So, we’ve talked about how the temperament affects us in our last article, but how can we have an effect on something we’re born with?
There are four major ways that temperament gets altered; age, diet, environment, and weather. Those are listed in order of most effective to least effective in producing a change or reinforcing lacking qualities. The middle two can arguably be swapped if an individual is approaching temperament with a more spiritual focus, whereas diet is going to be more of a physical focus.
Age has the largest effect on our temperament. A choleric is not as choleric at 40 as he was at 21, for example. The anger and defiance will typically dissipate in all but the most choleric of individuals as they experience life and navigate the waters of day to day social interactions. The link between the four temperaments and the four seasons was discussed in the individual articles, but life stages are also classically associated with seasons; youth is spring, young adulthood is summer, middle age is autumn, and old age is winter. The temperament/season associations also plays into the age/season associations to where youth is spring and sanguine, young adulthood is summer and choler, etc. This means that in youth, all individuals (regardless of natal temperament predispositions) will have a sanguine highlight that encourages them to explore their world and not notice social barriers or differences. As we age into adolescence, the seasons are mimicked as the youthful moisture dries up and the heat intensifies and makes us rash, impatient, and defiant. The cycle of the seasons continues through our melancholic middle age stage (planning for the future and becoming an authority figure) and our phlegmatic old age (reflecting on our lives and ruminate over our experiences).
Hippocrates’s quote “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” captures the spirit of the next most effective temperament adjustment; diet and general lifestyle changes. Different types of foods are associated with the four temperaments or the four qualities and people who eat to make up for their lacking qualities will have an easier time mitigating the problems caused by their excessive qualities. People are naturally drawn to things that they are similar to, so a phelgmatic will naturally desire to consume more phlegmatic food, which pushes them farther in excess of phlegm and causes more phlegmatic problems. However, by introducing hot food to warm up the coldness and dry food to soak up the moisture, they can slowly alleviate some of their difficulties over time. It is best to take a 70/30 approach to food where 70% of your diet is in some way opposite your temperament, while 30% of your diet supports your temperament.
The third way temperament is effected is through environment. This mostly relates to situations an individual finds themselves in day-to-day. Someone who works in retail will have more sanguine influences throughout the day by interacting with customers. Whereas someone who works in a library or laboratory will have more melancholic influences impressed upon them due to the quiet or focused nature of the building or area. While work can be a large influence, the home is the most important. This is essentially Western Feng Shui where one examines a living space and determines what temperament would be best served in either each room of the home, or a more general theme throughout the whole home. It’s important to keep in mind the occupant’s temperament and reinforce their lacking qualities or at least not try to emphasize their excessive qualities too much.
The final method of affecting temperament is the weather and climate. There’s a decent amount of research on this, and these types of stories get on local news stations every year. It’s always nice to find validation of astrological principles that have been around since at least Ptolemy’s time. The idea is pretty straightforward the summer heat and light makes people more “hot” and thus angry and impatient, while the winter cold and lack of light makes people more depressive and lethargic. While these changes might seem drastic, weather scores low on the list because it’s the easiest to overcome with diet and environment. Is it cold and rainy outside? Then you should have a bowl of beef stew. Is it hot and crisp outside? Have some ice cream. You typically want to eat against the weather, but it’s important to augment your diet if it’s the season that is opposite your temperament.
These four paths are all effective at augmenting the temperament and should be used in conjunction with one another for the greatest and most prolonged effects. By opening our minds and exposing ourselves to new and uncomfortable situations, we force ourselves to do or consider things differently than we normally would if we stayed within a comfort zone. It’s these experiences that change us into new and better people and forces the sanguine to be constant, the choleric to be compassionate, the melancholic to be content, and the phlegmatic to be courageous.
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