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Some thoughts on Temperance

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Originally Posted by parsival View Post
I assume then that the solar symbol on the brow of the figure and the shining crown stand for the Spirit?
Apparently the solar symbol (dot in the circle on the brow) can also be the alchemical symbol for gold, which could suggest the transformative nature of the spirit / solar light.

(I'm a bit lost on the soul thing... I tend to see it as being spirit, internally in reflection of the greater Spirit.)
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To understand where Waite's coming from you pretty much have to forget everything you've learned and rely on Waite to define himself, a lot easier said than done, but falling back on conventional meanings can easily lead one astray from what he intended. That's not to say the symbolism can only be interpreted after one fashion, only that Waite goes his own way much of the time.

As for Temperance, there are clues scattered throughout his Azoth, or The Star in the East, especially Part I, Section 5, "The Spiritual Interpretation of Alchemy." In this example Waite quotes Martinus Rulandus from A Lexicon of Alchemy, "Anima," and then comments:
" 'The Soulís ascent is when the Body becomes white, clear, and fluid,' that is, the inner man is exalted in the purification of the outer man. The state of whiteness signifies the clarity or molecular refulgence [shining brightly] of physical purity; the transparency is the atomic exaltation which follows the process of regeneration; the fluidic state is the dissolution of the hardness of the material condition, and signifies that the possession of a physical environment is no longer an invincible obstacle to an interior progress . . ."óAzoth, or the Star in the East, p. 66.
The white square symbolizes the outer man in a state of purity. The Golden Dawn Portal Ritual says in its description of the Temperance card: "On her breast is a square, the emblem of rectitude."óRegardie, The Golden Dawn, p. 218. "Rectitude" means moral uprightness and seems to me akin to "purity." In the Waite-Smith Temperance there appears to be activity in two directions, horizontal and vertical, as shown here . . .

http://s19.postimg.org/xmbn48iyr/Tem...horiz_vert.jpg
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Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
The white square symbolizes the outer man in a state of purity. The Golden Dawn Portal Ritual says in its description of the Temperance card: "On her breast is a square, the emblem of rectitude."óRegardie, The Golden Dawn, p. 218. "Rectitude" means moral uprightness and seems to me akin to "purity." In the Waite-Smith Temperance there appears to be activity in two directions, horizontal and vertical, as shown here . . .

http://s19.postimg.org/xmbn48iyr/Tem...horiz_vert.jpg
What has always struck me visually about this card is the "diagonal" movement in three dimensions, arising in the background with the glowing crown and culminating in the flow between the cups, which appears to have its source in the crown. I can't recall now where I read about the significance of this particular feature.
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That's an interesting point I hadn't thought of, thanks for sharing it.
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Temperance


[QUOTE=...culminating in the flow between the cups, which appears to have its source in the crown. I can't recall now where I read about the significance of this particular feature.[/QUOTE]-- Barleywine


Great observation of an open/hidden connection--the golden light above is the source of the energy flow between the two cups. One might also say that the golden light inspires the Angel (we ourselves in our essential being) to attune to the dynamic unity of the polar forces. The Angel seems perfectly centered between Above and Below and between left and right, Middle Pillared, Heart-Based. The medieval Grail has been painted in such perfect centering, stars beyond, earth beneath, an angel on either side carrying it. Finding and living from this place is the Great Work of where we are now and where our lives lead.
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The FRC Adeptus Major initiation provides a pretty good explanation of where Waite’s coming with regard to Will, Desire and Mind. In Malkuth they are all contained together in earth but in a state of impurity and centered on externals. Each sephira in the subsequent degrees represents a process of purification and elevation for either mind, will or desire. For example the degree of Practicus in Hod represents a purification of desire in the world of Formation. After the initiate reaches Netzach, he or she returns to Yesod and enters Tiphareth and the world of Creation by the central pillar. It seems to me, Will and Desire are both aspects of Mind and the goal of the whole process is to unify them on the central pillar while at the same time elevating them to successive states of purity. Purity probably isn’t the best word, refinement might be better, or deeper levels of "Wisdom."
"The explanation of such hidden language is to be found in the Tree of Life, as this is understood by the Order of the Rosy Cross. The natural principles of our humanity, symbolised in their correspondences with Fire, Water, Air and Earth, are collected in Malkuth, which is the World of Action, and are centred therein upon things manifested. The thoughts, desires and will of man are contained within earth and his senses. In other words, the native Mercury, Sulphur and Salt have not been made subject to the operations of Divine Wisdom.

They begin to be purified and prepared in the World of Formation, containing three Sephiroth, allocated respectively to Mind, Desire and Will, and corresponding to three spiritualised planets, the Moon, Mercury and Venus. These Sephiroth constitute the Second Reflected Triad in the Tree of Life. The World of Creation, or Third Order of the Rosy Cross, is the First Reflected Triad, and it answers to the same principles of our nature, when they have been changed by the work of Wisdom. That which corresponded in Yesod to the reflected light of the Moon has become Philosophical Mercury in the Grade of Tiphereth, or the Mind permeated and transmuted by the Sun of Righteousness. You will understand therefore that in the Higher Grades of the Third Order, analogous transmutations of Desire and Will are symbolised, so that in the language of the Secret Tradition they become Philosophical Sulphur and Salt.

The transmutation of Desire fixes Mind, and hence Mercury is said to be coagulated by Sulphur, while transmuted Will and its Purpose direct all the inward principles of love and understanding to that Divine World which is first in the Tree of Life. The triad becomes an unity, which is the state of the Mystical Stone, at once tinctured and tingeing.

But in the World of Divinity the Three Principles are symbolised as Kether, the Divine Mind, Chokmah, the Eternal Wisdom, the goodwill and good pleasure of God’s purpose, and Binah, the Eternal Love. They subsist in an ineffable unity. So are the worlds completed, interlinked at every point, and man attains God by an union of principles which correspond and are one at the root.

As regards Mercury, it is affirmed that we know it now as it exists imprisoned in a body, but a day will come when it shall be liberated from present limitations and manifested as a pure, fixed, intelligible, constant fire. It is a fluidic and volatile substance, to fix which is the work of Wisdom. I say unto you that our Mercury is Mind, and that in fixity, rest and simplicity it can attain a Divine Mode. Thought is reduced therein to the point at which it vanishes for a period, and the Mind of God testifies to Mind in the silence."
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Had another thought or two on this card. The water is on the side of severity and might symbolize the destructive waters of Noah's flood; The iris flowers, on the side of mercy, are symbolic of the rainbow, or God's promise. The symbolism is surely archetypal and represents the two sides of God's nature.
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I was wondering the other day about the flowers and growth on one side only and the more panoramic view to the mountains on the other side of the figure. Thanks for this food for thought!
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Originally Posted by Papa Tango View Post
Interesting thread, and a striking number of similarities in the promulgation of early alchemy and the later 'secret society' development of Tarot lore.

Of the alchemy part--the 12th century saw a tremendous effort to stitch together a wide ranging and fantastical array of practice, dogma, and sheer claptrap shrouded in symbols and secrecy. Much of this only existed in fragmentary form. Until the 18th century and the emergence of modern chemistry as a distinct science far separated from its earlier roots--many lines of thought emerged and were studiously adhered to. There was a great effort to portray one as superior or holding "truths" not evident or present in another philosophical school of thought. Beginning to see a correlation?

A great deal of literature in alchemy appeared to later observers to be of a profoundly metaphysical and spiritual nature. Most modern scholars have discarded this notion--which was not really introduced until the 19th century by metaphysical pundits. If one is interested in the genesis of both lines of history--the place of alchemy & astrology in medieval society--and the rather shady transmogrification to the occult/metaphysical/esoteric in the 1800s--a great read is William Newman & Anthony Grafton "Secrets of Nature: Astrology and Alchemy in early Modern Europe" (2001: MIT Press).

Similarly, most serious and academic scholars note that none of the metaphysical accoutrements to Tarot appeared in much substance until cobbled into it by such as personages as Jean-Baptiste Alliette in the late 18th century--and Eliphas Levi in the latter 19th. As this group of conversants here likely knows--it was at these junctures respectively that the "Egyptian Connection" and "Kabbalah Crash" were forcibly inserted into the world of Tarot.

Prior to Case, and preceding Levi--there was no allusion to Judaic esotricism or syncretic adaptions. Rather from the humble beginnings seen in early decks such as the cobbled-together Visconti-Sforza--images were socially understanable and readily observable medieval archetypal figures and motifs. They certainly had absolutely nothing to do with divination or esotricism--it was a card game for the wealthy. Why these images which interestingly correlate to a Jungian social construct system were chosen in the earliest days we will likely never know.

The important consideration is the underlying symbological meaning of the archetypal displays--or 'archetypes-as-such', for the elemental reason that these images lend to deciphering ones own thinking and beliefs about their path and progress.

To further draw out the corollary made in the opening paragraph of this long and boring screed--it was the same sorts and societies in the 19th century that also applied all of the kludged esoteric claptrap to alchemy as they were foisting upon the symbology of the Tarot. Some were merely serving as apologists for the thoroughly bogus "four element" nonsense of pre-chemistry--others were seriously more sinister in resurrecting a failed line of early physical inquiry as some sort of metaphysical science--to serve their own self-interests in the creation and sustenance of 'secret societies.'

I have quite a few ideas of my own to gather 'lost sheep' followers, but my wife is adamant that I keep the whole secret cult thing to myself and forget about it...
great post! sorry, nothing more to say. except totally great!

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