Book Review: Planetary Aspects, an astrological guide to managing your T-square by Tracy Marks

Book Review: Planetary Aspects, an astrological guide to managing your T-square by Tracy Marks May 26, 2015

9780892542048“I need that in Captain Dummy talk, Kaylee.” -from Firefly, “Out of Gas”

The above quote sums up my main complaint about Planetary Aspects:  in some places it assumes or requires more working knowledge of astrology than I actually have.  For someone who is not an astrologer and just wants to use the book for self-understanding or as an aid or spur to inner work, this is not a stand-alone read.  You need another more basic text on astrology, or mighty Google-fu and a lot of patience.

Patience is not my strong suit, actually, a trait which is no doubt in my chart somewhere.  I do like learning, though, and I’m just narcissistic enough to be fascinated by the inner workings of my own psyche (really…who isn’t?).  Which is good, because this book requires homework, the effort of which is duly rewarded.

I was interested in reviewing it because I have not one, but TWO t-squares in my chart.  The focal point of one of them is my Sun, Moon, and Mercury which are all conjunct in Capricorn…opposite my ascendant in Cancer, and framed by an opposition between Saturn and Uranus.

Translated into Captain Dummy talk, that indicates that I’m super-duper Capricorn, as it rules my core personality, my emotions, and my communication style:  reserved, disciplined, ambitious, a little melancholy, practical, sarcastically funny, and so on. The opposition of Uranus and Saturn means that I have conflicting impulses between that discipline and ambition and the fact that I’m basically a complete weirdo.*  Capricorns are stereotypically very conventional; I’m not, except about certain things.  You should see me set a table or wax philosophical about citation format.  I also don’t use text-message-speak, but spell out all my words on Twitter, with punctuation.  Meanwhile, at my high school baccalaureate service I got an award for “Most Unusual Fashion Sense.”

My ascendant Cancer has no planets and is the “empty” part of the square; this means among other things that people often find me hard to understand.  Since I’m a bundle of contradictions, one can hardly blame them, but it tends to hurt my feelings anyway.  La.

This much I gleaned from previous astrological experimentation and the first two thirds of the book.  The question is, of course, after you gather all that information about yourself and how you are getting in your own way, what do you DO about it?  Fortunately, the last third is full of suggestions…and a wide enough variety of them that you’re bound to find something that works for you.  My favorite was a technique in which you write a dialogue between the various planets in your chart and the “empty” side of the t-square.  So, there’s my Capricorn moon, whom I’ll call Eeyore, Cap Mercury aka Snarky Pedantic, Cap Sun (the Mighty Goat), Uranus in Virgo (the Anarchist), and Saturn in Aries who is a bit like Sam the Eagle in the Muppet Show.  And my Cancer rising, Bunny Wabbit.

Bunny Wabbit:  I want to be safe and feel at home. My relationships are the most important thing about me. People like me because they trust me.

Eeyore:  Er. Well. If you say so.
The Anarchist:  Safety is an illusion.  The system is deeply flawed.  The only solution is to smash it and come up with something better.
Mighty Goat:  I want to accomplish great things.  Like I’m supposed to.  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?
Sam the Saturn:  I am very uncomfortable with all this talk of smashing.  I’m very uncomfortable where I am.  I need to keep a lid on all this…impulsiveness.
Mighty Goat:  What was the point of this conversation again?  I have a deadline.
Snarky Pedantic:  I know! Let’s write about it.  *prepares podium, shuffles lecture notes*
Eeyore:   *sighs*


Of course the idea is to get them talking long enough to come up with a solution that integrates all of these divergent impulses.  Which I did on my own time; it’s just that this dialogue was funnier.

Verdict:  Read with your birth chart, a notebook, and a basic reference on astrology in hand if you are not already well-versed in astrology.  Useful and worth the effort it requires.


*This also, to some extent, explains how I wound up in Traditional Witchcraft.


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