Temperance Tarot

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Temperance is the fourteenth card in the Tarot’s Major Arcana. A symbol of self-possession and moderation, the Temperance card often appears as a timely reminder of the necessity of patience, moderation and taking a calculated, well-thought-out approach rather than rushing, burning out and fumbling the ball before the finish line.

In today’s culture of constant hustle and instant gratification, the Temperance Tarot card asks us to take a step back for a moment, to slow it down, and to look at our lives from a higher point of view, instead of being stuck in the frantic energy and survival mode of the here-and-now.

What does the Temperance Major Arcana Tarot card represent?

The Temperance car represents the golden middle path so often touted in Buddhism. Consider Temperance the balancing point between extremes, a place of perfect balance where you can experience both adventure and security.

When the energies of the Temperance card are present in your life, you are in flow. You are able to view your life and your opportunities with a clear vision. You approach everything from your love life to your career goals from a place of calm, harmony and balance; when you are coming from this place, the universe will not deny you.

The Temperance card is often a card of healing as it speaks of restoring higher purpose, focus and inner peace – especially when you have been down prioritising these qualities and your life has been marked by discord and confusion.

Is Temperance the most powerful Tarot card?

As a Major Arcana card, Temperance is one of the most potent of the Tarot. Its message is one of moderation and harmony, and although these can seem like soft energies, they are sometimes exactly what is needed to turn around a negative, stressful situations.

Temperance is a highly spiritual card and is often underrated, because it is not as loud as, say, the Magician or the Devil. Nevertheless, Temperance is every bit as powerful, and its calming and healing energies may be exactly what you need.

What is the personification of Temperance?

If the Temperance Tarot card were a person, they would be patient, calm and collected.

As a person, the Temperance Tarot card is someone in possession of themselves, someone able to envision and carefully, calculatedly and consciously work towards the future they desire. They know that there is no rush, and that getting there right is better than getting there soon. In the end, the tortoise beats the hare. Life is about the overarching story, not just the moment.

Temperance as a person is someone who is able to keep their balance and their cool in stressful situations, someone able to regulate their own emotions.

Symbolism in the Temperance Tarot card

The Temperance Tarot card differs from Tarot deck to Tarot deck, but most depictions include the symbols found in the original Rider-Waite Tarot deck.

The winged angel

The Temperance card shows a large, androgynous, winged angel. The serene expression on their face suggest that they have found peace and is perfectly at ease.

The angelic being is a symbol of your higher purpose and calling in life, as well as of the inherent balance and harmony of your inner self and its ability to balance the different aspects and seeming contradictions of our lives.

The angel represents the inner voice, the part of us that is never conflicted and never unsure, but always balanced, calm, solid and sure.

The robe

The angelic being is dressed in a flowing light blue robe. On its chest is an alchemical symbol, a triangle inscribed inside a square, signifying that all human beings (the triangle) are bound by the laws of nature (the square).

As humans, we are incredibly powerful beings, and yet we are constrained by the laws and forces of the natural world have to learn how to work with them.

The earth and the water

The angelic being has got one foot planted on the tangible earth and the other foot in a stream of water.

We also see this imagery in the Star Tarot card, where the naked woman in the card is kneeling in the inner landscape, with one foot in flowing water and one on dry land.

The pose suggests the need for being simultaneously grounded and in flow, balanced between the material world and the spiritual realm.

The two cups

The angelic being is holding golden cups in its hands. Cups, in the Tarot, are symbols of emotional connection and of creativity, intuition and the forces of the subconscious realm.

The angel pours water from one cup to the other. The way the water flows between the cups suggests a process of inner alchemy and refinement.

The winding mountain path

In the background of the Temperance Tarot card is a path winding its way up into the distant mountain range.

The mountains represent higher learning, calling and purpose, and the path represents the Fool’s journey, the sometimes steep and tricky journey of life.

Temperance Tarot card meanings

Here are the most common Temperance Tarot card meanings. Which ones stand out always depends on the context and subject of the Tarot reading in which Temperance appears.

Balance

The Temperance card represents balance and the need for bringing balance to situations, relationships and aspects of life that have fallen off the tracks.

Imbalance in one area of life has a way of spilling over into other areas – relationship problems turn into mental health issues which turn into financial uncertainty.

Temperance asks us to maintain and restore balance in our lives.

Patience

One of the key Temperance Tarot card meanings is patience.

Often, there is a pressure to rush forward, but Temperance asks us to remain calm, to exert self control and patience.

The story of your life is not going to come down to the accomplishments of a single day. Even the most defining, peak and pivotal moments of our lives are preceded by patient planning and preparation. Instead of rushing blindly ahead, your time and energy may be better spent getting crystal clear on what your priorities are. Get clear on your path, and take it one step at a time.

Moderation

Temperance is not a yes or no card, but a card of moderation and compromise.

When Temperance shows up in Tarot readings it is often a sign that the querent is unwilling to compromise, even then compromise is the only way. You may have to re-examine your expectations. Or you may have to start out with a little less than you had envisioned.

In most situations, everything is not immediately obvious. Star small. Star conservative. Risky investments in either business or love are not advised when the Temperance Tarot card appears.

Purpose

The Temperance Tarot card is a sign of purpose and the significance of staying true to your inner voice and purpose. The path winding up into the mountainous landscape hints at the resolve needed to persevere.

Meanings of the reversed Temperance Tarot card

The reversed Temperance card brings out the archetype’s shadow side. Theres are the most prominent meanings of Temperance reversed.

Imbalance

The reversed Temperance card is a sign of imbalance and discord.

Imbalance comes in many different forms and often has devastating effects. It may be found in your diet, in your relationship dynamics, in your family relations, in the way you view yourself.

Temperance reversed is often a nudge to look at the areas of your life that have become disharmonious.

Excess

When reversed, Temperance often points to excess.

In its worst forms, excess can manifest as alcohol or drug abuse. Excess may also manifest as financial overspending, leaving beyond your means in a way that causes greater rand greater uncertainty and imbalance. It could also be that you are giving so much of your own resources – inner or outer – to others or are prioritising their needs above your own. As result, your resources are becoming more and more depleted, eroding your safety, security and balance.

A need for realignment and rebalancing

Temperance revered suggests at need to realign, recalibrate and rebalance.

Perhaps you need to reorient yourself towards your purpose, or reconnect with activities or interests that used to bring you joy but have been misplaced or forgotten.

When Temperance appears reversed, it is often as sign that you have lost touch with your inner balance and voice and need to rediscover them.

If you are not sure which direction you are heading in, stop moving and spend some time connecting with the true Temperance meaning; patience, calm energies, inner guidance, well being.

Self-healing

Temperance reversed urges you to refocus on self love and your own well-being. In order to be what you need to be to others and do what you need to do in the world, you must attend to your own needs first.

If you are feeling depleted, the meaning of Temperance reversed is to focus on restoring your good health, both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

What the Temperance card tells you about your personal development

Upright

When Temperance appears upright in a reading about your personal development, it is good news as it suggests you are approaching your journey in a calm and collected manner. You are not distracted from your purpose – you know what you want and where you are headed. You work with the resources that you have available, and trust that more will come to you as you hone your skills and moved ahead in the direction of your choosing.

The presence of the archangel in the card suggests that you are very in-tune with your inner voice and your higher nature, and that you are letting it lead you.

Reversed

When Temperance turns up reversed in a reading about your personal development, it shows an unbalanced, badly thought out approach.

It may be that you are heading in the wrong direction, or have become so caught up in what is happening at the surface level of your life that you have lost sight of your inner sense of direction.

Everything may look good on paper, but there is a sense of disconnect between the life you are living and the one you want to be living.

What the Temperance card tells you about love and relationships

Upright

In a love Tarot reading, Temperance is a reminder to feel the station out and take things slow.

If a relationship is right for you, trust that you are bound to discover it. Enjoy the process of exploration and discovery, and avoid forcing anything into a box too soon. Let things unfold naturally.

The angelic figure depicted in Temperance suggests that you are learning and discovering a lot about yourself through your current situation. You may have connected with someone who works as a catalyst on your personal journey, someone who either directly or indirectly inspires you to pursue your higher calling.

Reversed

When Temperance shows up reversed in a love reading, you are being asked to slow down and take a measured approach. You may not know where things are going – and right now, you cannot know. When reversed, Temperance reminds you not to give more than you should.

Lucius Nothing

Lucius has been slinging tarot cards professionally since 2014. He’s taken the tarot to places most wouldn’t think of: His best-known patrons include Torture Garden, The Dark Circus Party, Handel & Hendrix, A Curious Invitation and The Candlelight Club, where he has been resident tarot reader for the past half-decade. His writing on divination, magic and creativity has been published in Sabbat Magazine and on Medium.

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