Key 14: Temperance
Daughter of the Reconcilers; The Bringer Forth of Life
“The Twenty-fifth Path is the Intelligence of Probation, or is Tentative, and is so called because it is the primary temptation, by which the Creator (blessed be He) trieth all righteous persons.” (Sepher Yetzirah)
The Hebrew letter that accompanies this card is Samekh: ‘Prop.’ Having worked underground for many years, I know the importance of good support. Your very life can depend upon it. Props can take many forms, from a simple wooden beam to steel arches and even cylindrical supports, to hold back the incoming pressure from all sides. Once the supports have been put in place, a safe environment is provided in which the work may proceed.
Temperance then is a safe place or environment for spiritual and alchemical work to produce higher states of awareness through balancing the elements of Fire and Water. This produces a steam which rises into the air and in turn produces clouds which bring forth rain, feeding the earth and bringing forth new life.
There are two Temperance cards in the Golden Dawn Temple Deck. One has heavy alchemical symbolism, while the other has a lighter, more spiritual feel to it. It is as if once the alchemical influence of Temperance has produced the distillation and purification effects of steam, the elements of Fire and Water can then be used in a more magical and creative way, ultimately becoming the rainbow – a mixture of light and moisture, revealing the seven levels of light and promising God’s protection on all levels.
I have always liked the Cicero version of Temperance (Golden Dawn Magical Tarot), where the rainbow acts as a bow and the arrow is ready to fly, clearly showing the Sagittarian influence of this key.
The internal process of the work of Temperance within us is difficult to explain, and can take a long time to fully work out, which is one reason why we should not rush through the Golden Dawn grades as if they are simply school exams. As we begin to balance the elements and archetypes within us, a fire at the base of the spine is ignited which slowly rises as we progress through the grades. As the fire reaches the chakra points or energy points, it changes aspects of our life, aligning us closer to our True Will. Once the fire reaches the top of the head it rushes out and begins to move faster until it feels as if we will become overwhelmed by its fierce force. At this point, the fire within collapses into a thin, silver line which connects Kether to Malkuth. At first it vibrates, giving off a unique sound, but it soon becomes still, giving us a new connection with the Divine Will. Here then, is the inner alchemy of the 14th Key of Temperance.
This Tarot Key is placed on an important path which connects from Yesod to Tiphareth which is the path of adepthood. An adept is someone who is used to mixing opposites. This card has much to do with the mystical marriage between fire and water, man and woman, light and dark. It is through the interaction of these two polarities that the spiritual energy arises from below to above and from above to below.
Unification of opposites. Mixing. A relationship. Polarity. Sexual force being used practically. A safe environment. Protection. Ggrowth and adjustment. Realization. Quiet inner drive to succeed. Steady force. Connection with the True Will.