some notes about temperaments

Can a star of whatever planetary nature with the Sun  deciding the temperament as a traditional astrologer, author of a DVD about humours and temperament states? When does John Frawley say that an oriental Saturn is cold and dry he is talking according the tradition?

One of the most interesting point in astrology is the assessment of the temperament of a native.

The doctrine of the four temperaments- the melancholic, the phlegmatic, the choleric and the sanguine- is very composite and can be found here and there especially in Polybus (Hippocrates’ pupil and son in law who gave a coherent order to the Corpus Hippocraticus), Plato and Galen. It’s especially Galen to develop this theory and describe temperaments as we know. In the Art of Physic he wrote:

Sanguine: they cannot be awaken without difficulty when they are sleeping, they are both sleepy and sleepless and exuberant in their dreams, their eyesight is not sharp and their senses are dull. They are ready to act as the choleric type, they don’t have a violent soul, but they are ready to wrath.

Choleric: With sharp senses and inclined to insomnia, they soon become bald. Ready to act, hot headed, quick, violent, wild, bold, insolent, despotic and short tempered, it’s not easy to calm them.

Melancholic: In youth their senses are sharp and ready, but with time they soon decline. Early in everything connected with the head, they soon become white. They are far from wrath, and if obliged they can control it.

Phlegmatic: Their minds are slow, and sleepy and dull, they never become bald. They are shy and scared and lazy, they never get angry, and they are not ready to wrath.

Let us introduce the subject with a well known diagram:

This is the classification we are accustomed to. How can we see this from a birthchart? The most famous example is surely the one given by William Lilly, so for the moment let put it aside 🙂

Come back a little earlier, and let us consider Ptolemy.

Ptolemy is a follower of Aristotles’ threefold division of the soul in vegetative, sensitive and rational part: in the the third book of Tetrabiblos, after having talked about the introductory theme of the birth of the native, his parents, and if he will survive to infancy and how long he will live, in the last four chapters, he talks about the body (the vegetative soul) and the emotive (i.e sensitive) and rational mind and their diseases.

But before going on in reading the chapter about the body let us consider the essential virtue of the seven wandering stars which Ptolemy lists in the first part of Tetrabiblos. (I,4)

What Ptolemy writes about Mercury is central in his astrological philosophy: planets change their nature according their position in the epicyle, i.e. according their position to the Sun, which is their accidental virtue.

It could be useful to stress that the Moon and the other wandering stars act according the same natural law, and there is not difference between outer and inner planets. (I,8)

Obviously we shall adapt the rule to the different motion of inner and outer planets, so inner ones will perform twice because they have two conjunctions with the Sun.

Eventually planets change their nature according season and quadrant. (I, 12)

I’m conscious that Greenbaum (and Ptolemy in the following chapter to the mentioned one) write that the Ascendant is dry, while Descendant is wet but I’m sure that here Ptolemy is contradicting himself 🙂 because all the increasing things are moist in nature, while on the contrary all the decreasing things are dry.

Made all these necessary general considerations, let us come back to Ptolemy’s method to determine the native temperament, presented in the chapter 12 of the III book.

Sure that after all these classifications his reader is confused, Ptolemy recapitulates the nature of the planets, considering both their essential nature and their accidental (according their epicycle) one.

This table, makes us think about something we already know? Sure, it’s William Lilly‘s table, better it’s the table made by Lilly according this chapter of Tetrabiblos. It cannot be different.

So when John Frawley changes Saturn qualities stating that an Oriental Saturn is dry, he is changing a Tradition which is the same at least since Tetrabiblos.

Now let’s see the rest of Ptolemy method, and it is not  a surprise.

In regard to the body, therefore, it is in all cases requisite to observe the oriental horizon, and to ascertain what planets may preside or have dominion over it, and also to pay particular attention to the Moon. For, from both these places,  and from their rulers, as well as from the natural formation and contemperament appertaining to every species of the human race, and also from the figure ascribed to those fixed stars which may be co-ascending, the conformation of the body is to be inferred. The planets possessing dominion have the chief influence, and the proper qualities of their places co-operate with them.

Before entering in details we see that it is almost the same method Lilly mentions. But I should say “almost” at least in my opinion, because there is no mention of the Sun and the quarter of the year. It’s true that in the end of chapter Ptolemy mentions the meaning of quadrants but I could not find any reference to the Sun, rather it seems to be a reference to  the planets which cooperate in producing the shape of the personal figure, and contribute also towards the temperament.

And Haly Ibn Ridwan in his comment to this text adds in fact:

What Ptolemy means is that each of those quadrants concurs with the works of the planet which is in agreement with it, but damages the work of the planet with which doesn’t agree.

So according Ptolemy,  as commented by Haly in the assessment of the temperament

The elements to which we should put our attention are three. Firstly, the Ascendant and the place of the Moon; secondly, the rulers of these places, thirdly the mixture between them and the other stars. And then he shows which is the most important between them. And so he says that the first one is the meaning of the rulers, then the place of the Moon, and thirdly the mixture between those and the stars. And according the beginning of the chapter it is useful we prefer the general meaning to the particular one and so we should judge especially from the the meaning of the Ascendant and its ruler rather than the Moon and her ruler.

Before giving an example of the method, we should add that here the word “stars” implies the fact that

we can know the body shape and every condition  concerning the body from the nature of the Ascendant and the nature of the place of the Moon and the nature of the planets ruling these two places and from the mixture of these elements with the fixed stars which are with them in one of the circles we talked about. And when he says  those fixed stars which may be co-ascending, it means the stars which are in the Ascendant in the degree of the horizon and the stars with the Moon in the same circle, and the stars with whatever ruler of these places.

So we should disagree with the famous author of the course on temperaments mentioned in the first lines: a fixed star with the Sun means nothing about temperament and shape of body, and the same if the planet is in  a doriphory- especially when this word means just a large aspect  out of every  possible orb, in the other case an aspect with the Moon would be taken into consideration (and mentioned).

Let see an example.

Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher is well known for her role in Star Wars as Princess Leia and as Mistery Woman in The Blues Brothers. She was always frank about her problems with drugs, her battles with bipolar disorder, and overcoming an addiction to prescription medication.

In her book, Dorian Greenbaum mentions Fisher’s chart between phlegmatic temperament examples at page 100 of her book.

What do ancients say about melancholic women? Saint Hildegard writes

There are women, skinny flesh, great veins, common bones, with the blood more mucous than fluid and with a grey and black face. They are light and flickle in their mind, tormented by annoying diseases, and by a changing nature, so they often suffer with melancholy…. And sometimes they suffer with gout, or with back aches, or some disease of the mind caused by the melancholy.

It’s necessary to say that in fact according humoral medicine mental disturbes were associated with the coction of the black bile, which is turned into atrabilis, a dense and over- cooked  humor which generated fumes and vapours which ascending to the brain darken the place of imagination, mind and soul.
On the other hand,  if the madness is accompanied with frenzy it does not derive from melancholy but from an over cooked cholera.


Does Carrie Fisher’s birth chart  as melancholic temperament fit with Ptolemy’s method? Let us try.

Let us see which planets have the greater rights on the Ascendant and Moon place. In doing this I have not considered as usually Sun and Moon.

Ascendant, which has the priority in our investigation is clearly ruled by Saturn, being in its domicile and in applying aspect with it. Saturn has a right on Moon by terms and face and aspect. Venus has some presence too, because she rules Capricorn by triplicity and Taurus by domicile and triplicity.
Jupiter could have some influence too because it is separating aspect both from Ascendant and Moon, still it has no dignity in their places.

So let’s say Carrie Fisher is born under Saturn with some Venusian influence too.

Let us check fixed stars with the Ascendant:

Dabih in the horn of Capricorn is rising with Ascendant. This is a star of Venus-Mars nature which is listed as “helpful star” in the text of Anonymous 379, i.e. a star which can support the native in some way.

This star has the same nature of  the Ascendant (Capricorn is Venus triplicity and Mars triplicity and term) so it has some influence on the native. In fact we should be careful to consider just the stars which are in agreement with the the place we are considering, because stars promise according the nature of significator they mix with: they have prominent effects when they have the same nature, but limited and dimmed when they have a different nature.  (Cardano, Comment to Tetrabiblos).

And according  the same Cardano stars with the nature of Mars and Venus give great  and sudden luck, and make the natives  beautiful when young but ugly when adults- and give awful events, and pleasures become pains. And native will have bad habits. (Aphorisms, IV.124)

It’s not far from truth if we look at her picture. She is not ugly, true, but she looks  much older than 50. And her life was  surely not easy after the success and the fame.

According Astrolabium Planum a bear faces backwards arises with these part of sky ( notice MC at 27 Capricorn)

Cod. Pal. germ. 832

Abano is repeating what  Albumasar in his chapter about paranatellonta writes for the third facie of Capricorn:

According to Ptolemy, in this facie there arise the hinder parts of Ursa Minor, the coil in the body of Draco

Now let us check  Pleiades which are with the Moon:

Moon is in the 3rd mansion. (I’m following Paul Kunitzsch as quoted in  my translation about Moon Mansions from Vat.Reg. 1283) which is proper for talismans and works concerning with women and medicines for them. … and who is born in this mansion will be lucky.

Picture from Pingree-Lippincott IBN AL-HATIM ON THE TALISMANS OF THE LUNAR MANSIONS
Picture from Pingree-Lippincott "IBN AL-HATIM ON THE TALISMANS OF THE LUNAR MANSIONS"

Pleiades have the nature of Moon and Mars. They are a little pesty in nature and according Firmicus:

Those who are born when these are rising are always involved in luxury and lust. They are always drenched in perfumes, given to too much wine drinking, impudent in speech, so that in banquets and lovemaking they attack their companions with sarcastic wit.

It sounds like Hollywood, true?

So a Saturnian temperament mixed with some Venusian nuance seems possible for the actress.

In every case we can end our experiment with the usual method:

1) Ascendant: Capricorn is cold and dry.

2) Ruler of the Ascendant: Saturn is a cold and dry planet. It is occidental to the Sun, so again  it’s cold and dry, but in the first quadrant it’s little moister and warmer, and it is in opposition with the Moon in an earth sign, so I would say that it is definitely cold and dry.

3) Angular planets: the only angular planets are Saturn at MC which is cold and dry (see point 2) and the Moon in the 4th house.

4) Moon is in an Earth sign, cold and dry, but hot and dry because she is almost at the Full Moon. Near the IC very cold.

5) Moon is  separating from Venus, in an Earth sign, matutine, in the last phase before its heliacal setting, dry.
Moon is separating from Jupiter, moist star in an Earth sign,  oriental to the Sun so hot and moister.
Moon is applying to Saturn, cold and dry.

6) Ruler if the Moon: Venus.

Using the famous table:

So again we have the Saturnian temperament (i.e. melancholic as Greenbaum states) with some phlegmatic notes.

I should say that I cannot find a better conclusion than what Luis Ribeiro writes in the end of his article: “The method is coherent throughout all the authors regarding its theory and significators. There is only one method.”

Anyway I’m open to change my mind with quotes and references, as usually. Perfection unfortunately is not in this our world, at least after the fall of Eve.

Albrecht Durer- Adam and Eve
Albrecht Durer- Adam and Eve (1504)

In fact Adam and Eve before the original sin had a perfectly balanced temperament, while the four animals- imperfect in their nature- show the four temperaments:  the rabbit the sanguine, the cat the choleric, the ox the phlegmatic, the deer the melancholic.

_________________________________________________________________________

BIBLIOGRAPHY AND INSPIRATION (in mixed order):

Nicholas Culpeper, Galen’s art of physick: translated into English, and largely commented on together with convenient medicines for all particular distempers of the parts, a description of the complexions, their conditions, and what diet and exercise is fittest for them London 1652; Dorian Gieseler. Greenbaum, Temperament: astrology’s forgotten key (Bournemouth, England: Wessex Astrologer Limited, 2005); Graeme Tobyn, Culpeper’s medicine: a practice of western holistic medicine (Shaftesbury, Dorset; Rockport, Mass.: Element, 1997); Luis Ribeiro, Judging the Temperament: a study of the method but especially CieloeTerra teachings, in particular  Giuseppe Bezza, Translation of Haly Ibn Ridwan comment to Tetrabiblos, Mario Costantino, Qualità prime, elementi ed umori. (Linguaggio Astrale 108, september 1997); Giuseppe Bezza, Seminari di Roma; Giancarlo Ufficiale, Lezioni Scuola Cida di Roma: il temperamento.

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16 thoughts on “some notes about temperaments

  1. Very interesting article. And I am more on the side of your opinions than the opinions of Frawley, Dorian and even Luis Ribeiro.

    First of all, when in the books before renaissance did they use the season of the year in the computation of temperament? I think the Sun must be used this way when he has some testimony in the Ascendant/Moon. Lo and behold, your example table doesnt have the sun. That’s more coherent to me.

    Despite the fact of Luis Ribeiro has said “the method is only one”, the sun and other itens of his table are excessive, in my humbly view. And the almighty Ptolemy (sarcasm, lol.) hadnt drop any line saying that we must use the season of the year and the Sun on every chart. He only quoted the humours of the light in every season of the year. Period.

    One point I didnt’ ask you yet: The temperament is a method isolated and different from the method of knowing the form of the body? You would be very elucidating giving us your point of view in this subject.

    Thanks.

    Rodolfo.

  2. About Ribeiro I read just the first part of his article, I should still buy the second issue of Traditional Journal, but I don’t find it so awful
    About Frawley and company (I don’t want to quarrel with my friend Patrizia Nava who has Frawley course anyway, she is very nice and a great astrologer) I believe because they are tending to follow themselves rather than sources, ego is misleading, I’m afraid….

    This is Ptolemy chapter:
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/astro/ptb/ptb60.htm
    In my opinion this is its order:
    1) general significators of temperament (Ascendant, moon, their dispositors, fixed stars ascending with them)
    2) meaning of the seven planets according their heliacal phase (the so-called Lilly table)
    3) meaning of the Sun and the Moon when they are significators (for what I understand, for example a Leo ascendant with an angular Sun, I saw an example in my astrology class )
    4) again about general meaning of planets in their heliacal phases
    5) how the position of planets in the 4 different quadrants change the appearance
    6) some notes about constellations rising.

    About the Sun, I will be honest, I have no idea how arrived there, in the table…. In my opinion I don’t think Ptolemy is talking about the quarter of the year where the Sun is. And it seems to me that Haly understands the same as I understand.
    At least I understand this, but I could be wrong. It would be interesting to know what other readers think.
    I have no idea when the Sun was introduced. In Greenbaum book – I have not anyway- I read it some pages from Google 🙂 she mentions Antonio da Montulmo, as translated by Robert Hand. In every case I checked the Latin text- my Latin is not wonderful but I can guess it’s true. But as you states Montulmo writes at the beginning of Renaissance, Haly in fact does not mention the Sun in its quadrants.

    It would be interesting to know if someone knows who introduced this variant. For me in fact it’s strange, why I should check the Sun if the significators of the body are Ascendant and Moon?
    If someone know this, can write please?

    About the last question, I’m not an authority, I just try to think a little with my head, that’s all. You know how are pesty Virgos 🙂
    Anyway to me it’s the same method.
    First of all clearly Renaissance authors are repeating Ptolemy with some variants here and there, I have no doubt about this, Lilly table is taken from Ptolemy chapter.
    Second, it’s because a doctor or an astrologer should assess temperament even without a chart, looking at the body and ways of the native, it’s the famous Physiognomy . The cure and the medicines for every illness derived from the temperament of the native, and the temperament could be guessed by the shape of the body.
    If the shape of the body and the temperament and a chart of a native are not in agreement there should be some mistake somewhere, you know the hermetic axiom.

  3. “If the shape of the body and the temperament and a chart of a native are not in agreement there should be some mistake somewhere, you know the hermetic axiom.”

    One of my misunderstandings about Zoller’s course was concerning when the temperament contradicts physiognomy. And your point sounds clear: there would not have a awkward result if the computation of temperament would be the same as the computation of physiognomy. However, Zoller says that physiognomy is grasped from the planet which aspects the Ascendant with greater proximity.

    Thanks

    Rodd.

  4. Dear Margherita, one point more, please!

    I was wondering how can I draw at a ‘true’ result.

    To do it right, we must construct an Almuten-like table considering four points:
    Ascendant + Moon + Ascendant Ruler + Moon Ruler. Then, the planet with most testimonies above will give to us the bodily form and also the temperament?

    I am asking this because there seems to have another possibility: to compute every humour of the rulers of the points above and them sum all.

    Rodolfo.

  5. But why you write “thanks”?? It’s me I should thank for your comments and interest, no?
    While I was checking Hand translation – I know it sounds awful but we are at this point 🙂 it seems to me that Montulmo writes something like that. The same Greenbaum quotes Montulmo, I’m copying from her book: whether there is any planet in the degree of the Ascendant especially if it should have any dignity in these places…it will be a principal significator of the form of the native.
    I don’t know.
    Let’s say that with an Aries Ascendant Mars is in the angle: here Mars is important – I agree- and it will give a strong choleric emphasis; but a Virgo Ascendant with Mars at the Ascendant it is not the same thing, true?

    In every case in my opinion it is impossible that the shape of the body would be different from the temperament as determined by the astrologer through the native’s birthchart: here whoever can say what he wants, this is VERY wrong.

    A medieval or Renaissance doctor could just give a look to his patient and says which temperament was, and which was his illness and which the proper cure. This the Medieval astrologer knew from Galen. And from Galen and Dioscorides the Medieval doctor knew about the temperament of herbs.
    If the astrologer says that I’m a Venusian temperament while looking at my body I’m a clearly a Saturnine/Melancholic, believe me – I’ve asked to the wrong astrologer or I have given to him the wrong birth data!

    Anyway it’s an interesting subject and I collected several things about the four traditional temperaments. In Italy there are still people who use Mediterranean (Galen and Dioscorides) medicine. I met a couple of people practising it. Obviously they work as “herborists” but both have a scientific education.

  6. @I am asking this because there seems to have another possibility: to compute every humour of the rulers of the points above and them sum all.

    Told like that it seems we should have the same result. In every case can you try with Fisher example? I understand in theory, but I’m not sure in practice 😦
    You can post here and see the result, please ? But don’t use images, because WordPress hates them and delete them in the comments.

  7. Hi Margie, wot a lovely article, about this hollywood starlet…It seems incredible her success “one shot movie”, but everybody remember the roles played on two trash films like star wars- -and blues brothers.
    Personally I think that the horoscope and his ruler must suggest something about the personality disease. This androgynus lady has a bad character, lunatic and proud at the same time-saturn in a masculine, fiery sign in an angle- ruler of the hor. and high above all and that’s incredible! we are here talkin of her with this opposition Saturn-Moon. Jupiter conjunt to Venus are together in detriment in alien house, they can’t do much to safe from psichiatric illness. Not so sensible like it seems, the princess Leia.

  8. Hello Christine, happy to meet here, your blog is very nice.

    I read on the net Frawley said Saturn is dry even when oriental in Fulda lecture last year.

    Anyway I asked a corfimation in The Real Astrology List, where there are several of Frawley qualified horarists and they confirmed too. They say me Frawley is publishing his new book on natal astrology and he will write more on this.

    Anyway I have no problems with Frawley, it’s just that according Ptolemy – and Lilly follows in his table planet by planet- a planet after its heliacal rising is always moist.

    Everybody has his/her idea, I understand: as you see in my post there are even traditional astrologers saying that a fixed star with the Sun makes the temperament and the shape of the body. I just don’t agree, that’s all, but it’s just my idea.

  9. Hi Christine and Gjiada.

    The following is a quotation from a mail John sent to me on
    the 19 May 2008, as an assignment before the Bulach workshop:

    “Read The Real Astrology Applied, chapter: The Assessment of Temperament.
    I have learned more about temperament since writing this, so please incorporate
    these changes:
    * treat the Lord of the Ascendant and the Ascendant as separate points, giving a
    total of 5 bullet-points, not 4
    * treat Saturn as being dry, not moist”

    It seems that his ideas on the subject are still in progress, so let’s wait to
    see the final result (in his natal book)…

    Margherita, how nice of you to mention me on your blog!…And no need to quarrel about John! 😉

    Love
    Patrizia Nava
    http://www.astrologiaoraria.com

  10. Hello Patrizia,
    Sorry for the moderation, but this blog is worse than the Fascist 20 years of Mussolini dictatorship 🙂
    Anyway I try to give room to everybody, I delete just spam, but there is always some moments to wait to see readers’ comments.
    And thanks for your intervention, really appreciated.
    Spero di vederti presto, insieme al Leone 🙂

  11. Dear Margherita,

    The temperament/body of Carry Fisher – according to my computation – would be as below:

    Moon in Taurus
    Domicile – Vênus – 5 points
    Exaltation – Moon – 4 pts
    Triplicity (I use all, not only the sect ruler)
    Vênus – 3
    Moon – 3
    Mars – 3
    Term – Mars – 2
    Face – Saturn -1

    Capricorn Ascendant
    Dom – Saturn – 5
    Ex – Mars – 4
    Tripl
    Venus – 3
    Moon – 3
    Mars – 3
    Term – Mars – 2
    Face – Sun – 1

    Aspects (nearest):
    Venus-Jupiter aspects both Asc and Moon – 1 pt each
    Sun aspects Asc – 1 point

    Total: Sat – 21; Ven – 17; Moon – 13; Jupiter – 12; Mercury – 10; Mars – 7; Sun – 5

    Sat/Ven wins.

  12. But it is same thing I wrote 🙂

    Just two considerations, but they are doubts of mine, not “you are wrong!”:
    1) Sun should not have its own temperament, let alone when it is the ruler of Ascendant or something like that.
    In CieloeTerra they happily jump it- or I understand like that, at least.
    2) I have the doubt about Venus if we should consider her “hot and moist”, i.e. sanguine or “cold and moist” i.e. phlegmatic. There are different versions here. Anyway I’m going to translate something else about temperament of planets.

    What do you think?

  13. Sun should not have its own temperament, let alone when it is the ruler of Ascendant or something like that. In CieloeTerra they happily jump it- or I understand like that, at least.

    Well, that is a doubt of mine too, concerning both the luminaires instead of only the sun. Recently I had done a chart in which Moon was the almuten of temperament (Cancer Rising, Taurus Moon). However, Mercury was the second more prominent planet – but she is not Mercurial, not as much as Ptolemy says (he puts Mercury as having a more dark complexion and small eyes, but the native is very white and has large beautiful eyes – qualities of the moon). So I think the moon adds glamour and beauty – and Ptolemy says so. Nowadays I am not too much at the side of considering the luminaries a special case.

    I have the doubt about Venus if we should consider her “hot and moist”, i.e. sanguine or “cold and moist” i.e. phlegmatic. There are different versions here. Anyway I’m going to translate something else about temperament of planets.

    I have always considered Venus as hot and moist, however Abu Mashar says she is cold and moist. I think Venusian people are sociable, as not as Jupiterian. Venus humors has a share of cold, but not much. My doubt is: shall we consider the orientality/occidentality of Venus and then change her humours according to her position relative to the sun?

  14. Rodd wrote:
    Recently I had done a chart in which Moon was the almuten of temperament (Cancer Rising, Taurus Moon). However, Mercury was the second more prominent planet – but she is not Mercurial, not as much as Ptolemy says (he puts Mercury as having a more dark complexion and small eyes, but the native is very white and has large beautiful eyes – qualities of the moon). So I think the moon adds glamour and beauty – and Ptolemy says so.

    Yes, in this case I believe too we should consider Moon as a significator.

    My doubt is: shall we consider the orientality/occidentality of Venus and then change her humours according to her position relative to the sun?

    Yes, at least according Ptolemy the phase is one of the most important quality.

    If you consider in fact the case of Sun and the Moon, Ptolemy writes

    “the Sun adds a greater nobleness to the figure, and increases the healthiness of the constitution; and the Moon, especially when holding or delaying her separation, generally contributes better proportion and greater delicacy of figure, and greater moisture of temperament; but, at the same time, her influence in this latter particular is adapted to the proper ratio of her illumination; as referred to in the modes of temperament mentioned in the beginning of this treatise.”

    Whatever planet he considers significator- even the Sun or the Moon- the phase is prominent.

    Margherita

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