The Power of Humour
by Sharon Knight

September 2014

Humour comes in many guises: black humour, dry humour, sarcastic or satirical humour, then there is visual humour, slapstick humour, the list goes on. Humour means different things to different people. We refer to people being in a good humour, of a Sanguine or laid back nature. On dating sites it seems the phrase mhgsoh (must have a good sense of humour) is mandatory and is often amongst the first things a questee asks for, but, what is humour?

The word humour originally referred to the bodily fluids that contributed to a person's physical and mental make up. In the West there were four accepted humours: choleric, sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic. The composition of an individuals body and soul could be found using the tenets of astrology. This theory dates back to Hippocrates, was given flesh by Galen and is used throughout literature in the English Culture. Chaucer refers many times to the humoural make up or temperament of his characters as does Shakespeare.

The four main bodily fluids were black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. To the fluids were added states of being: hot, dry, cold and wet. Blood was deemed hot and wet and was Sanguine. Phlegm was well, phlegm, cold and wet. Cold and dry related to black bile giving rise to the Melancholic temperament and finally, yellow bile was hot and dry and related to Choler. Assessing someone's humoural temperament was a way of understanding their psychological bent and could point to the type of illnesses they would or could be prone to.

In Airs and Places, Hippocrates refers to the need to also consider the age, sex and a persons location. Someone living in swampy areas would be more susceptible to the ague than someone living in a hot dry land. As with all things, commonsense is essential.

The next time you feel Hot under the collar, could it be your choler is expressing itself? If someone strikes you as being rather wet, they may be phlegmatic to your choleric - no wonder you have an aversion!

So if you are looking for a mate, it does seem important to assess their Humour before setting off on a quest - all you need is their time, date and place of birth! In other words - astrology provides the key!

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The only book to deal exclusively with finding and assessing temperament using astrology is Temperament: Astrology's Forgotten Key by Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum.