We’ve spent a lot of time going over the individual temperaments and their influence on an individual in this series, now it’s time to take a look how this information can be useful to know.
Temperament is something that is innate to the individual. While these temperaments can be built upon and improved over time, these are the skills that an individual comes into this world with. A sanguine is going to be a natural at interacting with others, but with time and training the other temperaments can pick up those skills. At the same time, this ability to pick up the skills and habits of other temperaments shows its flexibility. Age, weather, diet, and environment will all have their say on what sort of temperament is being exhibited by an individual at any given time. The idea is that, while the native’s natural temperament will be the base to play off of, external stimuli will slowly add their own qualities to it and can potentially alter the temperament if the qualities are continually being introduced over appropriate lengths of time.
It’s very important to remember that everyone is all four temperaments all at the same time. It is the unequal mixture of these four that will determine which one or two someone is more like. Let’s look at an example.
It’s best to think of temperament as a bag of marbles that everyone carries with them. The marbles inside the bag are an unequal assortment of yellow (representing choler), black (representing melancholy), red (depicting sanguine), and blue (characterizing phlegm) marbles that total up to 100. When an individual encounters some event in their life they will reach into their bag and will randomly pull out a marble. The color of this marble will determine with what temperament’s strategy the individual will respond to their situation with. Someone with a dominance in choler will more than likely respond with a choleric strategy (head on, defiant, angry) since their bag will have more yellow marbles than any of the other individual colors inside of it. With this knowledge, the choleric individual from our example will be able to take a step back and rationalize that they are more likely to respond to situations with a choleric attitude and they can then begin to determine if that is the appropriate way to handle each unique circumstance that comes along. This is the way an individual comes back to center with their temperament mentally.
Another use of temperament is knowing how our excesses and predominances effect us physically. As covered in the individual posts, each temperament and quality will have their own effects on an individual’s body both through its natural physical appearance (cold temperaments tend to be shorter than hot temperaments, dry temperaments tend to be thinner than wet temperaments, etc), constitution (hot is more hearty than cold, dry doesn’t catch things as easily as wet), and illnesses an individual encounters often (hot; injury, cold; lethargy, dry; aches, wet; swelling). Knowing this, one can alter their diet and environment to encourage the growth of the qualities they are lacking to help bring them back to center physically.
There’s some misunderstanding and uncertainty about how important the temperament is in respect to the rest of the natal chart. For instance, what if someone is sanguine but has Saturn in the First house? This will surely put a damper on that lofty, free-spirited energy. The response to this is that typically these sorts of factors are counted into the temperament calculation. This is going to depend a lot on which calculation is employed by the astrologer, but many of the more “long” calculations will consider planets aspecting the Moon or the Ascendant. For example, a melancholic with Venus aspecting the Ascendant will have lighter, fuller, more physically attractive features and may find it easier to engage in social activities, they will still suffer from the melancholic downtime and want to mostly be away from people when they can choose to be.
The goal of knowing temperament is having foreknowledge of habits and being able to change those habits when they are deemed destructive, useless, or no longer desirable. If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, then knowing ones temperament is the first step in freeing us from our repetitions. However, the primary focus in temperament therapy should be bringing an individual back to center so they no longer suffer from symptoms of their excesses. If our choleric individual in our marble analogy has 40 choleric marbles and 30 sanguine marbles, then we want to try to change some of those into phlegmatic and melancholic to arrive at a more even 25/25/25/25 split. This is, of course, idealized and very difficult to achieve, but even just dissipating some of that excessive heat will have a profound effect on that individual’s mood and outlook on life.
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