The Art of Criticism w/ Astrologer Christopher Renstrom
Mercury Retrograde: Change doesn’t always mean different…
This is your Horoscope Highlight for the week of January 2-8, 2023 with world-class astrologer, historian, and author of The Cosmic Calendar, Christopher Renstrom. In this episode, Christopher reflects on Mercury’s retrograde in Capricorn and the French axiom, “the more things change, the more things remain the same.” Is this an expression of cynicism, or just a description of homeostasis? He then goes on to describe the nature of Mercury in Capricorn, both by transit and in the natal chart, and how to resolve its particular dilemma using intentional, constructive criticism.
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0:38 A Quote for Mercury Retrograde
3:30 Mercury in Capricorn
6:59 The Art of Criticism
11:10 The Nature of Retrogrades
13:49 Upcoming Mercury Aspects
Just head to ASTROLOGYHUB.com/2023
This podcast is brought to you by the Inner Circle, your place to learn Astrology in community with the masters, and transform your life in the process. Hi there and welcome. This is Amanda, the founder of Astrology Hub, and you’re listening to our week ahead snapshot with world class astrologer, historian and author of the Cosmic Calendar, Christopher Renstrom. This show is designed to give you a quick overview of the week ahead,
enabling you the gift of choice in how you navigate and weave these energies into your daily life. Enjoy. Hello, my name is Christopher Brunstrom, and I’m your weekly horoscope columnist here on Astrology Hub. And this week I wanted to talk to you about Mercury’s retrograde in the Zodiac sign of Capricorn. That’s French for the more things change, the more things remain the same.
It’s something to think about with Mercury, currently retrograde in the Zodiac sign of Capricorn. Actually, it’s an epigram first coined by the French critic, journalist and flu agriculturalist Jean Baptist’s car in the 1849 January edition of his magazine, the Wasps. I put quotes around January because you can already tell that it has a particularly Saturnian sting. The more things change,
the more things remain the same. I remember being quite absorbed with that thought in my wayward youth in New York City, wearing a beret on my head and smoking zans on St. Mark’s place, thinking to myself, the more things change, the more things remain the same. Hmm. And then maybe turning to my copy of Jean Paul Sark’s Nausea and reflecting on what I was reading there.
Well, sipping from a cafe latte. In any case that phrase, the more things changed, the more things remain the same has haunted me really ever since. I mean, it makes you really kind of ask yourself, what does that mean? Does it mean that for, I don’t know, for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction so that whatever you do is counteracted by something that that goes against it,
and then they engage in a kind of like locked hold of stasis? Or does it refer to a sort of been there, done that jadedness that that that no matter how mu much things change, they’ll always remain the same. So why bother doing anything about it at all, you know, sort of world wary jadedness that sort of justifies inaction? Or might we take the idea of the more things change,
the more things remain the same as a sort of Groundhog Day scenario where you find yourself stuck in an ever repeating loop of behaviors or actions that no matter what you do to try to make it go in a different direction, things end up playing out the exact same way that they played out before. These are things that might very well occupy your thoughts these days.
With Mercury being retrograde in the Zodiac sign of Capricorn and Mercury in Capricorn is a very particular temperament that this planet takes on, because what you have to do is you have to take Mercury the planet of the mind, the planet of communication, the planet of the way that we talk, even our mannerisms. Mercury is very much involved in that. And then you have to put a sort of Saturnian light on it.
So if Mercury and Capricorn is prominent in your Chart, or just the simple fact that Mercury is in Capricorn retrograde, and Capricorn right now sort of sets a tone in our society by transiting, when there’s a very strong Mercury and Capricorn type of energy, you can’t help noticing what’s wrong right off the bat. Okay, so not only is there this sort of like that’s wrong,
you notice that right off the bat, but then there’s a sort of glee and urgency to sort of hitting the buzzer like on a game show during the lightning round, so you can identify exactly what’s wrong right off the bat. That’s wrong. You know, your sentence structure is incorrect. You’re going about this from completely the wrong direction. This was based on a false premise.
So Mercury in Capricorns can sort of have this delight in pointing out what’s wrong and sort of like picking out the fly in the ointment, no matter how much it sticks to that ointment and taking it and holding it there and saying, there’s a fly in the orange meant, and this is what it is. Okay? So this can be something that Mercury Capricorn can be really quite adamant about.
It feels good in the moment, you know, Mercury in Capricorn, this ability to sort of point out what’s wrong, the fault in someone’s argument, the mispronunciation and the way that they said something, the completely crazed premise that they’re going on, it can feel good to sort of point that out when Mercury is strong in Capricorn. But it also begs the question that nobody really likes.
A killjoy Poking holes in people’s favorite assumptions isn’t exactly a ratings booster, but you also know, particularly if you have Mercury and Capricorn, and you also know that not speaking up is just as bad if not worse, because not speaking up makes you complicit in a way that, you know, if you didn’t speak up about the fault or the mistake or something that was being terribly wrong,
your silence is saying that it’s okay. You know, your silence is enabling a faulty premise to progress further. Your silence is saying that an essay is all right when you know that it’s not all right, and, and that there were all sorts of terrible things wrong with it. So this is where Mercury and Capricorn can sort of create a dilemma for someone who owns this particular planetary placement in their horoscope.
They, they, they, they, they see what’s wrong, and they also know that talking about what’s wrong isn’t going to win them any sort of favor in, in their social circle or friends or loved ones or something like that. But they also feel the, the very strong pang of conscience that if I don’t say something that I’m saying, it’s all right for this,
this, this falsehood or this fault to continue. So what do you do if you have that impulse in your Chart? What do you do if you happen to have that impulse right now in your life? The push, the push to a Mercury in Capricorn, particularly when Mercury is moving backwards in the sky, is retrograde. The push is to think deeper.
In other words, critics are a dime a dozen. I mean, it’s easy to point out what’s wrong with something and say that’s wrong and and, and that sort of thing. But what’s difficult is to be a constructive critic. What’s difficult is to be a constructive thinker because you have to make one step past what’s wrong. You have to exercise your imagination.
You have to exercise your ingenuity so that you can suggest a better way of doing something. And then you also have the added task of suggesting a better way of doing something to someone who’s completely convinced that what they’re doing is right. So you don’t do that by shaming them or mocking them or turning up your nose or, or, or, or being condescending.
You do that by actually really identifying what that person was trying to do. I get the feeling that you were trying to say this. I get the feeling that you were trying to do that. What about, what about, what about if we were to adjust that in some way? What about, you know, you, you’ve, you’ve, you’ve brought up a problem or an issue that you want to criticize,
but what about if you were to question that further? If you were to question that deeper? How about if you unpack this a little bit more thoroughly, then you’re unpacking it right now, if you’re going to be the person who identifies what’s wrong in someone’s argument or what they’re saying or what their work is, then you also have to be the person who’s ready to show that party how to make it right.
You need to figure out what’s salvageable about an unsalvageable situation, how to turn a near miss into a direct hit, or if things really are a disaster, how to scrap it and to begin again. Now, nobody’s asking for you, you know, if you have this ability to be critical and, and, and not only just critical, but to actually correctly identify what’s wrong with something,
nobody’s asking you to go easy on them or to be soft. What they want to know is how to make things better. And they, what they want to know from you is for you to show them the way. That’s a very special assignment for people who have Mercury and Capricorn by, by nature, by, it’s a, it’s a natal placement in your own Chart.
You know? No, just don’t point out what’s wrong, identify what’s wrong, engage the person in a creative process or a conversation, and then show them the way. You know, that’s the extra step that often isn’t taken, particularly in our current climate, where everyone’s ready to like, you know, tweet, tweet or text or ding in or weigh in on what’s wrong and talk about what’s wrong and these sorts of things.
You know, everyone gets rather riled up and excited about pointing out all the things that are wrong. Okay? But that’s easy. What’s more difficult? What’s more challenging? What’s more creative challenging is how do we make that right? Okay? So it’s easy to be the downer. It’s easy to point out, you know, but what’s much more difficult is how do you make it right?
How do you become constructive in your criticism? And that’s something that when the art of criticism was a thing a few decades ago, that’s something that critics really took seriously. You know, if, if they were an art critic or a theater critic or a social critic, they took this seriously. You know, it, it it not just a dump on something,
but like, what were you going with and how do we build on that? And how do we make it better? This is something that becomes available because Mercury right now is retrograde in the zodiac sign of Capricorn. Retrogrades, we’re used to as being an about face, actually retrogrades were used to as an inconvenient period, okay? It’s going to be a period of time that the planet is,
that a planet in the sky is turned retrograde, and it’s going to be set us with a series of inconveniences and hassles and maybe even disasters. Mercury retrograde, for instance, happens three times a year. And so for three times a year, we really expect things to be ordinary, contrary, especially difficult. And, and we’re often told to watch out over our transactions and our communications and our technology and our everyday functions.
You know, like the coffee maker that you depend on every day to make that cup of coffee goes on the blink, you know, stops working malfunctions during a Mercury, retrograde, things like that. Mercury retrogrades are associated with being tripped up on something. But what a retrograde also does, and this is the particular genius of a retrograde, is that it gets you to rethink the familiar assumptions.
A Mercury retrograde, for instance, can be like, did you ever have that thing when you were a kid in math or whatever, where you would add up the numbers and draw the little line and sort of add them? You, you would list the numbers in a column, draw the line of summation underneath them and come up with the answer, but maybe it wasn’t the right answer.
So you went back and, and added the numbers again, and it wasn’t the right answer, and, and you did it again, and it wasn’t the right answer, and it was still not the right answer. Okay? Obviously, I’m talking to everyone who lived in the pre-calculated generation when we actually had to do these things by hand, okay? That,
that, that frustration, you know, you’re not, you know, that you’re not arriving at what should be the answer. That frustration can do one of two things. It can make you throw up your hands and give up, or it can make you more determined to get to the bottom of what’s going on until you can figure out what the right answer is.
That’s what happens with a, with a Mercury retrograde, your familiar assumptions, the things that you’ve always done it this way, this should always add up to, this doesn’t work, it falls off it, it falls off the rail, it becomes derailed, it doesn’t work, and it can create a great deal of frustration. Now, the way to work with a Mercury retrograde is to retrace your steps,
is to go back the way that you came, okay? And that if you go back the way that you came, chances are you’re going to find out where you, where you went off track, okay? Where, where you turned, right when you should have turned left, that sort of a thing. So, Mercury turned retrograde in December 20 Ninth of last year,
and in its retrograde on January 2nd, for instance, it will sextile Neptune, and then on January 8th it will trine Uranus. So basically what’s happening is that as Mercury is moving backwards in the sky, it will be repeating a sextile to Neptune on January 2nd, but this time retrograde. So what that sort of speaks to me is about something imaginative. You know,
that, that, in other words, that might be the day when it sort of strikes you to actually sort of consciously observe doing the backtracking, you know, it’s a, it’s a sextile to Neptune Neptune, which in a square, an opposition could be sort of like befuddling or lead one astray with a sextile Neptune becomes quite helpful, you know, so maybe it’s like a little nudge that says,
you know what? May, maybe I’m hitting my head against the wall here, and maybe I should sort of like rethink what I’m doing, but I’m not gonna rethink it like from top to bottom. I’m gonna rethink it by going back over what I did that led me to this dead end. And, and, and I’m gonna make a decision to go back and really observe,
really take in how I got here and where, where I went off track. And so discovering where you went off track may very well be on January 8th with the Mercury retrograde to the trying to Uranus. Uranus, if it’s square or opposition is revolutionary, it overthrows it, it, it disrupts. But a Uranus trying, like it will be making to retrograde Mercury on January 8th.
It becomes instead of revolutionary, it’s revelatory instead of befuddling. Its enlightening. So that might actually be the realization on January 8th where things went off track. You may discover, this is where I went off track, and so you might be full of this exuberance to sort of like, let’s apply this immediately and, and get things up and going. But a retrograde is almost kind of like a slingshot that’s being drawn taught,
okay? So just because you have that idea to retrace steps, the sextile to Neptune or discover where you went off track doesn’t mean that you’re ready to take action, okay? And so with the red true grade, it’s, it’s like taking a slingshot and pulling the strap back. So it’s ultimately really quite tight. You know, the stone is here and you’re holding it quite tight,
and you’re asking yourself, when do I release this? When do I let this go? And when you let that go is when Mercury comes out of retrograde on January 18th. So on January 18th, you will recognize, you will understand you’ll have a plan of what action to take, what action to take to get you out of this rut, to get you out of this Groundhog Day loop to get you out of this.
You know, whenever I try to act, I get a reaction against, you know, you’ll recognize on January 18th when to take action, and that’s when you will initiate the action so that on January 30th when Mercury chimes Uranus, it’s not just going to be a realization, but it’s actually going well. It’s gonna be realization in a different way. We’ve got realization like we understand something in our mind,
but then there’s the realization, like the realization of a result. And so that’s something that you can look forward to on January 3rd, the realization of a result of this new action that you’re taking to, to a rut you’ve been stuck in, or, or, or an action counteraction that’s, that’s going on a sort of stasis, okay? That’s, that’s,
that’s when you have the realization, you have the result so that when Mercury, sextiles, Neptune, again, this time direct not retrograde on February 6th, this is the time when you’re gonna be absolutely able to see what it is that, that you’ve done and, and, and not only to have the realized result, but perhaps even get ideas of like,
hmm, maybe applying this result to a new procedure or to new method, or building on what it is that you discovered was a breakthrough by doing something differently. So then what we get back to is this phrase, more things change. The more things remain the same, you know, does that mean that you’ve just sort of graduated to a new level of rut?
Have you broken one loop to get stuck in another loop? You know, these are legitimate questions and they’ve been debated by philosophers about the nature of history for, for centuries, the nature of history and the nature of reality. But maybe, maybe this idea of the more things change, the more things remain the same. Maybe this is more about our perception and not recognition.
If the Moon, for instance, holds our memory, and it’s about habit, it’s about routine, it’s about things that recycle, you know, the Moon changes all the time, but it does it on a set pattern. The more things change, the more things remain the same. The Moon has never changed. It’s, it’s it’s cycle of, of,
of changing. It’s the most consistent cycle of changing ever. You know, so, so the Moon, for instance, can rule over our perception, the Moon and Mercury very much entwined in the way that we perceive things. These are the two planets that are the most intimately connected to the way that we perceive things. But maybe that, that that feeling of the more things change,
the more things remain, is more about perception. And what’s happening is that the more that something perhaps repeats, it almost allows it to emerge as something that’s recognizable. And once it’s emerged as something that’s recognizable, it can be seized upon, it can be used, and it can perhaps deliver that constructive criticism, that better way of doing things that you were Searchie for all along.
Hi, I’m Rick Levine, and I’m really looking forward to teaching the upcoming Astrology Foundation’s Level three course here at Astrology Hub this coming February. This is the course that you’ve all been waiting for that takes an in-depth dive into the magic of quintile, subtitles, and other harmonic aspects. If you want to be the first to know when registration opens, sign up for the wait list now at Astrology Hub dot com slash foundation’s three wait list.
I look forward to seeing you there. Hi there. I’m Amy Escobar, a producer of the Horoscope Highlight Show with Christopher Renstrom. Thanks for tuning in to the Astrology Hub Podcast network. If you love the show, please take a moment to subscribe, rate, review, and share it. And if you don’t know how to do that, here’s how you can leave a review in Apple Podcasts on iPhone.
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