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Traditional Rulerships of the Planets
saturn Saturn
jupiter Jupiter
mars Mars
the sun Sun
venus Venus
mercury Mercury
the moon Moon

View or download Lilly's original text, Christian Astrology (vols I & II)


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Of Mercury, & his Signification, Nature & Property

Adapted from William Lilly's 17th century text Christian Astrology, pp.65-68

Adapted and annotated by Deborah Houlding
References in the footnotes include explanatory remarks
and modern translations of Lilly's terms

Anciently called Hermes,[1] Stilbon,[2] Cyllenius,[3] Arcas [4] .

Rulerships by signGemini (by day) / Virgo (by night)
Signs of detrimentSagittarius & Pisces
Exaltation (sign & degree)Virgo - 15
Fall (sign & degree)Pisces - 15
Triplicity rulershipAir triplicity by night
Associated terms
Ariesdegrees 15 - 21
Taurusdegrees 9 - 15
Geminidegrees 1 - 7
Cancerdegrees 14 - 20
Leodegrees 7 - 13
Virgodegrees 1 - 7
Libradegrees 20 - 24
Scorpiodegrees 22 - 27
Sagittariusdegrees 15 - 20
Capricorndegrees 7 - 12
Aquariusdegrees 7 - 12
Piscesdegrees 11 - 20
Rulership by face (or decanate)
Taurusdegrees 1 - 10
Cancerdegrees 11 - 20
Virgodegrees 21 - 30
Sagittariusdegrees 1 - 10
Aquariusdegrees 11 - 20

Masculine or feminine, depending upon its placement; if in conjunction with a masculine planet, Mercury becomes masculine; if with a feminine, then feminine. By its own nature Mercury is cold and dry, and therefore melancholic. Mercury is adaptable; its influence is beneficial when associated with good planets, malefic when associated with bad planets.
Mercury rules the animal spirit and is the author of subtlety, tricks, devices, and perjury.

People Signified:
Literary men, philosophers, mathematicians, astrologers, merchants, secretaries, scriveners,[5] diviners, sculpturers, poets, orators, advocates, schoolmasters, stationers, printers, exchangers of money, attorneys, embassadors to emporers, commissioners, clerks, artificers,[6] generally accomptants,[7] solicitors, sometimes thieves, prattling muddy ministers, busy sectaries, and they unlearned; grammarians, tailors, carriers, messengers, footmen, usurers.[8]

Anatomy and Illnesses:
All vertigos, lethargies or giddiness in the head, madness, either lightness, or any disease of the brain; phthisis,[9] all stammering and imperfection in the tongue, vain and fond imaginations, all defects in the memory, hoarseness, dry coughs, too much abundance of spittle, all sniffling and snuffling in the head or nose; the hand and feet gout, dumbness, tongue-evil, all evils in the fancy[10] and intellectual parts.

Colours and savours:
Mixed and new colours, grey mixed with sky-colour, such as is on the neck of the stock-dove, linsie-woolsie colours,[11] or consisting of many colours mixed in one. Of savours, a hodge-podge of all things together, so that no one can give it any true name; yet usually such as quicken the spirits, are subtle and penetrate, and in a manner insensible.

Herbs, Plants and Trees:
Herbs attributed to Mercury are known by the mixed colour of the flower; they love sandy barren places; they bear their seed in husks or cobs, they smell rarely or subtlety, and have principle relation to the tongue, brain, lungs or memory; they dispel wind and comfort the animal spirits and open obstructions. Beans, three leaved-grass, [12] the walnut and walnut-tree; [13] the filbert-tree and nut; [14] the eldertree, [15] adderstongue, [16] dragonwort, [17] twopennygrass, [18] lungwort, [19] aniseed, [20] cubebs, [21] marjoram. [22]
Herbs that are used for the muses and divination, such as vervain [23] , the reed.
Of drugs, treacle, [24] hiera, [25] diambra. [26]

Tradesmen's shops, markets, fairs, schools, common halls, bowling-alleys, ordinaries, [27] tennis courts

Minerals & Stones:
Quicksilver. [27a] The milestone, [27b] marcasite or fire-stone, [27c] the achates, [27d] topaz, vitriol,[27e] all stones of diverse colours.

Attributed orb:
7 degrees

Raphael [28]

Day of the Week:
Wednesday, and the first and eighth hour of that day. [29]

Physical descriptions offered:
Commonly depicts a high stature and straight thin spare body, a high forehead and somewhat narrow long face, long nose; fair eyes, neither perfectly black or grey, thin lips and nose, little hair on the chin, but much on his head, and it a sad brown inclining to blackness; long arms, fingers and hands; his complexion like an olive or chestnut colour. Mercury, more than all the planets will usually partake of the influence of that planet: if with Saturn then heavy, with Jupiter more temperate, with Mars more rash, with the Sun more gentle, with Venus more jesting, with the Moon more shifty.
When Mercury is oriental, the complexion is honey colour, or tanned; the stature of the body not very high, but well jointed, small eyes, not much hair; in very truth, according to the height of body, very well composed, but still a defect in the complexion, viz. swarty brown, and in the tongue, viz. all for his own ends.
When Mercury is occidental, a tawny visage, lank body, small slender limbs, hollow eyes, and sparkling and red or fiery; the whole frame of body inclining to dryness.

Manners when well dignified:
When well dignified, Mercury represents a man of a subtle and political 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 anything without a teacher; ambitious of being exquisite in every science, desirous naturally of travel and seeing foreign 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 ways whereby to obtain wealth.

Manners when badly placed:
A troublesome wit, a kind of phrenetick man,[30] 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 liar, boaster, prattler, busybody, false, a tale-carrier, given to wicked arts, as necromancy and such like ungodly knowledges; easy of belief, an ass or very idiot, constant in no place or opinion, cheating and thieving everywhere; a news-monger, pretending all manner of knowledge, but guilty of no true or solid learning; a trifler; a mere frantic fellow; if he prove a divine, then a mere verbal fellow, frothy of no judgement, easily perverted, constant in nothing but idle words and bragging.

Notes & References:

  1] Hermes: Greek equivalent of the Roman god Mercury.
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  2] Stilbon: 'Glittering one', the secular Greek name.
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  3] Cyllenius: 'Of Cyllene', a name applied to Hermes, referring to a mountain in Arcadia (see below).
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  4] Arcas: Name of a person from Arcadia, where myth claims that Mercury was born.
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  5] Scrivener: a person who writes out deeds.
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  6] Artificer: a skilled craftsman, designer.
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  7] Accomptants: accomplished persons - experts.
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  8] Money-lenders.
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  9] Consumption (tuberculosis).
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  10] Imagination.
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  11] Linsey-woolsey: a thin rough fabric of linen or course wool or cotton.
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  12] Wood Sorrel. Culpeper says Venus. For details, link to external link
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  13] Also listed under Venus. (Culpeper says the Sun). For details, link to external link
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  14] Hazelnut-tree and nut.
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  15] Culpeper says Venus. For an interesting article on the elder in Druidic tree lore, link to OBOD Tree Lore external link
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  16] Adder's tongue fern. Culpeper says Moon
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  17] Bistort. Culpeper says Saturn. For details, link to external link
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  18] Moneywort. Culpeper says Venus. For details, link to external link
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  19] Jerusalem cowslip. For details, link to external link
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  20] Seeds from anise. For details, link to external link

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  21] Cubeb, also known as java pepper, is a member of the black pepper family. The berries have a strong traditional reputation for relief of bladder and lung conditions.
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  22] Also listed under Jupiter, though Culpeper says Mercury. For details, link to external link
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  23] Also listed under Venus and Saturn. For details, link to external link
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  24] A drug of varying composition; ie., venice treacle: the famous counter-poison compound.
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  25] An apenent compounded of aloes; ie., hiera picra (white cinnamon and aloe vera).
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  26] Indigestion medicine made out of a compound of spices, ambergris and musk.
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  27] Commons.
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  27a] Also known as Mercury.
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  27b] Presumably, stones used besides roads as markers of distances to travel.
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  27c] Flint
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  27d] Agates.
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  27e] A sulphate of metals such as copper, iron, zinc, cobalt, etc., given a glassy appearance, (vitreous means glass-like), by the distillation of green vitriol.
In alchemy, the word 'vitriol' was used as an acronym for the Latin phrase; Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultem Lapidem - which translates as 'visit the interior of the Earth, by rectification you will find the Hidden Stone'.
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  28] The name means 'God heals'. For details link to Marshall Mint external link
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  29] The first and eighth astrological hour of the astrological day, which begins at sunrise, not midnight.
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  30] Variant spelling of 'frenetic' distracted or frantic.
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Mercurial herbs






Mercurial stones & gems

quicksilver / mercury


firestone / flint
Firestone (flint)



stones of diverse colours
Stones of diverse colours