Increasingly, human beings are living life to extremes. In Western civilization, it is all about more: more work, more money, more stuff, more action. If social media is an accurate reflection of what is happening around us, then people seem to be in a race to see who can party harder, live faster, drive the best car, live in the best house, drink the most and have the best life. Yet, mental health issues and stress-related breakdowns are also increasing as we feel the pressure to keep up to speed on the crazy hamster wheel of modern life.
There is one card in the tarot, which places a gentle brake on all this activity, one that says, “Hey, slow down, you have all the time you need.” This card is Temperance, the 14th key of the Major Arcana, and we don’t pay it enough attention.
Oh sure, we tarot readers talk about balance and moderation all the time. Our clients nod and agree that, yes, all that sounds like a good idea, but then they carry on, whizzing around focusing on their careers, their love-life and what’s trending on Twitter.
It’s time to bring the positive power and energy of Temperance into daily life before daily life consumes us.
A.E. Waite, creator of the Rider-Waite tarot deck, wrote, “The figure (of the angel in the Temperance card) straddles two worlds, where it harmonises the psychic and material natures.” Let’s think about that for a moment. Temperance doesn’t tell us that we need to do this ourselves, but that the energy of the card will do it for us if we let it. Temperance is the catalyst of harmony. No effort is required, just a willingness to allow the feeling of peace to enter our being.
Pamela Coleman Smith, the co-creator and artist of the Waite Tarot, incorporated several dual-aspect elements into the Temperance card. The angel is neither (or both) male or female, showing us that the spiritual awareness we are aiming for is at a higher level than the manifest physical plane. The two goblets and stream of liquid indicate blending and also dilution. The land and water symbolism indicates we must become aware of ourselves as grounded, physical beings combined with a fluid spiritual nature. There are many symbols in this card that will provide a deeper understanding if one takes the trouble to investigate them.
Applying the Temperance Tarot Image to a Situation
Imagine you are dealing with a difficult situation, perhaps at work, or with a teenager, or in your relationship. In your mind’s eye, have the Temperance tarot card angel stand before you. Make the image transparent and soft. Feel the influence of gentle Temperance wrap itself around you and the problem. Spend a few minutes in a quiet meditative state, breathing deeply.
How would you now approach your dilemma with peace suffusing your whole being? Do you feel as though you should hold back a little? Let things play out for a while? Give people the space to express their ideas? Be silent? Be compassionate? Speak softly? Let go of control? Temperance is like a delicate fleece-covered comforter — once you have been immersed in its reassuring energy, you no longer feel you have to wrestle the situation to the ground and kill it. Instead, you discover your vast reserves of patience, tolerance and inner strength.
Temperance is a way of experiencing the divine through your physical incarnation. There is so much along the spectrum of light and energy that we cannot see or feel with our senses. Temperance is the filter through which we can become aware of the loving power of the Universe.
The Influence of Temperance in Tarot Readings
A good way to begin to understand the power of Temperance is to read other cards “through” it. Take your deck and pull the Temperance card out. Shuffle and draw another card at random. Place the two cards side-by-side. Interpret the second card as though its meaning is “tempered”.
Example Tempered Readings
Temperance + The Tower
Viewing the Tower card through the lens of Temperance helps us to understand that we must accept and allow the cleansing effect of destruction. There’s no point in fighting or lamenting; go with it and let your spiritual connection be the most important consequence of these life-altering events. Temper fear and tragedy with love.
Temperance + Six of Wands
The Six of Wands indicates a certain victory; a target met, a goal achieved. Temperance cautions restraint as there may be other people around you who are experiencing negative emotions or loss. Temper your joy with compassion and offer comfort to those who need it.
Temperance + Knight of Cups
The Knight of Cups is eager to seek love. He wants to share his emotions with the object of his affections. He brings her gifts to express his desire. Temperance reins in his enthusiasm, showing him that he has all the time necessary to build a deeper connection with his amour. True love is so much more than sweet words and flowers.
Temperance + Nine of Swords
The pain and anguish present in the Nine of Swords is assuaged by the warm, loving energy of Temperance. Temperance reminds you that you are never alone and that you are connected to Source at all times. You don’t have to feel isolated if you allow the Temperance angel, disguised as your quiet, peaceful inner voice to guide you. Temper distress with trust and faith.
You don’t have to wait until the Temperance Tarot card shows up in a reading; you can tap into divine spirit any time. Just for today, take your favourite Temperance card from its deck and keep it nearby to remind you that life doesn’t have to be a stress-filled endurance race. As Waite indicated, being temporarily moored to physical life does not mean we cannot ascend to the heights of spiritual awareness.