“The Winged One lifts a shell to pour out her blessings into a bowl of burning herbs. Instead of water, she pours the refracted light of a rainbow. Her third eye glows with sacred knowledge and far-seeing. The steam-filled pool distorts her reflection — or is the distortion an accurate picture of another kind? She is a mixed-race child; the bloodlines of many cultures run within her body. By her example, she calls to us to integrate all the disparate parts of ourselves. Her gifts are those of healing, creativity and the integration of light and shadow within us.
The word “temperance” comes from the Latin temperare, “to combine” or “to mix.” This card is about combining diverse elements to create something new. As such, it is often the signature card of artists. Blue and red make purple; rain and sun make rainbows; water and fire make steam. The full moon rises as the sun sets; the sun rises as the full moon sets. This perfect balance of opposites graces us with extraordinary beauty.”
— from the Gaian Tarot companion book
Over in the Gaian Tarot Circle, some of us have been pulling a personal card for the entire calendar month. When I pulled Temperance for February, I had a hunch that I needed to pay more attention to the theme of balance in my life. I had just started teaching my first online course (Empower Your Dreams and Visions with Tarot), and while I was thrilled with the high level of engagement my students were having with the material and with each other, I was dismayed to find that I had seriously underestimated the time it would take me to create the materials each week and respond to the students. So my life was out of balance . . . almost all of my time and energy was going into the class.
But did I heed the advice of Temperance? Did I slow down, even a little bit? Nope. So what happened? You guessed it. The flu. Bronchitis. (Literally, the fire and water of the Temperance card: fever and drinking gallons of water and juice.)
I slowed way down, pretty much against my will. I was so sick I even gave my students a “catch-up week,” so that we could all take a collective breath before moving on.
This morning I realized that Temperance is really a last-ditch chance to bring your life into balance before tumbling head-on into the Bindweed (or Devil) card. When Temperance appears in our readings and meditations, we would be wise to bring our lives back into balance before getting so deeply enmeshed into bad habits and addictions that it’s almost impossible to come back into wholeness without the radical change of Lightning (the Tower).
The Temperance card points to a third way, a win-win solution, where my students get the best I have to offer but I don’t burn myself out. That’s the “sacred third way” this card points to, and I am slowly but surely discovering just how to make that work.
What does the Temperance card mean to you, dear Reader? How does it manifest in your life?