Birth Temperament – Step 1 in Natal Interpretation

The Four Elements - Traditional Medical Astrology

Why is assessing the birth temperament so important?

The birth temperament describes the material we are made of by giving us the proportion of the elements in our mental, emotional and physical constitution.

There are various techniques floating around on how to assess the temperament, from exceedingly complicated all the way to incomplete and inaccurate.

As for inaccurate many people consider the Sun to be hot and dry and the Moon cold and moist. Not so in temperament assessment.

The Sun takes its temperament from its season, starting from zero degree Aries. And the Moon takes its temperament from its quarter starting from the Sun’s position. They do not take their temperament from their natural qualities.

My technique, which is based on John Frawley’s, is simple, accurate, effective and repeatedly proven in practice.

There are five main points to consider. Establish the elemental quality of those five points and we have the temperament. Then we can fine-tune it as needed.

The five points are:

  1. Ascending sign
  2. Lord of the Ascendant
  3. The Sun
  4. The Moon
  5. The Lord of the Geniture


Here is an example. Consider the following chart.

temperament 1
Gemini — HOT and MOIST
Mercury — COLD and DRY
Winter Season — COLD and MOIST
Last Quarter — COLD and MOIST
Saturn — COLD and DRY


We have four COLD points out of five and we have three MOIST points out of five. This person has an excess of coldness and a preponderance of moisture. A strong phlegmatic tendency.

In order to fine-tune the temperament, we would look at the signs the planets are in and close aspects. But in most cases that would be irrelevant for practical purposes. The general temperament of those five points is what matters.

For example, look at Mars. Mars is naturally hot and dry so it adds some heat and dryness to the ascendant temperament. Yet, that will not change the fact that the ASC is hot and moist; it only modulates it to some degree.

Here we have a mostly phlegmatic person. All seven planets will have to perform in a phlegmatic or watery environment and that will be reflected in the native’s behavior in the world. Very different from a choleric, melancholic or sanguine environment.

We must assess the temperament before anything else in natal delineation. Ignore it and we may be delineating an imaginary person.

To be fair, since most people have a more or less balanced temperament, disregarding temperament does not make much of a difference in many cases.

But for those who have an unbalanced temperament, it makes a significant difference. So, proper natal delineation must begin with the temperament or else we will get a distorted picture of the person’s potential.

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