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Dynamic Astrology IX

the mars effect and dynamic astrology

Many readers may be familiar with, or at least have heard of, the Gauquelin Mars Effect. Much controversy surrounds the effect first noted by Michel and Francoise Gauquelin in the 1950s and replicated since by Suitbert Ertel. It concerns the position of Mars in the houses of the horoscope of eminent sports champions.
This is a somewhat simplified introduction and, indeed, there is much debate over what eminence is in sport and whether Gauquelin's interpretation of this quality biased his results. There is also some controversy over the data sample he used as it was sourced mainly from France and continental Europe, but it is also important to remember that accurate times of birth are required for such a study (which involves diurnal planet positions which is better understood as the positions of planets in astrological houses) and times of birth are recorded on French birth certificates while this is not done in the UK except in cases of multiple births. Further reading on this subject can be found in links at the end of this article.
Basically, Gauquelin found that Mars would be found more often than chance would predict in two particular positions in the birth-charts of eminent sports champions, so this has nothing to do with zodiac signs, but relates just to planet positions in the horoscope.

This is a graph showing which parts of the chart Mars was found to cluster in numbers above chance in Gauquelin's test results:

This presents a problem for astrology as-it-is-practiced because these two house positions (referred to as cadent houses) are not associated with eminence. In fact the opposite is true of planets in cadent houses - they are characterised by being less powerful than planets in angular houses or succeedent houses. The cadent houses are positions of withdrawal, preparation and seclusion, not of worldly success.

Garry Phillipson said of the usefulness of Gauquelin's Mars effect is his article on astrology and doubt:

“I believe it is fair to say that astrology does not emerge from (statistical) tests with all guns blazing. The best-known and most thorough tests are undoubtedly those of Gauquelin, which show an effect — but one so specialized as to be practically useless in real-life astrology.” Garry Phillipson – Astrology and the Anatomy of Doubt


The angular houses are 1, 4, 7 and 10 (colored red in the graphic below); the succeedent houses are 2, 5, 8 and 11 (colored blue) and the cadent houses are 3, 6, 9 and 12 (colored white).

Planets in the 9th and 12th houses, correspond with Gauquelin's zones of eminence for Mars - that is, Mars was found here in the charts of more eminent sports champions than chance would expect. The difference being an observed 22% to an expected 17%.

To validate a type of astrology, this is good evidence, however, it does not validate the practice of traditional astrology: an effect is present, but not one that relates to astrology as it is taught and practiced. Why would eminent sports champions be born with Mars in a less powerful cadent house? It is arguable that if the clusters of sports champions had been born with Mars in the 10th house or the 1st house, Gauquelin's results would have been an effective validation of traditional astrological ideas as well as being a validation of some kind of astrological effect, but it was not to be...

...unless, that is, we look at the Mars Effect as being an artifact of dynamic astrology. This means, what Gauquelin found was not an effect that relates as much to fixed and static horoscopes, but rather a factor in progressed horoscopes.
A vital factor in sports eminence is preparation and part of the process of becoming eminent is seclusion away from the spotlight, training and preparing to unleash the result of your tireless preparation on the world stage. It is not generally accepted that people are born with the ability to run a four minute mile, this is a feat that requires a great deal of application and preparation- you have to learn how to walk before you can run - and the placing of a planet like Mars in a cadent house is just the right astrological place for it to be if you want to apply yourself to your art, craft or sport.

When not in retrograde motion Mars travels at about three quarters of a degree per year in the secondary progressed chart. If we posit the central degree of the 9th and 12th houses as the point of maximum "Mars Effect", then it will take a forward moving Mars twenty years to travel the fifteen degrees necessary to pass over the 10th (called the midheaven) or the 1st house cusp (called the Ascendant) and into one of the angular houses traditionally associated with eminence.

To demonstrate what I mean I have chosen an athlete who is unarguably eminent. Three times World Heavyweight Champion and Olympic Light-heavyweight Gold Medalist. He was voted Sportsman of the Century by both Sports Illustrated and the BBC: Muhammad Ali.

Ali was born with a forward moving Mars in the 9th house. This means that from a dynamic point of view it will progress forwards passing over the 10th house cusp of the natal chart at some point in his life. After this progressed Mars will be angular and in an appropriate place matching traditional astrological ideas of eminence. We find that this progression from cadent house to angular house took place in April 1959. On April 3rd 1959 Cassius Marcellus Clay, as he was then known, became US National AAU Light-heavyweight Champion. It was his first national title, prior to this all of titles had been regional or Golden Gloves titles. A year later he was Olympic champion and four years after that World Heavyweight Champion, and of course, Mars was in his 10th astrological house from then on. It is still progressing through his natal 10th house today.

Bi-wheel chart showing Muhammad Ali's natal chart as the inner wheel and his progressed chart for April 1959 as the outer wheel. Natal Mars at 3 degrees 03 minutes Taurus will have moved just over nine degrees by 1959 to 12 degrees 14 minutes Taurus, and crucially will pass over Ali's natal Midheaven and enter the angular tenth house as it does so. April 1959 is arguably the month Ali became "eminent".


If we show this in terms of a dynamic astrology colliision graph (below), the downward line shows progress of Mars through Ali's ninth house. It meets the cusp of the 10th house in 1959, and the upward line shows progress of Mars through the 10th house.

So, it is possible that the Mars Effect may be useful in real astrology after all.

It is also just feasible that with the other less well tested Gauquelin effects, which are similar in nature to the Mars effect, but relate to eminence in other professions, slower moving planets would progress to the angles much more slowly giving eminence in later life which would correspond with the high unlikelihood of eminence in younger life for - say - medical doctors and members of the military.


The Mars Effect on Wikipedia
Muhammad Ali's fight record
Astrology and the Anatomy of Doubt article
PDF on Ertel and the Mars effect
Cadent houses
Angular houses

Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr) 17-01-1942, 18:35 hours, Louisville Kentucky, 38N15 85W46, AA Source: Astrodatabank - BC in hand.