Associated Astrology: Sagittarius
Key words: Alchemy, Conscious Awareness, Alignment, Illumination, Balance, Providence, Synthesis, Polarity, Self-Control, Calm, Tempering, Restraint, Humility
"That's what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too. - Paulo Coelho
Welcome to the humbling Temperance card. She has experienced the loss of the Death card and has transformed and integrated a lighter perspective. Often the natural upheaval of Death leaves a deep desire for peace in its transformative wake.
Under the influence of this card we find we have an instinctive aversion to drama, either internally or externally created. No longer do we need to engage or even explain our lack of engagement. We feel free to retreat when negativity or misunderstanding takes the lead. Gone is the judgement and obligation of past behaviours. Our loyalty is to our inner truth.
Strong and contradictory emotional responses are being brought into measured balance under this card. We are creating an entirely new way of relating to ourselves, to others, and to the world around us.
This card is known as ‘Art’ in the Thoth deck and depicts a masterful alchemical process. Dualities are blended into something completely innovative. It is a fitting allegory, as the skill set and experience required to create such a recipe are reflective of our sustained effort at self-development.
This balancing of oppositional force is depicted differently in different decks. In some, the angel stands with one foot on earth and one in water. In my deck, Ciro Marcetti’s 'Legacy of The Divine' tarot, the angel is holding fire in one hand and spilling water from the other. On one hand she holds the heat of motivation and magic, on the other she moves with cool ease and steady progress, allowing the flow of life to lead her gently from space to space.
Yet, she is also balancing the challenging aspects of those elements. Fiery desires are held in check. Watery Emotion is released and not dwelt upon.
Despite Temperance’s relationship to calm, we may still identify or experience turbulence under her influence. However, we are able to detach and to find a steady philosophical perspective with far less effort than we have done before.
Nevertheless, this detachment may cause others to test our resolve. Our own self-discipline can be truly galling for our ego when challenged. It may be used to running amok! Yet, we will be very likely to recognise areas in which we require more self-control. These are best off becoming visible than being hidden from our view. If they are buried in our subconscious then they are doing untold harm. If we can calmly bring them into awareness and witness their attempts at getting in our way, then we greatly weaken their ability to unbalance us.
If we are benevolent towards our childish voices, but take no nonsense either, we are ideally positioned to navigate without being too troubled or embroiled in problems. Our suspension has now moved from the discomfort of the Hanged Man into a space of preferential and intuitive choice.
Under this influence, our motivations may be misunderstood by others, and we can sense that we are being guided to keep our opinions temporarily contained. This is not unlike the High Priestess, as both cards are deeply complimentary and dwell in undefinable space.
We must not jump to being defensive. There is no need to explain ourselves. This is a form of vanity, and could easily unbalance us. We must trust that the truth will reveal itself without our intervention and at the right time. This is faith in action – a key aspect of the angelic realm.
We are unquestionably more relaxed in our approach than we once were. Like an experienced tightrope walker, Temperance is conscious of potential fallibility, but not afraid of failure. Trusting in herself, she does not question her long practised art form. This conscious awareness gifts a pure and protective energy to our space, but only if we can keep an ever-watchful eye on our pride. Given half a chance it will crash the party. Pride is a shameless attention seeker!
If we stay alert to the ever-changing subtleties of our situation, adjusting accordingly and aware of the implications of doing otherwise, we can accumulate and channel a great deal of Universal Force. When our minds are truly in the moment, this energy will come to our assistance in all matters, without any need for action on our part.
Magical and miraculous moments can come via our unstructured neutrality. Our outlook invites Providence. If we are sincere, maintain our humility, and trust in our pathway, we can hold to this wonderful and connective space.
This is the true power of receptivity, otherwise known as Yin or elemental earth in Chinese philosophy. Enlightenment belongs in this space, as the Yang creative force belongs to the Universe. Even if we are not yet at the stage of sage-like self-mastery (!), we can still experience frequent windows of illumination. The angel is emblematic of the halfway space between humanity and God. We may meet her beautiful energy only through reaching out with pure-hearted desire. If we drop expectation, then these moments can reshape our behaviours, gift us spiritual learning and meet us halfway with joyfulness and humour.
In this way, Temperance is one of the most healing influences of the Major Arcana and marks definite improvement in emotional, mental and physical health issues. Only The Star is her equal in terms of assisted healing. Often, I find that Temperance can mark the beginning of a healing process, and The Star can mark the final release of illness or trauma.
After all, a visit from an angel is bound to change our world! We see something beautiful emerge into our concept of reality. Our future shifts in response, gently blending new possibilities into view. Hope is renewed. Our soul is refreshed. We are inspired to believe in a masterplan. With illumination comes the understanding that Fate loves us, and fully supports our spiritual ambition to grow closer to Source. However, it is still our decision to make this process work for us. The genuine power offered by Temperance can be misused if we seek to control the process or become attached to specific outcomes. This is the somewhat mixed blessing of free will and personal responsibility!
It is no coincidence that enlightenment leads to temptation. We can be tempted to hurry and therefore tempted to doubt or give up entirely. The moment we do this is the moment that we forget our power is not ours at all – it’s borrowed. This Source of energy sits higher than the angelic realm. It is the building block of ALL realms. We have simply aligned with it. The steady timing required to build confidence, develop relationships or attain our goals is worth it in the end. Nothing of permanence or stability can last without time and consistent effort. Angels are nothing if not patient.
If we take credit for our inspiration or try to manipulate our new found influence, we lose support and inner peace. We face the consequences of falling off our proverbial balance beam. Instead of an angelic force, we can become a devilish one plunging into the egoistic space of wounded pride, impatience and doubt.
If this happens, we must dust ourselves off, empty our minds and get back up again. Don't forget that under this influence we can ascend as regularly as we need to - we have wings remember!
It is no coincidence that the next card on our tarot journey is The Devil. Just like Jesus in the wilderness, we must go willingly to meet our inner demons – how else will we test our practised equilibrium? How else will we truly break our negative habits? Temperance shows us that without assent from our ego, the Devil is powerless to constrict us. He is an illusion of our lower Self and therefore nothing to fear.
All cards, especially Major Arcana cards, have an invaluable lessen to share. Temperance is a card of great wisdom and unique outlook. From an external perspective she is still and suspended. Others may see us as composed, steady and emotionally unflappable. In reality, we may feel we are hard at work, blending and fine-tuning contradictory forces into one integrated Self – Higher and Lower alike.
Like the proverbial swan, we can look like we’re gliding, when in fact we are busy paddling with consistent effort out of view. This takes stamina and perseverance. Yet, if we work alongside the Creative process, we can move at surprising speed towards our goals.
Temperance allows us the objectivity required to stay on course. Even if we do fall into self-pity or self-doubt, we can always get back on the pathway. All we need to do is realign with the true power of receptivity. We are independent only because we depend on the Higher power.
A new alchemical substance can be born when we maintain a creative overview and follow the recipe of intuition. We have taken the leaden aspects of our past and blended them into a golden perspective. In this way, life steers us through potentially dangerous or reactive spaces, and towards a truly vibrational and personal version of heaven.