Can Lying Ever Be A Good Thing?

lying noseIt’s officially Gemini season, and like the rising of the sun, social media is flooded with recycled quips about Gemini being liars. Gemini lies for fun. Or it’s just the two sides of their face talking at the same time. Or maybe they lie because they don’t want you to know they’re actually several owls in a raincoat pretending to be human. Ugh. It’s ridiculous. But where does this reputation come from? Well, it comes straight from the top, originating from Gemini’s ruling planet, Mercury.

Mercury is a trickster god. He’s concerned with ends, not means. He’s not interested in moral theory so much as real-world results. In the Orphic Hymn to Mercury, it even explicitly states that he rejoices in “fraud divine.” But why would the planet of thought and communication also be interested in lying?

Lying is a universal human behavior. The ability to lie is even seen as a developmental milestone in children. But more than that, lying is a strategy. It allows us to move through the world with grace, it helps avoid conflict, and it can even save our lives.

To be clear, I am not advocating lying! I am Jupiterian through and through, and I believe in being up front whenever possible! But I also believe that it’s important to look at the bigger picture to understand why we lie.

Mercury is traditionally associated not only with communication and lies, but with marginalized groups. The people who don’t fit in the box, who don’t quite make sense in our world, and who are pushed aside are all his children. Mercury himself doesn’t fit into category, being neither diurnal nor nocturnal, strictly male nor female, or malefic nor benefic. And Mercury knows that when the world won’t accept you, sometimes you have to lie to survive.

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When Johnny Cash was arrested near the border after buying amphetamines, the press went wild. You’d think they’d have been focused on the spectacle of America’s favorite bad boy finally getting caught, but you’d be wrong. Instead, they were in a frenzy over a photo of his wife, Vivian, in which she appeared to be a black woman. This was the South in 1965, and racial mixing was still desperately taboo.

So Cash and his spokespeople kicked into high gear. They showed the media Vivian’s designation as a white woman on their marriage certificate. They solicited testimonials from her family and friends swearing she wasn’t black. They filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. They even issued a statement directly to the KKK. Not condemning the KKK, mind. Just asking them to leave her alone because she wasn’t the right target.

And for a while, the storm calmed. Life went back to something resembling normal, and the Cash couple’s attention turned to more practical matters, including their crumbling marriage. They eventually split and married other people, moving on with their lives.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the story ended here. It almost did. But recently, Roseanne Cash, daughter of Johnny and Vivian, took a DNA test. And it turns out that Vivian’s great-great grandmother was, in fact, a black woman who had been enslaved.

What’s fascinating is that it is very likely that Vivian herself didn’t know. In the South, it was not at all uncommon for families to hide or lie about the race of some of their ancestors. It has happened in my own family history. And it wasn’t out of shame or prejudice. It was out of the purely practical need to navigate the world as a person whose innate characteristics put them in grave danger. It was an attempt to insulate the family from the harsh cruelties of an unjust world. And, over time, the real history was lost. It’s a shame, but the real shame is the circumstance that required the lie in the first place.

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In the same Orphic Hymn, Mercury is called the ruler of mankind and is described as being kind to mortals, particularly in matters of necessity. And I think we can all agree that survival is the ultimate necessity. It only makes sense that Mercury would choose to prioritize human life over moral purity. Theory is great, but life is messy. Sometimes we’re put in impossible positions, and in those moments, our only responsibility is to survive. Mercury knows that. That’s why he gives us the tools to lie.

Again, in the vast, vast, VAST majority of circumstances, truth is the best option. It builds trust, helps us understand the world, and allows us to connect more deeply to the people we love. But sometimes trust, understanding, and connection aren’t available to us. Sometimes all the truth in the world can’t save us from someone who wishes us harm. And in those moments, it’s Mercury who has our back.

What do you think about the relationship between lies and survival? Do you think there’s ever a reason to lie? How do you decide?

Consult with Midara.

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Comments

Can Lying Ever Be A Good Thing? — 16 Comments

  1. Definitely – lying to save your life is acceptable (although alas it doesn’t always work).
    However, I can’t say how to decide, at which point it’s good or bad to lie. There are so many circumstances possible!(I’ve got some Libra in me.)
    I very much appreciate your explanation of Mercury! I gives more nuance and depth to thought and communication. He’s quite a subtle (and smart) guy.

  2. Well having a Texican father
    With American Indian Grandmothers( both parents, funny
    Thing both great Grandmeres named Virginia living in Virginia,as both walked the river of tears)I can say my Dad fell silent on mention of Mexican, Indian or Black words spoken, I think I get the survival behavior.
    Now to mention Gemini folk
    Not sure if I just want to look to see their insecurities , the cover, duck ,hide, ghost but it’s too hard to figure somebody out or their feelings , I stand agape with my Gemini relationship…

  3. Funny cuz I have Mars in Gemini, but I pride myself on truth – have some major Jupiter flavor to my chart too but my Taurus-Scorp also values integrity, while my all Aries just doesn’t have time for anything but keepin it real and straight to the point… howeverrr, my Moon-Venus sq Neptune def can frame things in a way in the spur of the moment that I wouldn’t say is lying per se? but blurred to not hurt feelings.

  4. It’s interesting that Jupiter and Mercury rule opposite signs. I’m mainly Jupiterian and I’ve had to learn the hard way that there are no moral absolutes. As much as I love broad principles, they tend to break down in practice. I think there are instances when it’s okay to lie that fall short of needing to survive. For example, as a parent I sometimes have to lie to my kids to protect them from things they won’t understand. At this point, I just try to have good intentions.

  5. I am more prone to use diversion, or say nothing. I know nothing. Lies just breed more and more lies. However, I have said I don’t know where someone is when they are hiding from abusive mates. That would be their survival. Once I said I was going to the store, when I was really leaving an abusive relationship. But overall, I don’t have a reason to lie. And yes, honesty can definitely be a problem. Like not participating in the lie, or refusing to lie for someone for their material gain. Has made me very unpopular more than once. ‘I don’t have to lie.’ Gosh that makes me feel like I have a lucky chart. Am counting plusses, I guess, after finishing up with the archetypal drawbacks. That’s a switcheroo. I like it.

  6. People in authority, whether in the workplace, family, or social groups seem more inclined to lie to maintain the illusion of power and control. I am not in a position of authority, except in my community garden! I love being an accountant at small organizations because I never have to lie in my career. I would have been terrible in sales, marketing, communications, or management.

    People who lie out of fear of confrontation, lazyness, weakness, a desire to control, or corrupt morals, leave a trail of destruction behind and path ahead that encourages more lying.

    I’m Aries sun and hate lying, always have. I’ve cut ties with many people after being frank with them. I have a packed 3rd house with 5 planets in Taurus.

    • Welcome, Niki!

      You’re absolutely right. It is a tool that is used just as readily by oppressors as by the oppressed. The world is lucky to have fighters like you to cut through the lies. <3

  7. You gotta know what the sacrifice is before you go asking for something from the tricksters, the potential, the gods. If in your asking you don’t know; the gods will give you have they think you need. The outcome in these cases could be chaos.
    I’ve had to think hard on that, softening and maybe looking cross-eyed to get meaning. What it’s important in my experience, is to know why a lie is needed, and what the lie is you tell. As you wrote, “theory is great, but life is messy.”
    The post is provoking, stirring my mind and preconception about lies. I’m fixed in my ways, but Uranus revolutionizes my life often and Mercury viewed from this vantage point puts my Scorpio Mercury square to Pluto in perspective. Deep drama is sometimes what I’m come up with when pressured. Hmm. To course correct, I have found it necessary to go looking for the lies I told myself and check to see how well the fit now.

    • Thank you for this! I just love your comments so much. They are always so thoughtful and bring in a deep, rooted, embodied perspective that I truly value. <3

      • You’re welcome, Midara. You laid out content to stir depth, like burnt custard; sweet but a little surprising. Nice one!

  8. Seems like common sense to me…some truths have to be softened, or temporarily sidetracked, just out of consideration for others….

  9. What is the biggest Lie of all going around rite now? Trump is a Gemini telling a very big dangerous lie that he won the election. Our democracy is suffering.

  10. I second what gemini77 said. I don’t like to lie or condone it but sometimes one might omit in the spirit of not harming someone.

  11. I am highly Geminian: Sun, Mercury, Mars and Ascendant in Gemini.
    I detest lying. But as you said: Gemini peeps are ”actually several owls in a raincoat pretending to be human”. All owls are valid to the Gemini person. So we often find ourselves with our backs against to wall trying to defend ourselves against other humans.

  12. This is an amazingly perceptive article. I’m a Gemini with Mars conjunct my Sun and the midheaven and I absolutely relate to what you’ve written. I’m reminded of the famous line by Jack Nicolson in “A Few Good Men”;

    “The truth? You want the truth ? You can’t handle the truth !”

    I hate deception, but as a trickster, I will let people come to their own (usually erroneous)conclusions by selectively giving partial or slanted information. Not a lie, but a con to make circumstances easier.

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