Temperance (XIV), with its red wings of passion and with one foot on the ground and another in the water, balancing water in two cups, seems like a strange follow-up to Death. It has a triangle on her chest, symbolizing balance and a circle on its forehead symbolizing harmony.
Behind Temperance is the road to a crown rising like the sun. The irises on its right symbolize the ideal connection between humanity and the gods. Its right foot is in the water, but not completely. The water symbolizes emotions. Its left food is planted firmly on the ground, symbolizing the practical and material.
It balances on her toes on both the water and the land. Its wings are outspread and red, the color of life and passion, and she wears a white robe, the color of purity. It makes water go from one cup to the other, moving from one to the other. But which way is it going?
If you follow the wisdom of temperance, either way you go will lead to good things, whether they’re riches or spiritual wisdom. When the Temperance card is drawn, it tells the client or querent to find middle ground, to seek wisdom in finding balance and avoiding extremes. Buddha called this the “Middle Way,” the path to wisdom.
The Temperance card can mean that one must not go to extremes of either excess or deprivation. It can also indicate that one is finding harmony, or that they’re putting together what’s needed in order to find peace.
Temperance can also mean that something unbalanced is brought back into balance, that the querent will find harmony again. The querent may also find physical harmony, such as health or beauty. This card can come as a relief if the querent has been ill or out of shape.
However, if it’s the querent’s fault that there’s disharmony or imbalance, things will be made right whether that works out well for the querent. Imbalances of power, especially abuse or exploitation, will come to an end.
This card is especially good for any partnerships, agreements or relationships that require equal work and equal power among parties, as it nearly guarantees that there will be no power struggles or mind games.
When the Temperance card is Reversed:
The Temperance card reversed does mean imbalance at its simplest, but it can mean much more than that. Since humans naturally seek some semblance of balance, or what seems harmonious to us, Temperance reversed can mean that something is totally and fundamentally out of whack and has to be put in order before anything can be fixed.
Temperance reversed may also be a warning that any extreme thoughts or behaviors the querent currently indulges are going to send them over the edge. Any issues like perfectionism, obsession, and addiction have to be addressed, lest they ruin the querent.
Temperance reversed, however, can also indicate inaction due to a fear of becoming imbalanced and thus, doing nothing. This is warning the querent that doing nothing leads to nothing.
In a three-card reading, this card means…
Past: In the past, the querent made wise choices and lived a fairly harmonious life or made balanced decisions. These have had a positive impact on life now.
Present: Right now, the querent is keeping things in check, or things have at least come to an even, serene place. Nothing is one way or the other.
Future: In the future, the querent can expect things to right themselves in time and for balance and harmony to be restored.