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In the medieval tradition, the temperament analysis of a native is the first step to be done.  This first step gives a base for the astrologer to help understand the underlying needs and concerns of the native.  Though not as extensive or specific as a full chart delineation, the information provided by the temperament analysis can still be informative and useful.

The point of a temperament analysis is to identify excessive qualities in a person’s life and find helpful and constructive ways to bring that person back to center.  Much like Taoist preventive medicine, the goal is to be as balanced as possible in order to avoid the difficult extremes excess can bring.  By identifying the overabundance of qualities that make up a person’s inner constitution, we can develop strategies to balance them out both in personality and in health concerns.  There’s a time and place for every temperament, and being too much like one can put the individual at a disadvantage as they approach the complex workings of day-to-day life that demand flexibility.

Temperament theory operates off of the pairings of four different qualities that combine to make up the four classical elements.  In the diagram below, the two qualities closest on either side of the element are the qualities that compose it.  For instance Water has the quality Wet closest to its left and the quality Cold closest to its right and so Water is made up of the pairing of the qualities Wet and Cold.  The elemental temperament and its two qualities will each have special considerations when it comes to their effects on the native’s personality and body with special attention paid to which of the two qualities is more abundant.

Western Elements and their Qualities and RelationshipsWestern Elements and their Qualities and Relationships

Each of the elements relates to a temperament which has special meanings and effects based on several philosophical models that are put together relatively seamlessly.  For example, seasonal considerations, planetary rulers, and the Aristotelian concept of natural place all have a home in temperament theory.

The element air relates to the temperament sanguine which relates to the blood, the Spring, the liver, and is ruled by the planet Jupiter who is thought to share in this temperament.  This temperament is made up of the hot and wet qualities and typically relates to expansion and growth.  The disposition most associated with the sanguine temperament is joy and frivolity.

Fire relates to the choleric temperament which is said to correspond to the “yellow bile” of the body and is thought to be rather acidic.  It also relates to the Summertime season, the heart, and has two planetary rulers who are Mars and the Sun.  Choler is comprised of the qualities hot and dry and this typically relates to dynamism and energy.  This temperaments predominant disposition is thought to be assertiveness and aggression.

Earth’s corresponding temperament is melancholy and is said to relate to the “black bile” in the body.  Melancholy relates to the season of autumn, the spleen, and it also has two planetary rulers Mercury and Saturn.  Melancholy is made up of the qualities coldness and dryness which leads to determination and thoughtfulness.  Seriousness and isolationist are attitudes that melancholy carries with it.

Water is equated with the phlegmatic temperament which is thought to be made up of the random other fluids that occupy the body.  Phlegm relates to the season of winter, the lungs, and is co-ruled by the planets Venus and the Moon.  Phlegm is made up of the qualities coldness and moisture which relate it to restriction and generation.  The disposition most associated with the phlegmatic humor is laid back and calm.

We’ll be taking a more indepth look at each temperament in the coming weeks!

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