Summary of Temperance Tarot Card Meaning
After enduring all the loss in the Death card, the Fool awakens to a moment of clarity. Now that their life is cleared of the rot and disease, they have the emotional space to create a life that is truly theirs. The Fool looks back at all their experiences thus far, all the people they’ve met and their different perspectives and begins to realize that their experiences don't quite align perfectly under one ideology, value system or set of beliefs. The Fool begins to create their own personal set of principles and ideas, a blend of the many that they have encountered before. This too, is a kind of art, a kind of creative work.
Light: Fusion, middle path, patience
Shadow: Extremes, excess, imbalance
To learn more, read the full Temperance tarot card meaning.
About this Temperance Tarot Card Spread
Depending on which tarot traditions you learned from, it may be strange to see alchemy and art being referenced in this card. In the Thoth tradition, Temperance is called Art, and it’s as much about the creative process as it is about finding balance. The following spread therefore, is inspired by the alchemy’s Great Work; creating the Philosopher’s Stone. This alchemical process describes in symbolic terms, the transformation of the spirit through individuation (the psychological process becoming, accepting and integrating all aspects of one’s own unique, individual self).
The Stages of Alchemy
The following are the four major stages of alchemy. Note that different alchemists had different stages, but following the writings of psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, we’ll be using these four stages.
A return to chaos, symbolized by the arrival of darkness and night. It is the breakdown and dissolution of a substance. Psychologically, it begins through a meeting with the shadow self. Because the shadow is rejected by the ego, it is experienced as despair. In order to complete this stage, one must confront the shadow.
The moon appears in the darkness, symbolizing the guiding light through the unconscious. It is the purification of a substance, so that only its most essential components remain. Psychologically, it represents exploring the unconscious, while our beliefs, values and ideologies become an anchor for our conscious self. It is often a difficult process, threatening the ego and requiring us to challenge our own assumptions.
Dawn arrives, bringing illumination from the sun. This represents the arrival of conscious awareness. Psychologically, it represents bringing the knowledge and awareness found in the unconscious into the light, and integrating those truths with the ego.
The completion of the alchemical process, yielding the Philosopher’s Stone. It is the unity of opposites, achieved by merging the conscious with the unconscious. Psychologically, it is the creation of the Self; an integrated totality of the psyche.
Go Beyond Tarot Meanings
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When to Use This Tarot Spread
- When you’re feeling blocked creatively.
- When you’re looking to find inspiration.
Temperance Tarot Card Spread
- Prima Materia 1 - Something to add to the cauldron. What do you want to transform?
- Prima Materia 2 - Another thing to add to the cauldron. What do you want to transform?
- Prima Materia 3 - A final thing to add to the cauldron. What do you want to transform?
- Decomposition - The first step of alchemy. What needs to be broken down into its parts? What needs to be confronted?
- Purification - The second step of alchemy. Which parts are essential? What treasures can you find in this journey?
- Awakening - The third step of alchemy. What do I need to bring to consciousness? What needs to be illuminated?
- Culmination - The final step of alchemy. What is the final product? What is the creative work and what is its influence in your life?
A Note on the Fool's Journey Tarot Spreads: This is part of a series of tarot spreads inspired by the lessons of the Fool’s Journey, represented by the major arcana of the tarot. Since each major arcana card embodies a stage in one’s life journey, a lesson, or an archetype, we can use them as the foundations to explore moments of our own personal journeys. They also happen to be great ways to explore the meanings of each of these tarot cards in a very personal way.
For more of these spreads, please head here.