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The Elements Versus The Types

The 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?

In 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 correlation.

Controversy
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.

C.G. 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.

Granted... 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.

Thus, 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.

However, 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).

Further... 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.)

Counting The Elements
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."

There 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?

The 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."

In 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.

Fire - Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Earth - Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Air - Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Water - Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Example:
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 in Leo.

Let's 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.

Fire (Intuitive) - 6 points
Earth (Sensing) - 0 points
Air (Thinking) - 3 points
Water (Feeling) - 3 points

In 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 or Earth.

However... 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.

Million Dollar Question
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 personality types?

Can a simple statistical correlation be shown? The answer is no.

Flies 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 element.

It'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.

A Few of the Complicating Factors

One - 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 in.
  • It's 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.

Two - 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).

Three - 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 is.

Four - 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 be identical.

Recommendation
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.

That 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.

My Bottom Line - Where The Rubber Meets The Road

The 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.

And 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.

Well... 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 the surface."

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