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The Temperance Card in Tarot and How to Read It

Andrea has a background in astrology, Myers Briggs, and pop culture, with expertise in relationships and dating.

Temperance is about finding balance. Moderation is key to living a fulfilled life. Those who are calm and patient will make it through life's challenges.

Temperance is about finding balance. Moderation is key to living a fulfilled life. Those who are calm and patient will make it through life's challenges.

Temperance in Tarot

Temperance is the 14th trump of the Major Arcana. The card appears in the oldest Italian decks, where it was numbered VI or VII. In the Thoth Tarot deck, the card is labelled Art rather than Temperance.

In European iconography, temperance was often represented by a woman mixing water into wine. Dilution is one of the gateways to moderation. Temperance is one of the cardinal virtues.

The cardinal virtues are the four virtues of mind and character in classical philosophy and Christian theology. The four virtues are temperance, prudence, fortitude, and justice.

Card Description

In Tarot decks, the person is usually a winged angel—either female or androgynous. The figure stands with one foot in water and one foot on land. A crown in the bottom left corner of the card represents the attainment of a goal or mastery thereof.

In the Rider-Waite deck, the Hebrew Tetragrammaton is on the angel's chest above the square and triangle.

The Tetragrammaton is the four-letter Hebrew word. It is the name of the god of Israel. There is no consensus about the structure or etymology of the name, though Yahweh is generally the accepted word for it.

Card Meaning

Learn to bring yourself into balance. Patience and moderation are keys to living a healthy life. Take the middle road when possible and avoid extremes to maintain a sense of calm.

Element: Fire

Ruling Planet: Jupiter

Preceding Card: Death

Next Card: Devil

Card Alignments


Economy, alchemy, balance, connecting with your guides, harmony, moderation, frugality, management, accommodation, looking for divine intervention, moderation.


Things connected with churches, religion, sects, the priesthood, disunion, onset of illness, unfortunate combinations, competing interests, disharmony, imbalance, impatience.

Temperance is one of the most meditative cards of Tarot. It's about self-healing. It encourages you to reconnect with your ancestral roots. It's about equanimity in the midst of strife.

Temperance is one of the most meditative cards of Tarot. It's about self-healing. It encourages you to reconnect with your ancestral roots. It's about equanimity in the midst of strife.

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Digging Into the Symbols

The Angel and Her Attire

The angel wears a light blue robe representing trust, tranquility, and her mastery of spirituality. The angel is wise. The robe has a triangle enclosed in a square on the front. The triangle represents humans. They're bound to the square, which represents the Earth and the natural law.

Water and Earth

The angel's feet are in the water and on the ground. This represents the need to stay grounded and to go with the flow. This also shows the relationship between the conscious and the subconscious. With balance, the two will operate well with each other. Without balance, too much weight will be given to one or the other, leading to dysfunction.

Pouring Water

The angel pours water between two cups, symbolic of the flow and alchemy of life. Temperance is about dilution. Instead of taking things at 100% percent, it can be easier to process them at a more diluted percentage. Spirituality can dilute the challenges of the material world.


In the background: a path leads up a mountain range. The winding path reflects the journey through life. The mountains represent the challenges.

Golden Crown

A golden crown glows over the mountains and is the symbol of achievement and success. The card encourages you to reach toward the highest path to reach your highest good. You must let go of your ego and be a person for others if you want to make it through life.

What Does the Card's Guiding Element Mean?

Temperance is guided by the element of fire. This is the first element of the zodiac expressed by the sign Aries. Leo and Sagittarius also represent fire.

Fire is the element of free will. It is active, it is aggressive, and it is passionate. Temperance is about understanding free will to a more complex level. If we let free will go uninhibited, we'll be taking too many risks and putting ourselves in harm's way.

Temperance is about using balance to better command our free will. Diluting our passions can help us to make better decisions. You don't want things to be oversaturated; you want them balanced, within the confines of reality, and stable.

Temperance is about mastery of free will. You still get to decide what you want to do, but you also go with the flow. You have an acceptance of your own ability to make choices and fate.

You're predestined in more ways than you think from your genetics, your surroundings, and your natural inclinations.

Jupiter represents the king of the gods in Roman mythology. Jupiter has a great deal of ego, which can be a thorn in his side. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter and is the most diluted fire sign. Aries and Leo have flames that are big and bold. Sagittarius is more spontaneous and described in more colors.

Temperance is moderation in action, thought, or feeling. It's habitual moderation. It is the ability to show restraint.

Temperance is moderation in action, thought, or feeling. It's habitual moderation. It is the ability to show restraint.

Temperance Upright Card

Temperance encourages you to work on meditation, patience, balance, and moderation in order to find your highest self. Temperance is one of three virtue cards with Strength and Justice. The Strength card represents fortitude.

I find it interesting that the Hanged Man card is also about balance, but in that card the situation is dire. The Hanged Man is in a compromising pose, and if he doesn't do something about it—and with expertise—he could face an untimely death. The Hanged Man card appears before the Death card, which generally isn't about physical death but an end to a chapter. It's about change.

After the Death card, we return to balance with Temperance, but the circumstances are far different. Upright Temperance is usually seen as a positive card. You're recovering, going with the flow, and getting your life back in order.

You need Temperance after the shakeups of the previous cards. You've been through something. You need to stabilize your new situation. Don't try to force anything; encourage yourself to go with the flow.

Recommendations for an Upright Temperance Card in Your Reading

  • Remain calm.
  • Don't jump to conclusions.
  • Manage your emotions.
  • Add in new coping mechanisms.
  • Add in new, positive behaviors.
  • Separate from social media.
  • Go into nature.

When you feel stressed, don't let it drive you. Be the calm within the storm. Maintain an even temperament. You will gain more if you remain composed in stressful situations.

  • Don't let little things shake you.
  • Have an abundance of patience.
  • Respect balance and tranquility.
  • Moderation will help you achieve a fulfilled life.

Take the middle path and accommodate all perspectives. Extremes will run you dry. Focus on collaboration rather than competition. Work together, and leverage the right mix of talents, experiences, abilities, and skills.

When you pick the middle path, you can blend, mix, combine, and work with diverse elements. This will help you create something meaningful that's better than the sum of its parts.

Blending is something you should use within your career.

  • Take on different jobs and roles for growth.
  • Be creative: as a chef, try new recipes and styles. Don't be afraid of spice.
  • As a writer, don't limit yourself to one style. Try different mediums.

Temperance is about having a long-term vision for what you want to achieve. You are not rushing things along. Instead, you are taking the right amount of time to help things grow and mature.

You are growing a great deal. Keep up the good pace and search for peace. Your inner voice will guide you to the right outcome. Be patient and listen. If you can't hear your intuition, it is clogged. To unclog it: try meditation, seek counsel, read about emotions, spend time in solitude, work to get better sleep, and watch what you're eating and putting into your body.

Temperance is key for self-love. We often cram our lives with things we don't know and that don't fulfill us. This can be dangerous and cause us to be reckless.

Temperance is key for self-love. We often cram our lives with things we don't know and that don't fulfill us. This can be dangerous and cause us to be reckless.

Reversed Temperance

The Reversed Temperance card is a warning sign. You have come into too much excess; therefore, you should expect loss.

Now is the time to get into balance before you have no control over what you lose. You have become too indulgent, which will harm you one way or another.

You may have picked up nasty drinking habits, an addiction to shopping, extreme political views, arguing with loved ones, or engaging in negative thought patterns. These activities further you away from who you are and prevent you from what you need to achieve while you're on this planet.

When you're clogged up with indulgences, you can't get in touch with your intuition. It is time to hit the brakes. You are being overly busy in order to distract yourself.

You need to do everything in moderation. Too much of anything will come back to bite you. You may have to abstain from something 100% in order to break the negative cycle.

The Reversed Temperance card is a sign that something is off in your life. You're creating stress and tension, not providence. If you don't change, your inner voice will have to get louder and louder until you pay attention to it. Your inner voice is your inner child. It's trying to tell you that you're being too hard on yourself and putting yourself in the wrong situations.

You need to make necessary adjustments to get the right flow into your life. When you have the right flow—wealth, health, and relationships will come to you.

Focus on your long-term vision and higher purpose. Seek to align your daily activities with your vision.

Now is a good time to write a personal vision statement for yourself. What do you really believe? What do you want to change in the world? What virtues do you want to help bring to the world?

You must go through a period of self-evaluation to correctly prioritize your goals. You may feel internally called to one direction, but the way you're living your life doesn't match that.

Consider your daily habits and what they amount to for you. Consider your relationships, where you live, your living conditions, and your career. Are these things correct matches for you?

Now is a good time to seek therapy. You don't have to chart through all of your troubles alone. Counsel can help you make decisions for your highest good.

You will likely run into conflict as you address changes you need to make. This is part of the gutting process. It could feel rebellious at times. Temperance is a moderation point between the Death and Devil cards. Both Death and Devil are extremes, but they have their positive points.

  • Death comes into the picture to address necessary change. It's fate. It's the Universe's way of directly getting you to get in touch with yourself and your purpose.
  • The Devil represents rebellion. In order to accept change, you must actively be willing to take on your new role. This rebellion will push you in ways that could change the cards in your hand including your home, your job, your relationships, and your habits.

Don't fear the Death and Devil cards. Those are two of the most feared cards in Tarot, but they have their lessons. They don't mean that demonic forces are coming for you.

On the bright side, Reversed Temperance is a call for self-healing. With more balance and moderation in your life, you'll be developing a space for healing to occur. You need to self-evaluate yourself without the intrusion of others. You know you have to heal yourself in order to have a flow.

Consider doing the following for your self-healing:

  • Practice yoga 30 minutes a day.
  • Go for walks in your neighborhood or a park.
  • Go kayaking.
  • Take up gardening.
  • Learn to play an instrument.
  • Eat your meals outside.
  • Play comforting sounds.
  • Try binaural beats on YouTube.
  • Play videos of nature sounds on YouTube.
  • Take breaks more often to get into a comfortable pose.
  • Stop sitting and try standing more.
  • Abstain from meat, alcohol, cigarettes, and the like.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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