Temperance shows up in the tarot sequence as the last of the four cardinal virtues, along with Justice, Fortitude/Strength and Prudence.
This virtue is defined essentially by its sense of moderation and voluntary self-restraint. Knowing that, it is possible that when this card appears, it is a positive sign of balance in our lives.
Some authors call Temperance the “healing card”. It designates great universal forces entering our individual lives to right what is wrong and temper us with harmonious energy.
Unlike the Justice that refers to external balance, Temperance works in the interior levels of mind and spirit. Her iconography is commonly related to a feminine figure fully dressed, pouring water from a vessel to another. Water is linked to our emotional side, and by balancing the quantities of this element we are moderating our passions and emotions such as anger or lust. The flowing water reflects our energies in motion, in contrast to stagnated waters, synonymous with depression and anxiety.
Another sign of equilibrium is the position of her feet, one of them in water (our unconscious mind) and the other one on dry land (the material world).
The two predominant colors in the figure’s garment are red, symbol of fire and passion; and blue, the cold color related to a sense of peace and spirituality.
The distant jars make the waters communicate, finding the balanced point between two extremes such as the duality masculine/feminine or even the humours of the human body Choleric/Phlegmatic (Fire/Water).
It is interesting to note that Temperance is positioned right after the card Death, which implied a drastic change in our lives. This transformation enables us to find our own harmony and emphasises the idea that this chance also had positive results.
Upright Meaning and Interpretation
Moderation, Patience, Harmony.
When this card appears, it means that you found your inner peace and you can see things more clearly and from a good perspective.
From the great disturbance that afflicted you, a new chapter starts in your life. You can finally relax and feel a comforting emotional harmony.
The adaptation and patience required by the card of Death allowed you to pursue your goals with calmness of heart and mind. Your new vision will give you the confidence to make better decisions and start new exciting projects.
Reversed Meaning and Interpretation
Excess, Instability, Self-indulgence.
Contrary to the upright position, in reverse it is obvious that something is out of balance and might be causing stress and anxiety. The Temperance in reverse can be interpreted as a warning.
You may have chosen a path of excess or overindulgence related to alcohol, drugs, overeating, overspending or any other addiction or excessive behaviour, and it is impelling to moderate it. Your emotional instability and lack of inner tranquility makes you look for easy gratification, which is risky and might be harmful for you and for the people who care about you. These reckless behaviours will drive you, most likely, into depression or despair.
It is time to slow down and moderate your urges in order to understand that your current path does not lead you to the happiest ends.