Mercurial, Lover, and a King

It’s interesting that the US Defense Intelligence Agency is reading my writing, after searching for “schizophrenia, hiding symptoms”. It’s even more interesting that the Defense Intelligence Agency is wondering about people who might be trying to hide their schizophrenia. I suppose the US government likes to know a good reason for everything, so that everything can make sense. Even the US Department of Labor, who wonders, “what does it mean when a male cat lays on its back and paws at the air while looking at a human?”. I can’t say for certain, but I’ll try offering a reason to help ease their mind: maybe he loves you, and wants you to pet him. I know, it’s crazy. Want to try something even crazier? Love him back. That’s why I’ve written this. You might say it’s a little schizophrenic. But secretly, I’m really just laying on my back, staring at you upside-down, pawing at the air:

I woke today, realizing I dreamed of Mercury and Ganymede. I cannot recall prior planet dreams. Sometimes I wonder if dreams have significance, like the poetry of tarot cards thrown to the ground in their iconic meaning, then observed, one against the other, in their positions. Or, the wisdom gathered over centuries, attributed within astrological symbols. I believe there is significance, if nothing more, in learning through exploration.

Ganymede, a prince of Troy, is a body trapped orbiting Jupiter, king of the gods. Ganymede,the most handsome of humans, was abducted by Zeus who had, upon seeing Ganymede, instantly fallen in love. All of the gods loved Ganymede save Hera, who, in her jealousy and anger, abandoned all of Troy. Zeus ordained Ganymede his cup-bearer.

Ganymede is a deep water ocean, held under miles of frozen ice. His core is molten iron, churned by the tidal forces of Zeus, creating the only moon known to produce his own magnetosphere by his magnet field. His magnetic moment is directed against Jupiter’s, yet at his upper and lower poles, their field lines flow together, open and aligned as one. Ganymede traps radiation from Jupiter into bright auroras and produced a radiation belt of his own. He is also the largest of all moons, nearly half the size of Earth. Larger, even, than Mercury, and nearly as large as Mars, the god of war.

But, being of water, Ganymede is far less dense. Mercury, a god, though smaller, with only a third of Ganymede’s magnetic strength, is over twice as dense. Though immortal, Ganymede is frozen and cold. As a god, Mercury can be nearly as cold, yet hotter than an oven – hot enough to melt lead and zinc. As messenger of the gods, Mercury moves swiftly, with a year lasting 88 days. As the god of travelers and of thieves, Mercury hides from our observations within the brightness of the sun, even as his mercurial nature sends him along the most eccentric of paths.

Like Ganymede, who displaced the Goddess of Youth as Jupiter’s cup-bearer, Mercury, too is youthful. His first day on earth, Mercury created the musical lute. His children include Pan, the musical goat-god of nature and fertility. Hermaphroditus, made both man and woman. Priapus, a cursed fertility god with a never-ending erection. And possibly even Cupid, or Eros. Even Autolycus, the prince of thieves.

Mercury is one of the only gods who travels unhindered through Hades. Zeus placed his love, Ganymede, forever into the heavens, as the constellation Aquarius. Both have a very thin atmosphere. Mercury’s is unbreathable, while Ganymede’s is oxygen.

Traveling to visit Mercury is far more difficult than visiting Ganymede. In a journey toward Mercury, we are pulled relentlessly toward the fires of the sun. As such, we must trick our way to Mercury, through Venus and Earth. However, in contrast, the path to Ganymede, forever falling within the gravity of Zeus, is a comfortable one. As long as we mind the deadly fallout of Zeus.

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Image credits:

Statue of Ganymede and Zeus, Br. Lawrence Lew, O.P., used with permission.

Planetary images, NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington