Temperance and incarnation?


So I'm reading a book about reincarnation, and I came upon this interesting snippet.

'A Druse catechism dating back to 1012 shows how a fellow Druse can be distinguished...Next, he is presented with two earthenware water bottles, one full and the other empty. If he pours the water from the full bottle into that which is empty he symbolically acknowledges rebirth and is clearly a Druse.'

Anyone know of any hypotheses linking this with Temperance? It occurs to me just now that in the current order of cards Temperance comes straight after Death.

ETA: I see that autocorrect stuffed up the title of the post. Obviously, it should be reincarnation!


Oh very interesting and following the sequence of the majors it makes sense. I have never heard about this though.


I think it's worth looking into to see if there's a possible link. If anyone else has already done it I'd like to know!


This symbol of metempsychosis was mentioned by G. Van Rijnberk in his tome on the Tarot in the 1940s, and goes back to classical Greek Antiquity.


Interesting. What does he have to say about it?


I just looked him up. It appears that there is no English translation of his work?


There is no English translation of this rather compendious work. I haven't got it to hand, but I recall him simply mentioning this parallel. Likely, he gives classical citations for this attribution - his work is erudite and well-documented.

A quick search on Google Books in this regard (the vase and metempsychosis, not the Tarot per se) turns up references to Plato, the Pythagoreans and the Etruscans.

There is also this excerpt from the Hermetic text, the Stobaeus:

"The idea of a vessel or vase of birth was a familiar symbol with the Pythagoreans; μεταγγισμός (from the simile of pouring water out of one vessel into another) being one of their synonyms for metempsychosis."

[Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. 3, by G.R.S. Mead, 1906]


Thanks R. I do find it interesting that the imagery is identical to that on the Temperance card. According to the book I'm reading, the church was still stamping out belief in reincarnation in the 15th century. That, along with the imagery on Temperance being a little 'awkward' in my view, and its positioning after Death (which I realise very possibly wasn't fixed back then) does make me wonder if there's been some covering up of the original allusion.


This is one possible interpretation. One, however, which ought to be 'tempered' (pun intended) with the Platonic cardinal virtue, and the later Christian interpretation thereof.

Incidentally, I recall being told that there were a number of obscure passages in the Bible which could *only* be satisfactorily explained with recourse to the theory of reincarnation/metempsychosis/transmigration. No doubt there are books or websites which mention this take on things as I have no recollection of the narratives in question.


Yes, I'm aware it's really just a thought bubble, but it has me intrigued nonetheless.

One of the supposed biblical references to reincarnation is when Jesus states that John the Baptist is 'the Elijah who was to come', Matthew 11:14. I have no idea whether that's a translation made to fit with current orthodoxy. Later, in John 1:21, John the Baptist denies that he is Elijah, so if that's to be taken literally we can assume that the Bible here doesn't refer to reincarnation!