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Every Monday morning at 6:49 and 8:49, IPR News Radio looks into the night sky with Mary Stewart Adams, former Program Director and founder of the International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands, who has been telling stories of the night sky on IPR since 2013.

Mercury, the Moon and the Great Word

Mercury as Thoth meets the Moon between the crown of horns on Thursday, May 13.
Sky&Telescope
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Mercury as Thoth meets the Moon between the crown of horns on Thursday, May 13.

The planet Mercury takes its name from the roman god of shopkeepers and merchants, thieves and tricksters. Mercury enjoys a culturally rich association with the Ancient Greek God Hermes, a communicator god, and before Hermes, with the Ancient Egyptian God Thoth. Thoth was the inventor of writing, who created languages, and served as scribe, interpreter, and adviser of the gods.

On Thursday this week, the planet associated with these gods can be seen beside the crescent Moon, about 40 minutes after sunset looking west.

So this week the planet Mercury stands beside the Moon, while the Moon itself stands between the horns of the bull, Taurus. This configuration calls forth a significant image from the Egyptian mythological cycle regarding Isis, who wears the cow’s horns as her headdress. Isis was consort and queen to Osiris, the eventual god of the dead, and she was born with him during the five days that Thoth won by gambling with the Moon.

So in the sky this week we have Mercury as Hermes and Thoth beside the crescent Moon, Thoth’s gambling partner, standing between the bull’s horns, which are the crown of Isis. In some renderings, the name of the goddess Isis means the “great word,” so it’s really interesting that Thursday, May 13, when this picture appears over the western horizon, it’s also the Feast of Ascension in the Christian calendar, 40 days after Easter. The mystery of Ascension is only realized ten days later at the Pentecost, when the disciples are gifted with the ability to speak the language of all people, to give expression, you could say, to the great word.

Be sure to get out and experience this sacred mystery in the stars this week, it’s truly a season of the astro-logos.