This book is a revised & expanded edition of Planetary Aspects: From Conflict to Cooperation, published in 1986. Any person with a natal t-square and any astrologer looking at a chart with a t-square can never know too much about it! T-squares are highly dynamic and also the configuration most commonly found in natal charts. People with t-squares may have personalities that juxtapose great strengths and troubling weaknesses.

Tracy Marks, a trained psychotherapist, approaches T-squares with the intention of redressing the less comfortable psychological issues that sometimes tag along with these configurations. The book has an impressive level of detail as all the potential ingredients of a T-square are considered in depth. Part I “Understanding Your T-Square” offers a comprehensive analysis of the planets, the signs, the opposing signs and houses, the focal planet, ongoing influences from transits, progressions and eclipses, and the impact of the four elements.

Part II “How to Handle Your T-Square” offers constructive ideas about how t-squares operate and a variety of methods for achieving a greater state of inner balance. Sample charts are included for readers to examine. An appendix on aspect configurations gives some details about some of the more common configurations that may be seen in natal astrology.

This book is well-written and insightful, and packed with an exceptional amount of detailed analysis. Marks is grounded in 20th century psychological astrology and uses Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto as sign rulers. Consequently the attributions of these planets spill over into her zodiac sign definitions in somewhat problematic ways. Not all Aquarians are non-conformist humanitarian rebels, not all Pisceans are martyrs and victims, and not all Scorpions are manipulative sexual dynamos. Working with the traditional planets as co-rulers would have made the sign definitions and particularly the sign-axis comparisons more accurate and comprehensive.

As is often the case with books written by astrologer-therapists, Marks focuses on the most problematic expressions of T-squares, because of course her profession brings her into contact with troubled individuals. T-squares are incredibly common in natal charts, and not all t-square natives are bedeviled by psychological imbalances. Marks warns the reader that she is writing about worst-case scenarios, but it would have been helpful to give more examples of people with T-squares that function well in the world, as many do.

The field of psychology has been prone to in-fighting between people with contrasting theories since Jung spit in Freud's eye. No therapeutic model succeeds 100% of the time; different patients benefit from different approaches. Astrology has been viewed with scientific skepticism since the 17th century and has persisted in spite of it. These “soft sciences” can be successfully merged to good effect. Whether an astrologer has a degree in psychology or counseling or not, it never hurts to read texts by astrologers who are counselors and have extensive experience with clients and client charts.

This book is recommended for working astrologers who want to gain deep insights into one of the most dynamic configurations that may be found in a natal chart. This book offers solid methods for thinking about and interpreting t-squares, whether in natal, progressed, or transit charts. It's a substantial, well-written, comprehensive text that merits return visits over the years.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Author: Tracy Marks
Ibis Press 2014
pp. 267, $19.95

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