This card stands for inner balance, calmness, synthesis, control, and moderation. It is the last card of the second row of the Major Arcana, and as such, represents the success of self-discovery and self-confidence. Where the Chariot stood for a willed balance of worldly success, Temperance is about inner equilibrium, and seems to feel more “natural” than the balance of the Chariot. It’s more of a comfortable mixing of one’s self with the outer world. We can see this in the Efflorescent Tarot depiction: the angel has one foot on the water (inner, emotional self) and the other on earth (the physical, outer world). It can also be a symbol of peacemaking or mediation.
Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says that Temperance helps us to accept the contradictions inherent in not only life, but within ourselves: “selfish and generous, deliberate and spontaneous, forceful and gentle, caring and cruel … Temperance reminds us that we are already ‘enough’ as well as works in progress” (102-103).
A shadow of Temperance could be fearing extremes. An opposite or reverse of Temperance could be existing in extremes, losing control, or an excess or lack.
If I were to assign an element to Temperance, it might actually be all four as Temperance speaks to a balance in seemingly contradictory parts of ourselves. I may place an emphasis on water and earth as symbols of a balance between inner and outer worlds.
This is a card I can relate to as a goal I can see in my future and that I wish to attain. But certainly not one I already have a good grasp on.
I think my two biggest contradictory personality traits are being a people pleaser and not tolerating bs. My biggest challenge here is both being kind and compassionate and remaining true to myself and not getting walked all over. I tend to vacillate between the two, but it’d be awfully nice to find a peaceful middle where I was confident in my ability to both be a good, kind person and to be honest and respected. To get there I have to accept that I can’t please people at all times and still have a voice of my own, nor can I be intolerant of other people’s blunders or eccentricities and be an understanding person.
As far as the symbol of being a peacemaker or mediator, that is a role I have played to an extreme for much of my life. Even mediation can be done to an extreme! I poured my whole self into attempting to balance the emotions of others and in the process completely missed out on getting to know myself or creating balance in my own life. Since I didn’t have appropriate boundaries, I’m now learning what it means to balance my own needs with others. It’s a weird experience, and I feel selfish sometimes, but I have to remind myself that taking care of myself is a part of the balance of life if I’m going to have a quality life.
One unlikely relationship pairing in my life was very uncomfortable for many years. We were a part of each other’s lives, like it or not, and we finally both decided to try making our relationship a positive thing. It was a process the required creativity, patience, perseverance, and compromise. But through this process, it has become an incredibly rewarding relationship. We seemed like oil and water, but once we finally were able to get beneath our outer personality presentations, we actually have a good bit in common on a deeper level. It doesn’t mean it’s always roses, but there’s a lot of goodness I would have completely missed out on had I not participated in this process. Temperance may sound like a boring concept, but it can be hard work, and the outcome can be extraordinarily fulfilling.