Tarot: Temperance

Tarot: Temperance

Tarot: Temperance

Temperance represents harmony and union. It is a place where light and shadow dance and merge as the opposing forces of the universe become one. The fourteenth card of the major arcana also celebrates the beauty and power of moderation as self-care. Temperance is a state of liberation from the emotional push and pull of worldly extremes. When this card appears, it is time to evaluate aspects of your life that may be out of balance and embrace a state of equilibrium.

In its essence, Temperance serves as a beacon of liberation from the relentless emotional rollercoaster of worldly extremes. It beckons us to step back and take a profound look at the aspects of our lives that may have spiraled out of balance. Just as a skilled alchemist combines ingredients in precise proportions to achieve a perfect blend, Temperance urges us to blend the various facets of our existence into a harmonious whole.

When the Temperance card appears, it signifies a call to restore this balance within yourself. In a world often characterized by chaos and excess, moderation is a valuable tool for self-preservation. Inner peace and the strength are key to navigating the ever-shifting tides of life with grace and serenity. Temperance is an invitation to embrace the beauty of balance, the power of self-care, and the boundless potential that lies in harmonizing opposing forces within and around us.

Temperance Reversed

When the Temperance card appears in reverse, it hints at discord and a lack of balance in life. This card position signifies a struggle to find harmony within oneself and in external circumstances. It implies impatience, impulsivity, or an inability to blend opposing forces, causing emotional turbulence. It serves as a reminder to pause, reassess, and seek a more measured approach. Rushing forward at this time may lead to setbacks and missed opportunities for personal growth and serenity.


“I cultivate balance and harmony in all aspects of my life, finding a sense of calm and stability through practicing moderation in all things.”

Major Arcana Symbolism

Tarot Card NameTemperance
Traditional Card ImageryA woman pouring liquid from one pitcher into another
Traditional SymbolismModeration, caution, prudence, combination, reflection
Card NumberXIV, 14
Classical ElementFire
Influencing ElementAether / Akasha, Water
Traditional Upright MeaningHarmony, balance, middle path, prudence, moderation and patience
Traditional Reversed MeaningImbalance, excess, extremes, lack of balance, self-healing, re-alignment
Archetype In NatureBalance through participation in the flow of nature
ChakraThird Eye, Sacral
Astrological CorrespondenceSagittarius, Jupiter
Yes or NoYes
Crystals and StonesLabradorite, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Calcite, Sodalite, Blue Sapphire, Celestite, Azurite, Kyanite, Iolite, Dumortierite, Celestite, Ceylon Sapphire, Tanzanite, Citrine, Melo Pearl, Brown Tourmaline, Orange Calcite, Amber, Boulder Opal, Orange Tiger’s Eye, Tangerine Quartz, Cognac Diamond, Orange Tourmaline, Chocolate Opal, Coral, Hyacinth, Petrified Wood, Orange Selenite, Smoky Quartz, Peach Moonstone, Axinite, Carnelian, Sunstone, Dunilite

Tarot Through the Ages

Tarot was originally invented as a card game in the mid 15th century. French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette, also known as “Etteilla”, was the first to assign divinatory meanings to the cards in the late 1700s. Many others have followed in his footsteps, bringing their own unique interpretation of the cards. In our exploration of the Tarot, we weave together contemporary insights with the timeless wisdom of the past. This blending of past and present perspectives offers a more holistic view, allowing us to connect with the evolving narrative and lineage of wisdom that has shaped our understanding of each card over time. Let’s dive into some of these historical interpretations…

Allegory of Time

An angel in a white robe, touching earth and heaven, appeared. His wings were flame and a radiance of gold was about his head. On his breast he wore the sacred sign of the book of the Tarot–a triangle within a square, a point within the triangle; on his forehead the symbol of life and eternity, the circle. In one hand was a cup of silver, in the other a cup of gold and there flowed between these cups a constant, glistening stream of every colour of the rainbow. But I could not tell from which cup nor into which cup the stream flowed.

In great awe I understood that I was near the ultimate mysteries from which there is no return. I looked upon the angel, upon his symbols, his cups, the rainbow stream between the cups,–and my human heart trembled with fear and my human mind shrank with anguish and lack of understanding. “Yes”, said the voice, this is a mystery that is revealed at Initiation. ‘Initiation’ is simply the revealing of this mystery in the soul.“

The Hermit receives the lantern, the cloak and the staff so that he can bear the light of this mystery. But you probably came here unprepared. Look then and listen and try to understand, for now understanding is your only salvation. He who approaches the mystery without complete comprehension will be lost.“

“The name of the angel is Time. The circle on his forehead is the symbol of eternity and life. Each life is a circle which returns to the same point where it began. Death is the return to birth. And from one point to another on the circumference of a circle the distance is always the same, and the further it is from one point, the nearer it will be to the other.“

“Eternity is a serpent, pursuing its tail, never catching it. “One of the cups the angel holds is the past, the other is the future. The rainbow stream between the cups is the present. You see that it flows both ways. “This is Time in its most incomprehensible aspect.“

“Men think that all flows constantly in one direction. They do not see that everything perpetually meets and that Time is a multitude of turning circles. Understand this mystery and learn to discern the contrary currents in the rainbow stream of the present.“

“The symbol of the sacred book of the Tarot on the angel’s breast is the symbol of the correlation of God, Man and the Universe. The triangle is God, the world of spirit, the world of ideas. The point within the triangle is the soul of man. The square is the visible world. The consciousness of man is the spark of divinity, a point within the triangle of spirit. Therefore the whole square of the visible universe is equal to the point within the triangle.“

“The world of spirit is the triangle of the twenty-one signs of the Tarot. The square represents fire, air, water and earth, and thus symbolises the world. All this, in the form of the four symbols, is in the bag of the Fool, who himself is a point in a triangle. Therefore a point without dimension contains an infinite square”.

-The Symbolism of the Tarot by P.D. Ouspensky (1913)

Temperance (XIV)

Temperance (XIV)

Temperance shows the winged figure of a female is pouring liquid from one pitcher to another. In his last work on the Tarot, Dr. Papus abandons the traditional form and depicts a woman wearing an Egyptian head-dress. The card imagery appears to bear no especial connection to the idea of Temperance. This indicates that this card is shrouded many layers of meaning. This complex symbolism is characteristic of The Tarot as a whole.

It is referred to as Temperance because the essence of this understanding tempers, combines and harmonizes the natures of the divine and material world. Temperance is what allows us to know the precise part we play in the events of our past and our future.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

Temperance Card Imagery

On the Temperance card, we see a winged angel with the sign of the sun upon his forehead and, on his breast, the square and triangle of the septenary. I speak of him in the masculine sense, but the true figure is neither male nor female. It can be seen pouring the essences of life from chalice to chalice. It has one foot upon the earth and one upon waters, thus illustrating the nature of the essences.

A path ascends on the verge of the horizon. Above, there is a great light through which a crown is seen vaguely. Here we see a small part of the Secret of Eternal Life, symbolizing the limited understanding of man in his incarnated form.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

Temperance Meaning

Temperance Meaning

The genius of the Sun pours the fluid of Life from a golden vase into a silver one. This essence passes from one vase to the other without one drop being spilt. The fourteenth card of the Tarot shows us the fluid, once carefully preserved, is now freely circulated in nature.

-Modern Translation of The Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Significations of Temperance

  • Combination of Active and Passive fluids, Entry of Spirit into Matter, Reaction of Matter Upon the Spirit = Involution (The Sprit descends towards Matter)
  • Reflex of Justice in the Material World = Temperance
  • Fixation of Reflex Life, Incarnation of Life = Individual and Corporeal life

-Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Temperance Card

Temperance Card

The Meaning of the Temperance Card Throughout History

The Tarot deck is a beautiful synthesis of esoteric thought and archetypal imagery. The journey of the deck, shaped by the events and values of each era, has continued to evolve and take on new meaning as it adapts to a larger cultural story. Exploring the historical interpretations of each card will create a deeper understanding of this powerful method for divination and self-discovery.

Various Names For The Temperance Card

Tarot de Marseille (1650)Temperance
Court de Gébelin (1781)Temperance
Etteilla (1783)Temperance / Priest
Paul Christian (1870)The Two Urns
Golden Dawn (1888)The Daughter of the Reconcilers, The Bringer Forth of Life
Papus (1892)Temperance
Rider-Waite (1910)Temperance
Thoth (1943)Art
The Daughter of the Reconcilers, The Bringer Forth of Life

Card XIV: Temperance

An angel with the sign of the Sun on her brow Pouring liquid from one vessel into another. She represents Combination.

Upright: Combination, Conformation, Uniting
Reversed: Ill-advised combinations, Disunion, Clashing interests

-The Tarot by S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1888)

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. Their mission aims to strengthen the fragile ecosystem and keep local bookstores an integral part of our culture and communities. We have put together a collection of some of our favorite Tarot items. The deep symbolism of the Tarot can be used to access a wellspring of inner wisdom and guidance. This method of divination is also an incredible tool for accessing your own powerful intuition.

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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Temperance (XIV) - The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain
Temperance (XIV) – The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain

This guide by Arthur Edward Waite, the designer of the most widely known Tarot deck and distinguished scholar of the Kabbalah, is the essential Tarot reference. The pictorial key contains a detailed description of each card in the celebrated 78-card Rider-Waite Tarot deck, along with regular and reversed meanings. Contents describe symbols and secret tradition, ancient Celtic methods of divination, and wonderful illustrations of each Tarot card. This book is the perfect complement to old-style fortune telling and also serves to make the Tarot entirely accessible to modern-day readers. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is the classic guide to the Rider-Waite deck and to Tarot symbolism in general.

Ancient Italian Tarot

Temperance (XIV) - Ancient Italian Tarot by Lo Scarabeo © 2000 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
Temperance (XIV) – Ancient Italian Tarot by Lo Scarabeo © 2000 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

This Ancient Italian Tarot deck marks the coming of age of Tarot in Italy. The classic design of the Marseilles decks, reinvented by an anonymous artist, exemplifies 19th-century Italian art: detailed, symbolic, and richly colored in vibrant greens, muted reds, and vivid golds. The whole, decadently costumed array of Tarot archetypes are presented here, along with delicately ornamented Marseilles style pips.

Pre-Raphaelite Tarot

Temperance (XIV) – Pre-Raphaelite Tarot by Luigi Costa ©2019 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved, used by permission.
Temperance (XIV) – Pre-Raphaelite Tarot by Luigi Costa ©2019 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved, used by permission.

The vivid colors and medieval imagery of the Pre-Raphaelite movement makes for a tarot deck that is rich with a sense of mystery and romance. Luigi Costa has created a work of unsurpassed beauty and deep spiritual power. This deck, based on the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith cards, is at once cryptic and insightful, the perfect combination of qualities for readers and collectors alike.

How will you Harness The Transformative Power of The Tarot?

We invite you to walk into a cosmic narrative in which we are all a unique element in each other’s story. Humanity has long used sacred tools for awakening the soul and illuminating our path toward enlightenment. The Tarot is simply an instrument. These cards amplify your inner wisdom and empower your highest truth.

What aspects of The Tarot can serve you as you walk through your own Mystic Doorway?

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What you have read is only the beginning…

Mystic Doorway is always gaining new insight into the rich symbolism of Tarot. We are looking forward to sharing with you as we continue to expand our knowledge of this divinatory tool. Check back with us soon to see what we’ve added to our Library.