Today we’ll cover the meaning of the Temperance tarot card. This is a part of a deep dive series on the tarot.
The Temperance tarot card: a wing-adorned angel, whose sex is not clear, pouring water, foot in pond, path through the mountains to the sun.
This has a lot going on.
We’ll get to all these symbols later.
Temperance has a meaning in metalwork.
Metals must withstand temperature extremes, folding, and hammering, yet the finished result is far stronger than impure ore that is extracted from the soil. In this illustration, the soul offers up the ego for a purifying and healing process that may turn the ego inside-out but that also reveals the heart’s secret treasure: gold.
The astrological symbol associated with The Temperance card is Sagittarius and the planet Saturn.
Let’s explore the various meanings and interpretations of The Temperance tarot card.
Classical Temperance Card Tarot Interpretation
The classical meaning of The Temperance tarot card can be seen in the Rider-Waite deck.
There are multiple symbols on the card:
- white robe
- two cups
Notice almost all the symbols represent balance and equality. There are two cups and water is being transferred to take the cup with more and give it to the cup with less.
There is one foot on land and one in water: a balance between the elements. The ambiguous sex of the angel represents a balance of genders. The wings are spread equally in a balanced posture.
The angel’s foot on dry land represents the tangible world, while the foot in the water represents the subconscious. A square with a triangle engraved within appears on her dress as another allusion to the real earth united with the holy trinity.
A meandering road leads to a mountain range in the backdrop, representing life’s journey. A golden crown covered in shining light is seen hovering above the mountains as a representation of following the higher road and being loyal to one’s life’s meaning and purpose.
Changing jobs is killing off the old job for a new one, metaphorically speaking.
As you see, even though there are tons of symbols on the Temperance card, it is a fairly straightforward card to understand and read in context.
Upright Temperance Tarot Card Meaning
The upright Temperance card has a straightforward meaning:
The upright Temperance tarot card tells you that life calls for harmony, serenity, patience, and balance. Approach your journey calmly, weighing each option equally, no matter how strange or unlikely it may seem.
Temperance might also mean that you have discovered tranquility and are happy with your life. Temperance shows that you have a strong sense of who you are on the inside, what you value, as well as your own value system, making it simpler for you to identify your objectives and create goals for yourself.
You’ve demonstrated the ability to maintain composure under pressure or periods of tension. You have perfected the skill of not allowing things to affect you, and this enables you to make significant advancements in all the areas you desire to investigate.
The Temperance tarot card symbolizes patience, balance, and a great deal of moderation. There is a hint that extreme behavior should be avoided whenever this card occurs.
The upright Temperance tarot card in the love context denotes tolerance, moderation, understanding, and taking the middle road in romantic relationships.
This card advises us to use caution and deliberate consideration while making decisions and to refrain from acting to extremes. When it comes to romance, take a moment to reflect on your behavior and any areas where your attitudes, convictions, or ideas may be excessive.
- Do you approach potential partners too aggressively?
- Or, are you being too cautious?
- Do you give too much?
- Or are you lacking in your giving?
- How can you balance these qualities?
Additionally, your current or future relationships could call for a little patience as you try to discover common ground and harmony.
The Temperance card indicates that you have a distinct, long-term goal in mind. Instead of moving quickly, you take your time to make sure you do the task to the best of your ability. You are aware that a measured, directed strategy is necessary to achieve your objectives.
This card also represents advanced study. You are gaining a lot of knowledge right now and are content with what you are doing; everything is fitting together well. Your ego is calmly speaking to you and leading you in the correct direction.
Reversed Temperance Card Meaning
Reversed, the Temperance card has the opposite meaning:
The Temperance tarot card reversed signals something is out of balance. There are asymmetries in your life causing you difficulties, problems, or even unnecessary stress. Find these imbalances and fix them to achieve a calm and satisfying life.
Temperance Reversed is your invitation (or occasionally your warning signal) to quickly reestablish equilibrium and moderation if you have lately gone through a period of excess.
You could have been binge-eating, drinking frequently, making expensive purchases, fighting with family members, or thinking negatively. You are becoming further away from who you are and what you are here to perform as a result of these actions.
Therefore, it’s time to stop. Everything in moderation, as they say. Or you could discover that you require complete abstinence to end this destructive cycle and restore balance to your life.
There could be anything at work right now that is out of balance.
- Do you frequently put all of your effort into your work, to the detriment of other facets of your life?
- Do you frequently stay up late in the hopes that your efforts will be successful?
- Or perhaps you discover that you procrastinate, which makes your coworkers angry?
While the former might help you succeed, it can also hurt you over time. If this describes you, try to balance things out. Be careful not to hurry through tasks or make rash decisions while finishing them since this might affect the efficiency of the project.
Temperance Reversed may represent a time of self-reflection during which you can reevaluate your priorities in life. You could sense an inward calling in one way, but your everyday activities might not line up with what is unfolding.
Consider this an opportunity to harmonize your inner and outer vibrations.
To create greater clarity and direction in accordance with your new objectives, you might need to make changes to your living situation, interpersonal connections, work, and daily routine.
As you harmonize your interior and outer worlds, don’t be shocked if you experience tension or even conflict; this is a lifelong process of leveling up and bringing about positive change.
When temperance is inverted in a health setting, it’s a very clear sign that other aspects of your life are out of balance, which can negatively impact your health.
When the Temperance Tarot card reversed comes in a Tarot deck, it may also indicate unwise or hazardous excesses, so pay attention to what you are taking into your body at this time.
To regain your equilibrium, you must connect with how you are feeling, identify any issues that may be pushing you to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms and deal with those concerns.
I always like to examine other, modern decks to see what can be read into their symbolism.
The reason for this is that every person will have different decks, so it’s good to learn how to go with your gut on what you see. This is the best way to have a good interpretation for the moment.
Too many people stick to a learned reading instead of going with the flow. Remember, each reading, deck, person, position, and question is different. Reading the cards is an art, not a science.
We’ll use a different deck for every one of these, drawing attention to lesser-known decks that deserve more recognition. Today’s is the Astromatrix Tarot for the Temperance tarot card.
This version of the card is kind of genius. Unlike the traditional one that has Earth and Water balance with the feet, this one emphasizes full balance of all four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
These are being poured into a cauldron, really recalling those metallurgical origins of the concept. By combining things in equal balance, you can produce something that is much stronger and more powerful than any of the individual elements alone.
Remember: Temperance isn’t about diluting everything into bland sameness. It’s about balancing and mixing into something better than before.
It’s interesting that the ankh symbol is on the cauldron. This symbolizes that balance is the key to life and even the afterlife.
There is a strong spiritual component to this card that is often overlooked.
Temperance is a spiritual message to pay attention to your inner direction and a sign that your spirit guides are all around you. Temperance may also be an indication that your mind, body, and soul are in harmony. As you proceed along your spiritual journey, keep in mind to be patient and trust that everything is unfolding as it is supposed to.
The Temperance Tarot in Context
Context matters a lot when reading the cards. Here are some particularly strong things to look out for when the Temperance tarot card appears in these contexts.
- Past: You once had balance. Look to this moment for current inspiration to improve life.
- Present: You must strive to balance those things currently out of balance.
- Future: Things may be off now, but a shift is coming that will put serenity back into life.
For other types of readings:
- Hobbies: One hobby is taking up all your time. Hobbies, family, work, and exercise must come back into balance.
- Love: Fix the power dynamics in your relationship to reestablish your connection.
- Work: Your job is overwhelming you. It may be time to find something that fits your life better.
- Finance: Don’t focus too much on one aspect. Saving too much causes your current life to be dull. Spending too much is risky for your future. Find that balance.
Back to the Major Arcana list.
- Alexander, S. (2017). The Modern Witchcraft Book of Tarot: Your Complete Guide to Understanding the Tarot (Illustrated ed.). Adams Media.