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XIIII Temperance - Meaning and Symbols

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

The number 14 card in the Major Arcana, Temperance, represents a time of reset, grounding, and making connections with all the energies of emotions, wisdom (intellect), material, and spiritual. We are not sure of the gender of the angel that is depicted in the card so we draw on both the female (reflective) and male (active) energies. When we see this card in a reading there is a sense of calmness or a need to step back and think about where we are in our journey. What have we learned and what are the things that are coming? We begin to understand the karmic energy that comes along with our decisions and choice. Everything is a choice whether we act or not act. There has been a lot that has happened leading up to the Temperance card: We have had to take action because of a major shift - Temperance comes after the Death card in the major arcana. That shift occurred quickly and has woken us up to other views. Perhaps we need to take another look at the path we are on.

Temperance Card-Lo Scarabeo, Anna Maria Morsucci

The name of the card is Temperance meaning self-control, restraint, and balance. The balance of one liquid and another by pouring one from one vessel or container into another. This is tempering. The art of tempering is finding the right balance and this is the secret we learn in the Temperance card. We learn to balance our long-held beliefs and values by finding a compromise with others that hold an opposing view.

The fourteenth card corresponds to the number four in Tarot. Four in Tarot represents the balance of the elements: earth, water, fire, and air. With Temperance being the fourteenth card, balance comes by slowing things down and finding the right mix of our wants and needs, as well as others' wants and needs. This balancing of elements doesn't just happen by force. It takes patience, to recognise that we have to deal with opposing elements. We agree to remove some of the things we don't need and find that middle ground.

Temperance Card - Jean Dodal Marseille Tarot

Just looking at the card we can have a peaceful and optimistic feeling:

  • The light blue on the ground represents a grounding spirit

  • The shape of the hand on the front of the dress top in flesh colour resembles the hand of luck (CBD, Nicholas Conver Marseille tarot)

  • The dress skirt is equally red and blue indicating things can be balanced

Symbols in the Temperance Card:

  • Angel Wings: these wings are on an angel who is a messenger. Angels help us with receiving messages from the divine, help protect us from harm as well as help us overcome our shortcomings. They are often used as a go-between for us on earth to the divine.

  • Water: the liquid that is poured from one vessel to another. the water in Tarot represents the emotions that flow throughout us. The pouring from one vessel to another represents the act of tempering. Tempering is finding the right balance. We see a priest at a Catholic mass pouring water into wine. Water represents the humanity in Jesus and wine represents the divine. Once these two liquids are mixed together you can not separate them again and this represents Jesus sharing the divine in him with us. In Tarot the lesson of tempering emotions stays with us and it will not be unlearnt.

  • Vases(or jugs): these are containers called amphorae (amphora singular) which is Greek for a vase that has handles at or near the mouth. In ancient times these containers were used as measuring for oil, water, and grain. An amphora was also used to carry offerings at ceremonies and placed at graves for markers. In Tarot this represents a peace offering or gift.

  • The Flower: On the head of the Angel is a flower. Placed at the brow chakra, this represents receiving messages from the divine and being able to see the beauty in everything.

  • The gaze to the left: this is reflective and indicates that there is little movement. It indicates taking time to understand what must be done next after a shift; or understanding that we now need to change our way of thinking because things have changed and we cannot retract the change.

  • The flow of water from one vessel to another: The water appears to flow from one vessel to another without spilling any of the water. This reminds us that no matter how difficult things seem right now, we can accomplish what we set out to do. The figure gazes to the reader's left, but the body leans right pouring the water without a drop spilling leading us to think that with the skills and experience, we now have, we take appropriate action.

  • Four Triangles on the dress (Jean Dodal's Marseille Tarot)): triangles are associated with accomplishments and a consensus (agreement, contract) reached through negotiations. Four correspond to balancing the needs of all parties involved.

temperance card from the Rider Waite Tarot

For the Temperance symbols in the Rider Waite Tarot:

  • The Cup: the cup is a holder of water which represents emotions

  • Flowers (Iris): represent faith and nobility. The Greek goddess Iris was a messenger between heaven and earth.

  • Pool: associated with cleansing and emotion

  • Sun: expansion and growth and the possibilities are many. Energy and creativity are represented by the Sun. In the RW Temperance card, the sun is rising indicating new beginnings and transition.

  • Mountain: in the Temperance car, the mountain range indicates challenges to be faced and overcome. Mountains are a symbol of the possible triumph

  • The triangle on the angel's dress: triangles are associated with things achieved through creativity and skill.

  • Angels: angels are messengers and inspiration to rise above challenges

  • One foot in the water and the other on land: grounding is important. Pay attention to your emotions. Find the right balance for your needs and let go of anything you do not need in order to move forward toward your goals.

  • Gray background: conveys the uncertainty and the importance of self-reflection and learning to tap into your intuition

Reading the Temperance Card:

When the question is about relationships, the Temperance card is asking us to make peace with our past errors in love and friendships. Perhaps we have made mistakes that are weighing heavily on our consciences. As long as we do some self-reflection, we should forgive ourselves; and with lessons learned be able to cultivate healthy relationships. Remember that in order for you to allow others to love you, you must love yourself. If the card appears reversed, Temperance is calling us to self-reflect on what we are bringing into a relationship. Are we doing all the "giving" in the relationship? We need to remind ourselves that a healthy relationship is a two-way street. We need to be able to give with love and respect as well as receive with love and respect. We need to ask ourselves if we are being too severe and unyielding in accepting others' gifts or if are we impatient with our partner. And vice versa, is our partner not willing to "bend" for us?

Temperance Card from the Deviant Moon Tarot by Patrick Valenza

For questions regarding finances, we have a balanced budget, however, we may feel like we want to have something extra or special. It's possible to have what you want just look after the "needs" first and maybe give up a few other "extras" to make this happen. Alternatively, you may need to make more money. In a reverse Temperance card situation, you may have to ask someone to start chipping in a bit more i.e. a spouse or partner. Be brave and speak up for yourself to make sure that your needs and wants are meant as well.

When it comes to work-related questions, manage your expectations. Work diligently and with respect and you will be noticed but don't expect promotions or awards. The important thing is balancing your work life and personal life. The reversed Temperance card tells us that teamwork is important. There is a positive payoff if you can show that you work well with others even though you want to work alone.

Temperance Card from the Spanish Tarot

When it comes to health matters, the Temperance card reminds us that maintaining our health is a matter of balance. make sure you have enough exercise but not too much and you are eating a balanced diet. There is a reminder that comes from this card that you can have your treats but in moderation. Do not forget to listen to your inner voice. By paying attention to what your body is telling you, you will know if something is not quite right. A reverse Temperance card indicates that you are not paying attention to your own health. You have needs when it comes to rest, nutrition, and exercise. Make sure that you make time for yourself so that you can include rest, healthy eating, and exercise. Don't forget to work in some time for a social life as well.

Keywords: balance, teamwork, calm, self-reflection, transition, peace, healing, slowing down

Temperance Card from the CBD Marseille Tarot

Temperance from the Classic Tarot-Lo Scarabeo

Temperance from the Mythic Tarot

Temperance - From Marseille Tarot by Jean Noblet

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