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Temperance

Temperance, major arcanum XIV, in some decks known as Art or The Alchemist, is ruled by Sagittarius, the archer. On the wheel of the Zodiac opposite Gemini, the sign that rules the Lovers, we begin to get a fuller sense of this card‘s archetypal energy.

If both cards speak of an alchemical marriage, a combination of opposites, The Lovers is Solve, separation and duality, while Temperance is Coagula, or the integration of those opposites to create something wholly new and distinct.

With this angel as our guide, this “genius of the sun”, the Androgyne, we begin the process of integration.

Right timing, right combination, balance and moderation are all aspects encompassed by the angel of Temperance, who combines fire (spirituality, identity, creativity, desire) and water (emotion, intuition, relationship) in their cauldron (the depths of the psyche).

One foot on the earth, grounded, stable and connected to the material reality of this moment; one foot in the stream, fluid, flexible, movable, connected to the emotional and intuitional realm.

This is the middle path. Responding not reacting. Giving ourselves the space to hold paradox. The angel of Temperance guides us on a journey inward. A reintegration is occurring. A purification. A balancing and harmonizing. We are being tempered, cooked down like the chickpea in the story by Rumi, “Chickpea and Cook”, translated by Coleman Barks:


A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot where it’s being boiled.

‘Why are you doing this to me?’

The cook knocks him down with the ladle.

‘Don’t you try to jump out. You think I’m torturing you. I’m giving you flavor, so you can mix with spices and rice and be the lovely vitality of a human being.

Remember when you drank rain in the garden. That was for this.’

Grace first. Sexual pleasure, then a boiling new life begins, and the Friend has something good to eat.

Eventually the chickpea will say to the cook, ‘Boil me some more. Hit me with the skimming spoon. I can’t do this by myself.

I’m like an elephant that dreams of gardens back in Hindustan and doesn’t pay attention to his driver. You’re my cook, my driver, my way into existence. I love your cooking.’

The cook says, ‘I was once like you, fresh from the ground. Then I boiled in time, and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.

My animal soul grew powerful. I controlled it with practices, and boiled some more, and boiled once beyond that, and became your teacher.’



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