Tarot Cards – The Major Arcana – Temperance

The Temperance card can be a confusing one to look at: an angelic figure pours waters from one cup to another, standing with one foot in the source. It wears a robe, clearly marked with a triangle and is obviously focused on the task in hand. This card is heavy with symbolism – but what does it mean to our ordinary, everyday lives?


Many cards of the Tarot deal with the theme of balance; balancing our energies, desires and fears are keys in achieving inner harmony. Traditionally, water is said to represent the subconscious. This figure has one foot in the water, suggesting that they are in tune with their higher selves. It also suggests that the conscious mind needs to take second-place for a moment and we should pay close attention to our gut feelings, instincts and intuition. However, to maintain spiritual balance, the other foot is placed on the ground – advice that we should not get too carried away with higher thoughts, but must find a way to transform them into practical ideas.

Transformation And Love

The cups are also indicative of that balance. They represent the constant flow of ideas and creative thought, but also suggest that the action of pouring will only cease when the ‘right mix’ of ideas and creativity has been found. There is also some Christian symbolism to be found: the card hints at the story of Christ turning water into wine. In Tarot terms, this highlights the ability we all have to transform any given situation into something positive, simply by tempering our own thoughts and actions.

The triangle has been used in many cultures as a symbol for love. The Ancient Egyptians saw it as a measure of someone’s capacity for love, whilst Buddhists use the shape as a tool to invoke love’s energies. In the Temperance card, it represents the ideal of self-love; that, in order to progress, we must learn to love ourselves for our flaws as much for our talents.

Those drawing Temperance will be challenged to decide just how they can achieve better balance in their lives. The balance may be spiritual, physical or emotional, but it is perfectly achievable.

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