Do Whole Sign Houses Explain Gauquelin’s Mars Effect?

Do Whole Sign Houses explain Gauquelin’s “Mars Effect”? First we should understand what it is. Michel Gauquelin was a French dude who got a lot of birth times of eminent sports stars together. When he calculated all their astrological charts he noticed that Mars kept showing up in certain areas. To investigate further, Gauquelin basically split each Placidus house into 3 parts, 36 sectors total. He discovered Mars was statistically more likely to appear in 4 distinct clusters in the charts of eminent sports champions: especially at its rising (36, 1, 2, 3) and culminating (9, 10, 11, 12), less so at its setting (19, 20, 21) and anti-culminating (28, 29, 30). These “plus zones” were eventually called “The Mars Effect”. Skeptics of astrology in the 1970’s tried to knock it down without success, resorting to dishonest tactics as explained by skeptic Dennis Rawlins here.

Astrology skeptic Geoffrey Dean went back through the Gauquelin research in the early 2000’s and all he could say about it was that Gauquelin’s decision to focus on the most eminent sports stars amounted to cherry-picking because it produced the Mars Effect. Which is really sort of like saying that just because there is a Mars Effect for famous and successful athletes doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be one for less famous and successful ones, which only sounds like a roundabout admission that there is a Mars Effect for eminent sports stars. He also rambled something incoherent about how vast swaths of French parents deliberately skewed their childrens’ birth times to be more astrologically favorable. That stretching sound you’re hearing isn’t your neighborhood bully giving some poor kid the atomic wedgie of his life.

The Good News and the Apparent Bad News

“Those peaks are looking a little cadent.” #thingsyoushouldneversaytowomenoutsideofanastrologicalcontext

Gauquelin’s work seems to provide statistical support for the traditional notions of the general natures of the planets, since he also saw the same peaks in the distribution of planets in the charts of people in careers that broadly correspond to the nature of that planet, for example: Mars for sports champions, Jupiter for politicians, Saturn for scientists, etc.

However, Gauquelin’s work also runs counter to common astrological notions of angularity as strength and cadency as weakness. 75-100% of the sectors within a plus zone are located before the angle, which is what most modern astrologers using quadrant based house systems consider to be cadent houses. So astrologers have asked ‘Why are the plus zones correlating with cadent houses instead of angular houses?’ However, this may only be a problem for quadrant based house systems.

A Potential Solution: Whole Sign Houses?

We now know that the earliest and predominant form of topical 12-house division in the astrological tradition was in fact whole sign houses, which are based on the signs rather than various divisions between the Ascendant and the Midheaven. This means that whatever sign the Ascendant is in is the 1st house, the sign boundaries are the “house cusps”. While the MC-IC axis generally falls across the 10th/4th, they can fall across any house pairs, including 11th/5th, 9th/3rd, 12th/6th, 8th/2nd. Wherever the Midheaven and IC fall, they angularize that sign and contribute some of their significations to the topic of that house, in addition to the regular WSH 10th. So Whole Sign Houses contain a much more expansive view of angularity than most quadrant-based house systems.

How Do Whole Sign Houses Define Angularity?

Sign-based Angularity:

  • Planets anywhere in the sign of the Ascendant, anywhere in the 2 signs square the Ascendant, and anywhere in the opposing sign of the Ascendant.
  • Planets anywhere in the same sign as the Midheaven or IC. Planets in the sign of the Midheaven or the IC assume some of their topical significations, in addition to the whole sign house they fall in.

Degree-based Angularity

  • Planets making a conjunction, sextile, square or trine to an angle within 3 degrees, regardless of sign boundaries. This does not change what area of life they impact, they are just “goaded to action” by their close aspect to the angle.

My Methodology, Such As It Is

  1. I imported the 2087 Gauquelin charts of sports champions into SolarFire. Gauquelin Data Source.
  2. I searched for charts with Mars in the rising plus zones in Gauquelin sectors 36, 1, 2, 3 and the culminating plus zones in Gauquelin sectors 9, 10, 11, 12.
  3. I then searched within those charts to find out which whole sign house Mars was in, whether it was co-present with an angle and whether it was within 3 degrees of a classic aspect to an angle.


Rising Gauquelin Plus Zone

Out of Gauquelin’s 2087 charts for sports champions, there were 298 charts with Mars in the rising Gauquelin plus zone.

The WSH 1st takes a big angular bite into the rising Gauquelin plus zone sectors otherwise considered cadent by quadrant-based systems. Given that the rising and culminating Gauquelin sectors are considered 25% angular/75% cadent in Placidus houses, this is a fairly drastic change and gives a preliminary indication my hypothesis may be correct. Just over 50% of the time, a planet in a rising plus zone was actually angular according to Whole Sign Houses. However, we also need to consider the additional ways that a planet is angularized within the context of Whole Sign Houses, including its co-presence with the Midheaven, or if it’s within 3 degrees of an aspect to the Ascendant or Midheaven. Here is how angular the rising Gauquelin plus zone is with these “angularizing” considerations included.

So yeah guys, the rising Gauquelin plus zone is over 60% angular according to Whole Sign Houses and its accompanying angularizing considerations, compared to just 25% angular in Placidus Houses.

Culminating Gauquelin Plus Zone

Out of Gauquelin’s 2087 charts for sports champions, there were 266 charts with Mars in the culminating Gauquelin plus zone.

Compared to Placidus houses where the culminating plus zone is 75% cadent/25% angular, this is a big difference, although Mars in the WSH 9th edges out Mars in the WSH 10th by 1 chart. Add in the other angularizing conditions and this is how angular the culminating plus zone is:

Guys. 68% of the culminating plus zone is angular according to Whole Sign Houses and its accompanying angularizing conditions. It’s almost a complete reversal of what people have commonly assumed about the culminating plus zone, that it was 75% cadent in the 9th.

Do Whole Sign Houses Recreate the Mars Effect?

Here are the Whole Sign House Placements of Mars in the Gauquelin sports champions data:

Unexpectedly, Mars is most commonly found in WSH 12th. So ironically, the Gauquelin plus zones are mostly angular by whole signs, but Mars is most commonly in the whole sign 12th throughout the whole dataset! Also of note is how well represented Mars is in WSH 4th, and how poorly represented Mars is in WSH 7th. However, like before, to treat Whole Sign Houses fairly we need to consider all the conditions for angularity. And we get the following results.

Now things fall more in line with our expectations with Mars in the angular houses (except for the 7th), although it is still remarkable how many charts have Mars placed in the cadent 12th even with angularizing factors included. This may be an area for futher exploration and contemplation.


I may be wrong. I’m certainly not known for having great math skills or having much deep knowledge about statistics. If you notice anything off please let me know. But as far as I can tell, sign and degree-based angularity within the context of Whole Sign Houses definitely can account for a majority of Gauquelin’s plus zones. It is still apparent that Mars in the 12th house may need to be further studied. Overall, astrologers needn’t fret over how the Gauquelin research appeared to defy traditional astrological concepts of angularity, we may have just had to look back further into the tradition to view them through Whole Sign Houses.

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  1. So… let’s see if I understand what you did. You picked through the charts to get those with Mars on the west half or in the 9th Whole sign house. Your methods mention sector 36. What is that?

    • I used SolarFire to count up the whole sign house positions/determine angularity of Mars in the charts that have Mars in Gauquelin’s plus zones. Sector 36 is one of the 4 sectors associated with the rising plus zone, alongisde sectors 1, 2 and 3. Sector 36 is the first third of a Placidus 1st house, sectors 1, 2 and 3 are the first third, middle third and final third of a Placidus 12th house.

  2. One thing I wonder is if Mars is really the guy to look for in sports. Ancient authors will regularly attribute gymnastics or even wrestling to Venus and Mercury. Jupiter also plays a role, and so do Mars. I think games and counting points is a Venus-Mercury thing, Mars likes the most war, bloodshed, serious business. Also, I imagine high-performance athletes may get hurt often, which can explain the prevalence of Mars in 12th.

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