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Astrology and Health
vitalism and humours [3]

table of elements, humours and physiological correspondencestable of elements, humours and physiological correspondences
table of elements, humours and physiological correspondencestable of elements, humours and physiological correspondences
Figure 3:  The Humours, with their Descriptions & Physiological Correspondences.
Elemental Fire Symbol The Choleric Humour

The choleric humour is perceived by the Fire Element. The Fire Element in general symbolises energy, dynamism and expression, and is associated with the colour red, which correlates to the choleric humour, dynamic and expressive component of the blood. Culpeper defines the choleric humour as the spume and froth of the blood 3 and with this image it is possible to visualize the turbulence and activity of the blood as it circulates around the body.

Normally when taking a blood pressure listening with a stethoscope at the brachial artery at the elbow, the spurting sound of the blood is clearly heard. In moments of panic it is possible to hear the beating of one's own heart. These sounds are caused by the blood cells brushing against the side of the blood vessels as they are propelled by the beating heart. As the red blood cells are the most abundant cells in the blood, they principally generate this sound. Their red colour in particular links them to the Fire Element. Physiologically their function is to carry the respiratory gases between the lungs and all the other cells in the body. This role enables the tissues to respire and generate energy. Psychologically, Fire symbolises a person's drive, motivation, creativity, strength and ambition, while physiologically, tissue respiration is how the body generates energy.

Tissue respiration predominantly occurs in the liver and muscles where the main heat of the body is produced. During physical exercise, when muscular contractions burn up a lot of glucose, the increased heat that is generated causes water loss through perspiration, leading to a powerful thirst, this being a direct reflection of the hot and dry nature of the choleric humour. With the connection of the Fire Element to the muscles, the pumping action of the heart – a muscular organ – contributes to the force behind the spume and froth of the blood. As a further correspondence with the Fire Element, circulation of the blood increases during exercise.

Mars Mars Rules the Choleric Humour

The choleric humour is ruled principally by the hot and dry Planet Mars. Iron is the metal traditionally connected to Mars, since it is used to make weapons such as knives, swords and spears. Physiologically, iron is included within hæmoglobin, the carrier molecule inside the red blood cells that transports the oxygen to the tissues. When oxygen combines with haemoglobin forming oxyhæmoglobin, the blood changes colour from a dull to a bright red. All these ideas are particularly highlighted when iron deficiency occurs in the body, leading to a shortage of red blood cells. This is a condition called anæmia where inadequate amounts of oxygen reach the cells and consequently very little energy is generated in the body. The patient is tired and lethargic and becomes easily breathless after only mild exertion. Without energy, the body's resistance falls, leading to increased risks of infection since it is unable to fight back. Often they will complain of feeling cold through inadequate generation of body heat. The shortage of red blood cells leads to a characteristic, pallid complexion. The pulse in anæmia is notably rapid, which is a compensatory symptom, for as the blood less efficiently transports oxygen to the cells, the heart beats faster to pump the blood more rapidly around the body. The Sun traditionally rules the heart and is the hot and dry co-ruler of the choleric humour. The Sun symbolises the source of vitality in a person. When the anæmia becomes life threatening, the patient's heart compensates to keep them alive.

The seat of the choleric humour or yellow bile is the gall (bladder), a muscular sac-like organ that stores and subsequently expels the bile into the duodenum during digestion. Biochemically, the yellow colour of the bile is caused by pigments present, formed by the destruction of hæmoglobin molecules, when the effete red blood cells are broken down in the liver and spleen.

Culpeper explains that the choleric humour...clarifies all the humours,and heats the body.3 Not only does Culpeper link the humour to the heat in the body, but also sees the heat of a fever as clarifying the blood of impurities. Furthermore he states that the choleric humour nourishes the apprehension while moves man to activity and valour.4

Elemental Water Symbol The Phlegmatic Humour

The phlegmatic humour corresponds to the Water Element. As Culpeper explains:

it makes the body slippery, fit for ejection; it fortifies the brain by its consimilitude with it; yet it spoils apprehension by its antipathy to it: it qualifies choler, cools and moistens the heart, thereby sustaining it, and the whole body from the fiery effects, which the continual motion would produce.5

Since Water is the Element that joins things together, the phlegmatic humour can be identified with the blood plasma, the fluid medium of the blood, largely consisting of water in which the blood cells circulate. The phlegmatic humour also encompasses lymph, sweat, mucus, cerebro-spinal fluid, synovial fluid and the vitreous and aqueous humours of the eye. All of these secretions are generally formed from the plasma, as the blood perfuses the tissues of the body.

The Moon The Moon and Venus Venus Rule the Phlegmatic Humour

The cold and moist phlegmatic humour is co-ruled by the Moon and Venus. The Moon particularly rules the ventricles of the brain, hence the idea of the phlegmatic humour fortifying the brain by its consimilitude with it.6 The Watery nature of the phlegmatic humour counteracts the Fiery nature of the choleric humour, as demonstrated by an increase of perspiration cooling down the body in a fever, hence Culpeper's description of the phlegmatic humour qualifying choler. Apprehension is an association of the choleric humour.

Elemental Earth Symbol The Melancholic Humour

Melancholic humour corresponds to the Earth Element, which Culpeper defines as the sediment of blood.7 Since Earth is the Element of precipitation, the melancholic humour can be identified with the plasma proteins that contribute to blood's viscosity, that have a particular role in its clotting mechanism. The clotting mechanism is important for stopping the loss of blood from the body when wounded or injured.

Saturn Saturn Rules the Melancholic Humour

The cold and dry melancholic humour is ruled by Saturn. There are times when the clotting mechanism produces blood clots or thrombi within the blood vessels with drastic consequences. The thrombus passes through the blood vessels until it becomes blocked by the narrowness of a vessel. There it becomes lodged, preventing the blood from reaching the tissues the vessel supplies. These tissues then die, causing subsequent loss of function to the body. If a thrombus lodges in the arterioles of the brain, it frequently causes paralysis or loss of mental function. If a thrombus lodges in one of the arteries of the heart, a heart attack results. Not infrequently a thrombus will be the cause of death. Saturn is mythologically the Lord of Death.

The melancholic humour is associated with the passage of fæcal material from the body. This idea comes from melæna (Gk. melaina = black bile), a symptom of bleeding from the upper digestive tract, where the partially digested blood forms characteristic black tar-like stools. Culpeper describes the melancholic humour as:

fortifying the...memory; makes men sober, solid, and staid, fit for study; stays the unbridled toys of lustful blood, stays the wandering thoughts, and reduces them home to centre 8

A predominance of the melancholic humour is linked with depression and constipation. Depression further slows down heart rate and blood circulation, predisposing the blood to thrombus formation.

Read more on the Humours
About the Vital Force
Back to Health by the Stars
Astrology and Health is a clear and easy guide to how the signs of the zodiac influence our physical and mental well-being. It covers the five elements and how they balance; sun signs and the elements; parts of the body and diseases associated with each sign; visualizations and exercises to aid healing; diseases associated with the planets; herbal medicine; and medical astrology in action. Excellent presentation and value.Astrology and Health:
A Beginner's Guide
by Dylan Warren-Davis.
Published by Headway: Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN 034070518 3
   84 pages
To order your copy click here!
Astrology & Health by Dylan Warren-Davis

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This page was last modified on Sunday, 23 April 2017