Keywords for Temperance
In the image on this card, we see a winged, white-robed angel standing at a pool, with one foot on land and the other dipped halfway into the clear water.
He holds two cups, one in each hand, and is seen pouring this water back and forth from one cup to the other, mixing the contents of each in the process.
The standing figure we see here is in fact Archangel Michael. We recognize him by the solar disk he wears at the crown of his head, as well as the red triangle of fire inside the white cube embroidered on the upper part of his white robe.
These symbols represent the power of God made manifest in the physical universe through the energy and action of our star, the sun. This is in alignment with the traditional meanings given for his name, Michael, which is said to mean “who is like God” in Hebrew.
Interpretation of Temperance in a Reading
When Temperance comes up in a tarot reading, it often carries the meanings associated with health, healing and wholeness. This can refer to both physical and psychological healing and wellness.
At times, it also can indicate some of the more traditional meanings of the word “temperance,” such as “moderation,” “restraint,” “self-control” and “sobriety.”
There are also times when Temperance can also refer to a very strong, positive and healthy relationship between two people, both romantic and platonic. When this is the case, the two individuals involved are truly genuine and committed in their intentions and behaviors toward one another.
This often means a lack of power struggles between them: no one is seeking to gain control or “have the upper hand.” Instead, they are able to put their individual differences aside and function together as a unit.
This card also refers to a particular stage in our personal or spiritual development. Archangel Michael is shown here in the act of tempering, a word taken from the Latin root temperare, meaning “to mix” or “to blend together.”
This is related to the process of tempering a metal (for example, steel), in order to make the alloy stronger and more resilient. The same could be said to occur when we have had our “mettle” tested.
When this occurs, the strength of our character is tried under difficult and challenging circumstances. Often, if we succeed, we find that we have gone through the fire only to emerge even stronger as a result.