This Tarot Card Reminds Us to Keep Calm and Carry On
In this series, Jamie Richardson of Ember + Aura Tarot explains how to embrace the message of each major arcana card.
Having passed through some of the more demanding challenges one faces on the Fool’s Journey, we meet Temperance, who reminds us to keep calm and carry on. This peaceful figure is one that is balanced between worlds, with one foot on land and one in water. He/she is often depicted as an androgynous person who channels the water of spirit and emotion from one vessel to another. Not one to tip the scales, Temperance is seemingly unaffected by the petty dramas and everyday anxieties that life throws our way. In fact, their calm composure makes it all look so easy.
The truth is, the smooth nature Temperance displays has been perfected over time. Having felt the same insecurity, loss, failure, craving, and jealousy that comes with the human experience, Temperance has learned the fine art of self-control. This is the sort of mastery that can take a lifetime (or lifetimes) to achieve, but the grounded poise of this card can aid us as we undergo our own spiritual discipline.
When Temperance arrives in a Tarot reading, we are being reminded to maintain self-control. There is also the indication that a certain situation will indeed tempt us to completely lose control; this could be absolutely anything we find triggering or that has the ability to make us lose our resolve. Perhaps Temperance shows up when we’ve simply over-extended ourselves, are juggling too many obligations, and have lost our ability to say no. Or maybe Temperance appears during the full moon, when our emotions threaten to boil over at pretty much anything that moves. Depending on the circumstances, Temperance often is just there to say, “You got this. You’re so on top of things. You’re deflecting all kinds of drama and pettiness that doesn’t belong to you. You’re kind of being a boss.”
Conversely, when Temperance lands reversed in a reading, we are receiving confirmation of what we probably already know: We are up to our necks in a handful of messy situations and we are in danger of losing it. With our equilibrium disturbed and our peace of mind threatened, we are cracking under the pressures of life. On one hand we are most likely managing our home, family, and career and on the other, we might be dealing with hidden and recurring pain—feeling lack of support, a sense of unworthiness, or even the trauma of abuse. At any given moment, we are all channeling a billion energetic, mental, and emotional currents. It is no wonder we falter in trying to manage it all.
So, in order to return to balance, there are certain steps we can take. First, we must seek out solitude and silence so we can regain perspective. A snapshot of our life is needed so we can evaluate our energetic input and output. In what ways are we giving more than we are receiving? In what ways are we not practicing essential self-love? In what ways are we wasting money, words, and time? Take action. Do some rearranging, editing, and prioritizing.
Another approach is to seek immediate relief through the natural elements. Reconnect with air, earth, fire, and water by walking barefoot in the grass, burning sage, sitting in front of a fire, taking a saltwater bath, having a hot stone massage, or even swinging on a playground. The elements help realign us energetically and restore our sense of wellbeing.
Finally, we must hold ourselves responsible for our own personal healing and path to wholeness. Temperance both cautions us against excess and guides us toward self-care. The end result is the essential integration of the body, soul, and spirit. When all of these components come into harmony, we are truly a force to be reckoned with, and able to handle all aspects of our world with grace.