Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun. As we look out from here on planet Earth, Mercury will only ever appear in the same or adjacent sign to that of the Sun. Mercury represents communication, expression, the mind and the ability to learn. It is the intellect, the perception and reason that we possess and use in our daily lives. This small but vital planet is linked to transport, the media and communications of all kinds, but also to your local environment, your neighbours and your brothers and sisters.

Its placement in the birthchart is the source of versatility, the ability to debate and argue and to see things in detail. A badly aspected Mercury could mean an individual is argumentative, nervous, and superficial. A well aspected Mercury can bring youthfulness, adaptability and mental agility.

Transits by Mercury last for hours rather than days and often represent a chance to talk to someone or to make a trip somewhere in the local vicinity. When Mercury turns to retrograde motion (as it does on the 16th of May), we tend to experience transport and communication difficulties (watch out for postal strikes or the trains going slow (not that you would notice here in the UK!).

Progressions by Mercury are significant events and represent a time when new interests are discovered, brothers and sisters are born, neighbourhoods change and often a course of learning is started (or finished). Contracts are often signed under the influence of such progressions.

Retrograde progressions by Mercury can be difficult, but can also be a period when the mind slows and allows the individual to understand more of what is going on around him or her. Whatever the case, Mercurial progressions do not happen often and are important events in your life.

The Houses

The birthchart is further divided into twelve houses, each of which is related to the zodiac signs and planets. Whereas the signs are defined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun every year, the houses are defined by the Earth's rotation every 24 hours. Each house represents an equal 2 hour section of the day. The houses start at the Ascendant, or Rising sign.

For example, someone born at sunrise during March/April would have Aries as their Ascendant. The Ascendant marks the start of the first house - the other eleven follow on in an anti-clockwise direction until they complete the circle. The boundary between each house is called the cusp, and the sign of the zodiac that lies across the cusp is the sign that controls that particular house. If Aries was the Ascendant, then Taurus would cover the second house cusp and would control it accordingly. Starting with the Ascendant that represents self awareness, the houses relate to different parts of the cycle of life: resources, communication, the home, children, health, relationships, money, philosophy, ambition, friends and secrets. Like the signs of the zodiac, each house plays a part in the definition of the horoscope.

These houses represent the main areas of life, for example; money, love and social life, to mention a few. The first six houses are primarily concerned with the inner person, and how one feels, loves and works; the other six houses are more concerned with how one focus and relate those feelings to other people. Any planet in a particular house will affect it. Some planets are more powerful in some houses than others and a combination of planets in any one house will make that area of life very important. Houses that are untenanted, that is have no planets placed in them, are still important but do not play such a great role. The zodiac sign on the outside of any untenanted houses shows the reaction to that particular aspect of life.

2nd House

The second house of the zodiac is linked to Venus and Taurus, and in common with those two elements, represents personal feelings and the desire for possessions. The first six houses of the birthchart are linked to the self, whereas the last six refer to relationships with the wider world. In this way, the second house shows us how we look after money, how we use that money and what it means to us. By contrast, the eighth house opposite shows money in its wider context - insurances, taxes, inheritances. The sign on the cusp shows the manner in which we relate to these areas of our lives. For example, Leo on the cusp of the second house suggests someone who is generous with both their money and feelings for other people.

The second house also represents our feelings for another person, particularly in a romantic relationship. Do we see our loved one as a person in his or her own right or merely as a possession to be shown off along with the sports car and posh apartment? The need for security is seen here - this may be shown in the way we collect possessions around us, or whether we feel content with just the bare necessities.

Planets placed in this house can have a big effect on the cash in our pockets. Neptune brings much confusion in monetary matters whereas Uranus brings sudden ups and downs and the sense that money just trickles through our fingers like sand. Saturn means we have to work hard for it (and that we hold on to it for dear life) and Jupiter suggests good fortune. These effects are triggered even more when the planet in question is aspected during a transit. Indeed, a planet transiting through the house will have some effect on our money (or lack of it), possessions and feelings to those around us.

1st House

Coming soon...

3rd House

The third house of the zodiac is ruled by Mercury and linked to Gemini. It represents the part of your life connected with your brothers, sisters and other close family, although not your parents, who have the fourth and fifth houses. The third house represents the local neighbourhood and your neightbours. It is here that relationships with those neighbours are seen. Problems in this part of your chart invariably lead to disputes with those living nearby. This house also demonstrates your connectedness with the environment, again on a local basis. Caring for the block, village or town you might live in is an important part of this house. In addition, the third house has an important part to play in your early childhood, schooling and communication. Teachers of young children will often have the Sun or Mercury placed here.

Planets placed in the part of your chart will consequently affect all these areas of your life. Beneficial planets, such as Jupiter and Venus indicate perhaps an easier early life and the ability to get on with those close by. Saturn makes life harder - this stern planet would suggest hurdles placed in front of you that must be overcome. Often there is literary or musical ability, regardless of which planet is placed in the house. One of the most interesting placements is Neptune. This dreamy planet often brings a beautiful voice, the ability to communicate on a higher level, and an unusual nickname.

Transits or progressions by planets through this area of the chart brings greater emphasis on communication, your environment and close family. Planets such as Pluto would bring immense change - there could be an upheaval at home and a change in environment. This planet in particular is also likely to bring changes to how you view your environment - is it worth saving? for example. Short distance travel, your neighbours and even the way you speak can be affected by planetary events in this part of the zodiac.

Additional information