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Temperance Art and Meaning

Rider Waite Smith Tarot Deck

A winged angel, with the sign of the sun upon his forehead and on his breast the square and triangle of the septenary. I speak of him in the masculine sense, but the figure is neither male nor female. It is held to be pouring the essences of life from chalice to chalice. It has one foot upon the earth and one upon waters, thus illustrating the nature of the essences. A direct path goes up to certain heights on the verge of the horizon, and above there is a great light, through which a crown is seen vaguely. Hereof is some part of the Secret of Eternal Life, as it is possible to man in his incarnation. All the conventional emblems are renounced herein. So also are the conventional meanings, which refer to changes in the seasons, perpetual movement of life and even the combination of ideas. It is, moreover, untrue to say that the figure symbolizes the genius of the sun, though it is the analogy of solar light, realized in the third part of our human triplicity. It is called Temperance fantastically, because, when the rule of it obtains in our consciousness, it tempers, combines and harmonises the psychic and material natures. Under that rule we know in our rational part something of whence we came and whither we are going.

About the Deck

Pivotal and canonical, this deck defined a new pattern that would be followed up to the present.

Provenance

Designed by A.E. Waite and Illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith. England, 1911.

Meaning of Temperance from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot Deck

Upright

Economy, moderation, frugality, management, accommodation.

Reversed

Things connected with churches, religions, sects, the priesthood, sometimes even the priest who will marry the Querent; also disunion, unfortunate combinations, competing interests.

According to Many Schools of Thought

A. E. Waite's Secondary Meanings

Temperance. The winged figure of a female--who, in opposition to all doctrine concerning the hierarchy of angels, is usually allocated to this order of ministering spirits--is pouring liquid from one pitcher to another. In his last work on the Tarot, Dr. Papus abandons the traditional form and depicts a woman wearing an Egyptian head-dress. The first thing which seems clear on the surface is that the entire symbol has no especial connexion with Temperance, and the fact that this designation has always obtained for the card offers a very obvious instance of a meaning behind meaning, which is the title in chief to consideration in respect of the Tarot as a whole.

S. L. MacGregor Mathers's Divinatory Meanings

Upright

Combination, Conformation, Uniting

Reversed

Ill-advised combinations, Disunion, Clashing interests, &c.

Papus's Divinatory Meanings

Temperance. Economy.

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