The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word Temperance as, “The practice of always controlling your actions, thoughts, or feelings so that you do not eat or drink too much, become too angry, etc.”
In Tarot, the meaning of Temperance, Major Arcana Card 14, is not that much different from the literal dictionary definition.
In the Tarot deck, Temperance follows the Death card. This placement reminds us that Temperance carries with it a feeling of rebirth and hope. However, like the recovery one feels after any major life change (as associated with the Death card), the rebuilding process often takes a while and requires a great deal of faith and patience.
|Morgan Greer Tarot|
In many of the traditional versions of the card we see Archangel Michael standing comfortably between the solid realm of the earth and the more fluid arena of spirituality and emotion. A pathway behind him leads to the sun which beckons us to ask, “Is the sun rising or setting?” and “Did he come from the path or is he following that path?” The flowing water in his two chalices holds Michael’s undivided attention, and he directs the flow without spilling a drop.
Essentially, in the Temperance card, Michael is one with the energy of the Universe – neither trying to control it nor be controlled by it. It is as if he lets the energy flow through him. Basically, when this card appears in a reading, it suggests we will be most successful if we choose to embody these very same strategies in our daily life. We must watch the flow of the Universe and see how to best fit our plans into the flow. Doing the opposite – forcing the Universe to function around our plans is a sure-fire way to bring more frustration to the process.
Temperance in a spread hints that a challenge has been thrust upon us, or that we are in the process of resolving a conflict. Success during this time will be the direct result of how well we decide to stay the course and roll with the necessary changes life has cast upon us.
In my opinion, the beauty in this card is most clearly seen in the ideas of unity and connection. When this card appears in a reading, a time of surrender is upon us because we are most likely caught in a balance between how we want things to be and how they really are. This card reminds us that success comes to those who slow down, exercise patience, maintain emotional control, practice flexibility and keep a faithful dedication to the process or goal upon which they have set their sights – all while releasing obsessions about any perceived necessary outcomes for that given situation.