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Sanguine: the Jupiterian Temperament - by Scott Whitters

Four humours reign within our bodies wholly
And these compared to four elements,
The sanguine, choler, phlegm and melancholy.
The latter two are heavy, dull of sense.
The other two are more Jovial, quick and jolly
And may be likened without offence
Like Air both warm and moist is sanguine clear,
Like Fire doth choler hot and dry appear.
Like Water cold and moist is Phlegmatic,
The Melancholy cold, dry Earth is like.
The Regimen of Health

In traditional technique, establishing the prominent temperament in an individual served two major purposes. Firstly, it gave an understanding of the person's demeanour, for:

... the manners and motions of the mind, and the greatest part of our principall humane actions and events of life, doe accompany, or are concomitant with, and acted according to the quality of the Temperature and inclinations. (C.A., p.534)

Secondly, it gave the Astrologer ("and indeed none else are fit to make physicians" - Culpeper) a basis from which he could understand what imbalances were prevalent in his patient's body and prescribe accordingly.

The four humours comprise the qualities of either heat or coldness and moisture or dryness. Heat was seen to disperse while coldness condensed. Moisture received while dryness resisted. Each temperament corresponds to one of the four bodily humours responsible for the overall functioning of the body - the choleric temperament (hot and dry) corresponds with yellow bile and has its seat in the gall bladder, the phlegmatic temperament (cold and moist) corresponds with phlegm whose seat is in the lungs, melancholy (cold and dry) corresponds with black bile from the spleen and sanguine (hot and moist) corresponds with blood from the liver.

Temperament Quality Element Humour Seat
Sanguine hot & moist Air Blood Liver
Choleric hot & dry Fire Yellow Bile Gall Bladder
Phlegmatic cold & moist Water Phlegm Lungs
Melancholic cold & dry Earth Black Bile Spleen

In humoural physiology, blood serves two major functions. It passes from the liver to the heart where it revitalises the vital spirit and to brain where it revitalises the animal spirits. Then it is transformed in the veins into tissue, breast milk and "the seed". Therefore blood is responsible for replenishing the life-giving spirit of the body, the nervous and mental faculties of the animal spirit, the physical structure of the body and the means by which we procreate and nurture new life.

Excess of moisture in the blood dampens the innate or natural heat of the body, subjecting the body to the effects of unnatural or external heat which causes putrefaction (from the Latin "making rotten" but associated with bacterial infections and poisoning). Those who have spent any time in the tropics know the effect of heat and humidity on linen, clothing and books, not to mention the body. Our system compensates for this by increasing its own temperature through fever to burn off this excess moisture. One of the symptoms of fever is intense sweating, or the driving out of the unwanted moisture.

The sanguine temperament is hot and moist meaning that it has receptive and dispersive qualities. Jupiter, the planet which is both hot and moist has rulership over this temperament. And it is easy to see the receptive and dispersive qualities of the bodily functions that Jupiter governs. Jupiter's dominion over the liver is commonly believed to have been granted because the liver is the largest internal organ. However it is the function of the liver which corresponds with the receptive and dispersive qualities of Jupiter. Food is digested in the stomach where the nutriment or chyle is extracted and received into the liver. It is here that the chyle is separated into the four humours and dispersed throughout the body. So both digestion in the stomach and the differentiation of the chyle in the liver are Jupiterian functions. In both cases the raw materials are received for concoction and the useful by-products are passed on to where they are of benefit.

Of the three mental faculties memory, imagination and judgement, the latter was given to Jupiter.

Judgement is seated in the midst of the brain, to shew that it ought to bear rule over all of the other faculties; it is the judge of the little world, to approve what is good, to reject what is bad: It is the seat of reason, and the guide of actions, so that all failings are committed through infirmity, in not rightly judging between a real and apparent good. It is hot and moist in quality, and under the influence of Jupiter.
Pharmacopoeia Londinensis, Culpeper

Again, we can see the reason for this. The quality of moisture allows us to receive the information on which we base our judgement which is then applied through the dispersive quality of heat into action and thought.

We see an important characteristic of Jupiter evident - the moral judgement of what is right and wrong based on personal understanding, not the cold, hard adherence to social norms, nor the rule of the majority. Of course, the Promethean warning carries through - ill-conceived action through not fully assessing the ramifications of one's judgement, thinking one is doing the right thing. However, this failing is based on a desire for "apparent good", yet not determining the outcome of the situation appropriately.

Jupiter's dominion over the rest of the planets is also reinforced here through judgement's "rule over all of the other faculties".

Signs of a Sanguine Man

Sanguine men are of a mean form (average build), their bodies well composed, with larger limbs, and fleshier, but not fat: with great veins and arteries, smooth skins, hot and moist in feeling, the body hairy, and soon bearded: the colour is white, intermixed with redness in the cheeks, their hair for the most part is brown. And touching their conditions, they are merry, liberal, bountiful, courteous, bold enough, merciful, trusty, faithful and of good behaviour; a little thing will cause him to weep, and when that is done no further grief sticketh to their hearts; which is contrary to melancholy men, for they cannot weep, although it be in a matter that concerns them neer, but yet their cogitation thereof is imprinted in their hearts. The sanguine man hath good appetite, and quick digestion; his urine is yellow and thick, his pulse is great and full, and dreameth of red things, and pleasant conceits.
Astro. Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick, Culpeper

As we can see, this description covers both the behaviour and physical condition of the individual. As many medieval physicians used the condition of a patient's urine on which to base their diagnosis, this in particular was of great value. A sanguine person with thinner urine than usual was seen to have an excess of choler in the body, while paler urine suggested an excess of phlegm. If the urine was both paler and thinner, then melancholy abounds. Likewise, changes to complexion, appetite, digestion, pulse and dreams all aided in the learned diagnosis of diseases.

However, it is Jupiter's rulership over the sanguine personality type that leads to both revelation and confusion because in this description we have the liberality and faithfulness of Jupiter, the courage and boldness of Mars, the mercy of the Sun and the mirth and good behaviour of Venus.

Again, we need to understand the quality of heat and moisture that abound in Jupiter. Through this we can understand the Jupiterian influence over the sanguine temperament. Jupiter has rulership over Sagittarius and Pisces, the two signs of dispersion. In Sagittarius we see the unified lifeforce dispersed through a need to understand and learn the mysteries of the Universe, and in Pisces we see the energy of compassion and sympathy dispersed through a need to understand the capabilities of the Self. In Cancer, the sign of reception, Jupiter has his exaltation. Cancer is a sign of mass receptivity, where the individual receives the first sense of belonging and integrating with others.

We see with the Sanguine temperament the need to connect with that which is beyond ourselves - to others, to dreams, to hopes, to creation as a whole. Here, we have the link between the macrocism and the microcosm. And because of the essential link to do good, or at the least "apparent good", it is a link that is potentially bountiful and beneficial. But to say that the sanguine temperament is a Sagittarian or Piscean (or even a Cancerian) temperament would be wrong. Sagittarius is a hot and dry sign, Pisces and Cancer are cold and moist. What must be understood about the temperaments is that they represented an holistic view of both the inclinations and the physiology of the individual. Jupiter has dominion over the sanguine temperament, which is a specific and singular indicator of a certain character type.

The emotion associated with the sanguine type is joy, and it is not surprising that Spring is the associated season. Spring is a time of emergence, of new life, of optimism and of joy. Food becomes more plentiful, the increase in temperature stirs up the spirits. So, just as the Sanguine humour of blood refreshes the vital and animal spirits in the body, revitalising the life spirit and the procreation of new life are activities associated with the wakening of the earth in Spring after the slumber of winter. Crops are planted, the spring lambs are born, and the thoughts of the young at heart turn towards affairs of the heart - focus is towards generation, growth and optimism. The earth is abuzz with new life and new hope. The natural seasonal cycle is geared towards creation and life rejoices in this surge of vitality.

I need to laugh, and when the Sun is out,
I have something I can laugh about.
I feel good in a special way.
I'm in love and it's a sunny day
Good Day Sunshine, Lennon and McCartney

The cold and wet days of Winter make way for the more temperate days of Spring and the Sun, increasing in potency, burns off the dampening effects of Winter, restoring the heat of the land, releasing the life-force that had lain dormant. It is a time to enjoy with a certain good natured roguishness, as is childhood, the sanguine time.

"We were, fair queen,
Two lads that thought there was no more behind
But such a day tomorrow as today,
And to be boy eternal."
The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare

There is an immediacy about the sanguine type, a childish self concern that harbours no malice. A quickness to react, but also a quickness to move on. A sensual gratification that extends into a love of life.

Complexions cannot virtue breed or vice
Yet may they unto both give inclination.
The sanguine gamesome is and nothing nice
Loves wine and women and all recreation,
Likes pleasant tales and news, plays, cards and dice,
Fit for all company and every fashion.
Though bold, not apt to take offence, not ireful
but bountiful and kind and looking cheerful.
Inclining to be fat and prone to laughter,
Loves mirth and music, cares not what comes after.
Regimen of Health

Spring is the time for the showy displays of life - the blooms of flowers and blossom that adorn our gardens, orchards and countryside. These are the jewels of the Flora, the goddess of flowers, who rode with the husband, Zephyrus, scattering generous favours upon the gentle south wind. Worshipped principally by young women, her festival Floralia was celebrated in the height of Spring in May.

There all together flye in Companies
Of different colours, shapes and qualities
Bright Sanguine Dreams, that seem to cheer the night
With beauteous shapes, and rosie wings as bright,
As in the morning, or those flowers that grace
In midst of Spring, the painted Flora's face:
Within the Temple merrily do sport,
To whom the little Cupids oft resort:
The little Cupids from fair Venus Grove,
Stealing by night, do thither come and love,
With those bright Sanguine dreams to pass away
The hours of night, in sport and amorous play.
Thomas May


Blagrave, Joseph, Astrological Practice of Physick. 1671. Ascella.

Culpeper, Nicholas, Complete Herbal and English Physician. Magna Books.

Culpeper, Nicholas, Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick. 1655. Ascella.

Culpeper, Nicholas, Pharmacopoeia Londinensis. 1669.

Lilly, William, Christian Astrology. 1647. Regulus

Tobyn, Graeme, Culpeper's Medicine. A Practice of Western Holistic Medicine. 1997. Element. (Quotations from Regimen of Health and Thomas May's poem are also taken from this source)

Scott Whitters is a researcher and astrological consultant invigorated by the crystal clean air of Tasmania, Australia. In between protecting chickens from Tasmanian Devils and Spotted Quolls, Scott immerses himself in both modern and ancient thought and its applications of how astrology was practised then and can be practised now. He has spent many years researching and collating the works of the Apothecaries and Astrologers of the 17th Century and earlier to arrive at a comprehensive database of plant and planet correlations and health applications. Scott teaches, consults, lectures, writes, sings, dances and frolics - but not necessarily in that order.

Scott can be contacted by email at

© Scott Whitters