of the Psyche
According to Western Tropical astrology's ancient "map of the soul"
(as generally attributed to Ptolemy, 85-165 AD) - each of the 12 zodiac
signs is assigned to 1 of 4 basic elements or "temperaments."
These temperaments are represented by the 4 elements of Fire, Earth,
Air, and Water. These 4 elements are the foundation cornerstone of Western
- Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
- Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
- Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
- Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
According to Jung's "map of the soul" there are likewise 4
basic psychological functions (or "ways") with which we gather
information for purposes of making decisions and/judgments. These 4
functions and/or modes are Intuitive, Sensation, Thinking, and Feeling.
These 4 functions are likewise the original foundation cornerstone of
Jungian depth psychology.
As C.G. Jung points out in his Psychological Types, the idea
of 4 basic elements or psychological temperaments was not new (for either
Ptolemy or for Jung, himself). Jung points back to the ancient Greek
physicians Empedocles, Hippocrates, (both 5th century BC), and then
also Galen (129 to sometime after 210 AD).
Greek physician Galen (physician of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and
roughly a contemporary of astrology's Ptolemy) gave credit to the 5th
Century BC Greek physician Hippocrates when identifying his 4 temperaments:
Choleric, Melancholic, Sanguine, and Phlegmatic.
Galen's On the Elements According to Hippocrates:
must be confidently demonstrated that fire, earth, air, and water
are the primary elements common to all things... and in his book On
the Nature of Man, Hippocrates is first to explain not merely that
these are the elements of all the cosmos, but he is also the first
one to determine the qualities of the elements - qualities according
to which one thing acts on others and is affected."
likewise interesting to take note that in Plato's Republic,
the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato (427 to 347 BC) identified 4 "faculties
of the soul" based on the 4 elements: Imagination, Demonstration,
Intelligence, and Opinion. In the Renaissance, the 16th century AD physician,
alchemist, and astrologer Paracelsus more colorfully identified these
4 temperaments as the Salamander, Gnome, Sylph, and Nymph.
far. So good. We've got the 4 elements of astrology and the 4 psychological
types (or functions) of Jungian psychology. Both are at least loosely
based on an ancient concept of 4 personality types. Should be a perfect
Not a Perfect Fit
No. It's not a perfect fit. In spite of my being a dyed-in-the-wool
"Jungian" - when learning about astrology, I originally struggled
for many years with the matching up of the 4 elements of astrology and
the 4 types or functions of Jungian psychology. They seemed the same…
they seemed different… they seemed the same… they seemed
different… My internal battle raged on for years despite most
other "archetypal" astrologers relating the two theories to
much to my chagrin, I realized that part of my problem was due to an
inadequate understanding of the astrological elements. At that point,
Jung's use of the 4 functions became an invaluable tool in better clarifying
how the 4 elements of Western Tropical astrology work.
I must still (in all honest conscience) give you the cautionary proviso
that while they (the elements and types) are not a "perfect"
fit - they, nevertheless, are very close.
Jung's Four Types
Function (the gathering of information) - Sensation and Intuitive
Type or Function (Element of Earth - Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn):
A person whose main function is sensation (earth) trusts rational,
objective information which is practical and can be observed and
gathered directly through the five senses of sight, taste, hearing,
direct, and taste. Jung: "people who restrict themselves to
the simple perception of concrete reality."
Intuitive Type or Function (Element of Fire - Aries, Leo, Sagittarius):
A person whose main function is intuition (fire) trusts non-rational
information gathered through imagination, insight, and hunches.
This person perceives situations in a global manner. They intuitively
look toward the future, at possibilities, and for the "big
picture." Jung: "intuitives... surrender themselves wholly
to the lure of possibilities, and abandon every situation in which
no further possibilities can scented." In Jung's Tavistock
Lectures, he admits that this is the type that is most difficult
to understand and describe. This is the type of person who can "see
you've gathered the information. What in the heck are you going to do
Function (Deciding what to do with the info you've gathered)
- Thinking and Feeling
Type or Function (Element of Air - Gemini, Libra, Aquarius): A person
whose main function is thinking (air) makes rational, objective
decisions based on hard, cold, logic and on logical connections.
Jung: they are "oriented to what they think, and simply cannot
adapt to a situation they cannot understand intellectually."
Feeling Type or Function (Element of Water - Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces):
A person whose main function is feeling (water) makes non-rational,
subjective decisions based on their sense of values, what is right
and what is wrong. How will the decision effect them? How will the
decision effect other people? Jung: "They merely ask themselves
whether a thing feels pleasant or unpleasant, and orient themselves
by their feeling impressions."
Jung quotes from Psychological Types.
What's The Big Deal?
(or How Does This Work in Real Life?)
to C.G. Jung, each of us "potentially" has all 4 of the psychological
functions (or elements) - fire (intuitive), earth (sensation), air (thinking),
water (feeling) - at our disposal.
- in practice - one of the 4 functions (or elements) will end up becoming
our most conscious, "dominant," and/or preferred function
when dealing with the outside world. This favored, trusted function
will be the function (or element) most under our conscious control.
We are the most comfortable and at ease, when using this function in
our day to day life. A 2nd function and perhaps 3rd function will help
out our dominant function.
we will have a 4th, unused function. The 4th, unused function will become
our "inferior" function. The 4th or inferior function, has
been pushed and hidden away. This function goes underground. We are
the least comfortable with this inferior function in our day to day
life. This is the hidden, forgotten function that will - when we least
expect it - leap out from the shadows and grab us.
Perhaps... one of the more effective ways to explain how the 4 astrological
elements and/or Jung's 4 psychological functions work in our lives is
that of analogy and painting a symbolic picture that astrologer Richard
Idemon called the "uninvited guest."
"uninvited guest" is a theme common to many of the old folk
tales, legends, and/or myths which speak out to us from antiquity. The
story of the "uninvited guest" goes that there's a party or
a celebration about to be held in honor of a king in his kingdom. The
king has made sure that everyone in the kingdom is invited to the party,
except for one certain person. This one uninvited person is (let's say)
a wee bit "unpopular" with the other town folk. This unpopular
person is most normally someone who is quite ugly, evil, and/or for
some other reason disliked - such as a witch, a gnome, a troll.
a result of being the only person in the kingdom not receiving an invitation
- the witch, gnome, or troll is ticked off - and thus they end up stirring
up all sorts of trouble in the kingdom! The uninvited guest shows up
at the celebration, in spite of not receiving their invitation... and
at the celebration, the uninvited guest generally places a horrible
curse on the king and/or on the entire kingdom (sounds like a few of
my college parties). The rest of the story is then centered around freeing
and redeeming the kingdom from the horrible curse of the uninvited guest
(still sounds like a few of my college parties).
In this analogy, the king represents the superior or preferred function
(element) of ego consciousness that we have chosen to honor and rely
upon in our day to day life. We have chosen to get around in the world
by using this preferred function. The "uninvited guest" represents
the inferior or rejected function that we feel the least comfortable
with and thus reject it as not being a part of who we are. The 4th function,
the inferior function, has been pushed and hidden away. We are the least
comfortable with this rejected function in our day to day life. This
is the rejected function which has fallen into "shadow" or
darkness. This is the function that will occasionally jump out from
the shadows when we least expect it.
to Jungian psychology (and in accordance with the ancient Greeks) our
life task then becomes that of recollecting, redeeming, accepting, and
loving the ugly, rejected, and uninvited 4th function (element) to order
to bring about a sense of balance, wholeness, completeness, and meaning
in our life.
However... the million dollar question remains: Can a simple statistical
correlation be shown between astrology's 4 elements and Jung's 4 psychological
types or functions? I'll attempt to tackle that million dollar question
in an upcoming article as we continue expanding our focus past the basic
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Elements > Cornerstones