blend disparate elements to create something new
To temper is to mix or modify to create something new, as in alchemy, and it’s in the Temperance card that we move from the loss of Death to a process of change through transformative growth where the parts of the psyche are combined or integrated and refined in preparation for higher stages of consciousness. As The Empress creates from nothing into matter (mater), Temperance transforms matter to create something new. As an artist, I think of mixing paints (not necessarily ‘tempera’ paints, but the name does fit, here) to create just the right color. As an herbalist, I consider the art of formulation to create a compound tincture of a specific quality or essence by combining just the right proportions of compatible plants in certain combinations — and there can be an element of healing in this card, by the harmony of the parts.
The figure on the card is often portrayed as a hermaphrodite (symbolizing the unification or blending of parts into a new whole) turning water into wine (again, the transformative process of parts). This blending of the light and dark to become more than the sum of its parts is a work in progress, ending line 2 with a bridge between the Self and the Higher Self to better flow into line 3, where we expand into a new awareness. Here, in the union between Above and Below, our souls are aligned and we’re in communion with Spirit, learning to follow the soul’s path instead of the ego’s as we head for The Devil.
(-) In resistance, we are uncompromising, denying ourselves the ability to adapt. Our internal parts are in conflict. Rather than harmony, there is a sense of being uncooperative, or competing.
(+) In excess, we are over-accommodating in an effort to avoid conflict. Does our need for a peaceful state cause us to take on the role of the mediator or peacekeeper in situations, determined to bring factions together? Are we forcing elements together that may not coalesce harmoniously? Perhaps we’re over-mixing something that is just right as is.
Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card appears include
- Do you jump into the role of peacekeeper during conflicts?
- Are you able to access Self or Spirit without parts interrupting?
- Do you resist adapting to new situations?
- Are you trying to force together some things that may not actually blend well?
- Do you tend toward extremes rather than find a harmonious balance?
- How are you integrating the various parts of your life?
What else? The archetypes of the majors are complex and you may have other insights. How has this card come up for you? What are some examples of this card’s energies?