An April Fool

I thought today would be a good day to reflect on our friend the Fool.

I’ve actually been feeling pretty foolish lately, in several ways. So this will be a good exploration of what it means to be a fool, which will  hopefully help me to understand the Fool on a deeper level.

1 - Fool 4
Prisma Visions Tarot

On one hand,  I’ve felt like a drowning fool. Like the eager dog in the Prisma Visions’ Fool, I’ve swum out farther than I should have in my eagerness and excitement. Now I’m tired and the shore is far away. What have I done? Will I make it back to shore? Or will I perish here in this deep pool where I’ve landed myself? Will the pelican throw me that life preserver? Or it is indifferent? Or judging me for my foolishness?

I followed my heart in one direction thinking I was along on this journey with a pal, but suddenly I realized I was quite alone. I feel foolish for thinking I was part of a team. For placing so much of my heart in someone else’s hands. Of course I didn’t realize my mistake until the proverbial rug was pulled out from under me. It seemed sudden, but in hindsight I feel quite foolish indeed.

1 - Fool 1
Gypsy Palace Tarot

However, without taking foolish risks where I place my heart with other people, how will I make true connections with others? If we think of the Fool as how we are without our masks, as who we are at our core, showing our “fool” to others is the only way to make a relationship beyond the superficial level.

This in itself can be considered very “foolish” because it makes us incredibly vulnerable. If someone mocks a mask of ours, it’s easier to laugh it off because it’s not who we are. But if someone laughs at our inner self, at our soul or true self, that can be excruciating. It can be unbearable. And sharing this part of ourselves opens us up to the possibility of this kind of deep pain.

However, it would be another kind of foolishness to refuse to ever connect with with another person because of fear of ridicule. We are all connected, and if we isolate ourselves in this way we will wither and fail to thrive. We will not escape pain, but we will suffer it alone. So I to play the fool still, sharing my heart.

1 - Fool 3
Baseball Tarot

Another kind of foolishness that has been a theme over my lifetime is the fear of trying new things. If I’m not already good at something, I usually am too embarrassed to give it a try. But like the Rookie of the Baseball Tarot, you have to start somewhere. If I don’t step up to the plate, I’ll never get to play the game — only watch from the sidelines. Of course that’s okay sometimes. I don’t need to try every single thing. But to spend much of my life on the sidelines would be foolish indeed.

To avoid this, I need to “make a fool of myself” more often by getting out there and looking silly trying things I’ve never done before. I need to channel the Rookie. As the book the accompanies the Baseball Tarot says, “Experience can be earned only by those who take the chance to try” (49). The Rookie is probably nervous, but he steps up to the plate anyway.

 

The Fire Court: Page

I’m finally jumping back into the Alternative Tarot Course after a stress-induced hiatus. Time to explore the court cards! I’ll be looking at the personality types represented in the cards, and trying to find people in my life or that I know of who reflect these court card characters. And I’ll start with the wands.

Wands - Page
Smith-Waite Centennial Tarot

Page of Wands

The unformed, immature, eager, and youngest member of the Wands’ court. The Page of Wands is brimming with potential and excitement for the possible adventures ahead of them. Their excitement may lead them to jump from project to project as the initial excitement of started projects begins to wane.

That last bit actually reminds me quite a bit of myself. I love a new opportunity as it arises, but I can become bored and move along to the next new and shiny thing pretty quickly. (Tarot has stuck, though!) I am not as comfortable with the unknown, though, as perhaps this page may be.

This page also reminds me of:

  • Milo from The Adventures of Milo & Otis
  • Fievel from An American Tail

Both are innocent, eager, fun, and stumbling into trouble and adventure.

This budding sense of wonder and eagerness for adventure is needed for us to create any significant change in our lives. Life adventures include: moving, opening a business, having a little one, sharing our inner selves, learning a new craft. While these things cross suits/elements, the fire spark of inspiration is needed to have the courage to begin.

XXI. The World

The World
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

The World represents fullness, fulfillment, wholeness, and freedom. Success.

In the RWS depiction, the wreath around the dancer is round (it is diamond shaped here in the Efflorescent). The round wreath echos the 0 (zero) of the Fool.  Rachel Pollack in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom states, “The oval wreath suggests the number 0, with all its symbolism. It implies as well the cosmic egg, the archetype of emergence; all things exist in potential and all potentials are realized. The self is everywhere in all things” (139). Likewise, the sash around the dancer’s waist mimics the infinity symbol which reminds us both “as above, so below” and “as within, so without.” But the World tells us there is no division between above and below, within and without. All is one.

The World
Gypsy Palace Tarot

The Fool and the World each represent a kind of wholeness and confidence, though the World seems to symbolize a more “wise” whole. Reaching the World card takes one through each card on the Fool’s Journey, many experiences will shape who we will ultimately become. We may have stumbled along the way, or even fallen backwards at certain points. When we reach the World, there is a dissolution of petty separateness. We clearly see the the universe as a whole and ourselves as a whole within the greater unity. It symbolizes the oneness of our super-conscious, conscious, and unconscious. At the end of the Fool’s Journey, the World is enlightenment or nirvana.

I really enjoy this observation from Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life, “The inclusiveness of World consciousness naturally extends to those outside the human family. The spirituality of Native Americans is rooted in a profound connectedness to animals, plants, and the earth itself. … People of these tribes would refer not to a mountain or the mountain, but simply ‘mountain,’ as in ‘we went to Mountain, followed Sun, saw Fox and Bear.’ … Directly addressing the object … further enhances the sense of connection and engenders almost instant feelings of intimacy. We start to see the soul of the thing” (140).

The World - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

These are pretty heavy concepts, so the World can also symbolize success, union, or resolution in a reading.

I absolutely love the Animal Wisdom Tarot depiction and name of card twenty-one. The whale as “The All-Encompassing.” The name seems more fitting than “The World” to me.

A shadow of the World could be being too far up in the clouds and not dealing with necessary details. An opposite or reverse meaning of the World could be failing to see the whole by paying too much attention to the small things.

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to the World, it would be all four: air, earth, fire, and water. The World is perfect unity and balance!

Personal Reflection

I feel most connected to the universe when I am out in nature. I particularly love going on walks with my sweetheart. We took a super long walk today and saw some ducks and a woodpecker and sat and watched the wind blow across a pond. All the little things seem to dissolve on these special outings together. There’s just us in the moment, a part of the world around us.

As I’ve discussed at length, I don’t always feel at home in the world around me. I’m making great strides, but I have a long way to go. This is a big card to live up to though, so I don’t feel bad about not having acheived that which is embodied in the World. It’s a good goal, but I don’t know how many people will ever reach it! At least not in one lifetime. I still value it as a reminder of the connection of all things and all people.

XX. Judgement

Judgement
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

Judgement is a card of renewal and rebirth. Duality is a theme that has been explored throughout much of the Major Arcana. Here, we see a child between the man and the woman. This symbolizes the birth of a new self. From duality comes a new whole.

The cross in the sun on the Efflorescent Tarot (and on the angel’s banner in the RWS version) can represent a cross-roads. Judgement signals a need to leave something old behind in order to take this new path or in order to be resurrected. It can also represent the coming together of world and the universe.

Justice and Judgement seem to have a lot in common, but Rachel Pollack in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom says that, “With Justice the experience and the response were personal, based on your actions in the past. Here a force greater than yourself is leading and calling you, and the Judgement is not simply on the meaning of your own life but on the true nature of existence, and the way in which you and all beings are a part of it” (135). So while Justice is about inner balance and truth, Judgement seems to be an awakening to the larger recognition that we are a part of the universe or a call to or recognition of change. Pollack tells us that this change can be mundane or divine and that the other cards in a spread can help to illuminate the change we’re called to or the change we need to recognize.

Judgement
Gypsy Palace Tarot

While the Sun is about unity and self-acceptance, Judgement speaks to unity and community. We are all integral parts of the universe. Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says, “The Trump unites the fluidity of the High Priestess (2) with the ego-unencumbered wholeness of the Fool (0). The combination initiates the process that will lead to the spiritual homecoming symbolized in the World. … Judgment’s angel breaks through the density of mass consciousness with the revelation that we are all one in spirit. … Therefore, the Angel of Judgment does not seek to judge us (as the name of the card might imply) but to lift us out of our judgmental conscioussness” (133, emphasis in original).

A shadow of Judgement could be waiting for someone else to rescue us. An opposite or reverse meaning could be uncertainty about how to implement change or an unwillingness or inability to heed the call.

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to Judgement, it would be fire and water: fire for the inspiration of the call and water for the spiritual unity we see through Judgement.

Judgement - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

Personal Reflection

I think I’ve been called to take better care of myself for many, many years, but I only just answered that call a couple of years ago. Oh, I wish I’d listened earlier, but absolutely better late than never. I’m still working on heeding the call. I finally stopped letting people stomp all over me, but I’m still working on believing that I’m important and valuable — just as valuable as everyone else (like the Judgement card reminds me).

One of Paul Quinn’s reflection questions for this card is, “What ‘angels’ have awakened you to greater possibilities?” I’ve got to say my sweetie is one. He always believes in me even when I absolutely 100% do not. And like an angel, he hasn’t given up on me even once. He models the possibility of loving myself unconditionally.

XIX. The Sun

The Sun
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

The Sun symbolizes clarity, joy, simplicity, knowledge, and openness. When considering the third row of the Major Arcana as a whole, the Sun is significant: from darkness (in the Devil and Tower) to light (from the Star, to the Moon, to the Sun). What was in shadow in the light of the Moon is now clearly seen.

The Sun is a card of self-confidence. It can represent a harmonious joining of our eternal selves and our mortal selves or the discovery of our own inner Garden of Eden. When we have made the connection between our inner light or eternal self and our mortal self, how could we be anything but confident? To know that such beauty and power lies within us is empowering and joyful indeed! The joy of the Fool has been transformed into a joy bred of self-knowledge and experience.

I love this statement by Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life: “‘Light is above us, and color around us,’ observed Goethe, ‘but if we have not light and color in our eyes, we shall not perceive them outside us.’ The brighter our inner Sun, the more apt we are to see the Sun in the world (as within, so without)” (128). Quinn also relates the card to our inner child and says this is not a refusal to see that which is painful or bad in the world — but rather the knowledge that goodness burns brighter and will outlast these things (129). One of the keywords the Animal Wisdom Tarot assign the Sun is “radiance.”

The Sun
Gypsy Palace Tarot

As card 19, 1 and 9 make us think of the Magician and the Hermit. The Magician reminds us of the “as within, so without” adage, and in the Sun, the Hermit has climbed out of his cave radiant and whole. 1 + 9 = 10 (The Wheel of Fortune), which indicates that even though the Sun might seem like the end of the Fool’s Journey we still have some changes in store.

As the sun in the sky is a source of life, the Sun card might lead us to ask “What is sustaining me and supporting me right now?” And if we are full of Sun energy ourselves, what are we doing to help sustain others?

A shadow of the Sun could be being a little too cocky, perhaps in assuming the world revolves around you. Another shadow could be false cheer, only as an outward performance. An opposite or reverse of the Sun could be refusing to see the light and good of things, keeping your own light from the world, or having low self-esteem.

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to the Sun, it would be fire, air, and water. Fire for joy, air for knowledge, and water for spiritual harmony.

The Sun
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

Personal Reflection

Honestly, the most Sun-like part of my life is practicing tarot. I’ve tried many things (all kinds of hobbies, not only spiritual practices) and enjoyed them, but nothing has gotten me so fired up and excited and sure that I can be awesome at something as tarot has. I’m loving every second of it. I have the privilege of staying at home right now, and I spend probably four hours a day usually studying tarot. And the time flies! I mean seriously flies. I already have plans in the works to set up an online reading business, but I’m waiting to learn more and save up for starting costs. Even so, I think about it every day. I look into logos and LLCs and how others do email readings and all kinds of things. Tarot makes me confident in a way I don’t think I’ve ever been. I feel empowered and good at something and wildly enthusiastic! Tarot is my Sun-place, and hopefully that will eventually leak out into other parts of my life that could use a little more self-confidence.

XVIII. The Moon

The Moon
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

The Moon is a card of intuition, the unconscious, and mystery. The Moon symbolizes the deeper and more intuitive parts of the mind and how these parts influence us when they surface. It can represent our “gut” or “animal” instincts.

The moon is our primary natural source of light at night, and by the light of the moon things may or may not be as they seem. In the same way, our unconscious can bring our attention to important things by showing them to us in a new light. But it can also distort reality. The crawdad coming up from the water can symbolize the “monsters” hiding deep within us. When we get a peek at them, we can be frightened or disgusted.

I adore this insight from Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life: “The French idiom entre chin et loup (literal translation: ‘between dog and wolf’) describes the time just before nightfall when the light makes these two animals indistinguishable.” He tells us that the Moon communicates to us to equally value the “friendly and familiar” part of our mind (the conscious mind / the dog) and the “unknown-and-seemingly-dangerous” part (the unconscious / the wolf) (125).

The Moon
Gypsy Palace Tarot

Both the Animal Wisdom Tarot and the Animism Tarot use the rabbit to represent the Moon. I particularly like how Joanna’s rabbit peers into the water and sees not her own reflection, but another rabbit and another moon. While the world seen through the light of the Moon may be magical, we have to be careful not to lose our way. Huszka’s depiction seems a bit more ominous, perhaps speaking more to the warning of deception, including self-deception.

A shadow of the Moon can be deception, lunacy, or spending too much time in the depths of the unconscious. An opposite or reverse of the Moon can be a fear of the unknown/mysterious, a refusal to explore the more mysterious parts of our consciousness, or the inability to handle the creatures we may find there.

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to the Moon, it would be water since the Moon represents the mysteries of the unconscious.

Personal Reflection

I like to peek at the “Questions for Reflection” in Quinn’s Tarot for Life when doing this part of my posts, especially when I’m not sure how to relate to a card. One question for the Moon is, “What are your recurring dreams, and what is their message?” (127)

The Moon - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

I don’t have recurring dreams, per se, but I do have recurring things that happen in dreams from time to time. The plot totally differs, but these three things pop up as pieces of my dreams with some frequency:

  1. Gum is stuck in my teeth and I spend the dream (no matter the plot) picking gum out of my teeth. I can really feel the gum in my teeth and a relief when I snap a piece out. But there’s a never-ending supply in there :p
  2. I am smoking, and it is incredible. I am what you might call a goody-two-shoes, so between that and my responsibilities as a teen / young adult, I have never so much as taken one tiny puff of a cigarette or really even desired to. But in my dreams, oh! I sit on a porch or a curb and light up and there’s nothing like it.
  3. I am trying on clothes to go somewhere, and I can’t find anything to wear. I spend the entire dream trying clothes on, taking them off, and digging through drawers or closets. It’s amazingly frustrating.

And I have no idea what any of this means. I am a believer in past lives, so sometimes I wonder if I was a smoker in one (or more!). I don’t tend to put much stock in my dreams as having meanings. Sometimes one will come along that is packed with symbolism and I think, “Okay, I know what that means,” but most of the time I just assume it’s my brain firing off doing its night time filing.

I admit the Moon card is still a bit of a mystery to me, but considering its nature, I’m okay with that 🙂

XVII. The Star

The Star
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

The Star is hope, calmness, and peace. After the rubble has settled from the crash of the Tower, we see a Star letting us know we’ve made it through. It can also represent healing and wholeness.

Visually, this card is very similar to Temperance, but the woman in the Star is naked suggesting a comfort with one’s true self. Additionally, the woman in the Star card pours the water out into the pool of water and onto the ground. She gives freely and trusts that her energies will be restored. Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life reminds us that our human wells do sometimes run dry. When that happens we need to pause and replenish.

The Star
Gypsy Palace Tarot

As card 17, 1 + 7 = 8, which is is Strength. The strength needed to love our true selves, and the strength needed to make it through the fall of the Tower.

The Star can also speak to our wishes and dreams. I think Huszka’s representation illustrates this beautifully. I also really enjoy Joanna’s depiction of the Ibis, wings spread, beneath a waterfall and gazing up at the bright stars. The Animal Wisdom Tarot’s peacock (“The Illuminator”) reminds us to take pride in who we are.

A shadow of the star could be ideals that are too lofty. An opposite or reverse of the Star could be refusing to see the light, despairing, or keeping our energies bottled up.

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to the Star, it would be water for the spiritual and emotional calmness it represents.

The Star - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

Personal Reflection

So far, the only times I’ve seen the Star in a reading it’s been telling me I’m too idealistic about certain things. So even though it hasn’t shown up in its more warm and fuzzy meaning for me, I love the imagery, symbolism, and meaning. Things might still be a little dark, but not fearful or destructive. More curious and exciting. We wouldn’t be able to see the stars at all if it weren’t for darkness.

I particularly like the meaning of healing. Healing is possible, and it can be beautiful like the Star rather than always painful or uncomfortable. Rather than focus on the darkness surrounding me, focus on the beautiful light. Which takes self confidence and strength. It can feel incredibly vulnerable to let myself feel hope.

XVI. The Tower

The Tower
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

The Tower represents sudden or surprising change, upheaval, revelation, chaos, crisis, or spiritual awakening. Spiritual awakening is particularly relevant when considering the Tower’s location within the Major Arcana’s third row of cards. The Devil was illusion, materialism, and imprisonment. In the Tower, the illusion is shattered.

If we compare the Tower to the Tower of Babel, it speaks to the idea that human constructions (be it buildings or even language itself) cannot ever reach or describe the divine. Language, for example, can blind us to the fact that the worldly and the divine are intertwined. This same idea that language divides the world and therefore the very way we see the world is also a sociological idea. The Tower shows (at least some of) these constructed ways of seeing or understanding the world being destroyed. The lightening can represent the divine spark which instigates change or enlightenment.

Like the Wheel, there is water at the bottom of the Tower, but the change in the Tower is perhaps more sudden and certainly not as anticipated as changes indicated by the Wheel. The water below both indicates a deeply spiritual and/or emotional experience of change. The waters below the Tower in the Efflorescent deck are much more turbulent than the waters in the Wheel. The Tower seems perhaps like a forced and much less peaceful Hanged Man. If we refused to or were unable to reach victory in row two of the Major Arcana, our perspective may be changed anyway, and it will be jarring and scary. (The people falling from the Tower are getting a new perspective whether they like it or not.)

The Tower
Gypsy Palace Tarot

Huszka’s depiction shows a women whose body is out of proportion and who looks pretty dismal. This is a great representation of the disorienting feeling of a Tower experience. At the very bottom of the card, we see some stairs leading down into the water (or into the unconscious). If we take these stairs and explore the meaning of our Tower experience, we may be reborn, so to speak, like the figure emerging from behind the woman. The Animals Wisdom tarot depicts a winged snake helping to destroy the Tower, and snakes can be a symbol of new beginnings and rebirth. I like the name of this card in the Animal Wisdom Tarot as well: “The Quickener.”

Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life reminds us of the saying, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable” (114). That is what we see in the Tower. (Though of course the Tower could at times represent a more positively felt revelation.) However, we have to acknowledge our Tower-like experiences as such or else we may set to work rebuilding the very same tower over and over instead of seeing that there is something better or bigger to be attended to.

Joanna’s description of the Tower imagines we are standing on the crumbling structure: “Beware. Watch each step and be forewarned: one must tread cautiously here. So pause, and calculate each step carefully, because one wrong move and everything will collapse, bringing with it a world of chaos.” This brings to mind our agency. Even when it feels like we’re being thrown through space and our foundation is gone, we do still have choices. And these choices can greatly influence how the Tower falls and what the ultimate outcome will be.

The Tower - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

A shadow of the Tower could be this refusal to learn from these experiences. An opposite or reversed meaning could be preventing or trying to prevent a Tower-like experience.

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to the Tower, it would be fire and water. Fire for the power and transformation of the card, and water for the intensely emotional and/or spiritual experience of this transformation.

Personal Reflection

Much of my life has been so traumatic, I think I actually expect most things to end is a horrible and chaotic Tower moment. Thankfully, things don’t work out that way much anymore, but even the expectation of my world crumbling around me kind of ruins (or seriously mars) many experiences. It makes it hard to enjoy living in the moment when I “know” it won’t last and will end horribly. It’s not a super helpful way to live. So I think I need to stop seeing Towers in the distance where there are none. I’ll find out later what the remaining Major Arcana cards might say about that.

XV. The Devil

The Devil
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

The Devil is the first card of the third row in the Major Arcana, a row about moving our spirit from darkness into light — enlightenment. The Devil can represent materialism, oppression, imprisonment, temptation, and illusion.

It may seem strange that this card comes so late in the Major Arcana, immediately following Temperance. But when we keep in mind the three rows in the Fool’s Journey, it makes sense as the starting card for row three regarding the spirit and enlightenment. Row one is about learning about the world around us, row two is about inner growth, and row three zooms out to the ultimate big picture: the spirit in relation to the universe (or however you might like to call the divine). We need the inner victory of Temperance to be able to face the challenges represented in the Devil card.

I really appreciate two quotes that Paul Quinn uses to discuss this row of the Major Arcana and the Devil card:

  • “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. – Carl Jung” (107)
  • “If thou has not seen the devil, look at thine own self. – Rumi” (108)

In the traditional RWS depiction, a man and woman are chained to a box the Devil sits upon. However, when examined closely their chains could be easily removed. The Devil creates the illusion that the materialistic or oppressive world is truly all there is. Also in the RWS depiction, the Devil mimics the arm and hand motions of the Hierophant and the Magician. Rather than having two fingers pointed up and two down (indicating that there is more to life than what we see) on his raised hand, his fingers are all open. In this way, the Devil communicates that the world we see is all there is. The wand he holds in his other hand is pointed to the earth. Where the Magician’s wand pointed to the sky, the Devil’s points to earth, once again speaking to the illusion that this world is all that exists.

The Devil
Gypsy Palace Tarot

While the pentacle represents the human body (with arms raised to the side and legs spread apart), the reversed pentacle seen in the traditional RWS depiction and the Animism Tarot depiction can indicate sexual obsession (genitals above the head). This doesn’t mean that sex is bad. There is power in sex, and we must be careful to not abuse this power or let it be the only power we draw on. The upright pentacle can be seen in both the Efflorescent Tarot and the Animal Wisdom Tarot. Since pentacles speak to the physical world, they could be another indication of only seeing the physical world.

Huszka’s Devil shows four figures: a red figure is the Devil who lulls a woman (white figure) into submission while a pink figure shows the pain experienced in the grip of the Devil and the green figure clings to a security blanket and refuses to see another possible world hushing the pink woman. Huszka’s description of this card is here.

The Devil can also symbolize “demons” from our past that we have not been able to leave behind or suppressed parts of ourselves we are ashamed of, fear, or deny. I appreciate that Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life points out that this can vary from person to person and that an attribute that may be embodied in the Devil for one person may be a liberating attribute to someone else. For example, I was listening to a meditation about compassion the other day, and I had to stop part way through because of the way it was worded. I didn’t like being told to let go of so-called selfishness because that is a trait I’ve had to cultivate a bit of in myself for self-preservation, self-protection, and self-care. Compassion to an extreme (for everyone except myself) was the only world I knew for a long time, and a dose of “selfishness” is freeing me from those particular chains.

I really like the Efflorescent Tarot’s depiction of the Devil. The coat the Devil wears is full of different things: bugs, bones, a ring, a watch, masks, and more. These items represent all of the things we carry with us that imprison us, including the “masks” we wear. The Animal Wisdom Tarot reminds us of the concept of “scapegoat.” We need to seek out and liberate our own shadows rather than projecting them on to others.

The Devil card itself is a portrait of the shadow in ourselves. An opposite or reversed meaning of the card could be liberation

The Devil - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to the Devil, it would be earth since it speaks to worldly attachments and entrapments within the physical world.

Personal Reflection

One demon I have conquered is the misunderstanding of compassion as something that requires me to put myself last forever and always. That view of the world was a painful imprisonment which I thankfully discovered was only a illusion which I had the power to free myself from.

One view that still imprisons me is the idea that I have to be on guard in order to minimize my vulnerability and therefore to minimize any chances of being torn down or ridiculed by my loved ones. I’m in a weird place with this belief: I don’t exactly believe it anymore, so the prison door is open. It’s just awfully scary to actually walk out into an unknown world. As the saying goes, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” This fear creates a powerful hesitation even though I know where I’m at is a type of prison.

XIV. Temperance

Temperance
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

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.

Temperance
Gypsy Palace Tarot

Elemental Association

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.

Personal Reflection

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.

Temperance - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

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.