Sense and Sensibility
When I interpret the Temperance card, it is usually in one of two ways. First, there is temperance in the sense of tempering a blade or other tool for strength, putting it first in fire, then in water, then in fire again -- the process of stressing and blessing creating something that endures. The other way I look at Temperance is in terms of moderation, finding a balance between extremes. In many decks, such as Rider-Waite-Smith, an angel or woman is shown standing partly on water and partly on land, pouring from a blessing vessel, symbolizing what seems to be a synthesis between these two interpretations: moderation, balance, blessing, strengthening.
For my Temperance card in the LiteraTarot deck, I chose the book Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen. The story of the two Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, seems to me to capture both senses of the Temperance card. The emotional stresses and challenges strengthen and transform both women, bringing them to a balanced, temperate center. Dreamy, romantic Marianne grounds herself in more realistic views of love, and achieves "an apparent composure of mind. . . which must eventually lead her to contentment and cheerfulness." Elinor, on the other hand, who perhaps erred too far to the other extreme of correctness and propriety, allows her loving heart to have the full expression it longs for. Marianne becomes less selfish, and Elinor comes to accept that her own needs and desires are valid as well. At the end of the book, the sisters are happily married, both their families blessed by the angel of temperance. In my card, Elinor attends to the practical duty of the moment, while Marianne loses herself in romantic reverie. The traditional vessel pouring forth blessings is here represented by the teapot, from which flows a brew that brings calmness, strength, and harmony.
Lunaea is the creator of the Full Moon Dreams collage tarot deck. Her artwork has been published by Amber Lotus Publishing, Art Doll Quarterly, ARTitude, and other publications. Lunaea is a writer, teacher, priestess, jewelry maker, and tarot counselor who has been working with tarot for more than 35 years. She lives in the redwood forest in northern California.