Mercury Repellent?
November 28, 2007 6:25 AM   Subscribe

If you were making mercury repellent to ward off the unsettling and snarling effects of mercury retrograde, what would you put in it?

During the multiple periods of mercury retrograde this year, my friends, family, and my friends' families have all seen lots of strife, negative events, and overall chaos. So my friend and I would like to make a little gift of "mercury repellent" to give out. We'd like this to be semi serious at least, and I don't know what type of energetic items, herbs, crystals, oils, or other substances should go into this type of potion or talisman. Any suggestions would be lovely. Thanks in advance.
posted by Soulbee to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Lucky Charms cereal.
posted by electroboy at 6:40 AM on November 28, 2007 [6 favorites]

I would include a small thermometer. Symbolically, the real mercury inside is held captive and can only perform a linear, useful function. Think of it as helpfully harnessing the freeform, chaotic influence of mercury.

While I don't use astrology in my tarot readings per se, Mercury is associated with the first card in the major arcana, The Magician, who can be said to represent Hermes or a hermetic acolyte. This card is all about the amazing abilities one can discover as long as one remains connected to, and humble before, the guiding forces of the universe. A reminder to this effect might be useful for people to meditate on during challenging times, so a bookmark or some other sort of item based on tarot imagery might be nice to include.
posted by hermitosis at 6:50 AM on November 28, 2007

This abstract of an article in the Journal of Material Sciences seems to indicate that roughening a surface will make it mercury repellent. Pumice is rough, so include that.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 6:50 AM on November 28, 2007

The 'semi serious at least' part kinda confuses me. I mean, you're not looking for items that will change the orbit of the planet Mercury. But you want it to look nice. So here's my list:

a little pine cone
some shiny rocks
a chunk of sage
coarse sea salt
a couple homemade beads
a tiny scroll of handmade paper with non-Western characters written on it in onion ink
a cobalt glass vial, stopped with a cork, containing lavender oil with glitter in it

Put all of that stuff in a little velvet sachet or suede pouch or something, then put a couple drops of something fragrant on it. Ta-daa. A potion or talisman, straight from central casting.
posted by box at 6:58 AM on November 28, 2007

You know the recipients and we don't, but are you sure that they won't look at you like you've sprouted nine heads all of which are crazy if you give them astrological gifts?

I ask because I would find such a gift very unwelcome, and would be actively annoyed with anyone who did that. Again, you know them and I don't, but you might stop and ask yourself whether it will be welcome or whether it will be the astrological equivalent of giving an atheist the gift of chrism.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:58 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

A Google search of Soma Luna's site turns up a number of powders, oils, herbs, etc. which are claimed to have an "association" with Mercury, so perhaps they can avert Mercury's retrograde effects. Or perhaps they'll only exacerbate them. Who knows?

Disclaimer 1: Not a believer in astrology myself, but I hope you find this helpful all the same.
Disclaimer 2: Not associated with Soma Luna except as a one-time customer--not for any astrological association, but because they sell a wide assortment of unscented candles in many colors, some of which can be hard to find.

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:01 AM on November 28, 2007

I think the key is to give something like that less power in your life. Mercury impacts you when you think Mercury impacts you. Hey, I love my loosy-goosy out there shit, too, but it is just all in good fun and you maybe should design your own personal totems to wards off whatever it is you attribute to Mercury retrograde. Personally, I like the monkey in a shriner hat bank I have from the Archie McPhee catalog. Take some hot monkey shriner love, Mercury retrograde!

Seriously, don't take it seriously.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:03 AM on November 28, 2007

Tuna fish is yummy, yet absorbs mercury. Include a can of tuna.
posted by jrishel at 7:04 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

With a Van der Waals radius of 155 pm then anything (however porous) with openings smaller than that should do the trick.

So really, about anything. Gore-Tex is readily available.
posted by sourwookie at 7:05 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mercury in mythology was the son of Jupiter and Maia Maestas. So something representing his parents should be able to keep him in line.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:05 AM on November 28, 2007

A caduceus?
posted by sourwookie at 7:07 AM on November 28, 2007

It really bugs me that someone could post a perfectly answerable question like this with a good sense of humor and interested in creative suggestions, and people can't just let it be what it is.

If you don't have an answer, find a different question.
posted by hermitosis at 7:08 AM on November 28, 2007 [4 favorites]

Right, Mercury is element 80, right?

So you'll need to offet that with 'opposite' elements - which is either Yttrium or Scandium, depending upon your Chart reading.

Most of these are available through nuts, either pine nuts, walnuts, coconuts, or almonds. Since winter is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, let's choose almonds (very healthy) and coconuts (which have stored much solar energy to offer - good for the S.A.D. times (season affective disorder))

Pulp the coconut meat with a little cane sugar. Let's stay away from the synthetic sugars for now. Form them into either balls or tubes. Some people find the coconuts a little objectionable, so I usually apply a coating of 'homemade chocolate' to it (everyone loves chocolate, right?) consisting of cocoa powder and condensed sweetened milk. Top all these with almonds, distribute and EAT.

Those ALMONDS are a JOY to eat.
posted by unixrat at 7:14 AM on November 28, 2007

I would include a small thermometer. Symbolically, the real mercury inside is held captive and can only perform a linear, useful function. Think of it as helpfully harnessing the freeform, chaotic influence of mercury.

posted by gaspode at 7:14 AM on November 28, 2007

mm thanks for serious answers. yes, we would be giving these to people who also have shared in our semi-serious mercury hatred this year. when i said semi-serious, that means people who semi-seriously agree with me, and that i'd like it to have some basis in someone's actual beliefs or some sort of actual science (mercury thermometer having great symbolism and the porous substance thing also!) but i'm not looking to change the planetary orbit. geesh. and no, I'm not falling all over myself with this stuff. it's been a really crappy year for me and my loved ones, and we've jokingly blamed the string of really bad events on their seeming coincidence with mercury retrograde as a way to explain the otherwise unexplainable. that method of dealing with tragedy has been used for eons but thanks for the pragmatic wake-up call. also thanks for the serious suggestions so far, I appreciate it! Please continue to share, even the snark is amusing.
posted by Soulbee at 7:19 AM on November 28, 2007

Not really small or talisman-esque things, but here goes: Mercury is said to rule the signs of Virgo and Gemini. Earth and air. A terrarium? Also, communications and travel. Toy cars and walkie-talkies? A retrograde period is said to be a time to review and reflect. A journal? Also, a little winged-footed Mercury figure himself? Several places list the stones and herbs for each sign. Whether you "believe" it or not, this is fun!
posted by green herring at 7:37 AM on November 28, 2007

EPA, MSDS. Chock full of all the info on mercury you'll ever need.
posted by Mach5 at 7:46 AM on November 28, 2007

mass of Mercury = 3.30200 * 10^23 kg
mean orbital velocity = 47880 m/s

To send Mercury crashing into the Sun, all we have to do is bring it to a complete standstill relative to the Sun, at which point it will fall straight down.

Using E = 1/2 * m * v^2, we end up with an energy requirement of 7.57 * 10^32 J.

So we need to bring that quantity of energy to bear upon Mercury in some sort of directed blast. A giant antimatter bomb / antimatter-powered laser might do the trick, given that anything of lesser energy density would almost certainly be impossible to get to Mercury. According to Wikipedia, the energy per unit mass of matter/antimatter mix is 9 x 10^16 J/kg, though roughly 50% of that is lost by neutrino emission. But on the other hand, we only need to take the antimatter, since Mercury has abundant supplies of normal matter for it to react with.

This directly leads us to a requirement of 8.41 * 10 ^ 15 kg of antimatter, which we somehow need to convey to Mercury.

According to Wikipedia, CERN takes 2 billion years to produce 1 gram of antimatter. This means that unless antimatter productivity can be vastly increased, it will be 1.68 * 10 ^ 25 years until the necessary quantity of antimatter is available.

Given that the Sun is due to expand beyond the orbit of Mercury in a mere 5 billion years or so, it's probably easier just to sit back and wait a bit.
posted by Zarkonnen at 8:24 AM on November 28, 2007 [6 favorites]

i could definitely see putting zarkonnen's answer on a mercury retrograde astrological shoebox greeting. or something.
posted by Soulbee at 8:28 AM on November 28, 2007

Sulfur binds with mercury, so include some sulfur. You can also buy something fir cleaning up spills called mercusorb (or something like that) which would form an amalgam with the mercury.

Oh wait you mean mercury the planet, uhhh how about a miniature representation of the solar system showing how the planets don't ever really go backwards, it just moves backwards relative to the earth. That way retrograde can be seen as getting a one up on mercury so the earth would be gaining.
posted by koolkat at 8:31 AM on November 28, 2007

Let me start by saying I don't take particularly lend any credence to natural or sympathetic magic. But I do have a fondness for old grimoires, and I'm endlessly fascinated by the complex system of correspondences used in their employ. That being said, I don't think you necessarily want to banish Mercury; retrogrades are thought to be a time of weakened or degraded force, so you want to strengthen and perhaps appease him a bit.

Aleister Crowley's 777 lists the following among the correspondences of Mercury: The Magician (Juggler) from the Tarot; the swallow, ibis or ape; vervain (an herb); opals and agates; the wand or caduceus; perfumes of mastic or white sandal; the octogram; the letter "B" (particuarly the Hebrew "Beth"), and the archangel Raphael.

Going back further, we have Agrippa:
Things under Mercury are these; amongst Elements, Water, although it moves all things indistinctly; amongst humors, those especially which are mixed, as also the Animall spirit; amongst tasts [tastes] those that are various, strange, and mixed: amongst Metals, Quick-silver, Tin, the Slver Marcasite; amongst stones, the Emrald [emerald], Achates [agates], red Marble, Topaze, and those which are of divers colours, and various figures naturally, & those that are artificiall, as glass, & those which have a colour mixed with yellow, and green. Amongst Plants, and Trees, the Hazle [hazel], Five-leaved-grass, the Hearb [herb] Mercury, Fumitary, Pimpernell, Marjoram, Parsly [parsley], and such as have shorter and less leaves, being compounded of mixed natures, and divers colours. Animals also, that are of quick sence, ingenious, strong, inconstant, swift, and such as become easily acquainted with men, as Dogs, Apes, Foxes, Weesels [weasels], the Hart, and Mule; and all Animals that are of both sexes, and those which can change their Sex, as the Hare, Civet-Cat, and such like. Amongst birds, those which are naturally witty, melodious, and inconstant, as the Linet, Nightingale, Blackbird, Thrush, Lark, the Gnat-sapper, the bird Calandra, the Parret [parrot], the Pie, the Bird Ibis, the bird Porphyrio, the black Betle [beetle] with one horn. And amongst fish, the fish called Trochius, which goes into himself, also Pourcontrell for deceitfulness, and changeableness, and the Fork fish for its industry; the Mullet also that shakes off the bait on the hook with his taile.
All very well and good, but the modern Magus is nothing if not adaptive. Mercury rules over communication and travel, so any representative modern icon could be used in a talisman as well.
posted by malocchio at 8:44 AM on November 28, 2007

many many awesome answers here. thanks very much, i think we shall find a course here for our gift, as well as some humorous mecury retrograde greeting cards (i'm all for greetingcards whenever possible) to keep everyones' spirits light.

posted by Soulbee at 10:20 AM on November 28, 2007

I don't know what your budget is, but perhaps a small thing from Herm├ęs?
posted by brujita at 11:28 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Too literal?
posted by primer_dimer at 8:11 AM on November 29, 2007

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