The Personality Theory of Carl Jung and the Four Distinct Astrological Temperaments


One of the great benefits of learning astrology is that it helps one to accept and understand oneself and others: it becomes much easier to love oneself and others when you see that each person’s spiritual journey is unique.

Almost all the ancient civilizations developed some system of astrology.  Perhaps with no television or Facebook to fill their evening hours the ancients paid close attention to the heavens and noticed the synchronicity of events on earth and the movements above. For certain, the constellations did not get their names because they resembled Rams or Bulls or Lions; you can look for yourself and see how much these star clusters do not resemble their namesakes. Their naming must have happened in opposite fashion – when all the youngsters born with a certain constellation rising in the east acted impulsively, butting  their strong-willed heads against any obstacle that presented itself, the constellation of Aries, the Ram, was assigned to that constellation.

Most people know that there are a dozen Sun signs, but astrologers categorize by four distinct “elements” and three distinct “qualities” in addition to the 12 constellation-named Sun signs.

The four elements are Earth, Air, Fire and Water and they are important determining factors in the makeup of one’s temperament.  The ancient astrologers must have been on to something here since Carl Jung, the renowned 20th century psychologist and protégé of Freud, took these four temperaments and created an entire personality theory.  His work using these astrological types led to the development of the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory which is widely used and accepted by psychologists and counselors today.  Jung credited astrologers for their insight and influence on his work with personality theory.

Each of the four elements represent a sphere of human experience.  Air represents the intellectual or thinking domain, Water represents the emotional or feeling domain, and Earth represents the material or sensory domain . The Fire element is the hardest to define – it’s what Jung called the “intuitive” domain, but astrologers call it the “spiritual” domain.  Each element sees reality differently.  Each of these domains seems to operate to its own unique laws. Thus, the type of problem solving we might use in the analytical, abstract thinking sphere of our lives likely works poorly when applied to our emotional selves; thus, the difference between IQ and EQ (the now recognized concept of emotional intelligence.)

If a person has a birth horoscope that is very dominant or absent in any one of these elements , astrologers can predict exactly what types of adjustment problems will be manifested and what types of individuals he will have a difficult time relating to.    A competent astrologer can look at a birth chart and quickly predict how that individual would score on a Myers-Briggs test.

Jung’s theories included the concept that the psyche strives for wholeness. Therefore, if we are very heavy in one domain and very weak in another, it will be part of our life’s spiritual journey to learn to integrate the missing or “unexpressed” domain in our lives.  Jung would say that these parts are not missing but simply “repressed and projected” – psychological jargon for that which we aren’t comfortable with on a conscious level is repressed then becomes an unconscious motivator. These unconscious energies find expression in compulsions and obsessions, or we are drawn to persons who live out the unconscious aspects of our psyche.

You can find out if your chart is heavy or absent in any one of these elements by having your horoscope cast for the exact time of your birth.   This is good to know so you can reclaim those lost parts of yourself or at least understand why some things are so problematic for you. Even if you do not know the exact time of your birth, much can be learned from just your birth date.   The Myers-Briggs personality test is available free online, and it can tell you can what elements are dominant in your temperament.

Here is a quick guide to the Astrological Signs according to their element. Keep in mind that although you have been born with the Sun in one of these signs, you may have many planets and critical angles in other conflicting signs. If you are one whose birth chart is heavy in elements different from your Sun Sign, these descriptions may not ring true for you.

Earth Signs: Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. The earth signs are known for their practicality and common sense. Organizational ability and the ability to manifest in the material realm or work with the world of matter. Concrete, sequential thinkers.  Very sensual.  This element corresponds to the S (Sensate) scale on the Myers-Briggs

Air Signs : Gemini, Libra, Aquarius:  Air signs display talents for abstract thinking, communication and language.  Very social and need ample intellectual , cultural and social stimulation.  This element corresponds to the T (Thinking) scale on the Myers-Briggs.

Water Signs:  Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces:  Sensitive and emotional, family and relationships are of utmost importance.  Security conscious. This element corresponds to the F (Feeling) scale on the Myers-Briggs.

Fire Signs:  Aries, Leo, Sagittarius:  Forward thinking and visionary.  Good teachers, promoters, activists and advocates. Creative, high physical energy. This element corresponds to the N (Intuitive) scale on the Myers-Briggs.

Air is the opposite of water and thus strong air charts experience those with strong water charts as irrational, and are uncomfortable with their emotionalism.  Those with heavy water charts are put off by what they feel is coldness and insensitivity of those with heavy air charts.

Fire is the opposite of Earth. Those with charts heavy in earth signs often see Fire sign people as impractical, impatient and unrealistic. Fire sign individuals see earth sign persons as fearful of change and lacking in vision.

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