As we are moving into the summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the winter in the Southern Hemisphere, it seems a good time to talk about managing temperament. I previously wrote about my method for calculating a person’s ideal temperament; however, anyone can become off balance in any direction, regardless of their temperament.
As I discussed in the previous article, temperament is a combination of two sets of polarities, hot/cold and wet/dry. The hot/cold polarity refers to the actual level of heat, but it also refers to a person’s energy level, emotional and physical. The wet/dry polarity refers to the actual physical sensation of wetness and dryness, but it also refers to whether things are connected or separate, whether they are blended together or distinct.
It is my theory that these polarities act as a pendulum, with the center for each person being individual, and this center can be seen in a Nativity Chart. While the center for each person is individual, the symptoms of imbalance are universal.
Symptoms of Hot/Cold Imbalance
- Elevated or depressed mood
- Feeling physically hot or cold
- Sleep disturbances/sleeping too much
- Anxiety for no apparent reason
- Fevers or chills
- Cravings for hot/spicy food
- Excess phlegm, which may be a sign of being too cold and too wet
Symptoms of Wet/Dry Imbalance
- Feeling bloated
- Excessive thirst
- Salt and/or sugar cravings
- Difficulties with making decisions
- Making hasty decisions
- Being overly judgmental
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Feeling disorganized
- Difficulty seeing nuances
Because these polarities seem to operate as a pendulum, during periods of imbalance people often swing between one extreme and another, so it may not always be easy to tell the direction of the imbalance. For example, irritability may be a sign of being too hot, but it may also be a reaction to being too cold. A temperament analysis is a good place to start, because it will show the ideal balance and the most likely tendencies towards imbalance. An astrologer can also look to current transits and progressions to determine the most likely direction of imbalance at a particular time.
One can also look to recent activities, the current weather, the seasons, the phases of the Moon, and the time of day for clues as to the direction of imbalance. The qualities of the seasons are as follows:
- Spring is wet, becoming hot
- Summer is hot, becoming dry
- Autumn is dry, becoming cold
- Winter is cold, becoming wet
The seasons start with the quality they are, and progress into the quality they become. The phases of the moon also technically have qualities they are and they become; however, they proceed so quickly, it makes more sense to see them as both qualities. The phases of the Moon are as follows:
- New Moon: hot and wet
- 1st Quarter Moon: hot and dry
- Full Moon: cold and dry
- 3rd Quarter Moon: cold and wet
The qualities of the time of day are:
- Dawn to noon is hot and wet
- Noon to sunset is hot and dry
- Sunset to midnight is cold and dry
- Midnight to dawn is cold and wet
The fastest way to change one’s balance is through medicine, herbs, and spices. One should use care, however, because quick changes in balance can cause quick reactions in the opposite direction.
Heating herbs and spices
- Most “hot” spices, i.e., chili powder, paprika, pepper. Cumin is also heating, but it tends to moderate the heat of other heating spices
- Italian herbs, such as oregano and basil
Cooling herbs and medicinal flowers
- Rose/rose water
- Raspberry leaves
Salt and sugar change one’s balance to the same extent as herbs and medicine. Salt dries the body and sugar moistens the body. Sugar is also heating. Cinnamon is heating, but it moderates the moistening effect of sugar.
Water is nutritive only and in and of itself does not change one’s balance in any direction; however, hot water will heat the body and cold water will cool the body. Baths will moisten the body and not taking baths will dry the body. Drinking water along with meals will moisten the body; not drinking water until after meals will dry the body.
Foods change one’s balance as well, but more slowly and gently than herbs, medicines or spices.
Dairy is cold and wet, with the exception of aged cheeses which are drying. Most meat from land animals is heating, with the exception of pork which is cold and wet. Most fish and seafood is cooling and moistening. Baking food dries it. Wheat and oats are heating; rye and barley are cooling. Popcorn is moistening; however, the addition of a lot of salt will change the balance to drying. Fruits tend to be cold and wet; however, dried fruits are drying. Potatoes are drying, while rice is moistening. Most vegetables are cold and wet when raw, but become heating when cooked.
Exercise and activity is heating, as is excitement and stress. Swimming is cooling and moistening. Rest and sleep are cooling. Drying activities include analytical activities such as balancing a checkbook, organizing anything, or doing intellectual puzzles. Free form and creative activities tend to be moistening.
If one is swinging on either axis, it may be safer to adjust the balance along the other axis. The axes affect each other as follows: Heat dries; dryness cools; cold moistens; moisture heats.
One can also adjust one’s balance by changing the time of day that one is most active.
Working with Doctors
It goes without saying that I am an astrologer and not a doctor. Furthermore, maintaining a proper balance for one’s temperament does not heal any specific illness. What it does do is to protect one’s overall health and helps with resistance to physical and emotional illness. In an ideal world, doctors would be aware of temperament and adjust treatment and recommendations accordingly.
Unfortunately, however, modern medicine has rejected the use of temperament centuries ago in favor of an approach based purely on substance. The rejection of the use of temperament came at around the same time as the Industrial Revolution and the mass production of food. With mass production of food, it becomes difficult to know the actual qualities of the food. Even if one knows the ingredients, the production methods may alter the qualities in unknown ways. The current system of food analysis was devised long after the official rejection of temperament and is a “one size fits all” analysis, assuming that the same recommendations will work for everyone and in every season and every time.
This being the case, most doctors will not know about temperament, and if they do they will have been taught that this is an outmoded view of medicine and nutrition that went out with practices such as bloodletting. Often the best one can hope for is a doctor who will tolerantly humor the patient in these matters.
An even greater difficulty is that it is almost impossible to know how most pharmaceuticals will impact the balance of the body. Modern science does not test for such matters, which is likely why the risk of side effects are so great. With herbal medicine, there are resources such as Thomas Culpeper’s Complete Herbal to provide such information.
Despite these difficulties, it is possible for most people to work with their temperament alongside their current treatment regimen. In most cases, unless one has specific allergies or dietary adverse reactions due to medication, people are given a list of recommendations which are often contradictory or confusing with respect to diet and maintaining physical well being. Almost always one is told to lose weight and to stop smoking without being given much assistance as to how one would actually go about doing so. Researching these matters online can lead to further confusion as contradictory theories abound.
An awareness of temperament can be useful in sorting through all of this information. I believe that the reason for all of the contradictory information is that there really is not any “one size fits all” with respect to temperament. Different people have different needs at different times. Cognizance of these principles allows one to choose between the varying approaches and recommendations and to determine which approach is most likely to succeed at any given time. There is often enough leeway in recommendations that one can adjust for temperament while still being in compliance with one’s regular treatment.