The Wild Unknown Tarot - Temperance XIV

Sulis

Against a plain, black and white background stands a very beautiful heron. One wing is extended slightly and at it's feet is a ball of flame.. Water seems to drip from the heron's neck into the fire.

Temperance
Temperance is a card of moderation but it's so much more than that.. This is a fire card so it's not inactive, it's a card of action but of moderate and temperate action.. This card usually shows an angel, one foot on water, one foot on land and in his hands are 2 vessels which he pours one into the other.. Sometimes one vessel contains water and one fire, sometimes they both contain water... In decks like the Tarot de Marseilles and in later decks like the Rider-Waite-Smith, the water flows between the jugs on a diagonal; something that's not actually possible since water obeys the force of gravity and flows downwards....

Temperance, like the rest of the Major Arcana is a card of many meanings.
It can caution you to be careful, to be temperate, to use balance and moderation.
It's also a card about taking action to change things (to temper meaning to alter, harden, neutralise or counterbalance something).. Tempered metal is metal that has had it's hardness changed through heat..
This is also a card of alchemy, of mixing different things to get something new. So it's about adding something in, taking a trial and error approach as an alchemist does.. It's about knowing when the time is right to do something or to add something and again, this comes down to balancing ingredients, using care, avoiding adding something in excess.

This Temperance
In this card we have the water and fire mixing at the heron's feet so he could actually be the Temperance angel, the alchemist mixing opposing elements to get something new.
Herons are water birds but they are waders too, straddling both the realms of land, water and air since they are powerful fliers... Straddling different realms, different elements is seen as very magical just as places where different elements meet are magical places.. This fits well with the image of Temperance as an alchemist, using science and magic to find the Philosopher's Stone, the Elixir or Life of the magical formula to turn base metal into gold.
Heron's are associated with balance too - they have long, skinny legs and so they are seen as birds that take balancing very seriously.

I really like this card and as usual with this deck, the seemingly simple symbolism seems to be quite complex once you start to really look at it..

Any more info about herons or anything else to do with this archetype and this particular version of it are extremely welcome :).
 

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Sulis

To add:

Being a card of balance, moderation and alchemy, this is also a card of healing - healing takes time and is often about the body rebalancing itself after illness, surgery or trauma (physical or mental)..
Water and Fire are both elements that cause change and can be cleansing and that is also indicative of healing (to me anyway ;)). Healing takes time and can't be rushed..
 

Nemia

Temperance is also a card of tempering, i.e., a process of changing a material by heat, like tempered glass, steel, or chocolate. In the case of this card, the change is not only by heat but also by water. Using only one way of changing the material would change the balance. Temperance changes you, and it does so by applying opposing forces in equal measure.

The heron reminds me of the archetypical pelican that feeds its young with its heart blood. Here, the heron stands next to fire, an element that is alien to this water-earth-bird, and the heron itself gives from its heart the water that will not extinguish the flames but keep them under control.
 

Sulis

Temperance is also a card of tempering, i.e., a process of changing a material by heat, like tempered glass, steel, or chocolate. In the case of this card, the change is not only by heat but also by water. Using only one way of changing the material would change the balance. Temperance changes you, and it does so by applying opposing forces in equal measure.

The heron reminds me of the archetypical pelican that feeds its young with its heart blood. Here, the heron stands next to fire, an element that is alien to this water-earth-bird, and the heron itself gives from its heart the water that will not extinguish the flames but keep them under control.

Thanks Nemia, I really like that comparison with the pelican and how the water comes from the Heron's heart, keeping the flames in control.. Thank you, it's going in my journal :).
 

omshanti72

This is the totem message from the Heron as it guides you -

"You are being called to take courage and follow your true path, which will be discovered through exploring your inner self - find what draws you to action."

Here are some key words for Heron medicine -
Calm
Patience
Balance
Delicacy and tact
Transformation
Follow your own path
Inner wisdom
Setting boundaries
Balancing multiple tasks
Being present

A lot of this makes sense in terms of the Temperance card.

Look up Heron Animal Medicine to read more.

Hope this helps - many blessings.
 

Sulis

Thanks for that omshanti72, it does seem that many of those traits correspond really well to the Temperance archetype... These animals and birds used in this deck seem very well chosen to me..

Can I ask what the source is for your post as it seems like a quote? I think it's important to acknowledge and credit where we're getting information from.
 

omshanti72

The Heron speaks is from spirit-animals.com and you get a different quote each time when you look up the different animals - it's a wonderful site :)
 

Sulis

Thank you, I'll go and have a look and bookmark it :).
 

Pixna

Thanks Nemia, I really like that comparison with the pelican and how the water comes from the Heron's heart, keeping the flames in control.. Thank you, it's going in my journal :).

Yes, yes! I was trying to zero in on where the water emanated from, and seeing it as coming from the heron's heart puts an interesting and unexpected spin on the card. I also like what you said about the water keeping the flames under control. Many thanks to you both.
 

Pixna

In revisiting this card (and everyone's comments), it looks like the tears dropping into the fire are being transformed. One (at the top) looks like it's turned into gold, the lowest one is in the process of turning green, and there are two splotches of yellow that might also be transformed tears. The white in the fire looks like air pockets, and there is green at the top of the flames. So it appears to me that all elements are represented: fire, air, water, and earth. The heron's open wing might be fanning the flame, keeping the fire of transformation aglow.

The background could be air, earth, or water. If it's water, the heron is "walking on water" -- indeed an incredible feat of balance. There is a calmness to the heron, along with grace and delicateness. The heron must take care not to get too close to the fire, or she'll burn her wing or feathers. The perfect combination of the elements will also help keep the flames under control.