by trzes


Card Description and meaning: For making the card I took Death and Temperance from the Tarot of Paris, digitally redrew the lines from what could be seen on the original cards and blended the two drawings together. The only lines I added are the title in the middle and more clouds and rain on the left to match the required card format. The coloring was done with pencils.

I got the idea for this card from being amazed how much the scythe on the Tarot of Paris’ Death actually looked like a river. And on the Temperance card the water from the jug, the stream and the rain would definitely form a river, so the scythe would really fit into Temperance as well. That way it would nicely represent the correspondence between decay (death) and the second law of thermodynamics (symbolized by mixing liquids of different temperature).

Death and the traditional take on Temperance (mixing liquids) both symbolize aspects of the statistical law of increasing entropy: if structure and complexity exist at some point in time, they will most likely disappear as time goes on. Hot water and cold water will mix to lukewarm water when put together. But lukewarm water will not separate into hot and cold water on its own account. Likewise people die and their bodies disintegrate, but ashes, earth and dust don’t form themselves into living things. In that sense the traditional symbolism of Temperance is just a variation on the theme of Death.

Sand castles crumble, bread goes moldy, cars rust away if we leave them alone, and we still can’t defeat our own personal death. It’s only live on earth in general that can circumvent the principle of decay. There is a tremendously complex genome for each species, and together with the beings that are alive now this forms a stable mechanism of reproduction. Humans also pass down their culture and knowledge. And with our consciousness, knowledge, creativity and artistic skills we keep producing all kinds of structures and new complexity. If there is a counter pole to the principle of decay, then it’s Art, the modern take on Temperance, as written in the center of my card. Still the reversed image says “death”.

Artist Bio: trzes is a Tarot enthusiast with a special interest in historic decks and a hobby philosopher from Berlin, Germany. He contributed some cards to various collaborative decks.

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