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 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)
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.
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.
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.