Temperance features a large winged figure pouring
liquid from one cup to another. It is considered to be
one of the most important Paths on the Tree of Life.
As one of the cardinal virtues, Temperance is often
symbolized as a woman mixing water and wine,
although the liquid depicted in the cards is not
Key 14 - Temperance is positioned between Death
and The Devil on the Tree of Life, making this a
"dark" card in spite of its light and non-threatening
setting. The 25th path is related by some tarot scholars
to the Dark Night of The Soul written by St. John of
the Cross. It is a journey in which the soul travels
through a desert completely relying on its own
strengths. It can be described as the "light at the
end of a tunnel."
The darkness imputed to this journey is due to the
progress of the soul through a series of difficult
trials and tests. This is a path of temptation and testing.
It is therefore called the Intelligence of Probation.
The central figure in this card is the Archangel
Michael. The leader of God's army, he is
considered a protector. Michael is associated
with the sun and the element of fire, which
symbolizes spiritual energy.
Temperance is sometimes called the Arrow of
Sagittarius. The three lowest paths on the Tree
of Life, The Moon (Qoph), Judgment (Shin),
and The World (Tau) spell the word 'bow' or
'rainbow' in Hebrew. The yellow irises in the
Temperance card are a reference to the Greek
goddess Iris, goddess of the rainbow and also
a messenger of the gods.
In Greek mythology, Iris is often depicted with a
vase in which she carries the waters of the river
Styx, which was used by Zeus to test the other gods
verifying the truthfulness of their oath to him.
If the offending god was found to be dishonest, he
was place on probation from Olympia.
Temperance is called the Daughter of the
Reconcilers, the Bringer Forth of Life. The central
figure, albeit an angel, is often depicted as female.
Temperance references both the Sun and the Moon,
the two ends of its path on the Tree of Life, often
depicted by gold and silver cups.
This card leads the individual to the beginning of
awareness of the Higher Self found in Tiphereth.
The symbols on the card attempt to explain the
experience of treading this path of initiation and
In the ancient art of transmutation known as
alchemy, temperance means to mix" or
"to bring together." Alchemy is often associated
with the process of turning base metals into gold
or silver. In its deeper sense, alchemy is a means
of spiritual and personal perfection.
The important meanings of Temperance refer to its
process of preparing the soul and body to contain
an influx of Light. The process needs constant
monitoring and testing from the higher realms,
hence the presence of the angel who is assigned at
the inner gate for our protection.
The esoteric function of Temperance is anger and
leads to another interesting interpretation of Key 14.
The idea of anger in this sense is that of a passion
that is divinely inspired. The word refers to a motion
of vibrating or quivering with such force that it
propels one into ecstasy - a spiritual orgasmic release.
This card expresses the exchange of opposites, the
interchange of Fire and Water, though all elements
are present in the card. The angel having one foot
on earth and the other in water demonstrates a
harmonizing or tempering of physicality and
In a reading this card could signify dealing with
opposing energies either internally or externally.
Temperance reminds the querent not to get bogged
down in distractions and maintaining no matter
the obstacle. A difficult situation may call for
modifying and making adjustments in order to find
a happy medium.
Temperance calls for us to listen to the inner
guidance of our Higher Self. When presented with
an unpleasant situation, the energy of Temperance
gives us the power to handle anything that comes
to us in life. All trials and tribulations serve to make us
stronger in the presence of this powerful card.
Positive Keywords: Trust, harmonizing, mixture,
adapting, experimentation, moderation, motion,
union, balance, control, examination, reviewing,
Negative Keywords: Setbacks, disharmony,
imbalance, distortion, opposition, resistance,
conflicts, competition, clouded, separation,
detachment, and division.