The Fool has survived his encounter with Death and now moves into the influence of Temperance. Accustomed as he is to leaping after his impulses, the Fool is suddenly pulled up short as Temperance acts like a brake on his rash behavior. This is a major life lesson that all human beings have to learn – we have to abandon some of our childlike whims, begin to pay attention and act like grown-ups.
Temperance is a positive card that reflects back a simple message of patience, restraint and tranquility.
Temperance is one of the four cardinal virtues – the others are prudence, justice, and courage. These virtues were first identified by Plato when describing the ideal city. “Cardinal” comes from the Latin cardo, meaning “hinge”, indicating that these fundamental qualities are the hinges that hold us steady and support us through life. The word ‘temperance’ comes from the Latin “temperare” – “to temper”, which means to act as a neutral, balancing force. There has been much discussion in scholarly circles as to why there is no Prudence card in tarot. Perhaps Prudence – cautiousness, wisdom, forethought and common sense – is also encapsulated in Temperance?
In Hinduism, Temperance is called “Dama”, which calls for restraint over the baser human impulses to avoid bad karma.
The main message of Temperance is for the individual to exercise self-control. Whether the seeker suffers from rash decision-making, lust, obsession, anger, over-spending, immodesty, vanity, over-eating or a propensity for consuming excess alcohol, Temperance reminds him to rein it in. To put some effort into the self-restraint department. To present a calm and rational exterior. In other words, some stern self-talk is the order of the day.
Very often, Temperance is considered to mean balance, harmony and tolerance in all thoughts, words and actions, which is similar to the previous though a little bit softer. Other interpretations put forward the idea that Temperance is linked to alchemy and chemistry, indicating a good synergy of human attributes.
Temperance is shown in the Rider-Waite tradition as an angel of indeterminate gender, standing with one foot in a stream and the other on the bank. S/he pours a liquid in an arc from one vessel into another, somehow avoiding the laws of gravity. It has even been suggested that the water is flowing from the lower to the upper cup. In the background the sun sets or rises, reminding us that each day we can try a little harder and become a better person by putting yesterday behind us.
The triangle on the angel’s gown represents the Holy Trinity, the union between mother, father, and child, or perhaps the mind, body and spirit. In essence, it is the visual symbol of love, thereby showing that Temperance is not a harsh virtue but one of love. If we love ourselves, then we won’t subject mind and body to extremes of behavior.
Interpretations in Various Areas of Life
Maintain a calm exterior in all situations. Look for ways to make your work environment more harmonious and pleasant. Exercise restraint when it comes to office gossip; become an example of kindness. It may be a good time to bring a team together, acting as a catalyst for excellent working practices. Your wisdom and clear thinking will be noticed and rewarded in good time.
If you are looking for a new job or career, remember that a happy life requires balance. Find a job that will satisfy on all levels, including plenty of rest time to spend with family or doing non-work activities.
Temperance is reminding you that if you don’t love yourself, then it will be hard for others to love you. Loving yourself means being kind to you. It doesn’t mean indulgence beyond the boundaries of good sense.
In relationships, cultivate an atmosphere of harmony by keeping discussions calm and relaxed. Don’t allow an argument to escalate; instead, look for ways to diffuse it. It’s hard to stop an out-of-control fight, so ensure it never gets to that stage in the first place. Forgiveness is key.
Don’t rush into a romantic relationship too quickly. Spend the time to get to know your potential partner; this will build a strong foundation of friendship that could last a lifetime. The appearance of Temperance in response to a question about a new relationship indicates a good mix of personalities.
Remember our suggestion that Temperance may incorporate Prudence? This is the time to bring prudence into the frame. Don’t take a risk. Do your research and exercise due diligence when considering investing. Give a percentage of your income to your future self by making provision for savings and stick to a schedule, i.e. as soon as you get paid. A predetermined sum or percentage should be placed in a separate account. This money is sacrosanct and only to be used for investing in yourself (improving skills, etc.) or such things that will guarantee a return.
A positive card to appear in a health reading. Temperance suggests that if you suffer from a health condition, healing is already taking place. If you don’t, then take steps to maintain a healthy mind and body. Examine your daily routines and incorporate activities that promote health. This may be as simple as walking a little more and eating a little less. Balance and moderation in all things.
When Temperance makes an appearance in a spirituality reading or a spread position allocated to your spiritual health, take note as this may be a good time to enhance and expand your inner “angel”. It could be that you’ve been thinking about taking a yoga class or learning how to meditate. Now is the time to try it out. Temperance reminds you that your spiritual needs must be met in the same way that you feed your body or exercise your mind. For a healthy balance of all three, mind body and spirit should be attended to with as much love and attention as you can muster.