Your Personality and the Planets by Michel Gauquelin

Zip Dobyns

This is Gauquelin’s newest book, published in 1980 by Stein & Day. It summarizes many of the results of his 30 years of research in astrology, written supposedly for the general public which lacks any knowledge of astrological details. Yet the introduction sounds as if Gauquelin expected skeptical scientists to be reading it. It will probably be bought mostly by people who have some knowledge of astrology, and who will be annoyed, to put it mildly, by the gratuitous insults thrown at traditional astrology. After initially feeling puzzled, I finally concluded that Gauquelin could not make up his mind who his audience should or would be and that he tried to put something in for everyone. The result is that few will like the book.

The scientists will mostly not look at it. The “true believers” in materialism will not be able to tolerate any relationship of planets and personality, no matter how Gauquelin tries to offer materialistic explanations that fit into the scientific world-view. The general public is unlikely to learn to calculate the planetary positions no matter how good the textbook. If it whets their appetite enough to get them to go to an astrologer, they will find out that Gauquelin’s information is an infinitesimal part of what astrology can offer. Serious students and practicing astrologers, of course, already know that, and will not be flattered by statements like: “The vast and ambitious enterprise of astrology is doomed, since its attempt to understand people and their fate is based on nothing but superstition: its roots lie in magic and the model of the world out of which it grew is long out of date.” p. 7-8

It is obvious that the preceding statement is written to appeal to materialistic scientists who maintain the materialistic model of the world that Gauquelin prefers. Or does he pay lip service to it to maintain his standing in the scientific club? It is hard to judge how much is real conviction and how much is an attempt to preserve his scientific reputation. In another place Gauquelin says, “The sky is not a magic mirror in which are reflected all our pleasures and pains. .....Many cosmic rhythms influence our existence—the obvious fact that day follows night, the seasons, the phases of the Moon, the activity of sunspots, and even, I shall argue, the positions of the planets.” p 8-9

The premises of materialism are obvious throughout the book, yet never quite clearly stated. For example, he makes a series of statements that are a mixture of observed fact and postulated theory, yet he never states that some are fact and some theory. All are offered as if they were fact. He starts with the statement that since the planet cannot “add” anything to an individual (a theory given as if it were a proven fact), the planets must be linked to heredity (another theory extrapolated from the preceding one.) He continues that some psychologists claim that we inherit our fundamental personality traits and temperament (another theory more clearly identified as such, and credited to other scientists). The theory building continues, rarely identified as such, that children must be born “when the heavens are in the ‘same shape’, so to speak, as they were at the time their parents were born.” p. 23. He then presents his first fact. He found a weak correlation between the rising and culminating planets in the charts of parents, children, etc. The theory building continues: unborn children must be sensitive to the planets so they can induce labor at the proper time. One more fact is presented to bolster the theory. His statistical significance correlating planets in zones of high intensity with specific vocations was lost when the births were induced or caesarean, and the significant results increased on the days of solar disturbance when the unborn infant might theoretically be more able to detect the positions of the planets and thus start the birth process on time.

In the latter part of the book, the implicit but never clearly stated materialistic theories are again obvious if you are familiar with them. Gauquelin says that Churchill had a typical Mars-Jupiter personality, yet he was born an hour before Mars and Jupiter rose and thus entered his zone of high intensity. He suggests that Churchill was born early because his mother had been riding horseback and this upset the infant’s proper timing. He also suggests that DeGaulle was born early because his Mars and Jupiter were 30 minutes before lower culmination. A well-known zoologist, Paul Marchal, who was born with both Jupiter and Saturn rising, has a very Saturnine character but does not fit Gauquelin’s concept of Jupiter. Gauquelin suggests that some planets may not mean anything since they just happened to be in the sky near the planet the baby was aiming at. All of these illustrations assume implicitly the materialistic premise that the world mostly operates by chance—probability theory. In a chance world, some planets could be significant and some meaningless; any little thing might throw off the goal of the unborn infant and leave it without its key to self-awareness.

Gauquelin repeats correctly that heredity is still only a part of the picture; that environment plays a major role in shaping the person. On those grounds, he rules out planetary twins—unrelated individuals born near the same time and place on the same date. But he does not deal with real twins who come in with the same heredity and planets and who often have very different characters. Since the zones used by Gauquelin cover about 30 to 40 degrees each, many twins will have the same planets in or not in the high intensity zones, and cannot be differentiated by Gauquelin’s limited bit of astrological information.

I probably should have covered the basic findings of Gauquelin’s 30 years of research first. I tend to assume that by now all astrologers have heard of the results. They have been mentioned in earlier issues of our journal though a small amount of new information is presented in the new book. Basically, Gauquelin found that famous people in a variety of vocations had certain planets rising or culminating more often than chance. Saturn occurred in these zones for scientists with the odds against chance at 300,000 to l. Jupiter was in the zones for soldiers sufficiently often to make the odds against chance 1,000,000 to l. Mars was found in the zones for sports champions with odds of 5,000,000 to 1 against chance producing the same result. Other studies connected Mars to military leaders and surgeons; Jupiter to actors and politicians; Moon to writers. Mars was less often in the high intensity zones in painters and musicians.

Following these impressive results, Gauquelin culled thousands of descriptive adjectives from biographies of his famous subjects, and found that his odds went up that the individual would have the planet in the zone of high intensity if he was described by terms that “fit” the traditional astrological associations with the planet. For example, he said that 33% of average men have Mars in the zones of high intensity (I assume that this example refers to all four mutable houses and not just the rise and culmination positions). 64% of the sports champions described as “strong-willed” have Mars in those zones, in contrast to 29% of the weak-willed champions. The most recent work has used the Eysenck Personality Inventory and has found respectable correlations between Saturn in the high intensity zones and introversion; Jupiter and Mars in the zones and extroversion; Venus and Saturn in the zones and tender-mindedness; Mars in the zones and tough-mindedness.

If Gauquelin had stopped at that point, reporting the preceding facts, without trying to defend the materialistic world-view and put down all of astrology outside of his results, the book would have been valuable. There are fascinating character sketches of famous and “ordinary” people who have planets in the intensity zones and who fit Gauquelin’s key words. There are quizzes at the end of each section on the five planets discussed—Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Moon, and Venus, including a set of twenty questions for readers to answer to discover the degree to which they fit Gauquelin’s idea of each of the planetary characters.

What baffles me most is how a man who is as much a scientist as Gauquelin is, can make the sweeping and contradictory statements he does. Rule one in scientific writing is to qualify what you say with phrases like, “as far as appears in my work to date,” “subject to further checking,” “results using the method described”, leaving open the possibility of other results appearing with different methods, different subjects, etc. As an example of the contradiction on successive pages, Gauquelin states at the beginning of each chapter on a planet that certain words match the presence of that planet in zones of high intensity and that contrary words or antonyms can be considered accurate for all who do not have that planet in one of those zones in the chart. These are flat statements made without any qualifications. For example: “Readers may also care to imagine traits that are the very opposite of those mentioned here. The object of such a flurry of contradictions is to get you to think about the very opposite of the Jupiter personality, which is the lot of those born when the planet was in a zone of weak intensity.” p. 30 There is no chance of a middle ground in this statement. You are a Jupiter person or you are not. Then at the end of the chapter, after the 20 questions which are supposed to rate your degree of Jupiterness, Gauquelin writes, “A person who scores 20 yeses has the strongest possible Jupiterean personality. A score of 10 yeses shows some influence of Jupiter on the personality. A score of no yeses shows, clearly, that that person has little of Jupiter in him or her.” p. 55. The implication is that you can find your niche anywhere on the scale of 0 to 20. The next page, number 56, returns to the all-or-none position. “it is also worthwhile thinking of characteristics which are the very reverse, in order to get some inkling of the kind of personality that is ‘anti-Saturn’ or ‘non-Saturn’, which is the fate of people who were born when the planet was in a zone of weak intensity.” But, again, at the end of the chapter on Saturn, we are told that we could have anything from zero to 20 on the Saturn personality scale. The one way to make some sense of this unexplained contradiction is to assume that Gauquelin is claiming that people who have some but not full strength in a given planetary character are the ones who have several planets in the high intensity zones so that there is much complexity and not a clear case for a single type. The statement is made repeatedly, without qualification, that if the planet is not in a zone of high intensity, you don’t have that character! Yet near the end Gauquelin asks the logical question, what about the people who do not have any planets in a zone of high intensity? Do they have no character? He answers weakly that their personality “would probably be just less marked, more delicate. ..... It may also be that individuals born with no particular planetary influences have a very complex personality, full of shades, contradictions, quirky motivations—the kind of temperament one tends to find among thinkers and artists rather than among men or women of action. It is an area in which we are continuing to search for rather more definite answers.” p. 169. At least there is that one admission that his results may not be the final word on astrology.

What I am lamenting is the lack of any clear admission that Gauquelin’s results, impressive as they are, are limited by both the technique and the subject population used. Granted that he supports his case with some illustrations from ordinary people; most of his subjects are famous, and that was a valuable source of descriptive material available in biographies. But to assume that Jupiter in famous people in certain vocations is the full story on Jupiter is to make an unjustified assumption. To follow that up by explaining away the contrary cases as births that were not allowed to occur naturally (e.g. Churchill) is questionable science. But the most baffling fact to me is that these highly significant results were still just “more than chance.” The absolute statements sound as if every person had the planet in the proper place, but even the 64% of strong-willed sports champions who had Mars in the right zones leaves 36% who had the trait and didn’t have the planet. According to the flat statements in the book, they could not have the Mars traits if they lacked Mars in the proper place! In many cases, the statistical edge was much smaller. In the sample of 3458 soldiers, an extra 131 had Jupiter in the right zones. What about the nearly 3,000 who did not have Jupiter in the high intensity zones?

Statistics can be a very useful tool. Scientific method is needed in astrology, to test the traditions as well as the proliferating new techniques. But to claim that one specific scientific technique is the source of the only truth about astrology, and that its years of experience should be ignored and disdained, is not very good science.

Copyright © 1981 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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