An Introduction to Interpreting the Four Humours

An Introduction to Interpreting the Four Humours

This Guest Post is by UK astrologer James Hirlehey.


The four humours are the cornerstone of reading a chart for the health and well-being of the native, as well as determining their character and temperament from a more traditional perspective. This article will introduce the four humours and will give you some suggestions for your own study and research.

What are the four humours?

Most people have heard of the four humours in the context of Ancient Greek philosophy. They are generally taught as being related to bodily fluids in the following way:

  • Sanguine – blood
  • Choleric – yellow bile
  • Melancholic – black bile
  • Phlegmatic – phlegm

Later, an astrological student might learn that sanguine relates to the element air, choleric relates to fire, melancholic relates to earth, and phlegmatic relates to water. Then, if you study further, you might learn about temperament in the context of general personality traits of each of these humours.

Temperament and humours are far more intricate than this, however, and they form the foundation for Western Astrology.

The two polarities

The four humours are based on two polarities, hot/cold and wet/dry. The hot/cold polarity is rather straightforward. It relates to literal heat and coolness, but it also relates to activity level. Hot is active and busy, and cold is passive and calm. The wet/dry polarity is a little more complicated. It has to do with unity and separation. Wet connects and brings things together, and dry separates them and creates distinctions.

The correspondence between the humours, elements, and polarities is as follows:

  • Sanguine – Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) – hot and wet
  • Choleric – Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) – hot and dry
  • Melancholic – Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) – cold and dry
  • Phlegmatic – Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) – cold and wet

 How the four humours were used historically

Before the 17th Century, the humours provided the structure by which astrology and medicine were practiced. When interpreting a Natal Chart, the astrologer would determine the temperament of the native, or that person’s natural balance between the polarities. Any medical or dietary advice would take into account the individual’s natural temperament as well as the apparent imbalance that could be determined by symptoms and by the chart that was cast to diagnose the patient. 

The animals and plants that are used as food or medicine also have temperament. The way foods or plants are prepared can alter their temperament. For example, cooking heats food, baking dries it, and boiling moistens it. Different activities also alter temperament as well. For example, most exercise is heating, and rest is cooling. 

Other applications of temperament

The principle of temperament also has application to the seasons, planets, and phases of the Moon. The temperament of the seasons is:

  • Spring (Aries, Taurus, Gemini) – hot and wet
  • Summer (Cancer, Leo, Virgo) – hot and dry
  • Autumn (Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius) – cold and dry
  • Winter (Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces) – cold and wet

The sign correspondences with the seasons are based on the Northern Hemisphere. It could be that these sign correspondences are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a topic that is wide open for astrological research.

The planetary temperament correspondences are not uniform in traditional sources. In William Lilly’s Christian Astrology, they are listed as follows:

  • Saturn – melancholic, cold and dry
  • Jupiter – sanguine, hot and wet
  • Mars – choleric, hot and dry
  • The Sun – hot and dry
  • Venus – phlegm with blood, temperately cold and wet
  • Mercury – variable according to the other planets nearby, but alone, melancholic, cold and dry
  • The Moon – phlegmatic, cold and wet

The temperament of the phases of the Moon are as follows:

  • New Moon to 1st Quarter Moon – hot and wet
  • 1st Quarter Moon to Full Moon – hot and dry
  • Full Moon to 3rd Quarter Moon – cold and dry
  • 3rd Quarter Moon to New Moon – cold and wet

Incorporating the Four Humours in Chart Interpretation

The easiest way to begin incorporating the four humours is to use the two polarities to take the temperature of the chart, as it were. There are various methods for calculating temperament, but a very simple approach is to just count the planets by element. 

We can try this with the chart of the famous celebrity and talk show host, Oprah Winfrey:


Every astrologer needs to decide for themselves what planets and chart points to use, but for this example, let’s use the Traditional Planets, the Ascendant and the Midheaven.

  • Sun – Aquarius (Air), hot and wet
  • Moon – Sagittarius (Fire), hot and dry
  • Mercury – Aquarius (Air), hot and wet
  • Venus – Aquarius (Air), hot and wet
  • Mars – Scorpio (Water), cold and wet
  • Jupiter – Gemini (Air), hot and wet
  • Saturn – Scorpio (Water), cold and wet
  • Ascendant – Virgo (Earth), cold and dry
  • Midheaven – Gemini (Air), hot and wet

By a simple count, we have 6 hot/3 cold, 7 wet/2 dry. By this count, Oprah Winfrey is hot, meaning she likes to be busy and active. Hot people also tend to be more extroverted than cold people. She is also very wet. This means that she tends to see how things and people are alike, and that she likes to bring people together. 

As you are experimenting with temperament, you can try adding other things into the mix and see what happens. For example, you may want to add in the season of the Sun, the phase or the Moon, and the Part of Fortune. If you do that, you get:

  • Season – Winter, cold and wet
  • Phase of Moon – 3rd Quarter, cold and wet
  • Part of Fortune – Scorpio, water, cold and wet

Adding these three into the mix would make her even in the hot/cold polarity 6/6 and even more wet with a score of 11/2.

If you want to study and experiment further, there are many other formulas that have been used for calculating temperament in the astrological tradition. As an aspiring astrologer, it is good practice to play with different planets and chart points, and perhaps try different formulas to see what seems to yield the most accurate results for you.

When experimenting with new techniques, the best practice is to start with your own chart, as you know the most about yourself. Then branch out to look at the charts of people you know well, like your friends and family. This way you can see for yourself if the four humours are useful to you in interpreting a chart, 

Conclusion

In this article, we have looked at the four humours and the principles behind them. We have also looked at how they were used historically and have given suggestions for how to begin to incorporate them into your own chart analyses. Hopefully, this will give you the tools you need to start experimenting with the four humours on your own.


James Hirlehey is a part-time astrologer at numerologysign.com and spiritual guide from the UK. He has been fascinated with astrology and divination from a young age, and his love for all things spiritual has only increased over time.


Pisces

Pisces

Pisces

Pisces Symbolism

Pisces is the sign of the Fish. Its symbol is two fish tethered together but swimming in the opposite direction.

 

Pisces Season

The Sun is in Pisces from February 21st to March 21st.

 

Pisces Key Phrase

Your key phrase is “I believe…” and many strong Pisces types use this to begin conversations.

 

Pisces’ Ruling Planets

You have two ruling planets; Jupiter your traditional ruler and Neptune your modern ruler.

 

Pisces Polarity, Element and Mode

If you are born under the sign of the Fish it means you fall under the fluid and flowing element of water.

You are in the quality of mutability which suggests you are flexible.

You are in the passive polarity indicating you will take in and absorb things more than most. This can mean you empathize with others.

 

Pisces Key Words

If you are Pisces you will make sacrifices and are understanding.

You will blend well with others and can be arty.

You may drift a bit in life but you have compassion.

You are idealistic and can become disillusioned at times.

You may be glamorous.

You can be vague, kind and will be happy to surrender.

You may retreat near the sea and you are spiritual and devoted.

 



Pisces Compatibility

Passionate for Virgo.

Loves Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

Friends with Taurus and Capricorn.

Stretches with Gemini and Sagittarius.

Grinds with Leo and Libra.

Ignores Aries and Aquarius.

Pisces Extras

Here are some more articles about Pisces.

The Other Signs

Discover some more astrology with the other signs.

Author Bio

Alison encourages you to explore your unique creativity and live a satisfying life through your personal astrology. She offers her insights from the heart and with a sense of humor.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

More Articles

If you enjoyed this post, you may like some more astrology related articles from our blog. 

Starzology has free information, tips and lessons for people who want to know more than their Sun sign.

This site is created by professional astrologer Alison Price.

Aquarius

Aquarius

Aquarius

Aquarius Symbolism

The Water Bearer is the symbol for Aquarius.

 

Aquarius Season

The Sun is in your sign from January 21st to February 21st.

 

Aquarius Key Phrase

Your key phrase is “I understand” and many Aquarians say this.

 

Aquairius’ Ruling Planets

Your ruling planets are Saturn, the traditional ruler, and Uranus the modern ruler.

 

Aquarius Polarity, Element and Mode

If you are an Aquarian you are of the air element meaning you are a thinker, and of the fixed mode indicating you are inflexible and like things to remain and the positive polarity suggesting you are outgoing and generally upbeat.

 

Aquarius Key Words

Aquarians are concerned with equality and the brotherhood of man.

You are generally humanitarian and humane.

You are detached and can be objective.

At times you are aloof and only seem friendly.

You are independent, willful and happy to be unconventional.

Being socially aware and progressive you support activism as a catalyst for change.

 

 



Aquarius Compatibility

Passionate for Leo.

Loves Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.

Friends with Aries and Sagittarius.

Stretches with Taurus and Scorpio.

Grinds with Cancer and Virgo.

Ignores Capricorn and Pisces.

The Other Signs

Discover some more about the other signs.

Author Bio

Alison encourages you to explore your unique creativity and live a satisfying life through your personal astrology. She offers her insights from the heart and with a sense of humor.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

More Articles

If you enjoyed this post, you may like some more astrology related articles from our blog. 

Capricorn

Capricorn

Capricorn

The Sun is in the sign of Capricorn the Sea Goat from January 1st to January 21st and from December 22nd to December 31st.

 

Capricorn Symbolism

A sea goat has a goat upper body and a fishtail much like a mermaid.

 

Capricorn Key Phrase

Your key phrase is “I aspire…” and many strong Capricornians will use it to start their sentences.

 

Capricorn Ruling Planet

Your ruling planet is the ringed planet Saturn.

 

Capricorn Polarity, Element and Mode

The Sea Goat is in the earth element suggesting you are practical and steady, the cardinal mode indicating you are a leader and of the feminine polarity which means you are receptive and happy to absorb others ideas and thoughts.

 

Capricorn Keywords

If you are a Capricorn you are well formed, persistent and ambitious in the traditional sense.

You can easily become an authority in your field.

You enjoy structure, shapes, and boundaries.

You are responsible, reliable and because of this, you can achieve your goals.

You have a backbone and will respect rank. You admire status and wish to attain it yourself.

Of all the signs you can measure concrete results in a mature and serious fashion.

 



Saturnalia

In this podcast episode, Alison and Arwynne discuss the Roman festival of Saturnalia which is celebrated as the Sun enters Capricorn each year.

 

Capricorn Compatibility

Passionate for Cancer.

Loves Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn.

Friends with Scorpio and Pisces.

Stretches with Aries and Libra.

Grinds with Gemini and Leo.

Ignores Sagittarius and Aquarius.

Planets in Capricorn

Below are a few planets in Capricorn (ok one so far). As I write more this list will grow.

 

The Other Signs

If you are interested there is more information about each sign. This should get you going with understanding each sign.

Author Bio

Alison encourages you to explore your unique creativity and live a satisfying life through your personal astrology. She offers her insights from the heart and with a sense of humor.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

More Articles

If you liked this post on Capricorn then opperhas you’d like to explore more astrology articles on our blog.

Astrological Holy Trinity

Astrological Holy Trinity

Learn about my current research into the Astrologer’s Holy Trinity and the highest-level temperature of the chart thus reducing it down to only four values.

Sagittarius

Sagittarius

Sagittarius

Sagittarius Symbolism

The symbol for Sagittarius is the Archer.

 

Sagittarius Dates

The Sun is in Sagittarius from around November 22nd to December 22nd.

 

Sagittarius Key Phrase

A Sagittarian key phrase is “I seek.”

 

Sagittarius Ryuling Planet

Your ruling planet is Jupiter the largest planet in the solar system.

 

Sagittarius Polarity, Element and Mode

If you are a Sagittarian then you are in the fire element suggesting you are inspirational and can make a spark.

You are of the mutable mode and this makes you changeable and adaptable.

You are of the positive polarity which provides you with an outgoing personality.

 

Sagittarius Keywords

Archers are cosmopolitan and love anything international.

You are open and have a breadth of vision.

You are a seeker and are keen to explore the world.

You are optimistic and like to live life large.

You are forgiving. You can be tactless and plunge in like a large puppy being excited but at the same time it can be disturbing for others.

You are the sign of the upwardly mobile and you can bring ethical principles to your life.

You have an extensive reach which you may use to gather life’s abundance.

You see the horizon as an opportunity to explore as who know if the be dragons there?

You have a strong faith and a positive spirit.

You can be philosophical and will search far and wide for your truth.



Sagittarius Compatibility

Passionate for Libra.

Loves Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.

Friends with Libra and Aquarius.

Stretches with Virgo and Pisces.

Grinds with Taurus and Cancer.

Ignores Scorpio and Capricorn.

Sagittarius Extras

Here are some more Sagittarian planets and extras. I’ll add more as I write them.

The Other Signs

Discover more about the others signs.

Author Bio

Alison encourages you to explore your unique creativity and live a satisfying life through your personal astrology. She offers her insights from the heart and with a sense of humor.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

More Articles

If you enjoyed this post, you may like some more astrology related articles from our blog. 

Scorpio

Scorpio

Scorpio

Scorpio Symbolism

The symbol for Scorpio is the Scorpion.

 

Scorpio Season

The Sun will be in Scorpio from around October 23rd to November 22nd.

 

Scorpio Key Phrase

The key phrase is “I desire” and strong Scorpio types will use this expression.

 

Scorpio Polarity, Element and Mode

Scorpio is of the element of water which means you are emotional, and of the fixed mode indicating you are a bit set in your ways. Scorpios are of the passive polarity suggesting you are receptive to others and may take things in for consideration before responding.

 

Scorpio’s Ruling Planets

If you are a Scorpio you have two ruling planets the traditional planet of Mars the warrior and the modern planet of Pluto the transformer.

 

Scorpio Sign Keywords

Scorpios are intensely passionate, survivors.

You have self-control and are penetrating. You like to delve to the bottom of things.

You are sexy, deep but also suspicious.

You can be unforgiving.

You fare well in a crisis.

You are potent and can be jealous.

Others think you are intimidating and if you are betrayed you will get revenge.



Understanding Scorpio

If you are born between October 21st and November 22nd you are known as a Scorpio.

What this really means is that the Sun was in the tropical zodiac sign of Scorpio when you were born.

The symbol is a scorpion which is a small arachnid which can hide in plain sight and often has a deadly sting.

 

Scorpio Characteristics

Scorpios really want to get the bottom of things. They will keep probing until they get the truth. You may find it hard to keep your secrets from a Scorpio.

They are passionate and this brings in the part where they really are considered the sexiest sign because of their passions. So if a Scorpio is interested in you they will want to plunder the depths of intimacy and explore your deep motivations.

Scorpios will support you in secret and will champion you from the wings. They will provide their votes for people and causes they believe in.

 

Scorpio’s Affinities

The Scorpio ruling planet is Pluto the lord of the underworld.

The Scorpio colour is cyan from the sign placement in the colour wheel and maroon or dried blood red from its connection with Pluto

Scorpio is associated with two body systems:

  • The reproductive system
  • The eliminatory system

The reproductive systems in both sexes are under the rulership of Scorpio. This includes the eggs, ovaries, womb and vagina in women and the sperm, penis and testicles in men.

The eliminatory systems which encompass the bowel, bladder and sweat glands. Scorpio also rules the vomiting reflex to purge unwanted things from the body.

Scorpio Compatibility

Passionate for Taurus.

Loves Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

Friends with Virgo and Capricorn.

Stretches with Leo and Aquarius.

Grinds with Aries and Gemini.

Ignores Libra and Sagittarius.

Planets in Scorpio

Here are some planets in Scorpio. as I write more I’ll add them here.

Scorpio Extras

Here are some more posts about Scorpio.

The Other Signs

Explore some more astrology and read about the other signs.

Author Bio

Alison encourages you to explore your unique creativity and live a satisfying life through your personal astrology. She offers her insights from the heart and with a sense of humor.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

More Articles

Here are some more articles about Scorpio and astrology in general.