A Century of Scientific Astrology in France

©  by Francis Santoni

A translation of "Un siècle d'astrologie scientifique"

from the March 2002 issue of Les Cahiers du RAMS


Summary: Choisnard popularized scientific astrology, and Gauquelin brought statistical method to astrology.


A 'modernist' definition of astrology:

The sum of techniques designed to describe individual temperament based on astronomical factors.

Scientific astrology:

intends to verify, scrutinize, and study the principles underlying astrological hypotheses.

1 - Henri Lizeray, precursor of scientific astrology:

Jacques Halbronn, historian/astrologer, published La vie astrologique il y a cent ans [Astrology during the Last One Hundred Years] several years ago (Guy Trédaniel, publishers). This book indicated Henri Lizeray as the harbinger of scientific astrology.

In his Horoscopes des poètes [Astrological charts of poets], published in 1892, Henri Lizeray sought to validate the hypothesis that the constellation Pegasus (323° at 2° from the Ecliptic) influences poets. This was a first step toward a scientific astrology.

2 - Paul Choisnard (1867-1930) as a true founder and promoter of scientific astrology.

The first known article by Choisnard, dated 15 November 1898, and published in the Revue du monde invisible, was titled L'astrologie est-elle une science expérimentale? [Is astrology an experimental science?].

He asserts that "the actual demonstration of astral influence shows in the results of statistics by competent astrologers".

Paul Choisnard divides astrology into 3 categories: occult, divinatory, and scientific.

  1. Occult or sacerdotal astrology, linked to metaphysical astrology, works with 'revelations'.
  2. Divinatory astrology, linked to symbolic astrology, employs intuition and empirical rules.
  3. Scientific astrology seeks to 'make the definition and proof of correspondences scientific'.

Scientific astrology, as Choisnard defines it, contrasts with the occult astrology of revelations (explained most effectively by his contemporary, Alan Leo), and with intuitive divinatory astrology (such as onomastic astrology not based on astronomical data). For Alan Leo, scientific astrology was only a refinement of the historical determinist tendency which had always caused astrologers so many problems with ecclesiastical authorities. Paul Choisnard's works brought great clarity and appreciable pedagogical quality to astrology.

Choisnard and Heredity:

In 1919, under his first pen-name, Paul Flambart, published a work titled La loi d'hérédité astrale [The Law of Astral Heredity].

He compared the zodiacal positions, the house positions, and the angular distances in astrological charts of unrelated individuals to those from the same family, and arrived at the following conclusion:

"In the disposition of the stars in the sky at birth, the resemblances are much more frequent among members of the same family than among unrelated individuals, which indicates that nature tends to create the newborn under celestial conditions similar to those of his family members."

Choisnard's research on the laws of astrological heredity was resumed by Krafft in 1923 and 1939, and again more methodically by Michel and Françoise Gauquelin in 1977, 1978, and 1984.

In 1996, Françoise Gauquelin was still conducting work on this subject.

Choisnard and Psychology:

Like Michel and Françoise Gauquelin did in later years, Choisnard wrote and published psychological works (L'éducation psychologique [Psychological Education], Philosophie et Psychologie [Philosophy and Psychology], and Essai de psychologie astrale [Essay on Astral Psychology].

It is interesting to note that key eminent research analysts of scientific astrology have also done substantial work in the field of psychology, indicating an interest in the study of psychology within the framework of astrological research via scientific methods.

3 - Note also that at the beginning of the 20th century, authors such as Selva and Caslant participated in the development of scientific astrology

Selva (anagram of A Vlès) looked into the philosophical foundations of astrology, while Eugène Caslant, fellow student of Choisnard, was interested in the scientific foundations of astrology based on physics.

It was nonetheless Choisnard who popularized scientific astrology.

His numerous works were regularly republished during the first half of the twentieth century, such that Léon Lasson recommended Langage astral in 1946 as the "indispensable primer for all beginners". Michel Gauquelin wrote in 1955: "The introductory text by Paul Choisnard, Langage astral, is the most popular; it is in the library of every serious astrologer".

The term "Scientific Astrology" is often echoed in works which make no reference to scientific procedures: for example, in Max Heindel's Simplified Scientific Astrology (1909), and in Maurice Privat's L'astrologie scientifique à la portée de tous [Scientific Astrology for Everyone].

4 - Karl Ernst Krafft

After Kloeckler (in Germany), it is Karl Ernst Krafft, with his 1939 work Astrobiologie, whom Choisnard referred to as "one of the first who set out resolutely on the statistical path and sought to perfect its methods".

Krafft studied

  • heredity
  • statistically measured cosmic influences on temperament and psychology in a study of the zodiacal position of the Sun of 2800 musicians and 153 painters.
  • cosmic influences on psychology in a study of the death of 1100 musicians via planetary positions in 36 sectors, concluding that "death does not occur arbitrarily, but under certain configurations; while other configurations exercise a more 'protective' role in the sense that, during their formation, the organism - although weakened - continues to function, to survive, up to its 'fatal' passage".

5 - Léon Lasson

In his work Ceux qui nous guident [Those who guide us], in 1946, Léon Lasson published a study of correlations between professions and the astrological chart.

He brought noteworthy precision to his collation of statistical data, distinguishing the socioprofessional categories in order to avoid statistical biases.

He draws our attention to frequency of astronomical factors (for example, that between Sun and Mars, the opposition is more rare than the conjunction, from an astronomical viewpoint).

He found Mars in the 9th and 12th houses to correlate with military professions, while Mars in the 10th and the 1st did not seem significant (see table at end of this article).

6 - Françoise and Michel Gauquelin

Michel Gauquelin had solid knowledge of statistics and reproached his predecessor, Choisnard, for not having used certain statistical methods.

To cite M Gauquelin: "if he has the idea of applying the calculation of probabilities, he does not understand the rudiments. Among other things, he bases all his experiments on the following mistake: he does not know that he must calculate the value of the deviation from the mean in terms of probabilities..."

He also reproaches Choisnard for devoting several chapters to the justification of statistical methods which he chose to use in his own research. At that time, Choisnard deliberately rejected the use of statistical formulae of probable deviation (La méthode statistique et le bon sens en astrologie scientifique, 1930, in the chapter De l'introduction des formules d'écart probable; and in this book he cites another reference: Objections contre l'astrologie, chapter XIII).

But the aim of Choisnard was more to establish a scientific basis for astrology than to publish significant results.

Whatever the case, such works of Choisnard as the one on heredity work with 1500 cases. One might think that Michel Gauquelin demonstrated partiality in is criticisms of Choisnard. Is this a symbolic case of patricide in the psychoanalytic sense?

Subsequent statistical research

We return to the enormous efforts of Michel and Françoise Gauquelin, who generated over 50 publications on the subject of scientific astrology.

In their research, they derive positive results in the following areas:

  • the position of planets in Gauquelin (house-like) Sectors
  • heredity
  • character traits (planetary factors affecting personality)

Some of their research did not yield positive results:

  • zodiacal influence (sign positions of planets)

Publications in other countries

Their works were translated into several languages, to such a point that one could say that Michel Gauquelin - who ironically did not define himself as an astrologer - is the most famous French astrologer in the world.

By contrast, his predecessor Choisnard is usually neglected in the bibliographies of foreign abstracts.

7 - Abstracts

Within the realm of scientific astrology, one should cite Geoffrey Dean and Arthur Mather in their book Recent Advances in Natal Astrology where they compile a list of several hundred research studies from 1900 to 1976. In the bibliographies of this book, they point out only two French-language scientific astrological authors, Krafft and Gauquelin.

8 - Jean Barets

In L'astrologie rencontre la science [Astrology meets Science], Jean Barets in 1977 studies the relation between the biography of a politician and dates of astronomical phenomena (in this case, astrological aspects).

(In fact, among the various research methods of scientific astrology, it seems that the association between objective events and astronomical events is favored by astrologers over the many methods tested by Michel and Françoise Gauquelin.)

9 - Today

Today we see few scientific astrological research studies being published. One example, however, is that of Suzel Fuzeau-Braesch, who studied the angular planets in the charts of twins.

In her Comment démontrer l'astrologie [How to Prove Astrology] Fuzeau-Braesch, in 1999, analyzes the similarities between the results of a psychological test taken by 524 students and traditional astrological assumptions. In a sequel to this study, Hervé Delboy analyzes the transits of dates of publication or publicizing of creative works.


Journals devoted to scientific astrology are few in number. In France, there is the journal published by RAMS, in existence since 1992. In the English language, there is the journal published by Françoise Schneider Gauquelin, as well as the British journal Correlation.


Use of the internet will make information relative to scientific astrology increasingly available.

Up to the present, such information was available only to a limited number of specialists.

With the advent of the internet, it is however possible to envisage a network of interested people.

Thanks to hypertext links, data can be sent directly among authors and study participants.


Scientific astrology conducted according to scientific methods is only in its initial stages. Astrology suffers from being a taboo subject among many scientists, and people attracted to astrology are all too often seduced by the frequently non-rational elements of our discipline.

Correlations between profession and house position of planets

Léon Lasson (1946)


Mars in the charts of military career people


Moon in the charts of politicians


Venus in the charts of artists


Mercury in the charts of writers and orators


Saturn in the charts of scholars


Neptune in the charts of mystics



Correlations between profession and house position of planets

Michel and Françoise Gauquelin (1955) -- 12 or 18 sectors


Mars in the chart of military career people


Mars in the charts of medical doctors

576 + 508

Venus in the charts of painters


Neptune in the charts of priests



Correlations between profession and house position of planets

Michel and Françoise Gauquelin -- 36 sectors

Number (1970)

Number (1984)

Sports champions



Military career people



Medical doctors








217 (artists)










Michel and Françoise Gauquelin in 1970 published, and then verified in 1984, comparable results on the relationship between professions and the planets in the houses.  The studies done by these research analysts result with a predominance of the indicated planets in the 12th and the 9th houses.*

-- Francis Santoni, Paris, 2000.

Translation by L Blake Finley, M.A. Linguistics

* Translators footnote:  Might those results showing the professional significance of houses 9 and 12 indeed be explained by a likelihood of birthtimes being recorded later than the actual birth, and in reality show a correspondence between professional significance and the Ascendant and Medium Coeli?

To link to the webpages of the RAMS research journal, click here.