The temperance tarot card is meant to embody the concepts of patience and balance. While the imagery used can vary quite a lot (perhaps more than any of the other major arcana), there are often various opposed symbols displayed on the card to highlight this necessary balance between opposing elements and concepts.
Traditional meanings associated with the Temperance card
The calm and quiet angel depicted on the Temperance tarot card is standing between opposite concepts, halfway between one and the other. It is a reminder of the importance to find balance in all things, and to always keep in mind the interests of all involved parties before making any rash or unilateral decision.
Upright: Balance, health, well-being, economy, common ground, and compromise.
Reversed: Imbalance, dissonance, illness, and competing interests.
Upright temperance tarot card meaning
The traditional representation of the Temperance tarot card, like in the classic Rider-Waite-Smith deck, is that of a winged figure (an angel with androgynous features, neither male nor female) holding two cups, water flowing between them. The liquid is sometimes colored blue and red, to show transition between hot and cold water.
Another common theme in the depictions of the Temperance tarot card is to have the barefoot angel with one foot on solid ground and one foot in the water, again showing two opposite states brought together by the figure of the angel.
Like its name suggest, temperance in tarot is meant to suggest the importance of balance, objectivity, and patience for the problem at hand. While most people would realistically agree that extremes are bad in matters of politics or religion, the meaning of the temperance card reminds us that extremes are just as bad in any other concept in life.
The meaning of the Temperance tarot card can also be a call for a better management of your schedule and priorities, or a warning against excessive spending and impulse purchases, especially when your finances are low.
Reversed Temperance card meaning
The main message of the Temperance tarot card in a reversed position is a position of conflict between opposing forces, and the negative consequences it can bring as a result. It can also be a form of advice against trying to mix and match concepts, items, or people that are too dissimilar to work well together and when combined would clearly be inferior to the sum of their parts.
The Fool’s Journey
Some of the lessons that the Fool had to learn were quite extremes in polar opposites, from the Hermit to the Hanged Man, and when mixed together might become confusing or messy. This is where the Temperance tarot card becomes essential, offering a fundamental lesson to find the balance in all things.
The Fool learns that most of the serious problems and issues encountered in the world often stem from a lack of balance and people blindly yielding to the extremes of one particular aspect of their personality, to the exclusion of all the others. Temperance is a reminder to always try and see matters from another point of view, and find a proper way to balance it all. When successful, this gives the Fool a new sense of realization, health, and well-being.
The Temperance love tarot
When you encounter the Temperance tarot card in a love-based reading it is usually a sign that you need to slow down and take back control of your own passion and excesses. Love can be a wild ride, especially in the early days of the relationship, but just like Icarus tumbling down to the ground after flying too close to the Sun, if you ride your passion too intensely you risk a severe burnout in your relationship, swiftly eroding the foundations of your mutual commitment.
Temperance and modern politics
Year after year it seems that the world is getting more radicalized by the minute. What used to be mere disagreements of opinion now readily turns into flame wars or heated arguments. Even outside of a tarot reading, it can be a good idea to keep in mind the lessons taught by the Temperance tarot card. Respect other people and their different viewpoints, do not turn an ideological confrontation into a wild arena where there are no limits, avoid personal attacks and try to agree to disagree if you feel that all the elements involved in the discussion are too deeply rooted in their own beliefs. Society has thrived through the centuries thanks to humankind’s ability to favor informed decisions instead of primal instincts.
Temperance as a focus for meditation
Another very introspective card, meditating using the temperance major arcana is a great way to take a step back and get away from the usual rush of everyday life. Take some time to look at your own life, and try to objectively determine which aspects have improved these part few months, and conversely which ones have taken a turn for the worse.
Weigh the pros and cons in any difficult dilemma you encounter, and try to always keep an open mind when you consider all sides in a given problem. Try to take the path of least resistance, find a solution that will be as positive as can be for all the parties involved in that problem. When you try to find a solution that can satisfy everyone instead of maximizing your own interests, it gets much easier to find an acceptable compromise.