Temperament Assessment: A Short Method

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This audio is a brief tutorial in the short method that I use to determine the temperament from the natal chart. You’ll find the example chart (Pope Benedict XVI) for this tutorial below. In later tutorials, I will survey additional steps in traditional natal analysis, using this same chart.

In traditional astrology, the four temperaments – Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic – are the bedrock of natal delineation. And that’s because they encompass the fundamental qualities of everything that exists.

In the main, I am following William Lilly’s method, striking a balance between his “short form” on p. 120 of Christian Astrology, Book I and his long method in Book III (pp. 532-4). I do not incorporate planetary orientality/occidentality into my method, mainly because there are inconsistencies in the source materials that I haven’t worked out to my satisfaction. Also, I am reserving a consideration of the Lord of the Geniture for another audio.

This worksheet provides the basic values that I’m working with. It’s a work in progress. I’ll post any significant revisions to this blog.

Dr. Christopher Magnus

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew May 25, 2010 at 1:00 am

I’ve experimented with at least half-a-dozen or so different methods of temperament assessment (those of Greenbaum and Ribeiro included) but yours is by far the most accurate and accessible method I’ve ever used. It yields consistently reliable results; it isolates and identifies the distinctive elements that form the core of temperament assessment and assigns appropriate weight to each factor. You have succeeded where many others have only muddied the waters. I congratulate you on this achievement!

Dr. Christopher Magnus May 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Thank you for the encouraging words! I’m very happy to know that you’re getting good results with this method. It has been working for me, too, so I felt good about recommending it to others. 🙂

Like you, I haven’t been satisfied with a lot of the existing work on temperament assessment. As you know, most of the current research approaches the issue historically, hoping that by comparing enough old books, the true method will emerge. The result is usually too cumbersome to use (12+ factors!) in daily practice. Who has that kind of time? Plus, the traditional authors seem as confused as we are, adding on more and more factors in hopes that one more tweak will make everything work.

We also never actually learn why the technique works, why we should choose that factor and not another, or give it a certain weight. Why, for example, do we use the sign qualities sometimes and the planetary natures at others? Why should we use the primordial qualities in preference to the elemental humors, or vice versa? To me, those are important questions. I don’t think we can answer them without a good grasp of first principles. But really, I don’t know of anyone who makes an effort to explain – and not just describe – their technique.

I do owe a lot to Dorian Greenbaum. Her empirical studies actually produced a comparatively simple method that, in my experience, gives much better results than what you get by piling up Lilly, Gadbury, Coley, Schoener, Junctinus and everybody else. I do think she gives the Ascendant almuten too much importance. You might bring it in as a tie-breaker, especially if it beholds the Ascendant, but not otherwise. I also think that we have to incorporate the Ascendant ruler’s sign quality. The ruler is responsible for generating the principal real effects of the Ascendant, so its condition (as well as its intrinsic quality) has to be of first-tier importance.

At the end of the day, I won’t really be satisfied with any approach to temperament assessment until I’m confident that I’m working from a sound theoretical basis. I’ve got a long way to go!

Chris Magnus

Gary C August 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm

My chart is strongly choleric (6 points here) and sanguine next with 3 points. However, I have a strong melancholic streak which I attribute to an angular Saturn square the asc. I have 0 points in M in the above system. Have you ever noticed a planet strongly aspecting the asc. also being a strong factor in deciding temperament? In Ratzinger’s chart the strongly angular Mars in mundane square to the asc. should juice up his choler, even though he only has 1 point in that column.

Dr. Christopher Magnus August 8, 2010 at 8:34 pm

“Juice up his choler”… that made me smile. Choler gets very thirsty, doesn’t it! 🙂

Yes, I do think that planets configured with the Ascendant contribute to the temperament – in fact, much more strongly than planets in aspect to Lord-1 or the Moon. In my experience, any planet within a few degrees of any of the four angles will be a temperament factor, most likely because it will be strong by house and in mundane aspect to the rising degree. Like you, I’m affected by this. My temperament is very, very dry and more hot than cold. But I’ve got Jupiter and Venus on two of the angles. This adds a helpful dose of sanguine to the mix.

A working hypothesis of mine is that planets (a) give the humoral nature of their Sign when they are related to the Asc., 1-ruler or Moon via dispositorship or zodiacal aspect; and (b) give their own essential humoral nature when related to the Ascendant through angularity/mundane aspect. So, Ratzinger gets Mars’ choler through that mundane square to the Asc. instead of yet more sanguinity from Gemini.

I left these considerations out of the temperament worksheet because they’re a bit advanced. The worksheet is meant more for folks who are just getting acquainted with the Tradition.

— Chris M.

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