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The Temperance with Gina G. Thies

By October 7, 2016 February 13th, 2019

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Welcome to the Real Life Lessons from the Major Arcana series. We've gathered together 22 of the best Tarot readers to share their personal stories and interpretations of the Major Arcana cards.

Discover new meanings and spiritual lessons behind the Major Arcana cards, through real-life experiences and stories. And watch as the Tarot cards truly come to life!

In this essay, Gina Thies delves deep into the significance of the Temperance card, holder of the balance and keeper of a very important gate (literally) between Death and the Devil cards! Read on…

To download all 22 stories, click here.

TemperanceAhhh…Temperance. Who doesn’t love this card?  Do you? How could hanging out between Death and The Devil be fun?  Angel of Death, Angel of The Underworld and Archenemy Number 1. What a line-up!

It’s fair to say that in most, if not all tarot decks, this card is beautifully illustrated. Temperance’s appearance in a spread is more pleasing than say, The Tower.  Perhaps it’s the depiction of an androgynous angel or classical goddess that places the seeker at ease with Temperance, deflecting its “underworld-like” significance.

Long ago, my tarot mentor explained that to truly understand a card is to let it “speak” to you and to study it through experience. Thus, I use an experiential approach in my study of tarot. I didn’t just stop with traditional tarot study but included the study of mythology, religion, philosophy and psychology to unlock meanings. A study of the Major Arcana through Qabalistic symbolism proved a worthwhile pursuit.

The study of each card begins with a simple inquiry. Temperance was not going to make its secrets readily apparent. Popular interpretations of Temperance include ‘restraint, mixing, blending, merging, balancing opposites, living in two worlds, chemistry, etc.’ In spite of performing relevant readings, I never felt sufficiently satisfied with understanding Temperance’s essence.

In my readings, Temperance has often pointed to chemical/hormonal imbalances or alcoholism, as it did in a recent client’s reading session. Temperance landed upright in a position, which represented root causes or the reason for crisis.  The client confirmed life had been a living Hell, another of my interpretations of Temperance, and alcoholism indeed played a major role. I noticed that in many readings where Temperance appeared that The Hanged Man, Death, or The Devil would sometimes accompany it more than other Majors, especially if the querent was working on inner growth, or going through a major life crisis.

Temperance is a classic virtue of restraint and humility within religious and philosophical perspectives. We are all familiar with modifying food intake or using care with too much excess, however that doesn’t seem like much of a lesson in the grander sense of this Major Arcana. We must not take for granted that meaning and understanding is unique to the individual in their interpretation.

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Temperance pointed out incredible aspects of itself as I integrated my studies. A few years ago, during a time I had several ongoing projects that required every ounce of my creative energy, I worked on an article about the Temperance card. I was also dealing with a growing tarot clientele and struggling to leave a job that in every way became not such a great fit for the person I was becoming. Working made it difficult to spend my time and energy immersed in tarot activities. Unable to do so felt abysmally stifling. I was tired and lacked regularity in my regime because I was busy and didn’t have the time or energy to keep up with it all.

Anyone who knows me would describe me as ambitious, professional and determined, but during this period completing just one project was taxing. Attempts to concentrate on any aspect of a project were thwarted by the lack of concentration and/or interruptions by other crises that required more immediate attention. The feeling and sense of things were as if an outside force was swishing me about uncontrollably. I also felt a terrible resistance at the time of which I could not name, although now I recognize it was ego unwilling to let go. I was enmeshed in crisis after crisis. The more I knew, the more I loss direction. I was also compelled to press on and to regain my sense of wholeness. All this seemed daunting, and then suddenly I wanted nothing to do with any of it!

The funny thing here is there were certain constants in my life, tarot being one of them.  Tarot played the role of psychopomp. I was reluctant to leave the job, but even more afraid of not pursuing my dreams.  I became exhausted to the point that some days, it became impossible to get out of bed! Deadlines drew nearer, emails needed responses and all sorts of business and family matters required my attention. For some of us this is everyday life, and we hobble through it without batting an eye. Spiritually however, it is the Dark Night of the Soul. The soul has only one purpose and that is Union with God. These “Dark Nights” occur in Death, Temperance and the Devil. These experiences must be integrated in order to advance on the journey to Higher Self. Interestingly, you’ll face a winged spirit, a devil or death – all are archangels, by the way. Consider these character-building perils in order to “know thyself.” If you want enlightenment, perils are awfully accommodating. In the Temperance experience, a physical component may be involved.

I was in the midst of significant change in my life  –  Death. I was leaving one world for a better one of my creation. Indeed, it was a birthing experience. While reading, I came across a single sentence that made it all come together. Temperance is also called the Bringer Forth of Life.  I looked up from the book, accessed what I was going through and exclaimed, “This is Temperance!” I gained a new perspective that my perceived crises were urging me to move forward. There was a purgation of sorts, but also an internal modification occurred. Temperance represents surpassing darkness to light or at least the first steps of the journey to wholeness. You can take one of two paths to this Higher Illumination, an internal or external path. You may just have to walk through of bit of “hell” to get there!

In my experience, the meanings of Temperance are relatively interchangeable whether it is upright or reversed. I look to surrounding cards to determine if it is helping or hindering the situation. Overall, it indicates there is light at the end of the tunnel.

About Gina G. Thies

Gina ThiesGina G. Thies has been involved with tarot since getting her first reading in the early 1990s. Hundreds of clients have trusted her intuitive guidance through her knowledge of the cards and her refined psychic talents.

Thies has presented workshops at popular tarot symposiums including SF BATS, TarotCon Dallas and Readers Studio in New York. She is the author of Tarot Coupling: Resources and Resolutions for Relationship Readings(Schiffer Publishing, Inc.), which has been cited as “essential” for the tarot reader’s collection.

Gina is the Contributing Editor of The Tarot School’s Tarot Tips Newsletter where she shares valuable information on the business of tarot. Gina is one of the contributing artists on the collaborative deck Tarot for Pink. She is also the co-host of Oracle Soup, a podcast that discusses tarot and other intuitive arts. Please visit www.tarotadvisor.com

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