Elements Versus The Types
million dollar question still remains: Can a simple statistical correlation
be shown between astrology's 4 elements and Jung's 4 types or functions?
Can one look at the birth chart in order to determine which element
is the "dominant," preferred element and which element is
the "inferior," disliked element. Will this, in turn, correlate
with Jung's 4 functions?
practice, this has been looked at as a problem and/or a "fly in
the ointment" for those astrologers seeking to correlate and/or
synthesize the two theories. The two systems are related, but unfortunately
it is not a matter open to simplistic theories and/or simple statistical
The views I've previously shared in the two previous features on the
4 elements of astrology, the 4 functions/types of Jungian theory, and
how the two concepts work together are not without some controversy
and/or marked differing of opinion among astrologers, past and present.
Jung did obviously relate the 4 classical temperaments (and, specifically,
the astrological elements) with the concept of 4 functions/types (Psychological
Types, pp 510-511, 531-532) - however he never spelled out in simple
terms which function went with which element.
Jung could have saved us all from a heck of a lot of trouble if he'd
done that. However, he chose not to do this.
there are numerous differing schematic theories floating around on the
subject. For example, there have been admirable attempts (with some
historical basis) to place the 4 classical temperaments (Choleric, Melancholic,
Sanguine, Phlegmatic) within what are called the 4 quadrants or sectors
of the astrological chart, rather than with the elements.
I can pass on to you that Aristotle - On Generation and Corruption,
Plato - Timaeus, and pseudo Ocellus - On the Nature of
the Universe all directly associated the 4 classical temperaments
(or humors) with the four elements: Choleric (Fire), Melancholic (Earth),
Sanguine (Air), and Phlegmatic (Water).
Aristotle placed Fire primarily in opposition to Earth and Air primarily
in opposition of Water. This would be exactly in line with Jung's placing
of Intuition in opposition to Sensing and the placing of Thinking in
opposition to Feeling. (Please don't confuse the term "opposition"
when used in the philosophical and/or psychological context as opposed
to when the term "opposition" is used in an astrological context.)
In some cases, one can simply look to the birth chart for the "Curse
of the Uninvited Element." If you remember - The Uninvited Element
is the element that wasn't invited to the birth chart party - and, man,
is it ever ticked off! Quite often you'll discover a person's life "story"
is based on the freeing and redemption of their inner kingdom from "the
Curse of the Uninvited Element."
are several proposed methods regarding how to go about counting the
elements in the birth chart. For those unfamiliar with the bare basics
of astrology, this is where you may tend to get a wee bit lost. However,
even if unfamiliar with astrology, you most likely know which sign your
birth Sun is located in?
important thing to know is that, in the astrological chart, the elemental
placement of the luminaries and planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus,
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) are each important
and thus each should be considered and "counted."
counting the elements, one of the preferred methods gives 2 points for
the elements that the Sun and Moon are located in and then 1 point for
each for the elements that Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus,
Neptune, and Pluto are located in.
- Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Earth - Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Air - Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Water - Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Let's pretend this is your birth chart breakdown: Sun in Aries, Moon
in Leo, Mercury in Pisces, Venus in Pisces, Mars in Leo, Jupiter in
Gemini, Saturn in Libra, Uranus in Cancer, Neptune in Libra, and Pluto
count the elements. Sun in Aries- 2 points for Fire, Moon in Leo - 2
points for Fire, Mercury in Pisces - 1 point for Water, Venus in Pisces
- 1 point for Water, Mars in Leo - 1 point for Fire, Jupiter in Gemini
- 1 point for Air, Saturn in Libra - 1 point for Air, Uranus in Cancer
- 1 point for Water, Neptune in Libra - 1 point for Air, and Pluto in
Leo - 1 point for Fire.
(Intuitive) - 6 points
Earth (Sensing) - 0 points
Air (Thinking) - 3 points
Water (Feeling) - 3 points
this example, counting the 4 elements and comparing it with Jung's 4
functions will correlate perfectly if one likewise tests out as being
an intuitive type. As an intuitive, Fire type, according to Jung's theory,
then one's "inferior" function would automatically be sensing
more times than not, the simplistic counting up of elements contained
in the birth chart and then taking a Type indicator test to determine
one's function still do not "on the face of it" appear to
fully correlate with one another. So the simplistic counting up of the
elements is a convenient rule of thumb "short cut" that sometimes
works quite well, but often times doesn't.
This brings us full circle and back to the million dollar question.
Can a simple statistical correlation be shown between astrology's 4
elements and Jung's 4 types or functions? Can one look to the birth
chart in order to determine which element is the "dominant,"
preferred element and which element is the "inferior," disliked
element and be in accordance with Jung's theory of the functions and
a simple statistical correlation be shown? The answer is no.
in the Ointment
There are many "flies in the ointment" as to why showing a
simple statistical correlation between the two systems is a heck of
a lot more difficult and/or complex than simply counting up the traditional
elements of the birth chart or, more simply, looking to the birth Sun's
true that many times, simply looking to the element one's Zodiac Sun
sign is located in (without utilizing one of the complex counting methods)
will point to the "superior" type/function in Jung's theory
of personality types. This "rule of thumb" idea is put forth
in Jeff Mayo's The Planets and Human Behavior. When this is
not the case, then quite often the Sun Sign element points to Jung's
"auxiliary" or secondary type/function. However, this is not
always going to reliably be the case - and so I shy away from the temptation
of turning that into any sort of an ironclad rule to follow.
Few of the Complicating Factors
- One complicating factor is that the elements are not necessarily confined
to the Zodiacal placements of the various planets.
- It's thought
that the astrological elements can be derived from the aspects between
two (or more) planets, regardless of which Zodiacal sign(s) the
planets are located in. For example: the Sun in major aspect to
Mars alchemically creates the element of Fire, regardless of what
respective Zodiacal signs the Sun and Mars are located in. The Moon
in aspect to Saturn creates the element of Earth in a chart, regardless
of what respective Zodiacal signs the Moon and Saturn are located
thought that the astrological elements can also be derived from
a chart having a planet closely conjuncting the Ascendant. For example:
Mars (regardless of the Zodiacal Sign) conjunct the Ascendant creates
the element of Fire in the chart. The Moon conjunct the Ascendant
creates the element of Water.
- This is slighty "heretical" on my part, however I'm not
totally convinced that any of various type indicator tests accurately
measure Jung's intuition function that I have associated with the element
of fire. One thing interesting is the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (despite,
it’s extremely unorthodox methodology) may have accidentally stumbled
on to something with its unique type categories consisting of SP (fire),
SJ (earth), NT (air), NF (water).
- This is also more than "heretical" on my part, but I'm not
totally convinced that any of various type indicator tests accurately
measure Jung's 4 functions in a person's life. Self-report tests such
as the Myers-Briggs and the Keirsey, may end up telling one more about
who the person tested would like to be, rather than who the person actually
- Perhaps, most important, as already mentioned in the beginning of
this article... C.G. Jung did relate the 4 classical temperaments (and,
specifically, the astrological elements) with the concept of 4 functions/types
- however, he never spelled out in simple terms which function went
with which element. I freely admit that it's dangerous guessing why
someone chose not to do something. However, it appears that while Jung
did think the two concepts to be similar, he did not consider them to
My bottom line recommendation is likewise more than a little "heretical"...
but rather than feeling the need to prove something... instead of looking
first to the birth chart to determine one's "superior" or
preferred element - what ends up being the most helpful, practical,
and productive is the exact reverse.
is... the various type indicator tests can be utilized as an augmentative
tool and/or short cut for sorting out and determining how an individual
has chosen in real life to "live out" the complex mix of elemental
energies and/or "themes" in their birth chart.
Bottom Line - Where The Rubber Meets The Road
bottom line is that I feel no need to "prove anything." While
many astrologers are pathologically consumed with "proving something"
- my ultimate concern is what "works" in people's lives.
what appears to "work" is that the various type indicator
tests can be used in the monumental task of cohesively pulling together
the various complex parts and themes of a birth chart for interpretation.
Enabling people to gain a better understanding of who they are in order
to live more emotionally healthy, productive lives is, afterall, what
astrology is (or should be) all about.
There you have it! I have now devoted 3 full articles in the explanation
and comparison of astrology's 4 elements with Jung's 4 psychological
types - and the sad fact is that I've just barely had time to "scratch
Back To The Four Elements Index
> Astrology and Jung > Four
Elements > Elements vs Types