Quantum Tarot: Temperance


Now, here is a card that is interesting! Not sure I approve of it being a Temperance card, but it is undeniably an important card. [since writing up the rest of the post my views have changed - I approve.]

The first thing I saw in this card was the red mushroom cloud in the background. War and destruction. Temperance is about peacemaking and negotiation. Then I saw the downward-pointing triangle floating just below the surface of the water - the principle of femininity, also a scientifically important form. Then all those lovely regular-type particles connected to their supersymmetric counterparts by electrical flashes.

Then the near-circle of pinkish greyness rising out of the water's horizon as a face, with two red eyes, eyebrows tilted in, in the manner of animated "anger". The darker areas to either side bending outwards are huge ears, perhaps, or handles if the head is viewed with a slight change of perception to become a jug (ah, something familiar at last from traditional Temperance images!). The strong triangle in the water is reflected in a much weaker triangle in the air, which then became legs to my perception, the horizontal lightning-flash a belt, a grey body with hands on hips. And the large red area that was the mushroom cloud now is a small head surrounded by a huge raised fan-like collar. And right in the very centre of the card, at the horizon of the water, two tiny red spots: lights on a distant ship? Eyes of a silently watching figure (implied by the shadows)? Not a binary star-system in space somewhere - that last image just doesn't wash.

Most Temperance Angels are seen as gentle and merciful, as the peacemaker, as the nurturing healing, caring woman pouring balm on open wounds (or at least, into her other jug). But that places her squarely on the Pillar of Mercy. We forget that only in the overall Severity of the 20th century have we chosen to see her as that - normally Temperance is about choosing the path of the Middle Pillar, not the Pillar of Severity, or the popular and "easy option" of the Pillar of Mercy, but a meeting of the two.

Dorothy Morrison's Whimsical Tarot, a deck which as a whole sits on the pastel-saccharine end of the Pillar of Mercy (much though I love her), has a surprisingly Severe Temperance: Jack and Jill tumbling down the hill. The image shows us what happens when we do not have Temperance in our lives and do not walk the Middle Pillar. The Quantum deck is tipping over a little further in my opinion: explosions, devilish eyes and a strident stance together with particles and -erm- other particles trying to annihilate each other in a zap of force is hardly a meeting of the Middle Way, although arguably the particle collisions on their own may be. An image of compromise, it is nonetheless uncompromising. And it is a nice antidote to all the toxic sugar poured down our throats by deck designers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

C'mon, Leo, don't be shy. I'm just an ignorant user. Tell me I'm wrong. People reading this thread with growing horror probably need to hear that.


Oops I totally missed this thread :D

Temperance - this is one of my favourite cards...funny I always see it as pretty serene. The scientific theory is supersymmetry, which is a bit tricky to get your head round. Basically, for every particle in the universe, there is another, more massive supersymmetric particle to match. Trouble is, no-one's ever found any...:bugeyed:

For me this card is about the dynamic nature of balance. It's not something that just happens, it's a process that requires continual monitoring and awareness. I always think of the idea of "tempering", like steel being tempered by a process of fire and water - it takes a lot of work to keep these two naturally incompatible elements in harmony.


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I may need to get my magnifying glass out for the figures you're seeing in this card, Nisaba. I'm at an internet cafe, just looking at Kay's posted image here, not catching it.

I have the same view on Temperance as Kay, the resharpening, hammering- out actions which make us better people can be self discovered through introspection, or magnified to where we can no longer ignore them and MUST do something, ala grow or die.

Also, as a stilt walker and high unicyclist, I know how active the maintenance of balance can be. The work of keeping things in balance in circus arts is often invisible, yet is the crucial skill.

It is very refreshing, as you mention, N, to see a more potent Temperance. Even in my beloved Rohrig, which is quite dark at times, the Temperance is less powerful, more la la.


KarlThomas said:
It is very refreshing, as you mention, N, to see a more potent Temperance. Even in my beloved Rohrig, which is quite dark at times, the Temperance is less powerful, more la la.
Yes there are a lot of wimpy Temperances out there...I often wonder if people get bogged down with the word "Temperance" and associate it with the temperance movement with its do-gooder teetotalling holier-than-thou associations...Which is not what the card's about at all!


Although it *can* be, Kay - I've had it come ujp for people with drinking or other addiction problems. I've also had it come up with people who needed to make peace either with those around them or with themselves. As well as the people who already have.

And KArl, I tried to describe the bits of the image that had the strident standing figure, the mushroom cloud, the angry eyes ... there are all there!