"Mutating" means "changing". A mutating table is a table that is currently being modified by an update, delete, or insert statement. When a trigger tries to reference a table that is in state of flux (being changed), it is considered "mutating", and raises an error since Oracle should never return inconsistent data.
Another way this error can occur is if the trigger has statements to change the primary, foreign or unique key columns of the table off which it fires. If you must have triggers on tables that have referential constraints, the workaround is to enforce the referential integrity through triggers as well.
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