Matrix Interview with Astrologer Michel Gauquelin
Our interviewer is Michael Erlewine January 10, 1989
A discussion of Gauquelinís Mars Effect research, the relationship of scientists and astrologers, and the birth of the neo astrological movement.
Erlewine: Itís good to be with you again, Michel. Whatís happening in your life and work?
Gauquelin: One fact is that I am turning sixty on November 13. I had never realized that this could happen to me! I am apparently still in rather good shape, but there are a lot of years of hard work behind me and I think there are rather few people from the new generation who are trying to walk in the same direction ( I hope there will be more). I donít want to complain about that, but I have to stop and think about what I have been doing and what I can do. I cannot just continue to make statistics and replicate my findings and so on just because it is interesting. I have also to evolve, and maybe to progress. For instance, I told you about this book I am writing, called The Astrological Copernican Revolution, which is a progression in my thought.
For this book, I have done a lot of reading, especially about ancient astrology and ancient thought, dwelling in particular on the Renaissance concepts of astrology Ė a lot of things I was barely aware of. I discovered that, in fact, astrology is more than I had thought Ė which is not a surprise for you, but maybe for me. Astrology is more than just a correlation.
In the broader sense, the scope of my astrology is now larger. And while I have yet to write about a lot of these ideas, the readings are in my mind, and I hope will result in something of a new kind of book. Iím trying to demonstrate something, which is rather simple: that astrology and astronomy were in fact only one at the beginning.
Ptolemy, as you know, wrote one book about astrology [The Tetrabiblos] and on book about astronomy [The Almagest]. In his book on astronomy, we know today that 90% of the astronomy that Ptolemy claimed as true was not accurateÖwas not true. Nevertheless, astronomy was considered, and is still considered, to be a science. People had to wait 1,500 years for Copernicus to appear to change the Ptolemaic ideas about astronomy. Today, while astronomy is still a science, her sister astrology has not had the same luck.
During the Renaissance time, Kepler gave very good hints about many things of an astrological nature. He succeeded marvelously in astronomy, but I think he failed in astrology to make the same move. So, I am trying to show in this book that we are now on the verge of demonstrating that astrology could have a Copernican revolution, too. You see? Itís just a little later, in fact, if you are looking in perspective. There are 15 centuries between Ptolemy and Copernicus, and 20 centuries between Ptolemy and now.
I am not claiming that I am another Copernicus, but I think I may be one of the scholars who can help in this revolution. But first, I think this revolution is due to other things: like modern physics for instance, the age of computers, and other people who are working in the fields of astrology and advanced psychology Ė something like this. Itís a large movement. Of course, I hope I have been one of the persons who have helped. I donít want to say that I am rejecting what I have done with my research. Of course not. But I think that we can put it aside for just a moment, and look for some kind of what I call neo-astrology, a new astrology. You see?
Erlewine: Even if we had a Copernican type, I donít think anyone would recognize him or her anyway. It would be very difficult to see it when it was happening. Only the person themselves would have some idea of it, and even then probably a dim one. Thatís my thought. Iíve certainly looked around very carefully in the world of astrology, and I canít see any Copernicus, or even a Kepler, among us Ė not yet!
Gauquelin: Well, I do agree with that. I think if I were making some kind of comparison that before Kepler there was Tycho Brahe. And Tycho Brahe, as we know, produced very accurate positions of the planets. Owing to the work of Tycho Brahe, Kepler was able to demonstrate Keplerís Laws. And so I consider myself more like a kind of Tycho Brahe than a Kepler.
Erlewine: A Saint John the Baptist!
M. Guaquelin: Yes, if you want. There are people who are just amassing data-not only data but facts. But these facts will need an explanation. They will need a theory. We have the Mars Effect, but there is still no theory for explaining it. And so, I think we are waiting for a Kepler, or even a Newton. There is perhaps more similarity with the work of Darwin on evolution. Darwin was collecting facts and facts and facts. Yet, the theory was evolving through facts. For the moment, astrology Ė especially that which I am doing- does not raise a theory from the facts.
Therefore, I think astrologers and scientists could agree on the point (and it is certainly well proved now) that there is some correlation between planets and the time of birth. However, there is no real explanation, not even a proto-theory. As you know, I have tried several things, but there is no real theory. So what do you think about this?
Erlewine: It seems that on the external plane, in the world of science and measurement Ė that sort of thing Ė that you are an expert. Yet, I feel that astrology is still sort of bankrupt in some sense even though someone like yourself has done a wonderful job of doing what seemed impossible Ė literally! At least you have come up with some results. No one else has done anything remotely similar that we know of. Nevertheless, I still feel weíre waiting for some major event to happen. It reminds me of the whole story of Atlantis rising, and the thought that Atlantis is somehow within us. As it comes up, itís like a veil being taken away: suddenly we can see.
Once a particular veil is removed, then everyone sees the obvious Ė what has been revealed, what there is to be seen. I feel we are waiting for a veil to be lifted. The philosopher Hegel had a wonderful phrase in the Phenomenology of the Mind Ė a really seminal and important book. He said something like:
ďWe go behind the curtain of the self to see whatís there, but also for there to be someone or something to be seen.Ē
And I think this gets to the heart of this dilemma. In other words, it seems that we are all willing to go behind the curtain of the self to see whatís there, but none (or damned few) have the idea very well in mind that we might have a two-fold purpose: we go behind this curtain also for there to be someone to be seen. Itís not enough to just look. We must also exist. There has to be something or somebody to be seen behind that curtain. In other words, we must also perform the act or ceremony of living.
The idea Iím trying to get at is that I feel the astrological revolution will come by going within, identifying and being identified. Thatís why I have spent so much of my life on heliocentric astrology. The major insights that Iíve had, the most important astrological experiences, the ones that have been formative, have left an indelible imprint and continue to serve as a reference point, have come from this heliocentric work. When I think of who I am astrologically, I go back to these experiences. And before that time, before these astrological experiences, there is no real time or space for me because I have no memory, astrologically, prior to these certain basic events Ė this helio astrological experience.
Just as you might say that you remember when you discovered the Mars Effect. That has to be a landmark in the darkness of your personal astrological night sky. These discovery events are like fixed stars that shine in it. So, I try pretty much in vain to tell my fellow astrologers what it is that I experience there.
I had the Rosicrucian teacher that I keep telling people about. He would say that he was tuning me like an instrument and that someday I would respond. When he died, it was up to me to see to his burial and all that kind of stuff. One of the things he said which I have probably told you before, but Iíll say again (and this was before helio astrology existed for me) was: ďMichael, imagine yourself standing at the center of the Sun.Ē Then he would growl and say, ďThatís HOT stuff!Ē I thought it was kind of a strange thing for someone to say, but years later that is what I did imagine astrologically. In that experience, I went beyond geocentric astrology as I knew it and found myself exploring what has for me been a whole new kind of astrology Ė a different dimension from geocentric astrology. It is an experience and an initiation that has yet to be made available to very many astrologers. You appear to understand it and I believe that others will also have it. At that point, when more have it, there will be a revolution in consciousness astrologically that will put traditional geocentric astrology into its proper perspective.
The familiar geocentric motions are like seeing as Shakespeare writes, ďthrough a glass darklyĒ and these motions are impossible to understand by themselves. Just like mechanically (celestial mechanics), itís impossible to fully understand geocentric motion without reverting to the heliocentric model. You see, here is a key to understanding. Why can we give this obvious physical fact credence and still not recognize that esoterically the same must be true? We cannot understand the geocentric model without seeking to seat our consciousness at the center of the system, in this case the solar system.
People canít seem to imagine that our being could be connected to the being of the sun. Someone like Theodor Landscheidt is one of the very few I have met who seem to have a real initiation in it. Although you donít claim to be an astrologer, the kinds of things youíre saying sound very astrological to me. I mean they sound like the way an astrologer thinks.
Gauquelin: Well for more than 14 years I claimed that I was against astrology! And then sometimes I claimed that my work was something which is similar to astrology. I was in fact balancing between the two. Without the real hope, or the deep feeling that some theory would be found positively, I would probably never have continued. As far as I remember, I was always, more or less, a believer in a proof for astrology. But of course, belief for me was not sufficient, but you know the story. When I published, I made several mistakes. For instance, one good point was to publish my first book, but the one big mistake was to put my real name on it, which killed my academic career. But thatís another story.
The other mistake was to challenge astrologers too much. I told you yesterday about some pitfalls that the astrologers at that time were not able to avoid. And so perhaps I despised them a little bit too much, and I claimed that the evidence that I found for the Mars Effect was not astrology at all. In fact, this was some kind of awkward diplomacy on my part to flatter the scientific establishment. I hoped, with naÔvetť, that they might be more interested in my work if I said that not only am I not an astrologer, but also that I have completely demolished astrology. But in fact that was not a good move, since the scientist never accepted my way of working or my results.
And so I persisted, probably too much, in this direction. And now, as you know, after some fifteen years I have slowly changed my position Ė and not only for political reasons. I discovered that the scientific establishment was just putting me off (or out) and that I was receiving, and I still am receiving, help from astrologers like yourself. I hope that we can work together. In fact, the help that I have received is mostly from the astrological community, and not from the scientific community. I also discovered how non-objective this scientific community can be.
I have evidence, for instance, that Mars is prominent for military leaders and sports champions, more than just by pure chance. Itís not Venus or some other planet, but Mars, and this just fits with the astrological tradition. I see this more and more clearly.
If I may just be frank, and accept to be called an astrologer if Ė and thatís a rather big ďifĒ [laughs] Ė if the other astrologers (and I am just talking from my view, from my kind of approach Ė that should be clear!) who call themselves scientific astrologers would be good at itÖwould really be scientific. I am unhappy that so many astrologers who even now are claiming to do research are not really doing research. I am in fact closer to people who, like yourself, are researchers but not exactly in my way. In your case I have nothing to say against it. You see?
But these other people are just trying to do simple things like I showed you yesterday [demographic problems], encountering pitfalls, and making very big errors. Thatís not good. I think the astrologers who are scientifically oriented should be educated scientifically. Thatís my position. I hope that we may work together on some software projects. Perhaps I have been too much alone, too much involved in my own research to share my experience much with others.
So, if the percentage of people doing good research in astrology is rising, I may say that I am also an astrologer. This is my position. Is it not clear? But for the moment, Iím a little reluctant to say that I am an astrologer. So I think that my opponents call me a neo-astrologer. I think thatís not so bad.
In fact, they called me that in derision. Like the painters Manet and Renoir, the Impressionists were called impressionist because Manet called one of his pictures an impression. And people laughed at it and called them impressionists. So, I am a neo-astrologer, as they say.
Erlewine: So youíre saying that if it turns out good, youíre an astrologer and if it turns out bad, youíre not. If enough people are like you, then you are one, otherwise youíre not.
M. Guaquelin: Yes! But on the other hand, I think back to your first question. Iím turning sixty and am trying to acquire more knowledge about the history of astrology and the philosophical implications of it. Also, I would like to share more of my experience, in particular my technical experience, with other people because they may just like astrology and itís not being taught at the university. And not only astrology, but research about astrology. And Iím sure that astronomical demographic studies like I showed you yesterday should be put into computer programs, in software, and that could help a lot of people and also myself to do new research.
But a point which is not clear: you can praise me, or not, for having hand-calculated so many cases of planetary computations. OK! But the calculations for the expectancies were also very hard to do by hand. And so now we have (owing to you Ė to Matrix), very accurate calculations with a lot of speed. But as for new research, we also need to have some software for doing the research; that is, the expectancies calculations.
And another point: there are a lot of astrologers who are diligent, honest and hard working, but they are not doing astrology as a science, which of course I can understand. I never claimed Ė or if I did it was a mistake Ė that astrology is or should be only a hard science. You see, my way was to find some correlation, but I am sure that astrology can also be something else. And even people at the far end of myself like Dane Rudyhar. While theirs is not my way of thinking, if we can use the chart like a mandala for developing ourselves, there is nothing wrong with that. Not only is there nothing wrong, but it could only be good. Rudyhar is just an example, perhaps not the best. The problem is the difficulty to reach some meeting point between the two approaches. I think itís important.
Astrology is another new soft science. But in astrology it is certainly a fact that the best astrologers are somewhat scattered. And they should not try to find someÖnot a school. Thatís probably one of my weaknesses too: I have never tried to launch a school of astrology or whateverÖNeo-astrology, or even the Gauquelin School. Itís not my way.
Erlewine: I understand that.
M. Guaquelin: I am just now getting to know you better. I will ask a question of you. It was interesting for me when you told me a few things about the Tibetan lamas you bring here. What do these lamas think about hard facts? Because, I would like to say something: Iím afraid to say that for me, the human brain is not so good at all. My impression is that we are very close to the chimpanzees.
In fact it is a very pessimistic view, but I feel strongly about the idea that we are not very intelligent. We are probably a little more intelligent, in a certain sense, than some animals. Itís that our intelligence is completely obscured by emotion. Well, this fact is terrible. I discovered this during the Mars Effect controversy which for me was so interesting. It was a kind of spiritual experience in a certain sense.
Erlewine: Of course!
M. Guaquelin: I have discovered that even some of my opponents acted completely unfairly, and were in fact 100% ignorant. For instance, that was the case even with Paul Kurtz, chairman for the Committee for the Scientific Investigations of the Claims of the Paranormal. My impression is that he may have gone the wrong way in checking astrology for the Mars Effect, but Iím sure he honestly believes that astrology is not true. On the other hand, my impression is that even the sun sign charlatan astrologer probably believes in astrology. A true charlatan is very rare, like a real cynical debunker, perhaps under one percent, Iíd say. Complete unfairness, dishonestyÖintellectual dishonesty is very rare. The Mars Effect controversy showed me that. However, that which is very frequent is imbecility.
And, the difficulty with humans and myself in particular, in understanding something is to put aside emotion and look at the facts. During the Mars Effect controversy, I had the impression that I was doing, not exactly meditation, but a kind of interesting spiritual experience. I was so involved in this that sometimes I put myself in the place of the mind of my opponent. And I understood them in a certain way and thatís something that helped me to win the battle. Do you see what I mean? So! My impression is I think itís too bad that the Creator, or whatever we might call it Ė Nature Ė makes us so unintelligent.
What I am saying here is not original. Arthur Koestler wrote a very interesting book about it. The Ghost in the Machine. He was not saying exactly the same thing. He says that the emotion inside us is too strong for our intelligence. My idea is clear. Just imagine that we were a hundred times more intelligent.
Erlewine: Well, what the lamas suggest, and itís certainly what they teach, is that intelligence is Ė period! And we can have no real idea of it other than to live it. As it is, we have no idea of what itís not. We can only know what we are. We have emotions, obscuration, different kinds of problems, and thatís why there is some kind of study involved in the Tibetan psychology, like any methodology. In 1964, I went out to Berkeley and studied political methodology with a fine teacher there. But I wasnít too much interested in it. So, I took LSD instead, and proceeded to really learn some more basic things about myself.
My point is that in this country we have respect for learning, for the tools of science, and for learning the refinements of these tools. Itís a very great edifice thatís been built. However, thereís almost no development of the one who uses the tools. The most important tool of all is our own mind. And we assume that the mind, right as it comes out of the box, so to speak, is good and ready to use. And we think that from the instant of our birth the mind is good and doesnít need any training! We do allow some intellectual training, you know, in schools. Actually, we allow a lot of academic training in the West.
But, for the mind itself, we have no real training to deal with the basic emotions. I have come to see that Western psychology is very, very primitive. In the West, we have perhaps achieved the point of some psychological diagnosis, but we have no remedy. I mean, we may stab at it. On the other hand, the Buddhists have, as you may know, the largest extant body of literature (by an order of magnitude of five or so) of any religion. This means that they have written in great detail about almost everything. They really have, as far as I can tell, done this Ė I havenít read it all, but Iíve read in it a good deal.
So! They are very definite about saying we must train the mind and learn to see with clarity. If we can learn to train the mind even a little bit, then we can begin to work through its obscurations.
At this point, Iím still very interested in astrology, but I know that if astrology is to have any future at all, we must train our minds. Some astrologers like to call themselves priests and they enjoy the idea that they are ďspiritual.Ē I suggest that if we are so priest-like that we had better get down on our knees once in a while. Why should we not consecrate, dedicate, and purify ourselves so that we can see what is and what is not. To the best of my knowledge, astrologers as a rule are not willing to do this at present. I can hardly see at all, but that little bit of mind training work that I have done may be all the difference there is. I know itís not that much, but if thatís the difference, it may be all the difference in the world. Do you understand what Iím saying?
Erlewine: So, in recent years Iíve stopped trying to share my thoughts on astrology. In a nutshell, I feel that Iíve had the great good fortune to have a somewhat authentic initiation into heliocentrics and into the deep space material. I had a striking dream once, in which Johndro, who was an important technical astrologer in this country, appeared to me. He had stalks of light coming out of his eyes. It was a dream that was more real than waking life and it came at the time when I was struggling with deep space stuff. He just said, ďLook!Ē And I looked up and there was the southern Milky Way as you would see it from the southern hemisphere. It was just resplendent with light Ė a sea of light.
Prior to this dream, I was basically afraid of the dark Ė of death, the black, cold, etc. ďLook!Ē he said. And from that moment I began to make the book Astrophysical Directions. I suddenly understood that it wasnít darkness, it was light! And that I was intelligence. The universe is intelligent, and so I went and cataloged all those things and they all made sense to me. They all fit in. They were all understandable. The universe is about the life and death of stars. It is all the story of our life. Itís the same story written large.
So, that was an initiation. I donít know many who have had that initiation and I canít even talk about the helio one because itís so profound for me. I would like to see my fellow astrologers empowered with the same experience relative to their personality, because it would change their lives. But it sounds just likeÖyou knowÖan evangelist. I apologize for that. But it is astrological. I can back up these astrological experiences with specific techniques. Technique, after all, is what remains after a real life experience passes.
What Iím saying that was remarkable to me is that I was able, for myself, to energize the scientific facts and to experience some of the spirit Ė that which ensouls the facts. I mean heliocentrics is more than just another chart. It is a total experience of a different dimension. And that to me is whatís called an empowerment. The same is true, but slightly less so, for the astrophysical stuff. It is not enough to just study the facts. Let me read to you a short quote from Emerson that a good friend of mine pointed out. This quote says a lot to me. Itís from Emersonís essay on history:
ďAll inquiry to antiquity, all curiosity respecting the Pyramids, the excavated cities, Stonehenge, the Ohio Circles, Mexico, Memphis Ė is the desire to do away this wild, savage and preposterous There, or Then, and introduce in its place the Here and the Now.Ē
And then this is the statement that I think is interesting.
ďBelzone digs and measures in the Mummy-pits and Pyramids of Thebes, until he can see the end of the difference between the monstrous work and himself. When he has satisfied himself, in general and in detail, that it was made by such a person as he, so armed and so motivated, and to the ends to which he himself should have also worked, the problem is solved. His thought lives along the whole line of Temples and Sphinxes and Catacombs, passes through them all with satisfaction, and they live again to the mind, or are now.Ē
Thatís why we study. This is the real meaning of research. It is the refreshing of the mind somehow Ė simple circulation. The psychological, esoteric research that interests me may never reach the state of facts so that it can be measured or discussed by scientists. But nevertheless, itís still all very real, alive, and satisfying work for me. Itís just that it doesnít happen to be very obvious. Youíre lucky that your work is cresting and appearing in time in such a fashion that it can be observed. I can see that you have worked very hard. Youíre very satisfied in some deep sense.
Gauquelin: Yes, that is true.
Erlewine: And, because of that, you have no fear of yourself, or the future, basically. You have emptied out or exhausted something within you, just as happens through meditation. The fruit of the meditation is just what youíre showing.
M Gauquelin: Well, thatís a good comparison. Yes! In a sense, itís true. I still have problems, but in a certain way I have some sense of elation about my work. However, now I would like to do more.
Erlewine: Well, of course! I have the same kind of elation. I have only myself at this point, other than the fact that I get some credit for Matrix and stuff. But, I donít value that. My heart is in the helio work and what I really love is the esoteric stuff and few people are able to talk about it.
Gauquelin: That happened to you, and that happened to me with the scientists. It was so amazing for me to see a good scientist like George Abell. He was a very good astronomer, you know. Really, he was a good scientist, but when he was examining the Mars Effect it was as if he were stupid! He was like an imbecile. He seemed to lose all his astronomy. That was very interesting to see that his brain was just disintegrating.
In a certain sense, Abell recovered from that attitude, because he was deeply honest. In fact, he was the first to apologize, more or less, for the errors the CSICOP committee made against me. So that was a case for his intelligence. He was a very brilliant person, but could not follow my work and probably he would not have followed you. [laughs]
Erlewine: No! Iím sure not.
Gauquelin: But it was a mistake for him. However, I think in a sense Abell and I are not in the same boat, but we are two boats that are on the same river. People lack understanding in the broadest sense. And so, itís not a question of intelligence or even knowledge. Some people could be very knowledgeable or something, but they cannot understand it. Science is rather like religion. For instance, I was educated in the Catholic Faith myself. In fact, I never believed Ė I was just told. Itís not the same. I was told, and after a while, well, I just asked some awkward questions. You probably did the same. I asked awkward questions and the priests were not able to answer the questions. They say itís just a question of belief, a mystery. I cannot cope with an answer like this.
Gauquelin: But you know if you try to question their faith, even if you are just being friendly, just explaining something, they can react emotionally. And it is the same for astronomers. They are a faith. Even though they are not Catholic or whatever, they have a faith in how some kind of universe should be. They have no room for an astrological effect Ė whatever we might call it. So you may have a problem getting good listeners. And, well, that was the same for me. I myself almost cheated calculating my own data. I think thatís why I say we human people are not very intelligent.
Itís incredible! I made very slight amounts of errors in the sectors I was looking for and I was taking a lot of precaution. I was aware of it, and even so it happened. Fortunately that didnít change the results, but itís very discouraging. We cannot be really objective. Thatís a notion which does not exist in the human brain. There is no objectivity, but you probably agree with that. With the lamas, if I understood you well, objectivity or subjectivity does not mean anything.
I think thatís a good example, your training with meditation. If I may compare: my studies and my work generally are also a training to be objective. And thatís why, in fact, itís always a fight against subjectivity, against some errors and biases. And going back to the beginning of our discussion: I thought I would like to see more astrologers be more objective in the broader sense of the term. When that time comes, when astrologers are more objective, I may say that I am an astrologer, and not a neoastrologer. I donít claim to be objective; of course not. Itís just that my training Ė as yours in a different way- has to be more objective, more and more objective. Of course, progress is slow.
The point is that I am not disturbed at all by criticism. I like that and I just receive it and hear it. If itís true, well, Iím wrong Ė no problem! I was not like this when I was young. And there are so many people Ė not only the astrologers, but any kind of people who have ideas Ė they donít want to be criticized, even very gently. If you just say, ďWell thatís interesting, but!Ē But! There is no ďbut.Ē Thatís why I mentioned yesterday: donít avoid criticism. Thatís my position. I donít mean to be aggressively challenging. Maybe some part of myself is like this. No, itís because itís important. If you are really sure that you are right, you have no fear from any kind of criticism. So, itís probably the only philosophy I got from my experiences.
About Astrologer Michel Gauquelin
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