The basic idea of Zodiac signs is that people have different characteristics based on what time of year they were born, but is any one of the signs smarter than the others?
Others have said Aquarius is the smartest Zodiac sign, but Aquarius just tends to represent the kind of intelligence rewarded by the school system. The theory of Multiple Intelligence holds that there is more to consider. The placement of Mercury in your chart reveals your specific intellectual strengths.
This article will discuss different types of intelligence as related to Mercury signs rather than Sun signs. Your Mercury sign may be the same as your Sun sign, but it may not be, so be sure to look at your whole chart to get your correct Mercury sign.
Table of Contents
The idea that different people are good at different things was articulated in a non-astrological context by Howard Gardner in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
The original seven bits of intelligence Gardner identified were Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal. Naturalist, which has to do with understanding the natural world, is an eighth intelligence that was added later.
Among other things, Gardner’s criteria for identifying intelligence include that it should have a distinct neural representation, meaning that its structure and function in the nervous system are unique.
It should also have a distinct developmental trajectory, and there should be prodigies who specialize in it, as noted in the resources on Multiple Intelligences Oasis.
The official literature on Multiple Intelligences does not provide correspondences to astrological signs. However, Multiple Intelligences are a useful place to start thinking astrologically, as astrology similarly breaks down the vast field of human experience into manageable categories.
Multiple Intelligences theory holds that almost all individuals have the full range of eight intelligences with varying levels of strengths and weaknesses.
Similarly, astrological charts have not just a Sun sign, but also other planets and celestial bodies that are often not in the same sign as the Sun sign, so most people have varying levels of strengths and weaknesses throughout the Zodiac too.
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What signifies intelligence in the astrological chart?
An astrological chart has not just your Sun sign but a snapshot of all the planets and celestial bodies at the moment of your birth. If you don’t have your chart yet, get it at Astro.com.
The Rulership Book by Rex E. Bills identifies intelligence as signified by the planet Mercury. As discussed in my article on Kim Kardashian, Mercury is also associated with the sign of Gemini and the third house, so Bills note that Gemini and the third house can be associated with intelligence as well.
This doesn’t mean that Gemini is necessarily the smartest sign, though – rather, where Gemini falls in your chart might tell something about how you are smart.
For the purposes of this article, I will focus on how the placement of the planet Mercury in your astrological chart describes your intelligence. Mercury usually travels close to the Sun in terms of relative position to the Earth, not more than 28 degrees apart, as reported on Astro.com.
Each sign covers 30 degrees, so, for instance, someone with the Sun in Gemini could have Mercury in Taurus, Gemini, or Cancer – one sign on either side of their Sun sign.
Mercury signs by element
There are four elements in astrology: fire, earth, air, and water. Each element includes three of the twelve Zodiac signs. There are enough commonalities between signs of the same element in terms of what kind of intelligence might be represented that I will discuss Mercury signs by element.
At this point, my linkages of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences to Zodiac signs are hypotheses rather than things that have been definitively proved through formal academic studies.
When the astrology community gets big enough to fund the sort of studies that major universities run, we will do some exciting research.
Mercury in fire signs – Aries, Leo, Sagittarius:
Mercury in the fire signs tends to see the big picture more than the details. Taking “picture” literally could refer to Spatial intelligence, which Gardner defines as “An ability to recognize and manipulate large-scale and fine-grained spatial images.”
This would include reading maps and navigating, which would come in handy for fire signs’ enjoyment of travel.
Aries and Sagittarius can be athletic, which would be Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence. If their enjoyment of travel crosses over into camping and hiking, they could have some Naturalist intelligence.
Leo is more indoorsy, but the good side of Leo’s legendary self-absorption can be Intrapersonal intelligence, which Gardner describes as “An ability to recognize and understand his or her own moods, desires, motivations, and intentions.”
Leo enjoys performing, which could involve Musical intelligence. Leo and Sagittarius can also sit still long enough to write – not so much Aries – which would be Linguistic intelligence.
Mercury in earth signs – Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn:
The earth signs are grounded in the physical world. This may translate to Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, and Naturalist intelligence. Bodily-Kinesthetic refers not just to sports, but to anything where you use your body to physically do something, such as a physician performing surgery or a chef preparing food.
People with Mercury in the earth signs could also get into Logical-Mathematical intelligence as long as they saw a practical application for it.
They would not be the mathematicians doing very abstract proofs for the sake of doing them like Mercury in Aquarius, but if they wanted to build a bridge, they could do the math necessary to buy the materials and cut them to size.
For Taurus specifically, The Rulership Book notes that both signs ruled by Venus, Taurus, and Libra, are associated with music, which would correspond to Musical intelligence in Gardner’s model.
Mercury in air signs – Gemini, Libra, Aquarius:
The air signs are social, so that’s Interpersonal intelligence, especially for Gemini. They are also good at Linguistic and Logical-Mathematical intelligence, as those are in the realm of ideas.
Gardner noted that Linguistic and Logical-Mathematical intelligence is the main intelligence that most schools are set up to recognize, so this may be why other websites have claimed that Aquarius is the smartest Zodiac sign. Aquarius may have an edge on Logical-Mathematical intelligence specifically.
For Libra, The Rulership Book notes that both signs ruled by Venus, Taurus, and Libra, are associated with music, which would correspond to Musical intelligence in Gardner’s model. The visual arts are associated with Spatial intelligence, and the artistic bent of Libra sometimes goes in that direction too.
Mercury in water signs – Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces:
Mercury in the water signs is sensitive to the undercurrents flowing through life.
This gives them Interpersonal intelligence but with a different spin on it than Mercury in an air sign might have: while Mercury in Gemini might be able to keep track of what was said in a bewildering amount of text messages, Mercury in Scorpio might notice what wasn’t said.
This ability to communicate beyond words also comes out in Musical intelligence.
People with Mercury in the water signs are also introspective and able to retreat from society to reflect. This gives them strong Intrapersonal intelligence, although they may get so mired in the depths of the pain of their own perspective that seeing other sides of the story becomes difficult.
Gardner and other researchers in the field of Multiple Intelligence have left the door open for additional intelligence to be discovered.
One Gardner has already speculated about is “an existential intelligence that reflects an individual’s capacity for considering ‘big questions’ about life, death, love, and being.” People with Mercury in the water signs are prime candidates for that one.
If an intelligence involving actual psychic powers is discovered further out in the future, people with Mercury in Scorpio or Pisces should be the first looked at.
Mercury signs by mode
The twelve Zodiac signs are divided into four seasons – spring, summer, fall, and winter – of three signs each. Mode refers to where a sign is positioned in its season, as discussed in my article on Lizzo.
The first sign in each season is always the cardinal mode. The second sign in each season is the fixed mode, and the third is the mutable mode.
Every Zodiac sign has an element and a mode. The modes seem to correspond more to the speed of thought than to any of the Multiple Intelligences.
Mercury in cardinal signs – Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn:
People with Mercury in the cardinal signs are fast thinkers. They leap before they look. They are bad at triage because whatever just popped into their head right that second is always the most important priority.
They are good at starting things and less good at finishing things.
Mercury in fixed signs – Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius:
People with Mercury in the fixed signs are not the fastest thinkers, but they are structured thinkers.
They want to know what is expected of them so that they can meet those expectations, and they will therefore be upset if their Mercury in Aries boss refuses to give them a job description.
They are planners, and they should go ahead and buy that “Lady In The Streets, Freak In The Spreadsheets” shirt they have been eyeing forever.
Mercury in mutable signs – Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces:
Mercury actually rules two of the mutable signs, Gemini and Virgo, meaning that those are the signs it has a natural advantage. However, the opposite of the sign a planet rules can be a harder sign for that planet to be in.
Sagittarius is the opposite of Gemini, and Pisces is the opposite of Virgo, so Sagittarius and Pisces are harder signs for Mercury to be in.
What all of the mutable signs have in common is that one season is in the process of connecting to the next season. Mercury in mutable signs is therefore good at drawing connections between things that seem different from each other.
In Gemini and Virgo, these connections may come quickly and make a lot of sense. In Sagittarius and Pisces, these connections may come more slowly and be more surprising.
Case study – Martha Stewart
Aspects between Mercury and other planets in the natal chart can add further nuance to the Mercury sign’s combination of element and mode. As shown in Astro-Databank, Martha Stewart, who became famous for her advice on housekeeping tasks, has Mercury in Cancer.
The sign of Cancer specifically, as discussed in my article on Khloé Kardashian, is associated with home and domestic matters. This of course makes a lot of sense for Martha Stewart.
Her Sun is in Leo, so she might be tempted to become famous for something, but her Mercury in Cancer gives a clue as to why she was famous for homemaking specifically.
Cancer is a cardinal sign, and that can be seen in Stewart continually initiating an exhausting array of projects.
Cancer is also a water sign. The main correspondences I gave for the water signs, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligence, don’t seem to fully capture Stewart’s capabilities. Given that she can do all kinds of stuff and make it look perfect, she likely scores high on Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence too.
Without enough Interpersonal intelligence to get the business opportunities that allowed her to share her gifts on a public scale, however, her Bodily-Kinesthetic capabilities would likely only be known by a small circle of family and friends.
For Stewart, the aspects between Mercury and other planets in her chart likely play a role as well. The tightest aspects are sextiles with Neptune and the North Node in Virgo, as well as Saturn and Uranus in Taurus.
Sextiles are harmonious aspects, and these interactions between planets in Earth signs and her Mercury probably increase her Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence.
Other Mercury aspects in Stewart’s chart are an inconjunct with the Moon in Sagittarius and a square with Mars in Aries.
The fire sign components of these aspects may be difficult to distinguish from her Sun in Leo. What is significant here, though, is that Stewart’s Mercury is aspecting inner planets and luminaries as well as outer planets.
As discussed in my article on 7 Most Important Aspects of a Natal Chart, the inner planets and luminaries have more to do with individual personality, while the outer planets have more to do with bigger world issues.
Someone with Mercury only aspecting inner planets and luminaries might focus their intellect on their immediate world – they’re not stupid, but they’re more interested in running their household or the Parent Teacher Association at their child’s school than in national politics.
Meanwhile, someone with Mercury only aspecting outer planets might have brilliant solutions to the whole world’s problems but be totally oblivious to problems closer to home.
Fortunately for Stewart, she has a little bit of both.
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