, neither perfectly black or gray, thin lips and nose, little hair on the chin, but much on his head, and it a sad brown inclining to blacknesse; long arms, fingers and hands; his complexion like an olive or Chestnut colour. You must more observe Mercury then all the Planets; for having any aspect to a Planet, he doth more usually partake of the influence of that Planet then nay other doth: if with Saturn then heavy, with Jupiter more temperate, with Mars more rash, with Sun more genteele, with Venus more jesting, with Moon more shifter.
  • ORIENTAL: When he is oriental, his complexion is honey colour, or like one wel Sun-burnt; in the stature of his body not very high, but wel joynted, smal eyes, not much hair; in very truth, according to the the height of body, very wel composed, but stil a defect in the complexion, viz. swarty brown, and in the tongue, viz. all for his own ends.
  • OCCIDENTAL: When Occidental, a tawny visage, lank body, small slender limbs, hollow eyes, and sparkling and red or fiery; the whole frame of body inclining to drinesse.
  • QUALITY OF MEN AND PROFESSION: He generally signifies all literated men, Philosophers, Mathematicians, Astrologians, Merchants, Secretaries, Scriveners, Diviners, Sculptors, Poets, Orators, Advocates, School-masters, Stationers, Printers, Exchangers of Money, Atturneys, Emperours, Embassadours, Commissioners, Clerks, Artificers, generally Accomptants, Solicitors, sometimes Theeves, pratling muddy Ministers, busie Sectaries, and they unlearned; Gramarians, Taylors, Carriers, Messengers, Foot-men, Userers.
  • SICKNESSES: All Vertigols, Lethargies or giddinesse in the Head, Madnesse, either Lightnesse, or any Disease of the Brain; Ptisick, all stammering and imperfection in the Tongue, vein and fond Imaginations, all defects in the Memory, Hoarcenesse, dry Coughs, too much abundance of Spettle, all snaffling and snuffling in the Head or Nose; the Hand and Feet Gout, Dumnesse, Toungue-evil, all evils in the Fancy and intellectual parts.
  • COLOUR & SAVOURS: Mixed and new colours, the Gray mixed with Sky-colour, such as is on the Neck of the Stock-dove, Linsie-woolsie colours, or consisting of many colours mixed in one. Of Saviours an hodgepodge of all things together, so that no one can give it any true name; yet usually such as doe quicken the Spirits, are subtil and penetrate, and in a manner insensible.
  • HEARBS & PLANTS: Herbs attributed to Mercury, are known by the various colour of the flower, and love sandy barren places, they bear their seed in husks or cobs, they smel rarely or subtilly, and have pricnipal relation to the tongue, brain, lungs or memory; they dispel winde, and comfort the Annimal spirits, and open obstructions. Beanes, three leaved-grasse, the Walnut and Walnut-tree; the Filbert-tree and Nut; the Elder-tree, Adders-tongue, Dragon-wort, Twopenny-grasse, Lungwort, Anniseeds, Cubebs, Marjoran. What hearbs are used for the Muses and Divination, as Vervine, the Reed; of Drugs, Treacle, Hiera, Diambra.
  • BEASTS: The Hyaena, Ape, Fox, Squirrel, Weasel, the Spider, the Grayhound, the Hermophradite, being partaker of both sexes; all cunning creatures.
  • BIRDS: The Lynnet, the Parrot, the Popinian, the Swallow, the Pye, the Beetle, Pifinires, Locusts, Bees, Serpent, the Crane.
  • FISHES: The Forke-fish, Mullet.
  • PLACES: Tradesmens-shops, Markets, Fayres, Schooles, Common Hals, Bowling-Allyes, Ordinaries, Tennis-Courts:
  • METALS: Quicksilver.
  • STONES: The Milestone, Marchasite or fire-stone, the Achates, Topaz, Vitroil, all stones of divers colours.
  • WIND & WEATHER: He delights in Windy, Stormy and Violent, Boistrous Weather, and stirs up that Wind which the Planet signifies to which he applyes; sometimes Rain, at other times Haile, Lightning, Thunder and Tempests- in hot Countries Earthquakes, but this must be observed really from the Sign and Season of the year.
  • ORBE: His Orbe is seven degrees before and after any aspect.
  • YEERS: His greatest yeers are 450; his greatest 76; his mean 48; his little or least 20: in Conceptions he governeth the sixth moneth.
  • COUNTRIES: He hath Grecia, Flanders, Egypt, Paris.
  • ANGEL: His Angel is named Raphael.
  • DAY OF THE WEEK & FRIENDS: He governeth Wednesday, the first hour thereof, and the eight. His Friends are Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and his Enemies all the other Planets.


  • The days and hours of Mercury are good to operate for eloquence and intelligence; promptitude in business; science and divination; wonders; apparitions; and answers regarding the future. Thou canst also operate under this Planet for thefts; writings; deceit; and merchandise.
  • The hours of Saturn, of Mars, and of the Moon are alike good for communicating and speaking with spirits; as those of Mercury are for recovering thefts by the means of spirits.
  • The hours of Mercury are good for undertaking experiments relating to games, raillery, jests, sports, and the like.
  • Furthermore, if thou wishest to converse with spirits it should be especially on the day of Mercury and in his hour, and let the Moon he in an airy sign[4], as well as the Sun.

These pentacles are usually made of the metal the most suitable to the nature of the planet; and then there is no occasion to observe the rule of particular colours.
Saturn ruleth over lead;
Jupiter over tin;
Mars over iron;
the Sun over gold;
Venus over copper;
Mercury over the mixture of metals;
and the Moon over silver.

They may also be made with exorcised virgin paper writing thereon with the colours adopted for each planet, referring to the rules already laid down in the proper chapters, and according to the planet with which the pentacle is in sympathy.
Wherefore unto Saturn the colour of black is appropriated;
Jupiter ruleth over celestial blue;
Mars over red;
the Sun over gold, or the colour of yellow or citron;
Venus over green;
Mercury over mixed colours;
the Moon over silver, or the colour of argentine earth.


Bk. I Ch. XXIX What things are under the power of Mercury, and are called Mercuriall.

Things under Mercury are these;

  • amongst Elements, Water, although it moves all things indistinctly;
  • amongst humors, those especially which are mixed, as also the Animall spirit;
  • amongst tasts those that are various, strange, and mixed:
  • Amongst Metals, Quick-silver, Tin, the Silver Marcasite[5];
  • amongst stones,
    • the Emrald,
    • Achates,
    • red Marble,
    • Topaze,
    • and those which are of divers colours,
    • and various figures naturally,
    • & those that are artificiall, as glass,
    • & those which have a colour mixed with yellow, and green.
  • Amongst Plants and Trees,
    • the Hazle[6],
    • Five-leaved-grass,
    • the Hearb Mercury,
    • Fumitary,
    • Pimpernell,
    • Marjoram,
    • Parsly,
    • and such as have shorter and less leaves, being compounded of mixed natures, and divers colours.
  • Amonst Animals, also, that are of quick sence, ingenious, strong, inconstant, swift, and such as become easily acquainted with men,
    • as Dogs,
    • Apes,
    • Foxes,
    • Weesels,
    • the Hart,
    • and Mule;
    • and all Animals that are of both sexes,
    • and those which can change their Sex,
      • as the Hare,
      • Civet-Cat,
      • and such like.
  • Amongst birds, those which are naturally witty, melodious, and inconstant,
    • as the Linet,
    • Nightingale,
    • Blackbird,
    • Thrush,
    • Lark,
    • the Gnat-sapper,
    • the bird Calandra,
    • the Parret,
    • the Pie,
    • the Bird Ibis,
    • the bird Porphyrio,
    • the black Betle with one horn.
  • And amongst fish,
    • the fish called Trochius, which goes into himself,
    • also Pourcontrell for deceitfulness, and changeableness,
    • and the Fork fish for its industry;
    • the Mullet also that shakes off the bait on the hook with his taile.
Bk. I Ch. XXXI How Provinces, and Kingdoms are Distributed to Planets.

Mercury with Gemini rules Hircania, Armenia, Mantiana, Cyrenaica, Marmarica, and the Lower Egypt; but with Virgo, Greece, Achaia, Creta, Babylon, Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Ela, whence they of that place are in Scripture called Elamites.

Bk. I Ch. XLIV The Composition of Some Fumes Appropriated to the Planets.

For Mercury take mastic, frankincense, cloves and the herb cinquefoil, and the stone achates, and incorporate them all with the brain of a fox or a weasel and the blood of a pie
To Mercury, all the peels of wood and fruit, as cinnamon, lignum-cassia, mace, citron peel, and bayberries, and whatever seeds are odoriferous

Bk. I Ch. XLVII What Places are Suitable to Every Star

To Mercury, shops, schools, warehouses, an exchange for merchants and the like.

Bk. I Ch. XLIV Of Light, Colours, Candles, and Lamps, and to what Stars, Houses, and Elements severall colours are ascribed

But all white, fair, curious, green, ruddy, betwixt saffron, and purple, resemble Venus, Mercury, and the Moon.

Bk. II Ch. XLIII Of the Images of Mercury.

From the operations of Mercury,

  • they made an Image at the hour of Mercury, Mercury ascending in Gemini, the form of which was an handsome young man, bearded, having in his left hand a rod in which a serpent is twyned about, in his right carrying a dart, having his feet winged; They report that this Image conferreth knowledge, eloquence, diligence in merchandizing and gain; moreover to beget peace and concord, and to cure feavers;
  • They made another Image of Mercury, Mercury ascending in Virgo, for good will, wit and memory; The form of which was a man sitting upon a chaire, or riding on a Peacock, having Eagles feet, and on his head a crest, and in his left hand holding a cock or fire.
Bk. 2 Ch LVIII Of the names of the Celestials, and their rule over this inferiour world, viz. Man.

The names of Celestiall souls are very many, and diverse according to their manifold power and vertue upon these inferior things, from whence they have received divers names, which the ancients in their hymnes and prayer made use of. Concerning which you must observe, that every one of these souls according to Orpheus’s Divinity, is said to have a double vertue; the one placed in knowing, the other in vivifying, and governing its body. Upon this account in the Celestiall spheres, Orpheus cals the former vertue Bacchus, the other a Muse. Hence he is not inebriated by any Bacchus, who hath not first been coupled to his Muse.

in the sphere of Mercury, Silenus, and Euterpe

Bk 2 Ch LIX Of the seven governers of the world, the Planets, and of their various names serving to Magicall speeches.

Moreover they did call those governors of the world, (as Hermes calls them) Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon, by many names, and epithites;

Mercury is called the son of Jupiter, the cryer of the gods, the interpreter of gods, Stilbon, the Serpent-bearer, the rod-bearer, winged on his feet, eloquent, bringer of gain, wise, rationall robust, stout, powerfull in good and evil, the notary of the Sun, the messenger of Jupiter, the messenger betwixt the supernall and infernall gods, male with males, female with females, most fruitfull in both sexes; and Lucan cals him the Arbitrator of the gods. He is also called Hermes i.e. interpreter, bringing to light all obscurity, and opening those things which are most secret.

Bk. 4 The familiar forms of the Spirits of Mercury.

The Spirits of Mercury will appear for the most part in a body of middle stature, cold, liquid and moist, fair, and with an affable speech; in a humane shape and form, like unto a Knight armed; of colour clear and bright. The motion of them is as it were silver-colored clouds. For their signe, they cause and bring horror and fear into him that calls them. But their particular shapes are,

  • A King riding upon a Bear.
  • A fair Youth.
  • A Woman holding a distaffe.
  • A Dog.
  • A Shee-bear.
  • A Magpie.
  • A Garment of sundry changeable colours.
  • A Rod.
  • A little Staffe.

Additional Reading

  1. A symbol which looks like Mercury’s (☿) but with a circle beneath; almost certainly intended rather to be that of Venus (♀).  ↩

  2. That is, Argus Panoptes doing the dying. To free Io, Zeus had Argus slain by Hermes who, disguised as a shepherd, first put all of Argus’ eyes to sleep with spoken charms, then slew him by hitting him with a stone. Hermes was tried, exonerated, and earned the epithet Argeiphontes, “killer of Argos”.  ↩

  3. Hermes Khthonios, his role as psychopomp.  ↩

  4. “or in an earthy sign, as hath been before said”, Add. MSS. 10862 & Aub. 24
    Later chapter 8 (concerning pentacles, and the manner of constructing them) has The pentacles should then be made in the days and hours of Mercury, when the Moon is in an aerial or terrestrial sign; she should also be in her increase, and in equal number of days with the Sun. This holds true for most of the Solomonic ritual implements.  ↩

  5. A brittle variety of iron pyrite; before ~1845 it usually referred to iron pyrite itself, especially in the context of jewlery. It’s hard to say which is intended as either may have a silver luster.  ↩

  6. The grimoiric wand material of choice, almost always harvested in the day and hour of Mercury (Wednesday at dawn).  ↩

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