We are well into this Mercury retrograde in Cancer now, and I still feel like a salmon swimming upstream. As a break, I was doing some reading on Mercury and found out that it is the only androgynous planet.

This is the entry for ‘Androgynous planet’ in Fred Gettings’ Arkana Dictionary of Astrology:

A name for Mercury, a planet said to participate in both the feminine and masculine natures …. In the ancient tradition Mercury was said to be both dry and moist, and thus linked with both the male and female natures. In fact, even in accord with traditional astrology, it is clear that all planets manifest a sexual duality (save for the Sun and Moon) so that when mercury is termed androgynous, or is called the Androgyne, it is in reference to the effects observed through aspects cast to this planet. Thus, an aspect formed between the feminine Moon and a planet will tend to feminize the other planet: however, an aspect received or projected by Mercury will result in a polarity which depends entirely upon the sexuality or popularity of the other planet. (19)

Here’s a brief introduction to the myth of the Androgyne. Mircea Eliade in 1965 published a book called Mephistopheles and the Androgyne, a brief summary of which may be found in this Time magazine article, in which the author discusses how conceptions of God and the Devil may in fact be convergent, rather than divergent: he ‘relates it to the equally ancient conception of the androgyne (hermaphrodite) as a mystical symbol of wholeness; both stories, Eliade argues, represent man’s prephilosophic attempt to reconcile the existence in the world of such opposites as good and evil’ (Time).

In other words, rather than perceiving Mercury’s duality as a manifestation of separation, the metaphor of the androgyne unites Mercury’s dualism as a manifestation of wholeness. That in a way is the key to the Mercury-ruled Gemini’s duality, in which the presence of ‘two’ does not always insist on a choice of one over the other (Libra’s domain?), nor a fence-sitting in-between (Pisces?); more like a case of stereoscopic vision, I suppose. ChartPlanet.com describes Mercury as providing ‘the link between spirit and form. … between our perception and our action, between cause and effect’, perhaps that is also why it has been made ‘responsible for such attributes as reason, agility, adaptability, the analytical mind, our senses, dexterity, and alertness’.

ChartPlanet.com. ‘Astrology Tutorial’. 2001 (accessed 28 June 2007).
Gettings, Fred. The Arkana Dictionary of Astrology. 2nd edition. London: Arkana Penguin, 1990.
New Age Information Center. ‘Androgyne: A New Age View’ (accessed 28 June 2007).
Time Magazine. ‘Scientist of Symbols’. 11 February 1966 (accessed 28 June 2007).