The following is a guest post by astrologer and playwright Nick Civitello, originally published in the Virgo 2008 issue of Night Sky Strategies.
“I’m out of order, you’re out of order, the whole goddamned court’s out of order!”
Lawyer movies. I’m not talking about actual attorneys as much as I am referencing their silver screen counterparts, who are always found caught between two truths and forced to make a choice at the critical moment – a choice to stand up for the side of true justice, which may be a completely different interpretation of what is right than the legal system states.
Oh, they may start off with questionable morals and motives, like in The Devil’s Advocate or Primal Fear. They may appear to have a questionable level of intelligence and skill, like in My Cousin Vinny or The Rainmaker. They may be womanizers, drunks, washed-up, simply in it for the money. But at the end of the day, even if you get a sleazeball ambulance-chaser at the center of your story, it’s a pretty safe bet he’s going to end up being the sleazeball with a heart of gold and a will of steel by the time the credits roll.
The Mercurial function is one that seeks out fact and truth, and then acts as a mouthpiece for the findings that its curiosity has gathered. In Libra’s hands, the tendency toward balance can sometimes skew the drive to discover; the status quo is often balanced enough that Mercury in Libra won’t want to rock the boat by digging deeper. However, when the matter of truth becomes a moral issue, one that compromises the native’s value system, then Libra will choose the path of the upright and outraged citizen, and will make its voice heard.
This is the point in Philadelphia where Denzel Washington’s lawyer character comes to terms with his homophobia so that he can properly represent his gay client, who has been grievously wronged. This is the point in A Time to Kill when the Grisham stand-in protagonist decides that he won’t be deterred by threats of Klan reprisal, as his African-American client has murdered one of their own. And so on.
As a mouthpiece for persuasive argument, Mercury in Libra’s Venus rulership allows is to present the facts in an arrangement that will elicit a predetermined emotional response from its audience. It can arrange things in half-truths and pleasing anecdotes that will get people on its side. This is ideal for the attorney character, who must encourage the jury to share in his moral outrage.
The archetype of “negotiator” could also fall into this category of Mercury in Libra. Again, their function is to arrange and present the terms of a proposal in such a way that it will persuade the listener to agree with the terms. In a hostage situation, the function is, in true Libran fashion, one of peace-keeping; they’re trying to talk a person out of hurting or killing another person.
“Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”
Not all Merc in Libras pop with precision persuasion and rapier-like wit. It’s within Libra’s Cardinal nature to work in bursts of interest. This can make it difficult to stay committed to one project, as they’ll get excited about something entirely different in the middle of things, or simply lose initiative out of sloth. What doesn’t help is that it can be difficult for Merc in Libra to take a definite stand on a point of contention – they don’t like contention. Loathe to tell a person he is flatly wrong, they will flirt with both sides of an argument, noting the merit in both without any commitment.
If I had to throw a name onto this archetype, it’d be something to the effect of “intelligent slacker.” The only character I can really think of that falls into this category is Jeff Lebowski, aka “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski.
The Dude is a thirty-something unemployed bowling-enthusiast, who finds himself at the center of a mystery when thugs break into his house and accost him, looking for a millionaire with whom he shares a first and last name. He seeks out this millionaire for compensation, as the men who came looking for the “Big Lebowski” have urinated on The Dude’s prized rug, an item that “really tied the room together” (Venusian influence, yeah?) The crusty millionaire flatly refuses to repay him, but seeks him out the next day to act as a ransom courier, as the same thugs have now kidnapped his twenty year-old trophy wife. When the ransom drop-off is botched, The Dude scrambles to fix things so that everyone will just leave him alone.
I admit, it’s a convoluted synopsis, but it’s a weird (and great) movie. Basically, it’s the loose plot of a Mercury in Scorpio film noir mystery, but the protagonist isn’t even vaguely Scorpionic. He hardly has any desire to solve the mystery, he has no idea of what he’s doing, who to shake down for information, who to trust, who to believe, or how to defend himself. He mostly just wants to dodge work, smoke a lot of pot, and keep his overzealous ex-military friend from hurting people. Sound like any Libras you know?
He also spends the movie recycling things that have been said to him by characters who are more on-point than he. A thug threatens him with, “We’ll cut off your Johnson!” so he later says, “We’re gonna cut your dick off, man!” to a fourteen year-old boy he is shaking down for information. A refined female acquaintance uses the phrase, “in the parlance of our times,” which he later misuses in a tense situation. It isn’t that he’s stupid, he just relies on others to think for him in situations where he can’t be bothered. Sometimes the Libran impulse is to rely on others when they cannot be bothered to act – we’ll get to that a little later on.
Eventually, through no detective work of his own, The Dude is presented with an explanation for the confusing set of circumstances which have thrown him about for the entire film. But even in confronting the accountable party, the act consists of one part righteous indignation and three parts trying to calm down his violent friend. And when all is said and done, he ends up pretty much in the same place as he was at the start of the film, which is exactly where he wanted to be. This defunct Mercury goes nowhere and has no desire to take steps to change that.