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XIIII. Temperance

XIIII. Temperance

Upright: balanced personality, tactfulness

Reversed: moodiness, uncertainty

Temperance is one of the four Cardinal Virtues of Plato, together with Strength (Fortitude), Justice and Prudence (the last of which does not have a Tarot card). It means the combination of elements to make a stronger, more balanced whole—as in wine tempered with water (standard practice in Classical times), or phrases like justice tempered with mercy. So this card is about finding balance, and giving everything its measure.

Abstract nouns are personified as women, a tradition that goes back to ancient Greece (since abstract nouns happen to have the feminine gender in that language). The wings are also traditional, even though Temperance is not intended to be seen as an angel in the Christian sense. The vessels she is holding are often coloured gold (suggesting the sun) and silver (suggesting the moon), an allusion to the idea that a healthy psyche is a mixture of feminine and masculine traits—or to the mystical theory that all reality is defined by feminine and masculine principles.

I have alluded to the latter interpretation by incorporating a monad (yin-yang symbol) in to the face of my sketchy temple. It is further represented by the inclusion of children playing on a seesaw in the background.

See also the description on the Queen of Pentacles Tarot site

See also Thirteen’s description on the Aeclectic Tarot site

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