Neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks was born on July 9, 1933 according to Ancestry.com. His article, “The Joy of Old Age (No Kidding.)” appeared in the New York Times on July 6, 2013. In it, Dr. Sacks discussed turning 80 and how he associated it with the element mercury, which has an atomic number of 80. Although Sacks is obviously not an astrologer, his essay is chock full of allusions to Mercury.
Sacks says that, “My mother was the 16th of 18 children; I was the youngest of her four sons. I was always the youngest boy in my class at high school. I have retained this feeling of being the youngest, even though now I am almost the oldest person I know.” Here he refers to siblings, well-known as Mercury-ruled. And Mercurial people are often youthful, no matter what their age.
One reason Dr. Sacks is grateful for a long life is because he’s been able “to write a dozen books and to receive innumerable letters from friends, colleagues and readers,” although he also realizes that at his age, “dementia or stroke looms.” Writing and correspondence are Mercury-ruled pursuits and dementia and stroke both impair Mercury’s ability to express itself. He reports that his father, who lived to age 94, said that in his 80s he felt “an enlargement of mental life and perspective” – once again, referring to the intellectual capacities ruled by Mercury.
Dr. Sacks’ article was reprinted in AARP The Magazine’s February-March 2014 issue, which appeared under Mercury retrograde. A re-print is quite a Mercury retrograde phenomenon. Coincidence?
Obviously Mercury is an important planet for Sacks! When we look at his horoscope we find that his Mercury is involved with oppositions involving the Moon, Venus and Saturn. This is the dominant pattern in the doctor’s chart and part of his essential experience. He’s been challenged to express himself through creative writing (Mercury conjunct Venus in Leo). His expertise as a doctor (Saturn in Aquarius) and ability to objectively analyze human behaviors (Moon in Aquarius) all play their parts in Sacks’ work as he explores the unusual ways our brains and minds can interact.
As an astute observer of the human situation, Dr. Sacks tunes in to astrological truth without having studied it. He has clearly become an expert in understanding others, and, in fact, life itself, also represented by his Moon-Mercury-Venus-Saturn oppositions.