Book Reviews: Written in the Stars and Planetary Heredity

Mark Pottenger

Written in the Stars by Michel Gauquelin.

The Aquarian Press. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire,

England 1988. Paperback 256 pages.

This book is a condensed English translation of the original French books L’Influence des Astres (1955—the year this reviewer was born) and Les Hommes et les Astres (1960). Masses of data that have been published elsewhere since the original publications and some technical detail and overlap between the two original books are the main omission in the condensation. The mix of original writing and recent cuts, footnotes and addenda is occasionally a little confusing, but mostly this isn’t a problem.

The two French books were the first two publications of the results of the Gauquelins’ studies of prominent professionals and planetary positions, and give some details of their studies and methods that I don’t recall ever seeing in English before. The first book is a reminder that over 30 years ago the Gauquelins started with one sample of 576 doctors, and it has been in the course of numerous replications and expansions on their first studies that they collected the birth data of tens of thousands of people that we tend to think of when we hear their names these days. It also reminds us that what we have come to call “Gauquelin sectors” (planets just after rise and culmination) were established as significant placements to study after (as a result of) the first study.

The two books together give the basic methods and results of the early French data and follow-up European data for several professions (doctors & scientists, sportsmen, military men, politicians, actors, journalists, playwrights, writers, painters, musicians, and company founders) for Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon. They emphasize that the significant placements are for prominent people and the character traits associated with that prominence, not just any people in the professions studied. They also remind us that the response of “scientists” has been consistently disappointing for a very long time now. The appendices give information on methods, biographical sources and condensed critiques of some poor astrological studies.

I recommend the book for anyone who isn’t already familiar with the work of the Gauquelins (if such people still exist) or anyone curious about the early years of their work.

Planetary Heredity by Michel Gauquelin.

ACS Publications, Inc. San Diego, CA 1988.

Paperback 95 pages $9.95.

This book is an English translation and update of a 1966 book in French. The book is about the Gauquelin studies of “planetary heredity” in ordinary people, work which might be a little less known than their work with famous sports champions, scientists, writers and other professionals. It describes a massive data collection effort by Michel Gauquelin, Marie Francoise Gauquelin, and several collaborators and assistants for the second and third studies. The first study involved 24,961 births, a 1977 replication 25,694 births, and a 1984 replication 50,942 births, for a total of over 100,000 people’s birth data collected. There is considerable discussion of medical intervention in the birth process and what that does to the studies. Even more impressive to me than the sheer mass of data collected is that all the calculations for the first two studies were done by hand before our current time of affordable computers. The Gauquelins did the calculations for the first study, and later computer processing at ACS confirmed their results with only minor corrections. The calculations for the second study were hired out to someone else, and the later ACS computer processing reduced the significance of the results originally calculated. The third study was done with computer calculations from the start, but the results show poor agreement with the results of the first two studies, and Michel admits being puzzled by them at the moment.

The basic design of all the studies is based on the kind of planetary placement found to be significant in the Gauquelin professional studies. The professional studies highlighted the areas now called “Gauquelin plus zones”: placement 1/36th of a day’s motion before rising, 3/36ths after rise, 1/36th before upper culmination, and 3/36ths after culmination. This translates approximately into 1/3 of the 1st Placidus house, the 12th house, 1/3 of the 10th house, and the 9th house. (More exact definitions actually use semi-arc calculations—anyone with the CCRS Horoscope Program can print the page of Gauquelin sectors and any plus zone placements will be marked.)

The basic premise tested in all of the heredity studies is that children will tend to have a planet in either plus zone if their parents have that planet in either plus zone. The first study confirmed this premise with very high statistical significance, the second study with weaker significance, and the third study poorly. The five planets for which the results are significant are the Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The book goes into possible explanations for how a planetary heredity effect (Michel’s word) could work. There is also some coverage of a lot of additional and subsidiary studies related to the basic study: onset of labor, geomagnetic effects, the failure of houses and signs, whether there is any sex link, sibling connections, and more.

The book is short enough that it shouldn’t intimidate anyone, and many technical details are in appendices where they can be ignored by those who don’t need to read them. I urge anyone who isn’t familiar with the Gauquelins’ work or has only heard of the “Mars effect” to read this book.

One unfortunate feature of both books is a reflection of the turf war between Michel and Francoise. Each is trying to deny the other credit for shared work, and Michel definitely keeps any mention of work by Francoise to a minimum in these books.

Copyright © 1989 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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