The etymology of words can be very fascinating, especially in the astrological context. A surprising amount of our old astrological knowledge has been forgotten in this current age; yet our very own English language still preserves clues to it, when we know the astrological language that birthed these words. See my previous blog on astrological word origins for more on this. One example I find fascinating is how in English speaking countries there is a negative saying about when someone is getting too curious about things that are not any of their business to be knowing about. We say that person shouldnt be “meddling in the affairs of others”. The word “Meddling” means to be intruding into other people’sbusiness, or to handle something in a careless way. It may have a latin root meaning “to mix” according to the Free Dictionary.
So to meddle in the affairs of others is to be concerned with affairs of others that aren’t really important and that often lead to unneeded gossip and trouble. This term is never used when one is genuinely inquiring about how they can help someone in a serious way. This term is used when one is more likely just curious and potentially seeking self-aggrandizement by comparing themselves to another.
The reason this is so interesting to me is because if there ever was a “meddle” or “likely to mix” type of planet, it would be Mercury. He is the most mixed and intermediate planet in many ways, being malefic when with malefic planets and benefic when close to benefic planets. He rules, is exalted in, and is fallen in ONLY dual signs (which have both masculine and feminine qualities), showing how pronounced his mixed nature is. Mercury is exalted in the earth sign of Virgo, which he owns. The main symbolic quality to remember with the earth element is its mixed nature. Each other element is just one thing, like water or fire. Earth is dirt, rocks, gaseous space, some water, and it is that mixed state that is important to remember from a symbolism standpoint. Mercury rules the Earth element as well, this most mixed element. Mercury is not male or female, but “neuter” or a more apt modern word for it would be Androgynous. (It is very interesting that from the ancient astrology standpoint there was an even spread of 3 female planets, 3 male, and 3 androgynous.)
Mercury also happens to rule one’s curiosity, and whether one has a healthy sense of curiosity, or whether they use this faculty to simply “meddle in the affairs of others”. A person with a weak Mercury may find themselves with a somewhat unhealthy sense of curiosity and can therefore get themselves into trouble with gossip or backbiting.
Let me elaborate on this point further. Mercury is very much in the middle of things, and he likes the harmony that being in the middle, or being mixed, can provide. He doesn’t like to choose a side, so much so that in a negative state mercury people are often stereotyped as “two-faced”, when they are usually just trying to maintain a good harmony with everyone they associate with, but may fail to really express how they truly feel to the person (which can cause problems down the line).
When it comes to our sense of taste, each planet rules one of the tastes, or “rasa” in sanskrit. For example the moon rules the salty taste, and Jupiter rules the sweet taste. Mercury rules the “mixed” taste, or the savory taste as we often say, and what is referred to as “umami”. This is what MSG (monosodium glutamate) is designed to replicate. The taste can be created from the mixture of different chemicals and so is not easily created without being “mixed” with a bunch of other chemicals, or tastes, we could say. Some examples of the umami, mixed taste of mercury would be the flavor that sauteed onions and garlic add to a dish, or the savory quality that tomatoes cause when cooked in dishes with other vegetables. The quality that aged wines develop is said to be umami. ( See Ernst Wilhelm’s Graha Sutras book for the best treatment I have found on the tastes of the grahas.)
Another example of Mercury being very mixed is the genders of the grahas (graha is the sanskrit word for planet). Sun, Mars and Jupiter are male grahas. Venus, Rahu, and Moon are female grahas. Saturn, Ketu, and Mercury are said to be neuter grahas. Again we see Mercury not necessarily choosing a side but preferring the mixed place. Also, each planet is given an avatar that relates to that planet; such as the Sun is correlated to Prince Rama, the Moon to Krishna, etc. Mercury is connected to the Buddha. What did the Buddha eventually end up teaching after experiencing all paths? The “middle way”….
Now we can see how this old phrase happens to match so well with what we know about the most mixed or “meddlesome” planet, who also happens to rule over one’s sense of curiosity, be it healthy or unhealthy…. Another saying in English to express the same sentiment is that someone is being “too nosey”. The nose is the organ of the sense of smell. Can you guess which of the five senses mercury rules?