Temperance is the 14th Major Arcana tarot card and depicts an angel-woman descended onto land, symbolically uniting the spiritual and material worlds. She represents the ability to mix, combine, and temper oppositional forces to restore harmony and create internal balance.

Temperance Tarot Card Upright and Reversed Keywords
Temperance tarot card upright and reversed keywords.

Temperance is associated with the element of Fire and the zodiacal sign Sagittarius. This zodiac sign is represented in horoscopes by a centaur holding a bow and arrow, symbolizing the search for truth and meaning that pierces the surface of material reality. In Temperance, the search for meaning is depicted as the process of tempering thoughts and emotions to embrace paradox and the multi-faceted nature of reality rather than adhering to dualistic or black-and-white thinking.

Temperance Keywords

Upright keywords

Reversed keywords

healing, combination, integration, restoring balance

extremes of emotion, volatility, imbalance, excess 

Description of the Temperance Tarot Card

After encountering loss in the Death card, Temperance appears as a healing balm to restore internal balance and harmony. Temperance is the final card of Line 2 of the Major Arcana and symbolizes the integration and culmination of lessons of the preceding cards of this line: the cultivation of inner strength and wisdom (Strength and The Hermit), the establishment of personal guiding principles (Justice), and the acceptance of larger forces outside of one’s control (The Wheel of Fortune), including the ability to surrender (The Hanged Man) to the experience of loss (Death).

In the classic Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, she is a winged angel standing with one foot on the water and one foot on the land, suggesting that she’s connected to both the material world and to the emotional or spiritual world within. The orange triangle emblazoned on her robe references her element, fire, as well as the process of alchemy, which is said to involve the transmutation of base metals into pure substances like gold.

She pours water from one cup into another, traditionally thought to represent pouring water into wine in order to dilute it. Symbolically, this speaks to the ability to integrate contrasting principles into a unified whole: material and spiritual, feminine and masculine, conscious and unconscious. The irises growing around her symbolize the joy of new life, while the mountains in the distance suggest that certain challenges are now in the past.

Temperance Upright Meaning

In the upright position of a tarot reading, Temperance suggests that you’re coming into balance after a period of loss or difficulty. The meaning of the Temperance card can represent seeing a middle ground or multiple perspectives on a situation, which supports healing and a feeling of inner peace and acceptance. There could be a sense of greater universal forces entering your life to re-establish harmony by righting a wrong, restoring what was lost, or tempering fiery emotions.

Because of the focus on mixing contrasting elements, this card can also suggest that you are adapting existing skills to a new circumstance or combining two previously separate skills into a new, unified approach. You could be re-connecting to an old way of working or mining your past for clues on how to utilize your latent talents in new ways.

This card brings a focus on healing, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical. It suggests the wisdom of slowing down to integrate the lessons of the past and allow oneself to pause and appreciate the blessings in the present moment. It can indicate a growing awareness of how your unconscious drives impact your conscious desires and coming into balance through walking the middle path between the two.

Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)

In the upright position of a love tarot reading, Temperance suggests that you’re restoring peace and harmony to your relationship by adopting a new, more holistic perspective on an existing issue. It can also indicate a relationship where two distinctly different people find ways of adapting to each other, allowing them to learn lessons around accommodation and compromise and reinforcing compatibility within the union.

Temperance can also indicate that the relationship is a solid container for your growth—a place where you can learn lessons that bring healing around previous emotional wounds. This relationship may be offering you a new level of emotional safety, allowing you to feel grounded, connected to your partner or other loved ones, and capable of expressing your emotions.

Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)

In the upright position, Temperance suggests that you’re harmonizing two contrasting elements or styles in your work. You could be drawing on skills from the past and assimilating them into your current work or learning new skills to meet your current needs. There is an alchemy to whatever you are admixing, suggesting that what’s created from this fusion is greater than the sum of its parts.

It can symbolize a feeling of alignment with one’s current career path, that it satisfies both your material needs as well as your inner emotional desires. It suggests an approach to work that is adaptive and responsive to changing circumstances, involving a process of continuous modification rather than strict adherence to one way of working.

Love/relationship upright keyword

Career/finance upright keywords

adaptation, compromise, strength, compatibility 

fusion of different talents or skills, emotional and material satisfaction from work, adaptive approach, responsive to changing needs

Temperance Reversed Meaning

In the reversed position of a tarot card reading, Temperance suggests a feeling of internal imbalance or disharmony. It can suggest extremes of emotion or behavior, volatility, and a need to focus on the well-being and good health of the body, mind, and spiritual areas of your life. It can indicate a need for time away from the demands of everyday life to promote restoration and healing. In the current situation, you may benefit from tempering the hastiness of your behavior or reactions and pausing to consider other ways of responding.

If you’ve recently experienced loss or grief, this card suggests that you have been changed by these events and that there is a need to integrate them into your conscious personality. It is an encouragement to trust the deeper currents of life and to flow with them, much like the water that flows from one vessel to the other.

The angel is pictured as being in the world but is clearly not of the world: in this way, she illustrates the concept of living within the material realm while simultaneously perceiving a deeper layer of reality. The harmony she represents is achieved through living with contradiction, paradox, and tension rather than by trying to negate them.

Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)

In the reversed position, this card may indicate that you’re being asked to consider your attitude toward love and relationships, as there may be an imbalance between your conscious and unconscious desires. If you are not receiving the nourishment you desire in your relationship, this card suggests approaching the conversation with calm sensitivity.

Within a relationship, this card can suggest that extreme and volatile emotions or behaviors are causing disharmony and that there is a need for greater cooperation and emotional regulation. It can also suggest that one or both partners feel depleted and that the relationship would benefit from creating purposeful time for rest, reflection, and the restoration of spirit.

Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)

In the reversed position, Temperance suggests that you may be feeling depleted and exhausted by the pressures of your work. If your life feels unbalanced because you’re devoting an inordinate amount of time and energy to your career or coworkers, this card is a gentle reminder that your spirit also needs tending to.

When you give yourself time and space to recuperate and focus on refilling your cup emotionally, you will be better prepared to meet the demands of your work when you return rested and restored.

Love/relationship reversed keywords

Money/career reversed keywords

imbalanced attitude, extremes of emotion, depletion, need for rest 

exhaustion, burnout, need for emotional replenishment