14 Temperance

The Temperance tarot card sits at number 14.

I realise that primarily you’re interested in learning the interpretation for the Temperance card in tarot but one historical issue needs to be addressed first.  When did Temperance first get her wings and become an angel?  The Illustration on the left is from the Visconti-Sforza hand painted tarot dating back to about 1440.  In this early rendition Temperance does NOT have wings.  These were added later. I don’t believe that there is any exact date for when this transition took place but The Hermitage site has some very interesting material on the subject and is well worth a read.So is Temperance angelic and something above and beyond human nature or is she a mere mortal? To my mind she is mortal.  Everyone of us has the potential within us to be a guardian angel to those we share the planet with.  The angelic side of Temperance is about looking after each other, getting the ego out of the way and not looking for instant gratification in the material world.

The more human side of Temperance is the struggle within each and every one of us to constantly balance emotions.

I call her the *fake it till you make it* card, for in truth if we are working at keeping the emotions in balance then they are not in balance at all.  She represents our ability to say *I’m ok* when we feel more like crying and ripping our hair out in a fit of anguish and despair.

Temperance tips water between two cups.  The symbol of the cup represents our emotional attachments because it holds water which bonds the entire universe.  Throughout our life we form many bonds to people places and things.  Some of these bonds are karmic attachments as we are incarnated with a propensity towards towards certain emotional reactions due to past life experiences.  The number 2 represents duality and the deep unconscious as symbolised by The High Priestess

Thus Temperance is a symbol of the individual endeavouring to balance the emotional attachments and reactions to feelings of duality and separation which arise from the causal level within us.

Events come along and trigger dramatic emotional reactions and we lose our sense of *I AM* which The Emperor represents.  We use phrases such as *thrown off balance*, feeling *out of balance* and *needing rebalancing* to try and describe this sensation of feeling lost and emotionally knocked sideways.

In readings Temperance describes the client putting on a brave face and presenting an ego mask of being *ok* even when they do not feel ok.  Just think of how many times you’ve walked into work first thing in the morning feeling upset, or maybe a little unwell, and yet still managed to smile at your colleagues and get on with your daily duties.  This is the power of Temperance, to set aside ones emotional burden so that one can continue life.  There is a time for ones own sorrow and a time to maintain a pretence so that one may deal with issues appropriately.  These are the two urns which Temperance pours the water between.

These are the same two urns which the woman in the Star card empties out.  I take it to be the same woman, the same feminine side of our nature, which experiences an unburdening and freeing of the emotional ties which bind us to a repeat emotional cycle of having certain events trigger a negative response within us.

When Temperance is seen during a reading the questioner is never truly depressed, but more aware of what has upset them and how they might deal with it.  For some people Temperance is their type.  They go through their entire lives agreeing with others in order to keep the peace and always say that they are fine when in fact they do not feel *fine* at all.

On one occasion I recognised temperance as a type card for one woman and she immediately agreed.  “Where would my family be if  fell to pieces?” she said, as if her entire life path was to be the stalwart heart of the family which never failed.

One man had Temperance turn up in relation to his work.  “I don’t loathe my work,” he admitted, “I’m just fed up with it.  Having to go in every day and smile and get on with work which no longer genuinely interests me at all.”

When Temperance is seen reversed then it means that the cracks are starting to show and that the individual is no longer able to maintain such a good pretence.  It’s that moment in the street when you bump into a friend and when they ask *How are you?*, you respond with *I’m fine thanks*, and they come a little closer and say quietly, “Are you?  Honestly? You don’t look too bright today.*  Our cover is broken, the truth is out, the mask is pulled away.  In many respects it’s the first sign of a healing taking place, because only once others can see our vulnerability are we able to cry for help.

All the while Temperance is upright we are viewed by others as capable and strong, not wishing to be interfered with.  Only once the water starts to spill, a small tear is seen creeping into the corner of our eye can we  gain support.

For many Temperance is a temporary state, a way of coping during a hard time.  Once the path is easier then one can drop the cups and let the waters flow and true emotions abound once again.

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