Sunday, 21 August 2011

Outer planets and temperament

Assessing the temperament is not as easy as some authorities would have you believe. The mere fact that there is so much disagreement over the correct way of assessing it proves my point. We may easily discard the modern method -which simply takes into account the signs the planets are in - as general and vague, but it seems that traditional astrologers as well cannot agree on which chart factors are important for the correct assessment. In Dorian Greenbaum's book on temperament, all the various methods that have been proposed over the years are presented and she comes up with her own method, which is in many ways different than the ones presented. John Frawley has also his own method. The problem is which chart factors should be included and - even more importantly - how.
Let me complicate things a bit further. What about the outer planets? It is my belief that although outer planets are overrated in modern astrology, they are underrated in traditional astrology. I wholeheartedly agree on the fact that they don't rule signs, but that doesn't make them unimportant. They are simply different than the other planets in the sense that they are not affected by the sign they are in. They are beyond signs. It is the sign and the area of life that is associated with it that is going to be affected, not the other way round.
So should we include them in the assessment of temperament? My answer is yes, I don't think it's safe to completely ignore them. We need to be careful, though. If they are closely conjunct the angles or form tight aspects - the strong ones (conjunction, opposition, square) with the Lights or the ruler of the Ascendant, I think it's best to include them.
But then, what is their temperament? Since they are in a class of their own, they must have a natural temperament regardless of the sign they are in or whether they are oriental or occidental of the Sun.
I think there can't be any doubt that Neptune is by nature extremely cold and extremely moist. It is the planet of hypersensitivity, of great emotionality, of inertia and apathy and of very low energy levels. Uranus is indeed very individualistic (which means that it can't possibly rule Aquarius) and likes to break rules, but unlike Aquarius doesn't want to replace them with new ones. He is interested in chaos and anarchy and likes to cause havoc whenever he can. I think this makes him hot and dry.
Finally, with Pluto we have the same problem as Mars, which is a hot and dry planet but a nocturnal one that rules the water triplicity. It is the Scorpio problem, a cold and moist sign ruled by a hot and dry planet, Mars. Pluto is a planet that can cause great emotional turmoil, but with hot and dry action. It doesn't connect, but separates things, it eliminates all the things that threaten survival and very often with extreme brutality. A Pluto period is almost invariably a period of very high adrenalin levels, of extreme alertness and cautiousness. I think this classifies Pluto as a hot and dry planet.
Tell me what you think.


  1. I don't have an opinion about including them in the temperament or not.

    But I must say that if we include them we might as well include some major stars as well. I wonder whether, in practice, we need those extra levels of granularity. Well, we won't know if don't try it. So, I support the research and will keep an eye out for it.

    I'm going through a similar questioning about horary medical diagnosis in conjunction with the natal temperament assessment. There is a level of granularity that appears to be missing from the current methods of interpretation that I know. I'll write an article about it and will invite your views.

    Thanks for the great article and lucid thinking.

  2. Felipe, I believe the outer planets produce results when powerfully placed in a chart and so I don't think it's wise to ignore them. A fiery Sun loses some of that fire when tightly aspected to Neptune for example, so if we disregard this aspect we may not assess the Sun correctly. But that's my opinion, of course.
    I've decided to include them in the assessment of temperament because, to be honest, I'm not satisfied with the results of the other methods. Perhaps, when it comes to temperament, we need to be virgoan about it and take even the little things into account. I don't know. But the fact that practically every author comes up with their own method, that makes me suspicious.

  3. I don't include the outers in temperament-calculation (yet), but I tend to use them as Significators of Manner, when they are in very tight aspect with the ascendant (conjunction, square or opposition). Martien Hermes, dutch classical astrologer, "constructed" the temp. of the outers like you did, already a few years ago; it definitely works - although Pluto remains a difficult character, lol.
    I find Uranus as SoM makes the temperament come out erratic and unpredictable; Netpune ofcourse makes it all fuzzy or swept away by emotions; and Pluto, well does his/her Pluto-thing with the temperament: it: hides it out of sight, very manipulative and controlling...
    Very interesting connections to observe, this way, and understand the native's functioning. Imagine ascendant, lord 1, sun and moon all of the choleric temperament, and Neptune is in exact opposition with the ascendant; this person tries and initiates all the time, but suffers from severe energy-leaks, or lack of direction, looses his impetus every moment there should be definite action... When frustraton has built up enough, this could result in a torrential emotional break-out or such.

  4. Thank you Herman for your comment. So, this Dutch astrologer you mention agrees with the qualities I've attributed to the outer planets. That's very interesting.
    You say that you use them as significators of manner, yet not for temperament. Why? Don't you think they can influence the temperament too?

  5. Hi Petros, it is rather I woudn't know how to "weigh" them; for temperament-calculation I used a simplified JF-version, as used also by 2 other dutch colleagues (Oscar Hofmann and George VZanten): asc, lord 1, sun and moon, all get 1 point; overall result can be modified by the quality of the Lord/Lady of the Geniture. This is really simple, but gives good and workable results in daily practice (consulting) (wow, I WISH that was daily practice, LOL).

  6. Petros, I agree that the outer planets must impart influence. And I can't see why they would not affect the temperament. My question is how much of that influence makes the balance tip. Do they they have the same weight as a conjunction with an inner planet? I don't know. I suppose this can be answered only by studying a bunch of significant charts and knowing how the temperament manifests in the native's real life.

    From experience I can attest only to my wife's and my own temperament assessment using JF's method. In our cases the method has proven to be accurate enough. I have lived and observed the effects of my temperament for many years now, so it is well proven in experience. But in my case I have no outer planets that could add to it. I do however have Antares on my already hot and dry Moon, in a trine with the ascendant, which I believe adds to the fire.

  7. It is so difficult to categorize Pluto (for me, at least, when I try to wreck my brains about it). Sometimes it is like an erupting volcano, and sometimes like an iceberg... Like some two-headed hermaphroditic beast, both hot and cold, neither dry nor wet (akin to a snake). I was hoping to soothe my disquiet by reading this article, but alas... So, my real question is: Petros, do we really HAVE to decide on this one? :)

  8. It may look like an iceberg, but I sincerely doubt that it feels like one. Yes, we can perhaps do without Pluto, but what if it is conjunct one of the angles or in tight aspect to the Lights?

  9. Petros, I didn't say that we should do without Pluto. I am more than interested in this topic, since a Pluto/Uranus conjunction is in exact square to my Mars/Moon/Venus conjunction. I meant: do we have to categorize it? It was a question with a smile, of course, because thinking about it drove me crazy. In the course of my life, the transiting Pluto has conjuncted all my planets except Saturn and Jupiter. That's probably where my confusion comes from. Pluto on my Mars was the volcano, Pluto on my Moon - the iceberg. And yes, it really felt like that. As if someone submerged my crazy, excitable Moon into ice cold water. I realize that these are isolated testimonies, but this is the best I can do here.
    Anyway, I am very glad that I found this subject on your blog. And thank you for your answer. :)