I have just purchased Oscar Hofman’s book, Healing with the elements, and was so impressed in the way he uses the temperaments and the 4 elements to help us as astrologers to understand how we are able to help bring about healing.
He will be coming to South Africa to talk at the Traditional Conference staring on the 30th July 2010 in Johannesburg. For further details of this conference please log onto the AORTA website.
As I am attending this conference I was curious to read up about the main guest speaker Oscar Hofman and am impressed. I cannot wait to hear him in person. I want to be prepared so am reading up on methods used by traditional astrologers in the past and comparing notes.
Why Blood Letting or Phlebotomy as it is called by medical experts?
Phlebotomy is a practice that has been around for centuries and before then. There are pictures and carvings found all over the world of whom we presume is the patient in a prone position. The Astrologer, Physician and healers standing over them with a sharp looking object that has just strategically pierced the patients Vein expelling a stream of blood.
I went to my Oxford Medical dictionary for definition of Phlebotomy and it is simply stated as ‘the surgical opening or puncture of a vein in order to remove blood (in the treatment of polyceythaemia) or to infuse fluids, etc…
Just out of interest Polyceythaemia is a condition where there is a high concentration of hemoglobin, a substance contained in the red blood cells giving them their color as it contains iron and transports oxygen to the whole body. When there are high concentrations of hemoglobin in the blood, even in these modern times the Physician will treat the condition by ‘Blood Letting’, it just sounds a whole lot more professional and modern to say that the treatment for the ailment is a procedure called a Phlebotomy.
Many people today are ardent blood donors; some donate blood for humanitarian reasons and others for health reasons. Men and woman who no longer menstruate can harbor too much iron in their blood which can cause an iron overload. Too much iron results in too many free radicals and free radicals are one of the triggers for Cancer. Donating your blood helps to reduce cholesterol, in fact many a Physician has prescribed donating blood to their patients to help with preventing heart disease and promoting good health.
As blood letting in a manner of saying is still widely used today from the Traditional healer in her rural shack to the Physician in his expansively equipped hospital, I would like to investigate it as an Astrologer. Not that I intend practicing blood letting, but rather to get an understanding of Blood and the more palatable treatments to recommend should I get a client with symptoms of imbalance of their Blood Humor. There could be too much wet or too much hot, in either of these scenarios the client will feel ill.
Hofman talks about the 4 humors in depth and the humor Blood seemed a good one to look at. Spring time is the season that is hot and moist as is the humor Blood. Heat and moisture give energy as well as the ability to connect with others. The typical sanguine person has the qualities of heat and moisture. As the nature of blood is expansive it will travel to all parts of the body bringing nutrients and removing waste, as well as exchanging substances and oxygenating all parts of our bodies. Blood is stored in our Liver. This brings to mind one planet and that is Jupiter.
Jupiter has the qualities of being a hot and moist planet and rules sperm, blood, cardiovascular system, lungs, lymphatic system and the liver. Louis van Aswegen with his vast knowledge of Herbs and a fascinating speaker who gave a talk at an ASSA meeting last year, advises which herbs are recommended for the cleansing of the blood and the liver as well as boosting our immune systems getting us fit and strong after a long cold and debilitating winter.
The body is made up of 4 humors or virtues:
- The first is Digestion and is maintained by blood and as long as the blood has a natural even proportion of the qualities, heat and moisture, the body will be in good health. To quote Saunders ‘The natural blood or spirits of life, relate to the Liver, the Vital to the Heart, the Animal to the Brain, to which the Sperm and Seed is much relative’.
- The second is Attraction and this is maintained by Heat and Choler. It has the qualities of hot and dry. It is also known as the Yellow Choler and resides in the Gall Bladder. Too much of this Humor will cause infection in the blood, inflammation of any affected organs and cause organs to become overactive for example the Thyroid. Mars is the natural ruler of the Gall Bladder.
- The third is Retention which has the roll of keeping the nutrients in our bodies till they are fully absorbed. Retention is maintained by Melancholy and naturally cold and dry, it is known as the Black Choler and the most dangerous when imbalanced as Heat represents life where as cold and dry can represent death, no wonder this Humor is ruled by Saturn. It resides in the Spleen.
- The fourth is Phlegm which is Expulsive; it has the qualities of cold and moist and has the duty as Saunders puts it ‘to expel the Excrement’s that annoy the body.
Excess of any Humors will cause disease, for this article I am interested in the Blood Humor.
Excess of the Blood Humor can result in migraine’s, exhaustion, irritation, nose bleeds and as Saunders mentions when the Blood is overmuch abounding it will ascendeth to the Heart and choaketh the vital spirits.
I went to Astrologica Restorata, written by William Ramesey and he has devoted a chapter on Blood-letting.
Just as a point of interest the vein is used as it carries the toxins and deoxygenated blood. If an organ is involved then the Vein servicing that particular organ is opened for the letting.
Firstly he mentions the obvious criteria to take note of like the time of the year, the age and strength of the patient, and finally the custom of the patient.
- The time of the year is important as if it is very hot or cold then Phlebotomy is not advised. The body will be very loose and open and the loss of blood will weaken it more. In hot or cold conditions the humors can be inflamed and the letting of the blood will inflame them more.
- The age recommended is after the age of fourteen to the age of sixty is the safe period of life to let blood. Earlier or later will diminish the nutrients so desperately needed in the growing or diminishing body. Though in sever cases of fever it could be considered.
- The Custom of the person is to be regarded, as those who are not accustomed to blood letting will fear it and this bodes ill. In a way we look at our rural Africans who have utilized the blood-letting as a customary way of healing for centuries. The use of a rusty blade seems to do the trick with out causing infection, should you or I go to the same healer we may be appalled by the idea, as well as not being immune to the germs on the blade. This fear is enough to alter the qualities of our blood and negating the healing powers of the blood letting.
- It is safer to let blood when the constitution is strong and to leave this part of the healing when the constitution is weak.
The Moon who is natural ruler of all fluids as well as the light that moves fastest therefore dictates timing for medical procedures particularly blood letting. A waxing Moon will produce lots of blood and a waning Moon less.
When Phlebotomy is hindered:
If the ascendant and its ruler as well as the Moon and her ruler are not free from Saturn Mars or the Sun as they hinder the outcome.
The Moon will hinder a day before and a day after an exact conjunction with the above, if the aspect is an opposition to the Moon then the outcome will be hindered 12 hours before and after, and a square 6 hours and before.
The Moon should not be in the sign of the Ascendant, but if she is then the Lord of the Ascendant signifies the member to be struck.
Moon in conjunction with Venus and Mercury makes things too cold and moist and can hinder things.
Moon in aspect with a combust planet will hinder things.
When Blood-letting will be good:
When the Moon aspects the fortunes by sextile, conjunction and trine as long as they are not combust.
The Moon in a good sign can also square the fortunes.
The Moon in good sign and free from impediments in sextile or trine to Saturn, Sun or Mars will encourage good blood-letting.
If you are applying Ventosies (vacuum extractor) rather the Moon is in Taurus than the Leo.
Blood-letting according to the symptoms an imbalance of blood can cause:
Melancholy – Extract blood when the Moon is in Libra or Aquarius. (C/D extract when the Moon is in a sign that is H/M)
Choleric – When the Moon is in the water signs (H/D extract when Moon is in a C/M sign)
Phlegmatic – When the Moon is in Aries or Sagittarius (C/M extract when the Moon is in a H/D sign.)
Sanguine – Extract when the Moon is in an earth sign (H/M extract when the Moon is in a C/D sign.)
Temperaments and when to let blood:
Sanguine – From the conjunction of the Moon to the 1st square of the Sun.
Choleric – From the 1st square to the opposition of the Moon to the Sun.
Phlegmatic – From the opposition to the last square of the Moon to the Sun.
Melancholic – From the last square to the conjunction of the Moon to the Sun.
Age too works according to the rules of the phases of the Moon, please note that the seasons of the Sun repeat the phases of the Moon and the seasons of the Sun defines the ages of natives.
Young men and woman should Phlebotomize from the conjunction of the Moon with the Sun till the 1st square or 1st quarter Moon, from the 1st quarter to the opposition of the Sun or Full Moon is the time for middle age, Full Moon to last quarter elder years, and last quarter to conjunction will be the time for the elderly only if it is necessary to let blood.
Richard Saunders in his brilliant book The Astrological Judgment of the Physick a firm believer in the use of Phlebotomy for the treatment of Blood ailments. He looks at diseases caused by Jupiter when weak in the signs and advises when and how to treat them.
For example Jupiter in the Hot and dry sign of Gemini will bring about too much blood, he advises blood-letting followed with things that abate the blood. The best hours to do this would be the hours of Saturn and Mercury, the Moon being in the Earth signs and Jupiter weak. The treatment if followed with a cleansing light diet and the patient is to drink water.
Different things are given to cleanse the blood and once again are administered in the times mentioned above
Diseases caused by Jupiter in Libra, do not administer any treatment in a Jupiter hour, best is still a Saturn or Mercury hour, have an earth sign on the ascendant. Cure the party with cold and dry things after letting his blood from a Liver-vein. Veins are used as they carry the dirty deoxygenated blood.
Saunders lists Aloes, Mallows, Cucumbers to mention a few, which are good for opening the mouths of veins. I have a Sanguine temperament and there are times when my blood pressure is too low, this is when I crave Cucumber and until now I have asked many dieticians to tell me what the value of a cucumber is to be met with blank stares and told that it is good roughage. Well apart from cleansing and cooling the blood which is also good for vey high blood pressure where the blood is thick and struggling to get through the veins, Cucumbers assist in opening up the gates for the blood to flow more easily!
With Jupiter in the final fixed air sign Aquarius, where he is currently posited, the blood in this situation seems to be lodged or fixed in the lungs and lights as well as the throat. One would need to let the blood from first the left heart Vein followed by the right heart vein. Depending on how thickly the blood is lodged in the areas affected, one may need to prepare the body 3 days before the letting of blood as the condition is so thick and congealed thinning of the thickness is necessary for effective blood-letting. Follow the rules for the timing as is advised for the other air signs.
Three days before donating blood, drink Dandelion tea or eat lot of cucumbers, this prepares your blood thinning it and enabling the blood to flow quickly and more easily into the donor bottles.
Diseases caused by Jupiter in Aries are acute and the hours not to treat would be the hours of Jupiter, Sun and Mars. Try and have as many planets in water signs including the Moon, and the Moon applying to Saturn or Mercury, preferably posited in the angles. The best place for the Sun, Jupiter and Mars would be the 6th house or they could be dispositor of the 6th. Put the water or earth signs on the ascendant. Purge and let a lot of blood.
Now if we have Jupiter in Leo, once again we are dealing with a fixed sign so preparation and purging of the yellow choler is needed before one can safely let blood.
When we are dealing with Jupiter weak in earth signs, blood-letting is no longer used; it seems that in that instance the disease is dispersed with the help of purging and vomiting.
When Jupiter is weak in a water sign then treat by thinning and purging the phlegm and water as well as making the patient sweat.
As an Astrologer if we have an understanding of the humors and what is causing the imbalances, once we have worked out the temperament of the client we can see how each temperament would react or respond to too much or too little of any element. Listen to your client’s symptoms, ask about their diets, take note of their age and the season of the year and put it all together to help them feel better.
I have a Sanguine temperament and at the moment a lifestyle that has way too much heat in it. My work is physical; I train at gym for about 1 and a half hours 4 to 5 times a week. Walk my dogs for an hour every day and love hot sweet drinks. I don’t enjoy this lifestyle and feel depressed and anxious as I would much rather be reading or writing.
Too much hot and not enough moist, I need to slow down, eat cool moist foods and cleanse my thick hot blood. There are many herbs that can help me do this. I am so looking forward to a long glass of Dandelion ice tea to drink. It should keep me cool and balance my blood humor especially during and after the hot and dry summer.