Temperance is the fifteenth card in the Tarot Deck. It is given the number 14 because the very first card (The Fool) is given the number 0.
Temperance represents Balance / Harmony / Equality / Moderation / Middle Path / Peace / Uniting / Coordination / Resolution / Blending Opposites / Healing
Let’s look at the picture below of Temperance. The picture is from the Rider Waite Tarot deck which was first published in 1909. It is a great deck for beginners because every card has a picture describing its meaning. Today the majority of Tarot decks are based on the Rider Waite deck. It is also a ‘deep’ deck because the creators of it put multi layered meanings inside it.
We see an angel with wings holding two golden cups and pouring water from one to the other. One foot is in the water and the other foot is out of the water. Behind the angel is a path to two mountains and a rising sun. The flower Iris grows next to the angel.
The angel is Michael (Micha-El – ‘Who is like unto God’).
You can read more about the archangel Michael HERE.
The white robe represents purity. If you look at the neck of the white gown you can see the name of God written in Hebrew – יהוה. This means that the angel has God within it and ‘knows’ balance with the connection it has to the Creator spirit.
Square with Triangle on White Gown
This symbol represents spirit rising above the material body. The fire of spirit triangle within purified earthly matter.
The two golden cups represent containers for change.
In many other decks, one cup is silver (representing the moon) and gold (representing the sun)
The water pouring from one cup to the next is actually physically impossible the way it is depicted, yet it flows easily. This signifies that life right now is flowing and becoming easier.
The pond represents the watery unconscious. The angel has one foot in the water and the other foot on the land (physical reality) showing a balance between conscious and unconscious.
The path is the journey of the soul having recovered from Death (death of things no longer needed). Perhaps coming from the previous card (Death) where there were two pillars and the setting sun. Now the sun is rising (hope) and the pillars have become mountains (stronger foundation).
The two mountains represent a gateway through which the angel came. The Hermit went up into the mountains to find himself. Temperance has found itself and is balanced with knowledge of oneself and the creator.
The sun represents the crown of the Tree of Life – Kether. It also represents life force and hope.
The Goddess Iris has traditionally been associated with the Temperance card.
Here rather than have the Goddess Iris and her rainbow symbol, Waite and Smith put the Iris flower. The picture for this post is of the Goddess Iris sitting among Iris flowers.
Gods / Goddesses
Temperance is ruled by all the Gods and Goddesses that rule over balance, harmony, equality and rainbows. Iris is a Greek Goddess traditionally associated with this card. She was the messenger of the Gods and traveled across rainbows from God to Human and back again. Traditionally the rainbow represents hope, magick and miracles. Iris filled her golden cup with water from the river Styx (river of the underworld) so she knows what descent means and yet she remains balanced.
Female: Iris, Maat, Trivia
The number of Temperance is 14.
1+ 4 = The Hierophant. The Hierophant is a wise leader who ‘knows’ and ‘understands’ how the world works. Temperance sits on the shoulders of The Hierophant and uses his wisdom to create harmony and balance.
1 also represents The Magician – creator of his/her own destiny and 4 represents The Emperor – a person of stability.
The astrological sign that presides in this card is Sagittarius.
Hips, thighs and the knee is ruled by Sagittarius.
Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter.
The creators of the Rider Waite Tarot deck were members of the Golden Dawn, a group that had many teachings based on the mystical Kabbalah of the Jewish nation. When I say Kabbalah forget about monotheism, Judaism, God, and religion for a moment. Kabbalists are mystics in a sense. They believe God is neither male nor female and in fact has many aspects. Their systems are all about learning why we are here, the mystery of the universe and what the big plan is.
Inside the Rider Waite deck is a multitude of Kabbalistic meanings. I will briefly explain a few of the Kabbalistic meanings within The Emperor card. Believe me when I say you could learn for the rest of your life about Tarot and Kabbalah and still only scratch the surface. I’m keeping it superficial but easy to understand. I am also using on purpose the word Kabbalah rather than Cabala.
Temperance is represented by the letter Samekh – ס- which means support / foundation. How can we ever be balanced unless we have a good foundation.
Temperance on The Tree of Life sits on the path between Tipheret (Beauty) and Yesod (Foundation).
The name of this card is ‘Tentative Intelligence’. Experience becomes the test of ideas.
KEYWORDS / KEY PHRASES
Moderation / Taking the Middle Path / Recovery after Death or something Dying / Balance in all Things / Harmony / Peace / Uniting the Conscious and the Unconscious / Resolution / Deep Healing / Easy Flow
MESSAGE FROM TEMPERANCE
Temperance reminds us that we have the power within us to remain balanced. Often it is simply a choice we must make, a way to look at a situation and change how we think about it.
Ask yourself these questions in order to understand Temperance:
How can I balance the opposites in my life?
Do I realize that my life has flow within it?
How can I be a healer to myself and others?
How am I balancing my spiritual and physical life right now?
Am I reconciling various parts of myself inside?
Am I seeking deeper spiritual truths right now?
Am I seeking spiritual transformation?
Allow yourself to focus on the gift of balance. What can you do today to bring more balance into your life? Is it a matter of saying no? Is it a matter of sleeping and eating better? Is it about taking time out for yourself or perhaps meeting friends for some fun? Is it time to sit and create a timetable so you know exactly when you are available for yourself?
When I see a reversed card I simply see the energy blocked or inhibited in some way.
How would Temperance be inhibited?
Temperance inhibited would be a situation where you simply cannot find balance. All work, no play – OR – All play, no work! Something is seriously imbalanced when you get Temperance reversed.
If you get Temperance reversed for yourself or someone else some questions to ask might be…
Am I feeling imbalanced right now?
Am I feeling sick (mentally, physically or emotionally) right now?
Am I going to extremes in my life?
Does my life feel fragmented?
Am I stuck in setbacks? Am I adding difficulty to my life right now?
Am I attracting drama because I cannot handle peace and harmony in my life?
Am I disrupting relationships rather than going with the flow?
If you get Temperance reversed you need to wake up and realize that something in your life is not balanced and could end up making you very unhappy and sick. Stop what you are doing right now and seriously look at your life. No excuses. Make the changes you need to make today.
TO SUM IT ALL UP…
Temperance invites you to remain connected to the real world. It seems like you are creating a balance (or striving for it) between your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual worlds.
Temperance comes from the Latin word, ‘Temperare’ which means to mix and combine properly. The Temperance card within it teaches the core message of Alchemy. Alchemy on a physical level was seeking the magic ingredient that would change lead to gold. On a higher spiritual level, alchemists sought to create enlightenment.
To learn more about Alchemy check out this great book, ‘Real Alchemy’ by Robert Allen Bartlett
Temperance Rider Waite card: By Pamela Coleman Smith – a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley (http://home.comcast.net/~vilex/) for the public domain, and retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot (see note on that page regarding source of images)., PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17299716
Medieval Statue: By G.dallorto – Self-published work by G.dallorto, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3122821