- Pictorial Key to the Tarot
- The Tarot
S. L. MacGregor Mathers
- General Book of the Tarot
A. E. Thierens
Economy, moderation, frugality, management, accommodation.
Divinatory Meanings - Reversed
Things connected with churches, religions, sects, the priesthood, sometimes even the priest who will marry the Querent; also disunion, unfortunate combinations, competing interests.
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.
14. 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.
Temperance - Combination, Conformation, Uniting.
Divinatory Meanings - Reversed
Ill-advised combinations, Disunion, Clashing interests, etc.
Symbolism of the Keys
Temperance - An angel with the sign of the Sun on her brow Pouring liquid from one vessel into another. She represents Combination.
Description and Meaning
". . . the Genius of the Sun holding two cups and pouring from the one into the other the liquor which holds life." (Papus)--" A winged angel with the sign of the sun upon his forehead . . . pouring the essences of life from chalice to chalice." (Waite) Another version has: ". . . pours the fluid of Life from a golden vase into a silver one." (Papus) This is evidently the cosmic function next to the Sun, messenger of the same: Mercury or Vulcan, lord of the sphere of Virgo, surrounding the solar Leo-sphere. Other traditional descriptions confirm this: "It is the symbol of combinations, working incessantly in all regions of Nature." (Papus) On his breast this angel bears a square with inscribed triangle, reminding us of the passage of the cosmological Stanzas of Dzyan, "The Three fall into the Four," which means the beginning of Manifestation. "Entry of Spirit into Matter and reaction of Matter upon Spirit." (Papus) So on the subject of this card there seems to be perfect understanding. "Incarnation of Life," Papus adds. This is Mercury, who has to do with the distribution of life-currents from the Sun farther on into the solar-system and from the heart and solar-plexus farther on into our physical body. The golden vase and the silver one illustrate this distribution from higher to lower regions.
So this card signifies all sorts of distribution, from the nervous system and its workings of co-ordination to correspondence by the post office, letters and communications, and the latter not only limited to this physical world but extended to other planes of existence. The function of Mercury is that of the mind in its concrete activities and imparts knowledge, learning, which after all is the beginning or potentiality of all our further relations in this world.
Papus seeks to establish relation between it and the Hebrew letter Nun, which means "the offspring of the female--(we said rightly, that Mercury has much to do with the Moon)--a son, the fruit of any kind . . . the image of the being produced or reflected. . .". Yes: reflection and above all reproduction. The name 'Temperance' appears to have been chosen because of the transposition from one plane to another, or one centre to another, which has much to do with 'time' also. The latter is the proper reason for naming this principle directly after that of Saturn.