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artful astrology
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New Blog

Words and Worlds of the Mercurial Season

Hanne Darboven, detail.

Hanne Darboven, detail.

Mercury is an edge dweller, is comfortable in the margins and liminal spaces, for Mercury knows this is where the most potential for connection is — for joining this world and that. In astrology, of which Mercury is the mythical inventor, we learn about ourselves through the skies, bridge gaps between earthly and heavenly spheres and so too the underworld and whatever’s above. Mercury is most cozy in the in-between wearing winged sandals and as the inventor of writing, keeps records of his expeditions.

Another way to say this: Mercury translates. The auric egg of your person, your vitality of chart and being, rely upon mercurial velocity — this ability to realm-hop. To translate: we are all of the light and the dark, at home in the center and at the edges. Marginalization and stardom are sisters.

I am thinking now of one of my favorite artists, Hanne Darboven, and her affinity for the written record, of record-keeping as art. Her work chronicles of the passage of time, has an affinity for words and numbers as visual information. Here is her artist statement:

I built up something by having disturbed something: destruction becomes construction. Action interrupts contemplation, as the means of accepting something among many given alternatives, for accepting nothing becomes chaos. A system became necessary: how else could I in a concentrated way find something of interest which lends itself to continuation? My systems are numerical concepts, which work in terms of progressions and/or reductions akin to musical themes with variations. In my work I try to expand and contract as far as possible between limits known and unknown. Generally, I couldn’t talk about limits I know. I only can say at times I feel closer to them, particularly while doing or after having done some conceptual series…. The most simple means for setting down my ideas and conceptions, numbers and words, are paper and pencil. I like the least pretentious and most humble means, for my ideas depend on themselves and not upon material; it is the very nature of ideas to be non-materialistic. Many variations exist in my work. There is consistent flexibility and changeability, evidencing the relentless flux of events.

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Winged dispatcher, Hermes, Thoth, mystic messenger, magician, reverence and trickiness of mind, ultra-wayward, impulsive, quicksilver, shifting, erratic, erotics of every mental move. Before Mercury, knowledge was passed down orally and when record keeping commenced, our memories got free but also and for better or worse, disrupted. Darboven creates sublime magic from this archival disruption.

It takes a specific alchemy to turn thoughts into written matter. Words used to cast spells and seal deals. Words used to commence a marriage and so too end one, words used to hurt and words used to love. Words used to keep time and make art. The zodiac signifies all possible earthly outcomes, while Mercury speaks to all possible human experiences, translates them into lexicons of living and dying, mending and deleting.

What’s the message that’s coming through? What does the sky want us to know? The underworld? How to bring them together, to mind and mend the split. To divine the situation accordingly and take joy in the liminal.

There is a hermetic teaching that says all of existence — bodies — everything — are thoughts in the mind of God (or insert here the universe). Our thoughts, in fact, are thoughts inside the mind of God, the universe.

This is perhaps all I need to say about the myth of Mercury: He was the only god that could move between the underworld and the heavens with ease.

The ancients thought Mercury not one planet but two, its quicksilver changes revealing itself as different selves (v. Gemini).

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Of neutrality, of the inventor of writing, of eloquence, of messages to be read and translated, of the art of communication, of the hypnotisms of silvery metal, of adaptability and agility of mental practice.

Mercury is metallic, both heavy metal and light, distorts and reveals the ever-changing nature of objects and humans.

Mercury has no moons, is the smallest and densest of all planets, is rocky, orbits the sun in a swift 88 days.

Mercury is, in part, how our soul prisms out into our personality, how we link the seemingly dissonant, the ways in which we fire synapses and leave marks via the word, the word as world.

We suffer because we think we are split, and Mercury heals through the matrix of matter-spirit amalgamation.

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QUESTIONS FOR THIS MERCURIAL TIME

What is translation?

What worlds do I dwell in?

Where am I comfy?

How and of what do I record keep?

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