Tarot & The 4 Humours


About, Inc.: Hippocratic Method and the Four Humours in Medicine

The four humours were proposed by the ancient doctor Galen
as being necessary for the maintenance of good health.

The four humours are blood, choler (yellow bile), phlegm,
and melancholy (black bile).

Galen's doctrines regarding these four humours survived even
into the 17th century as a basis for medical practice.

Galen On the Natural Faculties Bk II
These men demonstrated that when the nutriment becomes altered
in the veins by the innate heat, blood is produced when it is in moderation,
and the other humours when it is not in proper proportion.


Too much Earth: Melancholic
Too much Air: Sanguine
Too much Fire: Choleric
Too much Water: Phlegmatic

Earth: black bile
Air: blood
Fire: yellow bile
Water: phlegm

Autumn: black bile
Spring: blood
Winter: phlegm
Summer: yellow bile

Black Bile: Cold and Dry
Blood: Hot and Moist
Phlegm: Cold and Moist
Yellow Bile: Hot and Dry


Tiscali Reference:

Theory of Humours

Theory prevalent in the West in classical and medieval times that the human body was composed of four kinds of fluid: phlegm, blood, choler or yellow bile, and melancholy or black bile. Physical and mental characteristics were explained by different proportions of humours in individuals. An excess of phlegm produced a ‘phlegmatic’, or calm, temperament; of blood a ‘sanguine’, or passionate, one; of yellow bile a ‘choleric’, or irascible, one; and of black bile a ‘melancholy’, or depressive, one. The Greek physician Galen connected the theory to that of the four elements: the phlegmatic was associated with water, the sanguine with air, the choleric with fire, and the melancholic with earth.

The Four Elements

Earth, air, fire, and water. The Greek philosopher Empedocles believed that these four elements made up the fundamental components of all matter and that they were destroyed and renewed through the action of love and discord. This belief was shared by Aristotle who also claimed that the elements were mutable and contained specific qualities: cold and dry for earth, hot and wet for air, hot and dry for fire, and cold and wet for water. The transformation of the elements formed the basis of medieval alchemy, and the belief that base metals could be turned into gold. The theory of the elements prevailed until the 17th century.

Tiscali Reference


The concepts of the humours were originally developed by the Greek physician Hippocrates (c460 - 377 BC). He was born and lived on the island of Kos. He was trained in the Asclepiad tradition of medicine, as revealed by the opening address of the Hippocratic oath:
I swear by almighty Apollo, by Asclepios, by Hygeia and Panacea...
Asclepios was the Greek god of medicine and a mythological healer strongly connected to the Solar cult of Apollo. Hygeia is the feminine consort of Asclepios, while Panacea is the universal medicine (or vital force) generated by the Sun.

the melancholic humour (Gk. melanchole = black bile) corresponds to Earth
the phlegmatic humour (Gk. phlegma = phlegm) corresponds to Water
the choleric humour (Gk. chole = bile) corresponds to Fire
the sanguine humour (L. sanguineous = bloody) corresponds to Air

Each humour has its own temperament in terms of hot, cold, wet and dry, and is traditionally ruled by different Planets, according to their sympathetic natures. For example, Jupiter is associated with the hot and moist, muggy atmosphere before a thunderstorm, so therefore rules the hot and moist sanguine humour.

Astrology.com: Astrology & Health: The Humours


Spring is linked to the Air Element; summer is linked to the Fire Element; autumn is linked to the Earth Element and winter is linked to the Water Element, this sequence of change being brought about by the alteration of the primary qualities of hot, cold, wet and dry.

In the spring, the coldness and moisture of Water is transformed into the heat and moisture of the Air Element by the increasing power of the Sun.

In the summer, the heat and moisture of Air is transformed into the heat and dryness of the Fire Element by the Sun at its most powerful.

In the autumn, the heat and dryness of the Fire is transformed into the coldness and dryness of the Earth Element, due to the decreasing power of the Sun.

In the winter, the coldness and dryness of the Earth is transformed into the coldness and moisture of the Water Element, due the Sun being at its weakest.

Dylan Warren-Davis