Some time ago I was reading about the difference between temperament and character as aspects of the human personality. These terms are frequently confused in conversation, but they aren’t interchangeable. Temperament is viewed as fundamental “human nature,” embodying innate qualities that are present at birth, while character is understood to be the product of environmental conditioning in response to external stimuli. Character traits have been described as inchoate temperamental urges that have been brought under control as part of maturation.
Recognizing that everyone we meet in life other than newborn infants is a kaleidoscope of temperamental and characteristic complexities that may be contradictory as readily as they are cohesive, I decided to create a spread that attempts to correlate these variables in terms of the four classical elements of Empedocles wedded to the four psychological functions of Carl Jung. I envision this spread being used when facing the prospect of meeting or otherwise engaging with another person who is an unknown quantity as far as human interface potential. It operates at three levels: two sets of four elemental attributes provide “snapshots” of behavioral tendencies at the threshold of temperamental and characteristic expression; two “sub-quintessence” cards roll up these tendencies into a more attitude-based perspective; and three derivative trump cards (two sub-quints and one Grand Quint) provide a “thumbnail” profile of aggregate individuality at a higher (that is, more philosophical or spiritual) level.
The behavioral snapshots are read in pairs, one card each from the temperament and character strings, according to elemental persuasion (Wands and Fire, Cups and Water, Swords and Air, and Pentacles and Earth). The two sub-quints stand alone as summary statements of blended potency in the realms of temperament and character, and the Grand Quint raises these combined potencies to their highest power in a single declaration of archetypal prowess.