In this card we have a scene set in Glastonbury, the infamous Tor rising in the background. Above the Tor is a rainbow being shattered by an arrow, and beyond the rainbow is a veil of night-time and stars. The red and white springs that flow from the Tor can be seen, converging at the foot of the tor into a pool from which the arrow has taken flight.
In the foreground we see a well with its cover (upon which is a Vesica Piscis) open. A red cup, with the alchemical symbol for Philosophic Sulphur and a white cup, with the alchemical symbol for Philosophic Mercury pour white and red liquid into the well. The liquids swirl around each other, coagulating in the centre to create silver ball- the Philosopher's Stone.
The whole scene is seemingly split in two by the arrow and two wells, either side of which are the two main protagonists in this alchemical process of solve e coagulum.
The Temperance card is one of balance and mixing of opposing forces to create something new, so I picked up on the traditional use of red and white liquid in this card to symbolize that. This also fits well in Glastonbury tradition, as the town is home to the Red and White springs- said to have sprung up from the cup of Christ's blood and sweat that Joseph of Arimathea brought to Glastonbury. In alchemy they represent virgin blood and semen from the Hieros Gamos (sacred marriage) of the Red Sun King (Philosophic Sulphur, and the Emperor card) and the White Moon Queen (Philosophic Mercury and the Empress card) that is begun in the Lovers card. From the union of these two forces comes the child- the Philosopher's Stone, or the new initiate, who goes on to pierce the Veil of Paraketh (symbolized by the rainbow being pierced by the arrow- another decidedly sexual symbol) and achieve conversation with their Holy Guardian Angel (symbolized by the night-time and stars found beyond the rainbow.) Qabalistically, to achieve conversation with one's Holy Guardian Angel is to achieve oneness with one's higher self, and it is the first goal of all initiates.
The union of the red and white liquid can symbolize the union of masculine and feminine, dark and light, active and passive within the initiate- for balance is needed in all things, and only when we learn to balance these two opposing sides of ourselves can we give birth to the Philosopher's Stone within.
The fact that the scene is set in Glastonbury refers to this idea of blending opposite forces in order to create balance and something new- in Glastonbury we can witness the beautiful mixing of Pagan and Christian myth and legend, in order to create the Arthurian Legends surrounding Glastonbury.
The Vesica Piscis that we see on the well cover is yet another symbol for this balance and union of opposites, as we see two equal circles meeting to create a new shape in between them.
The Temperance card, on a more spiritual level, points to the achievement of perfect balance within the querent, and of the creation of something new within themselves because of this balance and union of opposites. It can also advise the querent to consult their Higher Self/Spirit Guide etc. in order to find some answers.
On a more mundane level, the Temperance card can be seen as a card of balance in all aspects of life, as well as subtle manipulation of one's surroundings and circumstances (just like one might manipulate the red and white liquid to mix it.) It is about the querent being the neutral force in uniting (or reuniting in some cases) opposing forces, opposites, or out of balance people/situations.
The Temperance card may also advise the querent on a creative level (for this is a very creative card) to try and find the Middle Way or a conglomerate between/of all the different possibilities/inspirations they find.
Moderation, mixing, mingling, alchemy, art, creation, melting pot, polarities mixed, temperance, testing, adapting, fluid, flexible, manipulation.
The card was created on plain paper (7.75cm x 12.5cm) using Grafix coloured pencils.
Kiama (age 19) has been studying the Tarot avidly since the age of 9, and is currently in the process of co-creating a Tarot deck that explores the masculine side of Divinity through the Tarot archetypes. She is President of the Cardiff University Pagan Society, for whom she also gives talks on Tarot. She is reading Philosophy at Cardiff University, and lives with her fiancÚ in the town.
In her little spare time she enjoys traveling to sacred sites around the country, reading, writing, spending time with her friends, debating, and being a sad Harry Potter fan girl. She collects Tarot decks and has over 170 in her collection.
Go back to the project index, read the traditional card meaning, or get a free tarot reading with this deck.