The magic of the in-between

So far, we’ve seen some powerful and wild energies in the Major Arcana. It’s been quite an adventure! The manifestation of magic, huge, profound changes, subconscious witchery and focus, as well as decisions, choices, and moments of profound enlightenment.

However, some cards have a more subtle, less powerful kind of power. StrengthThe Hanged Man. Temperance is the least glamorous.

Temperance refers to being steady. The middle path. Avoiding to upset the apple-cart. The absence of extremes.

It’s also about blending dualities. This card often shows a person pouring water from one cup into the next, one foot on the ground, and one foot in a river to create a blend. This applies to any subject that we are inclined to see on a spectrum (see next section for examples).

Temperance is a solution to the Tarot’s emphasis upon duality. It’s the magical, huge, blurry area at the middle of spectrum where the line is blurred. It’s not just one thing, but a third dimension. This is a liminal area worth exploring. You will learn how to combine the different ingredients in your life in a way that works for you. This is a form of alchemy because all the ingredients are more than their individual parts.

This liminal, in between space is full of magic. It is not one thing or another but a combination of many things. Temperance, beyond simple moderation, is like perfecting a recipe. You can use a little bit of each, and then add a little more. This will help you find the right balance. Too much cayenne will make your chilli taste bland. Too much and your chilli won’t be palatable.

The traditional image shows the angel (who is, of course, intersex or non-gendered or nonbinary or genderqueer – you decide! They not only pour water between two cups but also defy gravity. The water flows diagonally. The water flows in a diagonal line.

In the world of self-development, we often talk about harmony and balance. Many people seek it. While extremes are fun and can be very enjoyable, they don’t always work for our bodies, minds, or hearts. Temperance shows us how it looks to make space for what we really need. The many ingredients that make up our “happy mix” are unique to each person.

Harmony and balance is something that many people seek. It’s not boring or mundane. It is lofty and as important as any of the louder, more glamorous cards. This is radical self-care. Modern life is full of demands. We are constantly being asked to do so many things. There are so many exclamation marks, amazingterrible, and get it right now. What is it like to just sit with yourself, as the multifaceted, complex beings we are, and to honor the many parts of ourselves?

Advice from Temperance

Temperance refers to the middle or moderate points of any linear spectrum. It could be as simple as choosing the “middle” – or even sitting on the fence – in decision-making. It could also be about managing extremes wherever they are present in your life. Here are some examples of everyday life:

Balance between work and life. Temperance is a way to find a healthy balance in your working life. (I house-sat for 2 weeks while I wrote this course. I was excited to be able to completely immerse myself in the work. Two days passed before I felt sick. Balance was important to me. I needed to be outside and do other things.

Avoid extreme decisions. Temperance warns against extremes. Temperance asks that you cool down and find a moderate or halfway solution to your needs. Before you go all-out, test the waters.

Gender. A nonbinary gender identity is an expression of Temperance. There is no one right or wrong (if gender is viewed as a straight line with male and female at each end), but something in the middle. Nonbinary people may express their gender differently on a daily basis. They might combine elements from both genders if it feels right.

Multipotentialism. Emilie Wappnick, founder and author of How to be Everything, believes that there is no one way to live. It is possible to combine passions, interests, and skills to create a multidimensional life. It’s possible to wear multiple hats simultaneously! For more information, see puttylike.com.

These are just some examples, but you have many other ways extremes could show up in your daily life. If Temperance is a sign in your tarot readings then you should look at the areas in your life that could use some ‘tempering’. Find ways to bring calmness into your daily life and consider harmony and balance. What can you do to move toward harmony, however it looks for you? How can you feel more balanced and steady?

Key words and concepts

Harmony and balance

The blending of dualities


The middle way

Not making extreme decisions

A nonbinary outlook

Test the waters

Self-care, grace and gentleness

Integration into something that you had been resisting

Common symbols

Non-gendered angel (transcending gender duality)

One foot in water (testing water, blending elements from earth and water).

Water – Being poured into the landscape (intuition or feeling).

Sunrise: A new day, a fresh start

Two cups (love).

Flowers (natural renewal)