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A Treatise on Astrology, Liber 536 by Aleister Crowley, 1917

Neptune and Mercury

The aspects of these two planets are very favourable. ~Mercury lends intellectuality to the mystic planet and Neptune redeems the cold brilliancy of the star of reason. A t the same time, Mercury is the trickster, and Neptune the master of masquerade, and these, in combination often produce a whimsicality or perversity whose benefit depends chiefly on the rest of the horoscope. In good ways it may mean wit, in bad crankiness and faddism. It sometimes gives logic divorced from common sense.

In W.E. Gladstone, the semi-sextile (aided by the Sun) gave eloquence and political adroitness; thus he was the greatest orator and parliamentarian of his period. Edison, with a stronger form of this double aspect, is the master-mind of his age in practical applications of science. Petrarch, too, has the Sun and Mercury square to Neptune, and we find his eloquence and passion unequalled. Dante who harnessed intellect and mysticism to the chariot of satire and invective, had Mercury and Neptune sextile. Coleridge has the semisextile and his table-talk was the delight of his contemporaries. So had Luther, whose intellect and eloquence shook the world. Both these had additional helps from other planets. A third case is Ruskin, whose prose remains an enduring monument of his era. Napoleon, whose intellect, not only as a commander, but a lawgiver, has few parallels, also enjoyed this aspect. Alexandre Dumas has Mercury trine, and despite the evil aspect of Mars, wrote the most brilliant novels of adventure that exist in the French language. Savonarola has this conjunction with Mercury and Sol; he was the most eloquent and learned doctor that even Florence can blazon on her shield. Balzac has these planets in opposition but helped by a semi-sextile of the moon; from this we can divine his sword-sharp intellect, his infinite comprehension of mankind, and his summary of it all as a comedy or masque. The square excites a bitter cynicism, as in the case of Byron. Philip Bourke Marston, the blind pre-Raphaelite poet, has them in opposition; he is the most clear-sighted and realistic of the artificial school.

Of the fine power of the trine we have two brilliant and perfect examples; Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw. The wit of these two is absolutely typical of the aspect. The lesser sextile is exemplified by George du Maurier, the author of Trilby, for many years an illustrator of Punch, and his delicate humour and timid satire are still admired. Banns· worth, a clever unscrupulous journalist, has Mercury trine Neptune, but there is a sextile of Venus which has turned all to ill (also he has the Sun in opposition to Saturn and squared by the Moon; Saturn is in the tenth; he will end with a crash). The conjunction sometimes produces a great religious teacher, such as Rudolf Steiner. The opposition is more likely to cause a certain inhibition in true religious thought, and to turn the impulse to the vagaries of faddism, to intellectual acuteness without any sense of proportion.

Such is the case with Eustace Miles, who proposed to reform the world by a diet of health foods, and who loads his after-dinner speeches with puns on the names of the persons present. Hereward Carrington goes even further and proposes complete starvation as a cure for all the woes of man. Logically, he is right of course! Fortunately, a trine and sextile of Uranus came to his rescue and maturity has brought him some degree of wisdom, or at least of common sense. Enough has been said; it must now be clear to all in what way these planets act and react how their operation is chiefly to determine the qualities of the mind, and particularly speech which is the issue of the mind. It is not a great combination for the artist, who asks more of the planets of fatherhood and of creative energy. Most of the examples that we have given impress us rather as brilliant than as profound. Gladstone was too clever to be a real statesman; Edison never made a discovery in abstract science; Petrarch is not in the first flight of poets; the star of Coleridge has but three narrow rays; Luther was not a deep theologian; Ruskin was but an artist manqué; Napoleon never cut at the roots of his political oaks; Dumas is but a narrator; Savonarola never did more than scourge the symptoms of the evil he attacked; Byron never wrote first-rate poetry; Marston is but a sorry rhymster; Wilde and Shaw have done nothing immortal; Harmsworth is a byword for shallowness, stupidity and sensationalism; du Maurier was a hack, Steiner a quack. Balzac, it is true, was the greatest novelist that trine has yet brought forth; but the Mercury and Neptune aspect is of secondary importance in a horoscope which has Venus and Mars in conjunction semi-sextile to Jupiter in the tenth, Sol being also in the tenth only seven degrees away. It indicates his point of view, and even to some extent the method of his work; but the greater gods must be made to speak in order to explain his capacity and energy and his ever-crescent and immortal fame.