Temperance Tarot Card Meaning
Keywords: Balance – Flow – Harmony
An angel, with wings outstretched, pours water from one cup into another. In the tarot, angels are often thought to represent the higher self or divine guidance. The figure stands with one foot on the ground and the other foot dips into a pool of water. This represents the balance between the everyday world and the emotional realm. Around the angel are irises which symbolize hope. Behind the figure, you can see a long road stretching toward a bright sun. The symbol on the angel’s robe represents mystical, alchemical fire. The Temperance card is one of balance and being in flow. As the saying goes, all things in moderation.
Temperance is the fourteenth card of the tarot’s Major Arcana. It represents balance, harmony, skillfulness, and flow.
Upright Meanings for the Temperance Tarot Card
There’s an important lesson to be learned from Temperance’s appearance in a reading: nothing in your life can be perfectly balanced forever (sorry to disappoint Thanos). Don’t allow the perpetual pursuit of this perfect zen state to be another thing on your to-do list that stresses you out. Things will always be in and out of balance. It’s a worthy endeavor to try to evenly juggle all parts of your life all the time. But, the process of re-centering yourself is something you’ll always have to cultivate. It isn’t a personal failing when things get out of balance. It’s just the way the world works.
As an example, there are times in your life where your family priorities will take precedence over your career —and vice versa. Find the right balance that works for you. It will look different for everyone.
The Temperance card is connected to flow states, where time seems to extend or stand still. It’s a sensation of everything feeling easy and effortless. Those who engage in creative activities such as painting, drawing, or dancing often experience states of flow. It can also occur when you embrace your natural working pace and rhythm.
Part of the creative process requires you to figure things out as you go. Have faith in yourself and your abilities. You don’t have to know everything right now. Trust that you can get the knowledge you need as you go. Things don’t have to be perfect right now for you to start.
Because this card is connected to makers and artists, it can be a call for you to engage in creative activities. It can indicate that you have the magic touch to bring new ideas and creations into the world. There’s a strong element of alchemy in this card. You may be called to bring a vision to life. Prepare to work your magic!
The Temperance card can represent potential guides, mentors, and allies in your life. Some seekers may feel drawn to this card through its depiction of an angel. If that resonates with you, ask yourself what do angels symbolize to you? Do you see it as a sign that someone is watching out for you? More than likely, you already have a personal meaning ascribed to their appearance. Some readers interpret the figure in the card as the archangel Michael. Ultimately, it’s a little ambiguous. As we discussed in the description section of the card, angels often represent the higher self or a higher consciousness.
It’s worth noting that in some traditional/folk interpretations of this card, Temperance represents abstinence from alcohol and other substances. Depending on the context, it can indicate relief from addiction.
Finally, this card can represent a time of calm and harmonious relationships.
Love and Relationships: Temperance Upright
Temperance is usually a positive indicator in a relationship reading. It can represent a period of harmony and peace, especially if there’s been recent conflict. It’s an auspicious card for a new relationship as well.
In relationship conflicts, this is a call to temper your reaction. You may have experienced a blow-up recently. Maybe things got a little more heated than you intended. The Temperance card’s appearance is an invitation to step back and approach the situation with a calmer perspective. Similar to the Justice card, it can suggest taking a balanced approach to resolving conflicts. Make sure everyone is being heard in a calm, respectful manner. The presence of an angel suggests talking with a counselor or trusted third party if needed.
Career and Work: Temperance Upright
The Temperance card in a career reading is a similarly positive indicator. It can represent a job or workplace with well-balanced responsibilities. You’ll find these environments support a healthy work-life balance.
In workplace conflicts, this is a card of moderation and patience. Have a look at whether one person is unduly bearing the burden of responsibility or a heavy workload. Letting you or a coworker pick up all of the slack is a recipe for burnout. Sometimes, this card can appear around issues related to impatience. This is especially true if you feel that you or someone else’s skills are not up to par for the job. In this case, give the person in question time and the right guidance to improve their performance. Remind yourself that everything has a learning curve.
This card is connected to careers related to mediation, healing modalities, and therapy. It’s also associated with those who can “transmute” objects and make “something out of nothing” so to speak, such as artists, makers, chefs, and similar creative fields.
People and Personalities: Temperance Upright
Individuals represented by the Temperance card are calm, collected, and creative. These traits make them a great friend or partner because they take the time to listen to both sides of a dispute. They can also represent a mentor or the guidance of a trusted friend.
This card can also represent a Sagittarius (born approximately November 23rd to December 21st) in a reading.
Temperance Reversed Tarot Card Meaning
Reversed Keywords for Temperance: Unbalanced – Disharmony – Unruly
Reversed Meanings for the Temperance Tarot Card
The Temperance card reversed often indicates unbalanced energy. This can manifest itself in practical ways such as too many work obligations that cause relationships to suffer. It’s normal for life to sometimes feel like a juggling act –it’s not a failure to have periods where life is hard to balance. But the Temperance card reversed can signal that a tipping point has been reached where a healthy balance needs to be worked on again. Allow yourself rest and recuperation if you’ve been hustling too hard. Conversely, there is such a thing as too much rest. This is particularly true if you’ve been avoiding or procrastinating on important tasks to the detriment of your mental, physical or financial health.
Temperance reversed can signal a time of disharmony and conflict. Depending on the context of the reading, this could be conflict with others or within yourself. It can represent friction in romantic relationships or bad group dynamics. In this case, the solution is often found in the medicine of the card upright. Ask yourself: how are things out of balance? Have all parties been completely fair? Do you need to take a step back from a group that has an unhealthy, unsupportive dynamic? It may be time to find better support.
Along with disharmony, it can represent stalling out or the lack of flow in your life. You may have hit a wall in your motivation. Returning to the theme of balance in The Temperance card, be aware if you’re experiencing burn out. Take a break from a project to recharge. Sometimes a project has really gone off the rails for reasons beyond your control. Rest, regroup and strategize.
Reversed Love and Relationships: Temperance
The Temperance card in reverse typically represents disharmony. It can be caused by a lack of boundaries, personality differences, or just occasional disagreements that are normal in relationships. This can represent a larger imbalance of power dynamics and/or effort in a partnership. Again, some of this is normal in both romantic and friendships. Sometimes you need a lot of support to help you get through rough patches. Sometimes work is busy, so it takes away from relationships. But find a level of balance that’s comfortable for you and your partner (ditto for friendships!)
Reversed Career and Work: Temperance
Again, with the balance issues: this is often a work situation that is competing against other forces. It can represent work that’s affecting your personal life. This can be a situation where you’re working 60+ hours leaving you with no personal time. It can speak to unhealthy work dynamics where the lion’s share of duties are put on to you. The solution is often in rebalancing the burden in any way you can. Set boundaries around your time —especially after work (i.e. not checking your work email on the weekends, leaving on time, taking a real lunch break, etc.).
Sometimes your personal life may be the thing encroaching on your work life to the detriment of your livelihood. Again, exercise boundaries. This is a situation where some compartmentalization is a good thing. If you can swing taking time off to sort out the situation, do it. But be cognizant that personal issues that bleed into the boundaries of work can jeopardize team dynamics. For example, being chronically late for whatever reason won’t win you much goodwill at the office.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom! The Temperance card reversed can also refer to work that has its own unique season of activity and intensity. For example, a tax preparator might have months of downtime and then a crunch time before and after tax season (at least here in the U.S.). This kind of temporary imbalance can be better tolerated by remembering that you’ll catch a break soon! Hence, in a career reading related to potential jobs and personal strengths, it can suggest that seasonal work could be a good fit for you.
Reversed People and Personalities: Temperance
The Temperance card reversed can signal people affected by their mood swings or whims. Their quick temper can land them in hot water. They can be fun at a party but might be struggling with the whole adulting thing (and don’t we all sometimes). This card’s appearance can be a call to deal with untamed emotions and habits. Does anger hold you back? Does impulsivity cause issues in interpersonal relationships? There’s definitely nothing wrong with expressing yourself (you should not stuff down emotions), but be cognizant of whether they’re being channeled into the wrong targets.
Correspondences for The Temperance Card
Tarot Card Affirmation
I am creating a balanced and harmonious life.
Some of My Favorite Examples of the Temperance Card
The Mythic Tarot was the first tarot deck I received as a teen. Purchased at a Hasting’s Bookstore (anyone remember those?), the wholesome illustrations based on stories from Greek mythology was an easy sell to convince my parents that tarot wasn’t so scary! My mom even went the extra mile of sewing up a matching spread cloth for me with the Celtic Cross positions drawn on it (lucky me, I know). Of this deck, my favorite card is Temperance personified by Iris the Greek goddess of the rainbow. Iris was considered a goddess of hope and peace. The science of light refraction aside, rainbows still feel magical! It feels like a special alchemy happens when white light is bent into a beautiful stripe of color.
I think the Everyday Witch Tarot is one of the cleverest modern depictions for the Temperance card. The witch practices yoga while eyeing a chocolate cake. What better way to emphasize the crux of this card: everything in moderation.
The Ethereal Visions uses a traditional, Rider-Waite-Smith style depiction of the Temperance card. Here we see the familiar motif of an angelic being. An element that always strikes me about the Temperance card is that, in reality, the water can’t flow between the two cups so gracefully and perfectly. Although disclaimer; maybe this is a fancy trick that a skilled bartender can manage. There’s both an element of magic and impossibility to the scene. The way the water flows from cup to cup speaks to the mystical alchemy of the Temperance card.
The Linestrider Tarot strips the other symbols of the Temperance card into a simple and atmospheric image. The cups and water are completely gone, but the gesture of the figure still conveys the meaning. What I love about this depiction is the lack of physical objects. What we are seeing in this image almost feels like it’s a vision in the mind’s eye. To me, the solitary image of the figure alludes to the secret of the Temperance card: a successful resolution to unbalance starts in the mind. We are rarely talking about physical balance, boundaries, or actions when this card appears. The act of achieving the balance that you want in life is a mind game. It’s all in how you implement these practices: balance, finding flow, and setting boundaries. Even what balance looks like for you resides in your own imagination. It can’t be defined by others, only you and your vision.