Poetry of the Tarot: Temperance


With one foot stood in each world,
in each word, the poet gains poise.
For as both golden chalices decant
opposing spirits, a third is created.
This divine task cannot be hurried
until temperance, an angel of time,
opens wide the soul’s celestial eye,
to midwife the birth of wholeness.

As spirit descends into our matter,
here on earth we witness a heaven
that heals olden wounds with love.
In between realms we grow gentle,
learn how to marry, come together,
slow down and remember the soul.
He who favours Aphrodite’s ways.
She who follows Hermes’ message.

In reverse, you run into the addict,
he who renounces all compromise.
A self-seeking, disturbed, lost soul,
unable to curb his deadly appetite.
Or a woman who loves too deeply,
who refuses to choose moderation,
suffering each day her stormy seas,
declining to walk beside the ocean.

In the glory of balance we discover
our rightful purpose here on Earth.
Wisdom endlessly tests the waters
as we learn to assimilate opposites.
By tearing down the ego we follow
spirit’s star as the sacred shepherd,
within the poet’s tender Tarot soul,
lights up before she joins the Devil.

Copyright © Deborah Gregory 2016

14 thoughts on “Poetry of the Tarot: Temperance

  1. This is wonderful, Deborah. I’m so grateful for your book of poetry (not the subject here, I know, but I need to say it again). It lifts my spirits many evenings before I sleep. I’m glad Susanne reminded that Death was the last card, because that changed my view.

    In this card of Temperance, we’re in that world of holding the opposites while waiting for the third to arise? The poem has a quiet energy–a holding that happens without struggle. This is where I was in the deepest time of grief–holding life and death quietly, expecting nothing other than a rising and setting sun, the cycles of the moon, blooming flowers, and tears. Although I usually think of this holding of opposites as a stormy place, it wasn’t stormy then. It was quiet. A constant meditation with the ego’s desires subdued by grief. Often, I swing from one side to another–as in your third stanza. It’s not power for me, but the desire to be filled with food and sweets when love feels less available (although, of course, it’s always available in me).

    I need a walk by the ocean–but the wet forest works with spring birds filling the air with song. Despite my hearing issues, I still enjoy the simple melodies of bird songs, those feathered connectors of heaven and earth. Thanks again. I’m so sorry I’m far behind but life is busy and sweet with family around.

    1. Thank you so much Elaine for sharing your beautiful, rich insights and understandings on Temperance. It’s always wonderful to hear from you, and if life is busy and sweet then open your arms wide and embrace its love, light and laughter my dear friend. I’m simply over the moon to hear that you’re enjoying my poetry book … oh my goddess how it makes me smile to hear that my poems are lifting your spirit!

      Here on the Fool’s (Poet’s) Journey, amid the worlds of opposites we learn how to tolerate the tension and live in-between. In that unfamiliar place, with one foot in each world, we bring new life into being which I call the “third” … the integration of relating consciously and unconsciously. Your heartfelt description of how you’ve dwelled in-between moves me greatly, as does the unexpected calm you’ve found (at times) within. Your mention of wanting to fill up sweetness makes me reflect on Susanne’s latest articles which explore the body, on many levels.

      Your wet forests sound wonderful! I absolutely love the month of May, so full of birdsong, joyous flowers, and awakening trees. Today I slipped on my walking boots and walked seven or eight miles over hills, through woodlands, and down into bluebell valleys. My soul was doing a jig I swear and my heart was bursting with joy! Blessings always, Deborah.

  2. Ah Temperance, accompanied with light, a foot in each sphere, balancing delicately, treading lightly as she always does. Your words are very evocative Deborah – the balance so delightfully held between the opposites. It’s a delicate dance – as she goes knowingly to meet the devil with the spirit’s star as her sacred shepherd. Thank you so much for your tender words explicating your deep knowledge of the Tarot. I learn something of value every time. Blessings to you 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Susan for your rich Tarot blessings and wonderful gift of words! It’s been a deep learning experience to understand that only with balance and moderation can one ever confront the Devil. Believe me I’m learning on the spot too as I keep the card I’m working on propped up for the week, in full view, so that I may muse and dream. It’s been amazing interacting with all the new inner characters who’ve turned up on many a night this year! Blessings always, Deborah. 🙂

  3. Ahh, Temperance a card of balance and the merging of spirit, in the tarot deck it marks the end of a 7 card cycle of internal development. It prepares us for the beginning of the dark night of the soul – by moderating things to maintain tranquillity we are prepared to face the challenges of the Devil!

    I feel I have quite a connection to this card over the past two years where it has come up often in readings, most interestingly in my yearly spreads as my card for the same month in 2016 and 2017. Not a coincidence I feel!! I see it as a positive reminder to slow down, reconnect and find balance in my life. You have expressed this so skilfully with your words in the 2nd verse – another beautiful piece Deborah, these poems are such a wonderful way to support learning the tarot, thank you.

    1. Thank you so much Sophia for your wonderful comment and sharing your rich Tarot insights. Yes, here’s the card that helps us survive “the dark night of the soul” … with the gentle angel Temperance stepping into the void! It is through this experience that souls are tempered. By experiencing extremes, we come to appreciate moderation … the Fool has come a long way!

      I love turning this card over, as symbolically, it’s one of my favourites! It glows with health and well-being. I agree, not a coincidence, more synchronicity for your annual spread where Temperance is required within the season. May I ask which month? I’m delighted that you’re enjoying my Tarot poetry and learning from them. Blessings always, Deborah.

      1. Its December – a time when one can overindulge literally!! I’m sure that it is significant in being the end of the year and the Winter solstice – a time when I take a break from work helping me to bring my life back into balance but also a time when we return to the light with the increasing hours of daylight and life begins to stir. There is so much to look at here, I think I need to contemplate this synchronicity much more!

        1. December is the twelfth and final month of the year. In the dark winter we celebrate much, including the Solstice, Christmas, and for you, Temperance. Hmm, I wonder if you’re coming to the end of something? For Temperance two years in a row seems no coincidence.

          Interestingly on 17th it was Saturnalia, which was a Roman festival with lots of eating and drinking. Slaves become masters for the day, masters, slaves. Everything was turned upside down to create balance I guess! Well for one day, a festival which survived until 17th century. Perhaps December balances out the rest of the year.

  4. Deborah, you embody spirit in matter. Your tarot journey helps me find my own lost language of symbolism and I thank you for that. Oh, how the music of your inner lover moves across my heart, Anna.

    1. Thank you so much Anna for your truly generous gift of words today, I’m deeply touched! Rediscovering our symbolic awareness and language is key I feel to moving beyond the ego. Yesterday I was (re)introduced to the poet, Wordsworth and this morning I’ve been reading his great ode, “Intimations of Immortality” being totally swept away by the deep knowing, insights and presence of the soul … so today you find this poet without many words, only a rare, beautiful smile that reminds her of her own immortality. From heart to heart, blessings always, Deborah.

        1. One line that no doubt has inspired tens of thousands of poems and for me fits perfectly with the Temperance card as it’s here that we (re)awaken … knowing that after tearing down the ego, we are to (re)follow spirit’s star!

  5. After the death, there is a void. A longing for spirit. Temperance is indeed the midwife for the regeneration of the libido.

    The contradictions need to be balanced. You describe it so well. “He who favours Aphrodite’s ways. She who follows Hermes message”.

    Life is composed out of cycles and now we have come to the beginning of a new one. Thanks for taking us on this journey. It has given me much insight and food for contemplation.


    1. Thank you so much Susanne for your generous words and wonderful insights on this Tarot card … and for accompanying me on my Fool’s (Poet’s) journey. I love how you describe life’s cycles and your understanding that we have arrived at a new one. Since reading your terrific book review earlier for “Woman Most Wild” (promptly added to my Amazon book wish list I must add!) I’ve been contemplating the magickal moon and her distinctive cycles, especially today as she’s gears up to become full in the next few days. Blessings always, Deborah.

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