The planet Mercury is the smallest in our solar system and the closest planet to the sun, which makes it difficult to see even with a telescope. The best times to observe it are at dawn and dusk when it is not overpowered by the sun's glare. Mercury is also the fastest planet, it orbits the sun in 88 days. The Romans named Mercury after their god of the same name, Mercury is the god of communication, commerce, messages, travel, and trickery. The ancient Greeks originally associated Mercury with Apollo in the mornings and Hermes in the evenings, naming it Stilbon meaning 'gleaming one.' The Babylonians named it after their messenger god, Nebu. Mercury is associated with healing, both the gods Mercury and Hermes carry a caduceus, a short winged staff that is entwined by two snakes. Iris the messenger goddess of Hera also bears one. The Caduceus is often confused with the Rod of Asclepius, carried by the Greek god of healing Asclepius which only has one snake coiled around it. Mercury retrograde is a time when the planet appears to move backwards for usually a period of 3 1/2 weeks 3 times a year. It is actually an optical illusion but it is believed by many to be a time when all of Mercury's qualities are disrupted. Being the planet of business, communication, travel and technology it can be a time that many people dread, some blaming it for everything that goes wrong in their lives. With a bit of forward planning and double checking it is possible to get through these times with little hassle. Just remember to slow down, be patient and more flexible when things go wrong. Correspondences Day: Wednesday Colour: Orange, Light blue Element: Air Direction: East Deities: Mercury, Hermes, Thoth, Nebu Metal: Mercury, Aluminium Crystals: Agate, Alexandrite, Amber, Aventurine, Blue lace agate, Carnelian, Jasper (brown) Opal, Sugilite, Topaz Herbs and plants: Bergamot ( orange), Bluebell, Bracken, Caraway, Cinquefoil, Clover, Dill, Elm, Fennel, Fenugreek, Fern, Flax, Horehound, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Lily of the valey, Lungwort, Mace, Mandrake, Marjoram, Mint, Mullein, Parsely, Rowan, Sandalwood ( white), Sweetpea Trees: Elm, Hazel, Palm, yew Food: Almond, Bean, Celery, Fennel, Hazelnut, Lemon grass, Liquorice, Marjoram, Mint, Parsley, Pasta, Pecan, Pistachio, Pomegranet. Number: 8 Angel: Raphael Influences: Business, Communication, Deception, Education, Employment, Exams, Healing, Hyperactivity, Insight, Magic, Memory, Music, Poetry, Protection, Psychopomp, Science, Speed, Theft, Travel, Trickery Animals: Ape, Butterfly, Crab, Ibis, Jackal, Snake, Swallow, Turtle Astrological sign: Gemini, Virgo Tools: Caduceus Mercury Safe Travels Spell Bag This spell is best performed on a Wednesday if possible. You will need: An orange or light blue spell bag A candle, orange or light blue if you have it, but white is fine. Carve the symbol of Mercury on it with a cocktail stick or something fine and sharp, just mind your fingers. Herbs and crystals associated with Mercury ( see above) or those you are drawn to use. Gather all your ingredients together and light your candle. Ask Mercury to watch over you and bless your work ( in your own words) Charge the herbs and crystals with protection and pop then in the spell bag. Hold the bag with both hands and say either the chant below or one of your own: ' Over land, sky and sea I call to the great god Mercury As I travel far from home Keep me safe where ever I roam Day and night keep me from harm with my safe travels charm.' Keep the bag on you while while you are on your journey.