A Brief Discussion of the Gauquelin Research
The last issue of Kosmos, the quarterly journal of the International Society for Astrological Research, had an interesting article by Francoise Gauquelin about angular vs. cadent houses in astrology. Dr. Gauquelin disagrees with Ptolemy’s association of angular houses with outer action since her results have shown the ninth and twelfth houses to be primary keys to both character and choice of vocation. Astrology needs research, and the work done by the Gauquelins is preeminent among the studies with which I am familiar. However, it is important to keep in mind the difference between observed “facts” such as the presence of planetary keys to vocation and character in the cadent houses, and our interpretations of those facts. I think that my system of astrological interpretation can explain both the seemingly contradictory experiences of traditional astrologers and the Gauquelin results, as well as agreeing with Ptolemy’s theories connecting houses and signs. Kosmos printed the following material, but, since most of our subscribers are not members of ISAR, and since I have had questions from other astrologers about the interpretations being offered which are based on the Gauquelin results, I decided to include this article in our journal as well as in Kosmos.
I’m sure that our readers are well aware that my theoretical approach includes correspondences between planets, houses, and signs, suggesting that astrology can be seen as a model of human nature with twelve basic drives, each symbolized by a house, a sign, and at least one planet or asteroid (minor planet) as ruler(s) of the relevant sign. As I have written on many occasions, the planets are clearly the most important; the houses are next, and the signs are last in importance, but all three forms of our astrological alphabet are part of the picture. All of the factors relevant to one of the twelve sides of life symbolize the same basic human desire, hence my agreement with Ptolemy in stating that the first house is similar in nature to the first sign, Aries, and to its ruler, Mars, etc.
Practicing astrologers have observed many individual cases in which humans have failed to express easily or openly the part of life represented by the planet(s) in their twelfth houses. The Gauquelin research finds these twelfth house planets (along with the ninth house planets and some overlap into the first and tenth houses) to be the primary keys to personality and to vocational choices of their research subjects. The source of the discrepancy is obvious. They are dealing with different populations. The Gauquelin results occur only with famous, highly successful people. “Ordinary” people fail to demonstrate the correlations between the houses and the vocation, though the personality correlations stand on stronger ground. It is important to remember that statistical significance does not mean that every person with a planet in a relevant house will fit the pattern. A few more than chance are sufficient to qualify. Nevertheless, that small excess over chance poses a clear challenge to the traditional astrologers who assume that twelfth house planets will always be blocked in their expression!
In contrast to the Gauquelin research with famous subjects, most practicing astrologers deal with people with problems. As has been the case with psychologists up to the time of Abraham Maslow, astrologers tend to see the people looking for help, whether the problems are chronic, character difficulties or temporary challenges. I hope that astrologers can, in time, design as sound research projects as those of the Gauquelins, but dealing with troubled rather than highly successful individuals. Such studies will be aided by the enormous labors of the Gauquelins, since they have provided us with both high standards in scientific method and with a mass of useful data including timed birth dates of such populations as chronic, hospitalized alcoholics and schizophrenics. These two groups have not produced statistically significant results using the standard Gauquelin approach. I hope to expand their customary scientific procedure of looking at one variable at a time (the nomothetic approach) to a more ideographic or individualized method which deals with many variables simultaneously. Traditional astrologers, of course, use many factors in their studies, but the efforts mostly lack scientific rigor. We need more work that takes full advantage of scientific methods, including some of the newer statistical techniques, and that uses large, systematically gathered samples as subjects. Mark Urban Loraine’s master’s degree thesis is a good example of a carefully designed research project on alcoholics, but his conclusions are flawed by the unsystematic derivation and small size of his sample population which was composed of members of Alcoholics Anonymous willing to respond to a questionnaire and able to provide full birth data. We hope to replicate his multivariate computer analysis on the large alcoholic sample from the Gauquelins. ISAR (The International Society for Astrological Research) is also working on a much needed set of frequency tables for astrological aspects so that research minded astrologers can tell whether a given number and type of aspect is common or is statistically significant. The tables will eventually be available in printed summaries for ten year intervals, with annual figures on computer disks. Since small samples are usually unreliable, most serious researchers will be working with computers, but the printed tables can offer guidelines to practicing astrologers who suspect that a client has an “unusual” number of aspects which might suggest unusual intensity, whether in the form of talents or problems.
In the meantime, based on my own experience during nearly 30 years of working with horoscopes and with a great many psychologists and their clients, I think that my system of correspondences between the planet, sign, and house associated with each of the twelve sides of life can explain the contradictory results found by practicing astrologers and by the Gauquelins. The greatest discrepancy involves the twelfth house. Like letter nine in our astrological alphabet, letter twelve (Neptune, twelfth house, Pisces) is searching for an Absolute, for God in some form. But letter nine is fire (Jupiter, ninth house, Sagittarius), which tends by its nature to express outwardly, encouraged by the inherent confidence of fire. The faith may be in oneself, in others, in knowledge, in money or fame or power, but unless heavily blocked by conflict aspects to other parts of the nature, or by an excess of water and earth in some form in the horoscope, some kind of faith is normally present and will be expressed outwardly in some form.
Letter twelve is water, with its instinctive tendency to turn inward since water symbolizes the unconscious part of the mind and the phase of absorption and digestion following experiences through the other three elements. Even when there is deep faith associated with letter twelve, it tends to be more unconscious and may be less expressed outwardly, and it is far more easily challenged by inner conflicts with other parts of the nature and by excessive earth and/or water which represent a search for security. But when the faith is there, both twelfth and ninth house planets tend to make a demigod of whatever part of life is involved; i.e. the part of life symbolized by the planet(s) in those houses. For example, Mars there may mark the individual who worships personal bodily strength, or speed, or courage, or forcefulness, or any of the other associations possible for a person making “self-will in action” into a supreme value and source of trust. In the person lacking faith, whether in self, or in a higher Power, or in both, there may be the self- blocking ending in some variety of self-destruction which is often seen in personal astrological counseling. Common forms of this struggle between personal power and too high expectations of the self, the twelve-one mixture shown by Mars or other rulers of the first house in the twelfth house or in Pisces, can express as “I should be perfect or on top already,” or “I’ll wait till I can do it perfectly or until I can do the really great things that will be worthy of me,” or “I am not allowed to make a mistake,” or “God or a God-substitute should or will do it for me someday,” etc. Such inner (often as least partly subconscious) feelings can end in self-blocking with a danger of ultimate guilt and illness because the individual is denying the personal creative energy. In contrast, the Gauquelin subjects who made their own power into an ultimate value and source of increased faith went out to be winners.
In my system of astrological interpretation, all of the mutable houses (and of course planets and signs) symbolize mental activity. Letters three and six deal with the world immediately around us; air seeking a conceptual overview with the conscious mind while earth applies the mind to the material world to do a good job. Letters nine and twelve, as already discussed, deal with ultimate beliefs, values, the search for meaning, trust, etc. Ideas and beliefs and values lie behind and shape all of our outer actions which are traditionally symbolized by the cardinal planets, houses, and signs. Note that the Gauquelin statistical results occur with three cardinal planets, Mars, Moon, and Saturn, plus our fire search for the Absolute, Jupiter. Even Venus, which does not appear in the vocational results but is significant in the personality studies, is a ruler of one cardinal sign, Libra. It takes the combination of cardinal overt action with the search for the Absolute or a “double” Jupiter (in one of its own houses—Jupiter is a co-ruler of letter twelve along with Neptune but maintaining its essentially fire nature) to get nomothetic results; results in a study which looks only at one factor at a time. Even the Sun, whose fixed nature leans more to persistence than to sharp breaks with ongoing action, has not been important enough to produce statistical significance when looked at in isolation from other factors.
We need to continue the nomothetic research. The Gauquelin work for over 30 years has been an enormous contribution to challenging the “bad press” of the twelfth house, and to a recognition of the importance of the ninth and twelfth houses in addition to confirming the importance of the angles, a traditional tool for astrology from the earliest records as Francoise pointed out in her article. Planets within ten to fifteen degrees on both sides of the angles are extremely important as keys to the overt action of the individual, while the ninth and twelfth houses offer keys to the faith and values, whether the individual acts on the faith or inhibits action due to problems with the faith.
The “facts” produced in the Gauquelin research are impeccable. But we need to be cautious in our interpretation of those facts. Our interpretations are inevitably shaped by our own belief system. Believers in scientific materialism will continue to look for physical forces producing material details in the life. Those of us who suspect that the ultimate reality is consciousness (including the unconscious) will continue to see psychological meaning in the chart, with the option of producing many different details in the life once we understand the drives within our own natures. If we needed further evidence of the open-endedness of life, the Frustacci septuplets should provide it. In addition to the one stillborn baby, six were born by caesarean section within three minutes of time. Three were taken from the mother within a single minute, according to the Los Angeles Times, and as of two months later, one survives with two dead. Two more babies were removed from the mother one minute later, with one surviving and the other dead. This event supports the theory that souls can enter a body at the same time and can handle the horoscope potentials differently, depending on personal abilities theoretically brought in from past lives. I think that astrology is a wonderful tool for self-awareness, but that the details of our lives depend on what we do with our potentials. Astrology helps us to see our inner conflicts and our potential talents. Then our lives are up to us.