Humoral Diagnosis – Part 2: A Real-life Case Study

Humoral Diagnosis - Humoral Medicine - Medical Astrology

In this article you will learn the horary humoral diagnosis technique used in humoral medicine to determine the proportion of the elements / humors in a living organism.

The humoral diagnosis technique described below first appeared in known literature in William Lilly’s Christian Astrology.

It is quite buried and easy to miss, so it remains unknown to most contemporary traditional astrologers.

John Frawley however, spotted the technique in Lilly’s writings and put it to the test over the years, proving its accuracy. As will be demonstrated in this article.

Armed with a humoral diagnosis the competent healer may devise a treatment plan to address both the symptoms and the root cause of the symptoms.

The Context

The querent’s partner’s daughter is exhibiting mental problems ranging from extreme OCD and anger, to paranoia and suicidal thoughts. She is currently taking anti-depressant medications. She is in her thirties.

Before delving into the horary below let’s take a look at a section of her birth chart while keeping in mind that she has a strongly unbalanced choleric temperament. She was born too hot and too dry. Too much fire.

(For those who would like to know how to assess the birth temperament there is a link to an article at the bottom of this page.)

The Birth Chart

humoral diagnosis mercury on fire natal

I want to draw attention to Mercury as it sits right inside the 6th cusp of her birth chart, and to Venus, L6 (the ruler of house 6) in house 4.

Mercury hints at potential illnesses of a Mercurial nature and Venus of a Venusian nature. What illnesses exactly, is impossible to say looking at a birth chart. (Astrologers who dare to specify are, in my opinion, out of their minds (a quick necessary digression.)

Also to be noted: Mars is her Lord of the Geniture, that is, her most essentially as well as accidentally dignified birth planet. Mars is in its own sign and in its joy in the 6th house.

The Lord of the Geniture is the wise friend we carry within. Mars is her lifesaver in, if she can muster it.

Horary: What is wrong with her?


humoral diagnosis mercury on fire

Humoral Diagnosis

The humoral diagnosis technique is simple and straightforward. There are exceptional cases that the astrologer must be able to recognize and address, but this example is one of the common ones and applies to roughly 90% of the cases.

The quesited is signified by the ruler of the turned 5th from the 7th (the partner’s daughter). So, she is signified by Venus.

Venus is in Gemini. Its dispositor, Mercury, gives us two crucial pieces of information:

1. it shows us the type of humoral imbalance that is the cause of her symptoms along with its degree and mode.

2. it shows us the main afflicted organ or system.

Venus itself tells us that her Venusian function is off-balance too.

Mercury being at zero degree of Leo tells us that she has an excess of heat of first degree and dryness of second degree.

The imbalance is of the second degree (out of 4 degrees). The excess is fixed (Leo) meaning that it is a problem that is ingrained and difficult to alter therefore requires correct knowledge and persistent treatment to change and heal. This is not a condition that will go away easily or that one medicine or one treatment modality alone can heal.

The information about the imbalance degree comes from Richard Saunders 17th century book “Physick.” The four degrees correspond to the four degrees of the elements in Unani-Tibb medicine.

Remember that she is a strongly choleric person from birth? And Mercury inside her natal 6th cusp?

Here we are, the horary shows the first two promises from the natal chart have come to manifest in her life. That is, her excess of fire (cause) has caused her Mercury function to misbehave (symptom).

In concrete terms, the chart is literally saying that at this time in her life she has too much fire stuck in her mind and nervous system.

I have done over a thousand diagnoses like this and it never ceases to amaze me how eloquent and accurate it is. What a beautiful tool… I digress…

Ok, the basic humoral diagnosis is done. The humoral imbalance is an important dimension of her condition and must be addressed for healing to take place.

Symptoms and Other Factors

The horary chart also gives us a wealth of information about her condition that is relevant and must be addressed in treatment as well the elemental imbalance.

We have various testimonies painting the picture of all of the relevant factors in her condition.

Neptune is on the radical 4th cusp, hinting at congenital issues inherited from family. This, is corroborated by the natal chart, with Venus (L6) being in house 4. The radical 4th doubles as her turned 6th house. This set of testimonies warrants talking to the querent about the quesited’s ancestry and possible cases of psychological problems (and discussing it with a professional.)

House 12

Jupiter, the house 4 ruler (L4), squares the 4th cusp, emphasizing Neptune’s testimony. Additionally we have Saturn closely sextiling the 4th cusp, effectively linking Saturn to Jupiter and her house 6 (or 4, or both).

Adding to the picture we have the same planets aspecting her turned 12th cusp, which house Mercury rules.

If there is any doubt about analyzing house 12 in this case look no further than the context itself: depression, OCD, suicidal thoughts. House 12. And there is more self-undoing below.

Also, Fortuna is not where it is as a meaningless appendage, just for decoration. Fortuna is a sign post. Pay attention to it in medical and psychological astrology.

We will look further into details below, but at this point we know that her illness/symptoms are linked to her self-undoing and vice versa. And that must be addressed.

Her Current Treatment

Venus’ last aspect on the horary was a sextile with the Moon. The Moon’s last aspect shows a major influence in her symptoms. What could the Moon be?

The Moon is her medication (turned 10th from the 11th). The Moon is essentially debilitated (peregrine) and in Venus’ detriment. The medication she is taking is harming her and making her worse. She must discuss and pursue alternatives with her doctor, besides putting in practice all of the recommendations I will list below.

Look at her turned house 10. The Sun (her central nervous system) is inside the cusp. Mercury is in that house and is ruled by the Sun. This is sharply descriptive of the nature of her medication and her condition. Venus is not far from the Sun’s antiscion.

What could Mars be?

Her diet. I was told she eats wasabi by the spoon! Talk about self-undoing! That debilitated Mars afflicts her medication. The anti-depressant sedates her and the wasabi gives her a kick of fire. Her current treatment is like driving with the handbrakes on.

Mars’ antiscion opposes her turned 3rd cusp thus afflicting it, which brings us back to Jupiter.

What else could Jupiter stand for?

I was told she sits and watches television all day!

Jupiter is the ruler of her turned 3rd house (L3): her daily routine, her lifestyle, therefore her exercise regimen. 

Bingo! Our understanding of the context (a crucial factor in successful horary interpretation), tells us what message Jupiter wants to tell us and how it is liked to her house 6 as well as 12.

Jupiter is retrograde, so no exercise. It is angular and in Mercury’s detriment, so it harms her nerves, and Venus, being in Jupiter’s detriment, does not like exercising.

Well, a sedentary lifestyle is bad for anyone, even for those who have no humoral imbalance. What do we expect lack of physical exercise will do to somebody who has too much fire?

It will break one’s nervous system apart to begin with, and cascade into other problems from there. Bursts of anger, OCD, paranoia, suicidal thoughts sound about right to me.

The planetary aspects activating house 12 are more than corroborated by now. And in case anyone missed it, both Jupiter and Saturn aspect her ascendant at 18 Libra. We have an eloquent web of connections giving us a snapshot of all of the relevant factors in her condition.

Just imagine what a good healer can do with a tool such as horary to diagnose and describe the situation. Fantastic!

Enough? No, there is more…

Is this person having fun? No.

Is fun important in her condition?

Of course. If you have fun you don’t think about killing yourself, or make sure that the cutlery is all perfectly aligned as a mater of life-and-death, or lash out at people.

So, we have enough evidence suggesting that Saturn, on the South Node, can be taken as the ruler of her house 5 here. Watching TV just doesn’t cut it. We will look at some recommendations below. Venus, as the natural ruler of pleasure, and all things female, is not fulfilled due to Mercury’s imbalance.

The fire must go somewhere, and where there is a weakness it causes that organ or system to break. In her case, her mind and nervous system (Mercury).

So, what to do?

We reach for a bottle of the oldest medicine there is: common-sense.

Humoral medicine is not complicated medicine. I trust the reader will agree that it is easy to understand her symptoms and how it relates to the excess of fire. She is a sitting volcano. So, what to do is rather simple.

I do not mean to say that more severe interventions are not needed. Perhaps there is a congenital component that will not be found (Neptune). But addressing the basics of the humoral imbalance shown by the humoral diagnosis goes a long way in improving one’s life quality and must be covered. 

The foundation is the elements or humors. By addressing the excess of fire we will enable her body and mind to de-stress. From there, even if she continues on anti-depressants she can begin improving different aspects of her life, which can open new doors for her.


Some form of exercise is beneficial in removing fire from her system. Run, ride a bicycle, better yet, row or swim, be near the water which is the opposite of fire and will cool and moisturize her body, nervous system and mind. Maybe she will even meet her future boyfriend at the club or gym. On TV she is sure not to.

Do not spend too much time in the sun, specially when exercising; as that will increase fire and exacerbate the symptoms.

Exercise sessions must be intense but short. This works through the principle of sympathy: eliminate fire with fire. Short exercise sessions or short sauna sessions, increase heat rapidly, and eliminate it rapidly too. Do not do long sessions as they will increase heat without eliminating enough. Not good.

Remove heating and drying foods from her diet. No hot spices like wasabi, peppers, chili, garlic, ginger or peppermint. Minimize drying foods, like pasta, potatoes and most wheat products. Add cooling and moisturizing foods like watermelon, chamomile tea, mango, salads, cucumber.

Follow this link and avoid heating foods while adding cooling foods from this list >>

Remember her natal Lord of the Geniture? Mars?

Practice short sessions of fiery or Martial activities.

Archery. Martial arts. Sexual activity of some kind. These are examples of removing fire with fire. It has to be short. Again, prolonged heating activities are harmful. No all-night sex. Quick ones only.

It stands to reason that suicidal thoughts refer to a condition of deep lack of satisfaction or enjoyment. Pleasure is important. It has to be introduced and managed wisely probably with professional help.

Psychotherapy is a given in her condition. It is important to expose oneself and discuss one’s inner world with a professional mature and experienced human being or else house 12 takes over completely and reman in charge ad-infinitum. Remember that Mercury rules her turned house 12.

Since we are dealing with the mind and fire creative activity would be beneficial. Dancing, singing, drumming.

Sedation will not heal her but will cool down some of her symptoms. However, one of the common side-effects of some anti-depressants is “suicidal thoughts!” (Isn’t modern medicine amazing?). It would definitely be a good idea to consult an Ayurvedic, Chinese Medicine or Unani-Tibb doctor to find a suitable alternative to her medication, if possible.

Venus is on the star Bellatrix: the female warrior. Finding something healthy or noble to fight for could be beneficial. That goes totally in line with her natal Lord of the Geniture: Mars. Isn’t that cool?

There we have it. A number of common-sense measures based on a simple piece of information: fire. If she can try some of the recommendations for long enough they may alleviate her symptoms and create some space for healing and a better quality of life.

Watch the video of this interpretation

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